Category is: Viva Drag Vegas! We talked to Leland, Golden Globe-nominated songwriter, composer, executive producer, and one of the masterminds behind the music of the glitziest show to hit the Las Vegas Strip, RuPaul’s Drag Race Live!
Along with RuPaul and World of Wonder’s Tom Campbell, Leland poured his heart and soul into creating new original music for the Vegas extravaganza. “These songs truly did originate with Ru; the idea of the songs, the song titles themselves, and what the songs were going to be about,” he said. “I would sit at my house, at the piano, and come up with the melody and structure, and map it all out in my head. I’d start placing these lyrics, and Tom Campbell, Ru and I would complete the songwriting process together, and it was truly collaborative. We work-shopped the hell out of these songs and rewrote, rewrote, rewrote until we felt that they were perfect. Things changed all the time, but the writing process took about six months for four songs. That’s what happens when you’re work-shopping a musical where you have five different vocalists.”
But behind all of the glitter, sweat, and tears, Leland stops at nothing but excellence. And why should he? With his experience writing songs for the biggest stars of our time including Selena Gomez, Troye Sivan, BTS, Ariana Grande, Carrie Underwood and creating the entire Frock Destroyers album, FROCK4LIFE, he’s seen and conquered just about everything. We sat down with him to talk about the show returning to the stage, seeing his music on Drag Race, upcoming projects, and why RuPaul’s Drag Race Live! is unlike any other show the Strip has ever seen before.
First and foremost, how do you feel about RuPaul’s Drag Race Live making its grand return to the stage?
I am beyond excited for RuPaul’s Drag Race Live! to make its return to the Las Vegas Flamingo! There is truly nothing else like it in Vegas. The queens are serving glamorous looks, over-the-top musical numbers, and comedy!
What does it mean to you that drag performances are returning?
The art of drag is an escapism from normality and the boxes we place ourselves in. It’s entertainment meets activism and it’s exactly what we need right now.
What can people expect when they come to RuPaul’s Drag Race Live?
Audiences can expect to have the time of their lives at RuPaul’s Drag Race Live! So much work has gone into this show to make it inclusive, larger than life, and fun!
In one word, how would you describe the show?
What’s been your experience so far with translating your work on RuPaul’s Drag Race into RuPaul’s Drag Race Live?
Translating music from TV to the stage was initially challenging because the flow of an episode on TV is very different than the flow of stage production. From making sure the musical numbers were just the right length, to sound-designing every sound effect, the goal was for everything to feel effortless and expensive.
How has it been seeing the music from the show appear on Drag Race?
Reimagining songs like “I Made It,” “Losing Is the New Winning” and even “Phenomenon” for RuPaul’s Drag Race has been so fun because the songs become new versions with new perspectives. The queens on the series wrote their verses for “Phenomenon” and complimented the chorus while creating their own moment within the song.
Any fun memories you can share?
I love being in an empty theater with the cast and crew and watching rehearsals from different seats. It’s always fun to imagine an audience member watching the show for the first time.
What are some future projects we can look out for?
Not much I can share at the moment! World of Wonder always has so many incredible projects in the works. I’ve been working with Ava Max on new songs that I’m insanely excited about. I’m also music directing and writing original songs for Queen of the Universe!
You can watch Leland’s magic be translated onto the stage at RuPaul’s Drag Race Live! Snatch your tickets and don’t miss out on the amazing production starting August 5th here.