Gay African-American musicals aren’t exactly ten a penny in cinemas, but for two weeks director Sheldon Larry’s Leave It on the Floor will be showing at the Leicester Square Theatre.
When cute, lonely Brad (Ephraim Sykes) is kicked out of his family home by his mother when she discovers that he’s gay, he quickly hitches his wagon to the so-called ‘House of Eminence,’ a gaggle of cross-dressing performance artists with a seemingly endless arsenal of snappy one-liners. Ruled over by rambunctious mother hen, Queef Latina (Barbie-Q), Brad proves irresistible to two members of her crew, sensitive Carter and the more outspoken Princess.
Some of Leave It on the Floor’s story elements feel a little by-the-book, in particularly Brad’s confrontations with his homophobic mother, and a last minute tragedy that is surplus to requirements. But this is easy to forgive when you take into account how worthwhile the story’s messages are, in particular its emphasis on non-nuclear families, performance as a way of self-expression and doing right by the ones you love. And if that makes Leave It on the Floor seem earnest, be aware that it’s as full as finger-snapping comebacks, put-downs and pick-up lines as it is musical numbers.
The songs, written by Glenn Gaylord and Kim Burse, range from soulful gospel to high-energy pop, and the dance moves, by Beyoncé’s choreographer, Frank Gatson, Jnr., ensure that the film rarely flags. These plentiful, finely-tuned numbers lead to a dance-off finale that ends things in appropriately exuberant style, and the sheer uninhibited joy in performance more than papers over the cracks in the story. A message movie this may be, but they don’t come much more gleefully gaudy than this loud, unapologetic blast of a musical.
By Ben Fowler
Leave it on the Floor will be screening at the Leicester Square Theatre from 1–16 August. Tickets £10/8.