Will Nolan returns with LEOLA’S LADY LAND LOUNGE at Green Room 42
Where do you start to write an article on Will Nolan?
I could introduce Will as the creator of Leola, a “senior redneck diva” who wows audiences with her comedy sketches. I could talk about how he imagined Leola as the complete opposite of his own great-aunt Leola – his character is a 70-year-old Southern lesbian who “just wants to save the whole world.”
Will indicated that he finds it hard to call Leola a drag performance because he sees drag as something that involves a lot of art, and said that Leola is more “basic” than the illusions created by, say, competitors of Ru Paul’s Drag Race. But he loves her for her ability to reach so many people. “There is something for everyone,” he said. “A received idea [is] that she’s a bitchy drag queen, or monologue, for the elderly – hopefully the character goes beyond any sort of specific demographics in that sense. “
I could also talk about Will’s experience in comedy and sketching. When he graduated from college, he immediately moved to New York City from his own home in the South, because his dream had always been the theater – Broadway! Name in lights! The whole nine meters! But he soon realized that “you have to do the job for yourself”, and so started a comedy skit with a friend because “we felt like we were already making our friends laugh, so why not? not do it more formally, and if somebody’s going to be awesome then. “
He took a solo show course and created the character of Leola and spent months delving into her story and her story and learning all the ins and outs of it.
Maybe I could tell you about his upcoming series at The Green Room 42, which is part of a long-standing residency, where Will, as Leola, will interview artists, interact with audiences and have a great time. . He said he was inspired to create this new format because he wanted to help promote other artists and performers and develop their audience – and his. “I know as an artist who does his own thing, how difficult it is,” he said. “You tap your audience, it comes to stuff, but trying to reach outside your own sphere of friends and family [is hard]. [This is an] opportunity for people who are in the cabaret world to diversify and find a new audience. “
Will, who said he couldn’t sing himself, added, “I’m so excited to share the stage … I just love the powerful vocals in a small space that blows the roof off it.”
These are all great options, sure, but I think what stood out to me the most about my phone interview with Will was his comment on why playing brings him joy. “I don’t see anything in terms of artistic satisfaction that brings me more joy than making people laugh,” Will said. “Laughter is even more valuable today, if you get that genuine response from an audience today with everything that’s going on in the world, it’s only gratification.”
Will said he loved playing the part of Leola and the biggest compliment was when someone approached him at the end of the show feeling like they had made a new friend. “They bought into this character and her story,” he said, a note of wonder in his voice. “[They’ve] bought it to continue their journey, touched something inside of them that they could identify with. It amazes me every time I do it. “
Will spoke about one of his favorite things about cabaret, one of mine, by the way: the marriage of performance and storytelling that the best shows bring together.
“Everyone’s doing a cabaret show with a mix of storytelling and singing,” Will said. “The singing is great and that’s what gives you goosebumps, but when you can tie it to the person’s personal journey? There’s a real story there.”
Leola’s Lady Land Lounge is a monthly variety show presented at The Green Room 42. Leola will feature artists who have upcoming shows on location and introduce the audience to someone who is not quite a singer but is still a member of the arts world. Tickets are available here and the first installment will be Thursday, September 30 at 7 p.m.
You can learn more about Leola at her place website.