The Birdcage Cabaret will open March 1 at 504 Angela St., where the Sidebar formerly was located as part of the Aquaplex entertainment complex. The new venue will feature a fully choreographed, nightly drag and variety show. CONTRIBUTED

Christopher Peterson is taking the downtown drag scene in a different direction.

The master of impersonations, known for singing rather than lip-syncing, Peterson expertly becomes Cher, Julie Andrews, Tina Turner, Barbra Streisand and others. He is now co-producing and directing a whole new show at what will become the Birdcage Cabaret at Aquaplex.

In the coming weeks, the former Sidebar, with its entrance on Angela Street, will become The Birdcage Cabaret, with red-carpet, invite-only grand opening shows slated for Friday and Saturday, March 1 and 2.

“The idea is a super-big, fully choreographed variety show featuring drag, plus more than drag,” said Peterson, a Canada native who has performed throughout Canada, Los Angeles, Key West and other top national venues for more than 30 years. He even appeared as a version of Lucille Ball next to Cuba Gooding Jr. in the Hollywood movie “Rat Race.”

His longtime signature show, “Eyecons,” toured in the U.S. and Canada and showcased his style, singing talent and adaptability. It was a one-man (several-women) show with no lip-syncing and eye-catching costumes.

Peterson will perform in the new variety show at the Birdcage Cabaret, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m.

“It’s going to be a mix of singing and lip-syncing, because lip-syncing works if it’s done with the right gimmick and the right songs,” Peterson said. “Each show will feature a rotating trio of drag queens from Aqua — the Aquanettes — each night. But we’ll also have a variety of local performers, female singers – hell, there could even be jugglers and synchronized bowling.”

The show will be 90 minutes long and in three acts. 

But the entertainment isn’t the only thing changing at the venue formerly known as Sidebar.

“We’re redoing the whole interior, a new stage, glitter on the walls, everything,” Peterson said. “I want it to feel like a Parisian nightclub when someone walks in. It’s really time for something new in the drag and entertainment scene in Key West, which has gotten a bit stagnant in recent years.” 

Sunday nights will feature a show by local drag kings — women performing as men — with additional live entertainment shows planned for Monday and Wednesday nights.

Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.