DROP DEAD GORGEOUS – A Drag Murder Miss-tery

BATS Theatre, The Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

20/09/2022 - 24/09/2022

Production Details

Written and conceived by Jeremy Hinman & Olly Humphries
Music and lyrics by Andy Manning
Tracks created by Sam Jones

Design by Whiteroom Digital 
Set design and construction by Chris Reddington

Presented by Les Femmes

J R Entertainment is proud to announce that the incredible Les Femmes queens will be bringing their new smash hit Drop Dead Gorgeous – A Drag Murder Miss-tery to BATS this September. After their triumphant Wellington debut in 2021, the Les Femmes queens are ecstatic to be returning with their new murder mystery romp.

Set in the Miss Mature Tween Queen Beauty Pageant, the queens will serve some high camp drama as they compete for the crown amidst a murder investigation. That’s right, this year’s front runner has mysteriously been taken out right before showtime!

Each night, the queens are joined by a local guest detective, tasked with solving the murder while trying to navigate the crazy world of tits, tiaras, hairspray, gowns, wigs and heels.

Expect ridiculous characters, hilarious twists and outrageous drama as you try to work out who really done had herses! Can you solve this glamorous murder most foul before our clueless detective?

Content warning: Adult humour, self-deprecation and lashings of innuendo guaranteed.

After seasons in Christchurch, Auckland, New Plymouth and Palmerston North, creator Jeremy Hinman says the gals are over the moon to be bringing the show to Wellington. “We’ve had such fantastic responses from audiences so far and we are so excited to tickle Wellingtons funny bone with this show. We loved performing in Wellington last year and we can’t wait to be back in the capitol spreading our camp hilarity around.”

“Every aspect of Drop Dead Gorgeous sparkles: the set, the costumes, and the charisma of Les Femmes all scream fabulous” – Jordan Jones, Backstage Christchurch

Les Femmes are a class act.” – Erin Harrington, Flat City Field Notes

Content warning: Adult humour, self-deprecation and lashings of innuendo guaranteed.

BATS Theatre, The Stage
20 – 24 September 2022
$25, $22, $20, $40

Starring Miss Manage, Miss Givings, Miss Demeanour

Tech Operated by Mitchell Sigley
Stage Management by Ace Dalziel

Photography by LK Creative  

Theatre ,

1 hr 15 min

High-heel drama keeps audience and guest detective guessing

Review by Sarah Catherall 22nd Sep 2022

It’s high-heel drama when three drag queens compete for a crown while a detective – aided by the audience – tries to solve a murder mystery.

Drop Dead Gorgeous: A Drag Murder Miss-tery is fabulous and funny, and the latest offering of the multi-talented drag queens and musical theatre stars, Les Femmes: Olly Humphries (starring as Miss Givings), Jeremy Hinman (Miss Manage) and Jared Morello (Miss Demeanour).

The show opens with the arrival of Karen O’Leary (who plays Officer O’Leary in Wellington Paranormal) who tells us the queens are not yet ready to come on stage. All we see are a pair of heels peaking out from beneath a curtain. [More]

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A game of intrigue with dramatic twists and a satisfying double climax

Review by John Smythe 21st Sep 2022

How refreshing to see a drag show within a whodunnit, or a whodunnit done in drag, rather than drag performance as an end in itself. We have to pay attention to all sorts of details so although the pace is not exactly dynamic, we are riveted. Dare I say it doesn’t drag?

The set, by Chris Reddington, features an ornate gold-curtained entrance under the banner ‘Miss Mature Tween Queen’ stage right, and a chaise lounge and dressing table stage left. The set-up is that four finalists are about to vie for the crown in the Miss Mature Tween Queen Beauty Pageant but one – Miss Conceit – has died before the pageant begins and murder is suspected.

Portentous music (Andy Manning) and a single torch beam piercing the darkness establishes the tone, initially. Our surprise guest detective this opening night is none other than Karen O’Leary (of Wellington Paranormal fame) and she brings her characteristic laid-back style to the role.

An apparent delay in the readiness of “the pageant people” obliges Ms O’Leary to riff with the audience, with mixed results. We’re not sure if she’s really winging it or it’s part of the show.

At last the opening number – ‘It’s a Queer, Queer Story’ – kicks off the show proper with simple choreography to make it clear the queens are not yet top-of-the-bill stars, and pitched appropriately for BATS’ intimate stage. (A couple of times throughout the show radio-mic misfunctions cause music to drown out voices but that will doubtless be remedied.)

The guest detective has been given one page of script on arrival at the theatre and is obliged to sight-read the rest as the show proceeds, and it’s in very small font, from what I can see. It’s a huge ask, given the screeds of text they need to read out while interacting with the audience and the other characters. I guess the inherent jeopardy adds to the fun.

The suspected murder is confirmed, Ms O’Leary discovers her character name is Detective Bush and she’s required to have “a funny voice”, so she adopts a credible Scottish accent. Because she is new to the job, she needs our help. The audience is asked to decide the outcome, choosing between A, B, C and D, and some of us will find records of evidence or questions for contestant under our seats, which we will be asked to read out at strategic moments. This also engages us well.

As the three suspects are interviewed in the dressing room, we – along with Detective Bush – are alert to discerning possible means, opportunities and motives. And of course there are plenty to choose from. It’s a mark of the genre that it all gets quite convoluted. We don’t get the classic recap, a là The Brokenwood Mysteries, etc. We’re here to enjoy being part of the game of intrigue and feel satisfied if the odd detail we may have noticed turns out to be significant.

Because the show must go on, the business of interrogating and solving the mystery is intercut with phases of the Miss Mature Tween Queen Beauty Pageant which offer welcome respite from the complex verbal interactions.

Each of the drop dead gorgeous suspects brings distinctive characteristics to their role. Jeremy Hinman’s Miss Manage has an imperious air that compensates for her disappointment at not having yet won the crown. Olly Humphries’ Miss Givings is playful in ways that may include diversionary tactics. Jared Morello’s Miss Demeanour is winningly vacant at strategic moments. All play ‘little miss innocent’ with subtle glee.

It’s anyone’s guess as to what variables kick in according to which outcome the audience has chosen at the start. This night delivers splendid dramatic twists that undercut any certainty we may be feeling about who did it. And the double whammy of crowning Miss Mature Tween Queen and exposing the murderer makes for a satisfying double climax.


  • Other guest detectives at BATS this week, in no particular order, are Jthan Morgan, Natasha McAllister, Simon Leary, Mx. Well, Greta Casey-Solly and Sera Devcich.

Advertised as a 75 minute show, opening night ends half an hour later, due in part to the delayed start (caused by the mic difficulties, I’m told).

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