“Viva La Diva”, Utah’s first and only professional drag and impersonation show, is celebrating their first anniversary this fall. Jason CoZmo, a Utah native, is the show’s director and producer and is well known all over America for his impersonation of Dolly Parton. He started “Viva La Diva” on September 23, 2016, and his performance of Dolly is a key part of each show —attracting diverse audiences from all over Salt Lake. In a recent interview, CoZmo answered questions about the challenges that come with putting on the show, why he returned to Salt Lake City and why he created “Viva La Diva”.
When asked how he felt about the anniversary of the show he said, “It is crazy! It’s been a whirlwind. I started this show a year ago and it was supposed to be once a month…within three months we were once a week. It’s every week, it’s either every Saturday night or Sunday brunch.” CoZmo was initially hesitant to start his inspired drag show. “I wasn’t sure how it was going to be perceived here in Utah,” he said, “I’m from here but I’ve been…away for eighteen years and it’s just taken off. I’m excited! I’m so grateful the people just love it.” He especially loves his audience saying,
“One of the most rewarding things has been the huge diversity in the audience…we get straight, gay, lesbian…literally people from 21 to 80 years old in every show from every walk of life. And I personally can’t think of any other kind of event anywhere in Utah where you’re going to get gays and lesbians and grandmas and straight couples, middle-aged couples and everything in between…that to me is pretty incredible. That we can bring all these different demographics together to party, to celebrate, and everybody has such a good time together.”
He also enjoys connecting with his fellow performers. “The other rewarding part has been the cast, they need this show…not only the performing art but this type of community, this type of family. We’ve become a family. I work really hard with each individual and as a group… It’s just nothing but rewarding.”
There are various challenges in putting on a show this size, which CoZmo is well aware of. “This is my first time directing and producing, so I own everything, I pay for everything and that has been absolutely a challenge,” he confessed, “but so far—knock on wood—everything’s worked out. We somehow were crazy successful for a year basically from word of mouth and Facebook and things like that [and] now I really want to reach out to everybody…[and] we do welcome everybody.”
CoZmo states that “Viva La Diva” is a different kind of show, due to its professionalism and approach. “The arts are very big in Utah, people like to be involved in and go to the theatre, the ballet, and Salt Lake Acting Company and I’d like to think we’re at that level…A lot of people think ‘Oh gosh a drag show, $25 for a drag show’ but it’s not what you would see in a bar. I’m not saying it’s better or worse, I’m saying it’s just very different. It’s much more the caliber of a Salt Lake Acting Company…extremely professional.”
He credits “Five Wives Vodka”, a Utah distillery, a crucial sponsor for the show, and David Lawrence, a key contributor to “Viva La Diva” as both helping make the show a success, “David Lawrence is my partner…He plays Sharon, and Celine Dion in the show…he makes 90% of the costumes that I wear…he helps with the music, he helps run the floor. He’s definitely my right arm and my left arm. And he’s the only one that’s been in it from the beginning.”
When asked why he returned to Salt Lake City, CoZmo talked about how his family lives in Utah and he was looking for a place “to plant [his] roots” after spending 18 years living in big metropolitan cities, “I left when I was eighteen… I didn’t think I’d come back because I’m a performer, I’m gay, I wasn’t raised Mormon…I thought ‘There’s nothing in Utah, it’s just way too closed minded’.” He was touring with his “one-man Dolly Parton show” when he started considering where to settle down. When he finally moved back to Salt Lake City, he began touring again and came to the conclusion that Salt Lake City needed a show of its own. “I thought ‘You know, gosh, maybe this could work in Salt Lake’ and maybe we could really make a difference; really change people’s perspectives on everything…and that’s kind of what’s happening which is really great.”
“Viva La Diva” is a fun, fabulous show for all audiences featuring a full-length Cabaret. Popular female impersonations include Dolly Parton, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Pink, Celine Dion and many more. Shows will be performed throughout the month of October, featuring evening and brunch performances on the weekends. “Viva La Diva” is performed at Club X, which has a full bar and food menu. Evening shows start at 8 p.m. on October 13 and 28. Brunch shows starts at 2 p.m. and the doors and bar open at 12:30 p.m., on October 8 and 22.
This event is 21+
Address: Club X, 445 S 400 W Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Tickets: $25 each and can be purchased at www.parrottix.com
Special discount for students: Bring a copy of this article when purchasing your ticket at the venue and receive $10 OFF your ticket price!
Tables can be reserved by emailing Info@TheVivaLaDIVAShow.com
Running Time: 120 minutes