Drag sensation Rosé, currently starring as Victor Garber in Off-Broadway’s Titaníque through May 21, is no stranger to the stage. Since making it to the final four in season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, she’s been touring the world as one of the industry’s preeminent drag queens. But this current role has Rosé—or should we say Ross McCorkell—hanging up the wigs and gowns for a non-drag role. It may seem like a departure, but Rosé says it’s anything but.
“The reality is that drag is a costume, and we are all doing drag every day,” she says. “When we go to work, we are putting on some sort of attire, a character.” As a certain other world-famous drag queen has been known to say, we’re all born naked and the rest is drag.
More importantly, though, Titaníque is a homecoming for Rosé, who grew up in Houston, Texas as a theatre kid doing high school musicals, later getting a degree in musical theatre from Wichita State University. “I created [Rosé] because I wanted to be on stage every single day. It gave me the chance to be performing every day in a character where I could just improvise and say whatever I wanted,” she shares.
Once Rosé became such a hit, she followed that path and let theatre take a backseat. “Some dreams you start to let go,” she admits. “You’re like, if it’s not now, maybe later, but I’m fine without it. And suddenly I’m like, wait—this brings me so much joy and I’m really fucking good at it. I look at the joy I have being in Titaníque, and the success Rosé has. I have to bridge these two in a way that I don’t think has existed before.”
Yes, friends, Rosé has declared that her current Off-Broadway stage performance will not be her last if she has anything to say about it. They say drag is uniquely adept at uncovering the full breadth of one’s multitudes, and this drag star is ready to embrace the whole thing—in or out of drag.
Playbill took Rosé to the TDF's world-renowned Costume Collection Rental Program to let her have a shot at some of the roles she’s most eager to play on the stage. Being a famous drag queen, we expected Rosé’s choices to be larger-than-life female characters, but she had other—and more expansive—ideas.
Luckily, TDF’s collection has more than 85,000 costumes encompassing almost any theatrical dream one could have. Better still, much of their collection comes from major film and stage projects, giving lots of their pieces a historic and starry background. And by the way, if you’re a theatre maker and salivating at the sound of this collection, you should know that TDF rents their pieces out to companies on every level, from schools and community theatres to professional companies and even major film projects—click here for rental information.
Let’s take a look at Rosé’s dream roles (including her number-one pick that will definitely surprise you).
The Emcee, Cabaret
Says Rosé: “I’ve always idolized Alan [Cumming] being Scottish myself. Of all the roles he’s played, The Emcee is the one that I always gravitated towards. It’s a huge dream of mine. The character is already like me in drag when I’m at the mic, center stage and directing traffic. And he’s such a chameleon, which of course any drag queen would relate to. And also frankly, about most topics: I, too, don’t care much.”
Norma Desmond, Sunset Boulevard
Rosé performed in the ensemble of a production of this Andrew Lloyd Webber musical during her college days, at Kansas’ Music Theatre Wichita. Her Norma in that production, Merrily We Roll Along original Broadway cast member Ann Morrison, turned out to be a huge influence on Rosé’s life and career.
“When I was in school for musical theatre, everything felt so militant. That’s where I tapped into a really unhealthy ideal of perfectionism,” Rosé tells us. “When I met and worked with Ann, she was just such an ethereal presence and had fun everywhere she went—and she always nailed it. I was like, ‘OK, wait, if that’s an option for my life and for being an artist, that looks more attractive to me.’ You could say Ann Morrison inspired me to do drag.”
King George III, Hamilton
Rosé mostly counts this Lin-Manuel Miranda creation amongst her dream roles because “I love the show and think I’d sing the shit out of it.” But pressed further, it turns out she really connects with bad guy characters. “I’m definitely a villain,” she admits. “Villains are so easily queer. They’re eccentric and usually artistic and expressive.”
Enthuses Rosé: “Velma’s all about making headlines, and so I share that with her. She’s a stone-cold diva, a performing bitch. And honestly Velma is one of my dream roles because I’m jealous of Jinkx Monsoon. I just want her job, and frankly, I’m too young to play Mama Morton.”
Joseph, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Yes, it's another ALW musical, says Rosé: “Joseph played a big part in my growing up and becoming a singer and an actor. It was my first leading role [in high school]. My best friend, Abby, was the Narrator. We watched videos of it a few weeks ago—we sang the shit out of it.”
The coat Rosé is wearing is a replica of the one designed by Mark Thompson for Donny Osmond for a 1992 Canadian revival of the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical.
Miss Hannigan, Annie
Rosé does not mince words when it comes to Miss Hannigan: “She is an alcoholic. She is single as fuck. She is getting old. She hates kids, but has so many of them. And literally all of that convenes with my spirit. I’m honestly a little too young to play this role, but I’m feeling like it’s only about five years away.”
Rosé is wearing a dress designed by Susan Hilferty for Katie Finneran for the 2012 Broadway revival of Annie.
You'd be surprised to know, says Rosé, that “Berger is my favorite role of all time. Hair is my favorite musical of all time. I am a hippie. It’s so funny—I’ve become a drag queen, and all of the drag roles that I sought were alcoholics and party animals, which is a part of my past. Yet here I am going to my number-one dream role, which is just a man with long, brown hair who smokes a lot of weed, and that’s who I’m becoming today. Berger is a leader. Berger does not abide by any rules that were set out for societal life. And Berger is sexy. I’ve never seen a production of Hair and not left completely smitten with Berger.”
Rosé is wearing pants designed by Michael McDonald for the 2009 Broadway revival of Hair.
Queenie and Burrs, The Wild Party
“Who doesn’t love a blonde?” says Rosé rhetorically of this Andrew Lippa heroine. “I love that Queenie likes to get in trouble, that she loves to sing her tits off.” But even though Rosé is best known as a drag queen, she doesn’t see that as limiting, in terms of gender. “We did Wild Party while I was in school, and I was also obsessed with Burrs. ‘What is It About Her’ is a song I just love.”
The shirt Rosé wears as Burrs is the same worn by Brian d'Arcy James in the original Off-Broadway production, designed by Martin Pakledinaz.
See the full Playbill gallery of Rose's dream roles below.