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”I think Lady Gaga still hasn’t quite reached diva status yet,” says Christopher Peterson. ”She hasn’t had the big hit yet. She was great at the Grammys this year, but we need…more.”
Peterson certainly knows from his divas. He’s been impersonating — and singing as — ”the great divas of entertainment” for nearly three decades now. A staple in resort towns, from his home base in Key West to Rehoboth, Peterson channels in his one-man-shows everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Madonna, Carol Channing to Cher, Barbra Streisand to Liza Minnelli. ”Each one allows me to stretch my acting muscle in a different way,” he says. They also allow the natural tenor to show off his multiple octaves, honed not just from decades of practice but also growing up a chorus boy in eastern Canada. He also grew up impersonating Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball.
”It’s just something I was absolutely born to do,” says Peterson, who has sung in drag for 18 years. ”For the first 10 years of my career it was all lip-synch like everybody else did. Not too many people have the vocal ability [to actually sing].”
This weekend, he’ll reprise his show Divas with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C. ”The boys sing along with my ladies and then interpret some of the numbers these great ladies did.” While he’s off-stage changing his ”wig and costume,” the boys will even sing Gaga for a short tribute.
Of all the divas, Peterson says Judy Garland seems to have the most resonance.
”Everyone has a different favorite, but I always end my show with Judy,” he says. ”She’s just a little bit more special than all the other girls. For 40 years she was the greatest entertainer that America ever produced.”
Divas is Saturday, June 5, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, June 6, at 3 p.m. Lisner Auditorium, The George Washington University, 730 21st St. NW. Tickets are $20 to $50. Call 202-994-6800 or visit gmcw.org.