THE LEGEND OF YMA SUMAC will premiere at The Laurie Beechman Theatre March 15 at 9:30 PM, with additional performances March 22 and 29 at 9:30 PM. Written and directed by Steve Willis (videographer for Jinkx Monsoon and Sharon Needles), who was friends with the late star, the "live documentary" cabaret stars drag queen Scarlet Envy as Sumac. The show incorporates many of Yma's greatest hits, including Malambo No. 1, Mozart's Queen of the Night, and Claire de Lune. The show incorporates previously unseen video footage of Sumac, shot by Willis, with video editing and projections by Spencer Rothman. Tickets are $22 advance ($25 at the door), and may be purchased at www.SpinCycleNYC.com, or by phone at 212-352-3101. The Laurie Beechman Theatre is located inside the West Bank Cafe at 407 West 42 Street (at Ninth Avenue). There is a $20 food/beverage minimum at all performances at this venue.
Born in Peru in the early 1920's, Yma Sumac moved to New York in 1946, and began performing in clubs throughout the city. Her five and a half octave vocal range made her a standout, and she was signed by Capitol Records in 1950. The release of her first album, Voice of the Xtabay, launched a period of fame that included performances at Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, London's Royal Albert Hall, and London's Royal Festival Hall (before the Queen). Her exotic looks, arresting stage persona, and unique vocal stylings made her a hit throughout the 1950's. She released a total of six albums in the 1950's, featuring lounge music Hollywood-style versions of Incan and South American folk songs. She appeared in the 1951 Broadway show Flahooley. She toured the world throughout her career. In the 1980's she was "rediscovered," playing lengthy sold-out engagements at the Ballroom in New York and the Cinegrill in Hollywood. Her songs are heard on the soundtracks of many films, including Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Spy Games, and Happy, Texas. Sumac died in Los Angeles on November 1, 2008.
Scarlet Envy is a transcendental supermodel rooted in downtown glamour, redefining bone structure as New York City knows it. Simmering somewhere between Kentucky bourbon barrels, and the editorial allure of Fashion Week, Envy embraces both inner and outer beauty and is honored to be playing such a legendary performer as Yma Sumac.
Steve Willis is a filmmaker, photographer, and music video director. As a music video director, he has made videos for numerous artists, including Mary J. Blige, Patti Labelle, Maxi Priest, Dawn Robinson, Miranda, and many others (including RuPaul's Drag Race stars Jinkx Monsoon and Sharon Needles). He directed the documentary Wet Dreams with Rebecca Romijn, and is currently working on a documentary about Yma Sumac, who he befriended in 1987.