Island City Stage's 'Which Way to the Stage' Features Flawless Performances

Sophia Porcel, Clay Cartland and Gaby Tortoledo in the "Drunk Bride to be" scene at the local drag bar in "Which Way to the Stage". Photo via Island City Stage, Facebook.

Island City’s Stage’s production of “Which Way to the Stage” features four flawless performances by seasoned actors, but the show belongs to the two leads, Matthew Buffalo and Sofia Porcel, as the obsessed-with-Idina-Menzel-not-quite-making-it-as-actors, Jeff and Judy.

The first act flies by with lots of inside theater jokes and campy, bitchy dialogue that keeps the audience laughing. Clay Cartland (maturing from young hottie to hot daddy nicely) makes an appearance mid-act one as Mark, another actor Judy meets at an audition, who puts the moves on her. Gaby Tortoledo is also in this scene as a bimbo, who is not all she seems, in one of the numerous roles she brings to life throughout the show. Judy takes Mark to see Jeff’s drag show, where he is debuting his tribute to Idina Menzel, and suddenly we begin to question whether Mark is as straight as we thought he was. He’s certainly into Jeff’s act; a campy medley of Idina’s greatest hits that brings down the house for the first act closer. It’s to playwright Ana Nogueira’s and director Michael Leeds’ credit that the first act zips by.

In the second act, things get messy, plot-wise. It’s after the show, Mark and Jeff are hanging out in the bar after-hours. Judy left in the middle of Jeff’s show (which because of the way the show is staged, I completely missed). The drag act takes place stage left, and Mark and Judy are sitting stage right. Since your focus is stage left, many on that side of the theater don’t notice her leaving. Mark kisses Jeff, who kisses him back before stopping him. The next scene, in which Judy and Jeff wait in the alley for Idina’s autograph, yet again, shows the awkwardness between them. When things finally erupt, Judy has a terrific speech about how drag can be seen as an affront to women, and Porcel delivers it beautifully. It reminded me of America Ferrara’s speech in the “Barbie” movie. In any other audience, it would have gotten a round of applause, but not in a room filled with gay men. I wanted to applaud but felt intimidated because even though I’ve done drag, I got her point. Hopefully, other men in the audience sat on their hands only because they too felt intimidated. We should have stood and cheered, for she was right. However, Jeff’s response was also correct, drag also celebrates women. That’s the thing, it does both.

The show is not without its problems. It’s as if Nogueira didn’t know how to end it. After their blow-up Judy storms out, and you know she and Jeff will no longer be friends, nor will she be seeing Mark. That could have been the last scene. Then Jeff and Mark run into each other at an audition. It turns out Mark has been pursuing Jeff. Jeff has been ignoring him. It looks like they’ll become a couple, but no, in a roller coaster of a scene, they’re planning a future and then break up. That could also have been the last scene, but no. We return to the nightclub where Jeff holds his drag show. He comes out in a robe and a bad Barbra wig, no make-up (why?), and announces a guest star. Surprise, it’s Judy, all sexed up and lip-syncing to Patti Lupone rendition of “Rose’s Turn.” It’s a joke from early in the show, but is so counter to the character that I just sat there thinking, “Why?” It completely contradicts the character’s great monologue and the fact that she is supposed to have a killer singing voice. Except for the last ten minutes, this is a great show.

"Which Way to the Stage"
Island City Stage
2304 N Dixie Hwy.


Phone: 954-514-7095
Hours: Monday - Friday 9AM - 2PM


2520 N. Dixie Highway,
Wilton Manors, FL 33305



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