BWW Review: The Kinsey Sicks Bring Bawdy Humor to Theater J with OY VEY IN A MANGER
If the constant drumbeat of Christmas carols on the radio gives you a headache. If you loathe watching sappy, sentimental holiday movies. If the idea of faking your way through an office holiday party rife with political correctness horrifies you, then I have a quartet of ladies for you to meet. With the holiday's fast approaching, the Kinsey Sicks have returned to Theater J with a show that is sure to provide relief with bawdy humor and outrageous musical numbers. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or Festivus, Oy Vey In A Manager taps into your naughtier side, making sense of the craziness that often fills December.
Let's be clear about one thing - this show is not for everyone. Those with a low tolerance for politically incorrect jokes, sexual humor and fowl-language will want to skip this show. However, if you're willing to let yourself go and just laugh, then head over to Theater J.
The Kinsey Sicks (Spencer Brown, Jeff Manabat, Nathan Marken and Ben Schatz) are a Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet. In Oy Vey In A Manager, we find them selling their home, which just so happens to be the manager where Christ was born. Through deliciously raunchy songs and waggish dish, we learn about the four ladies who have called this manager home as they comment on everything from the incoming Trump Administration to relationships and race in America. The show can best be described as The Golden Girls meets RuPaul, where no topic or person is off-limits or safe, not even the audience.
While Oy Vey In A Manager has a plot, it's a thin one and basically serves as a setup for the jokes and songs. Both of which are filled with double entendres and one-liners, performed with great timing and harmonic perfection. Schatz pulls double duty as Rachel, sort of the group leader, and as the show's lyricist, where songs spoof well known holiday anthems. His work is clever and witty, and the real fun of watching the show is guessing how he'll spoof this song or that one.
Act One is more celebratory, focusing on the holidays, whereas the second act becomes a bit more political. The incoming presidential administration is a prime target, and was the only subject where the audience wasn't unanimous in roaring with laughter. Now, some may hypothesize reasons why that was so. My own personal guess is that because politics was the one subject where the punchline became overly repetitive. How many Steve Bannon jokes can one make until they become predictable?
Still, several of the politically charged songs were not only funny, but also quite astute. Jeff Manabat seductively sings about immigration with "Anchor Baby" spoofing, you guessed it, Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby." Similar to the aforementioned Golden Girls, Will & Grace, or any show with a quartet at the heart of it, each character has their own distinct personality. Brown plays the naïve Trampolina who gets the evening off to a rip-roaring start with the tale of "Lusty the Snowman" often serving, alongside Schatz's Rachel, as the punchline to jokes.
A nice touch is that the character's faiths split, allowing audience members of all faiths to experience the holidays from another perspective. Marken and Schatz hilariously explore being Jewish in a society that has a propensity to favor Christmas.
Oy Vey In A Manager doesn't just spin holiday classics, but doo-wop and rock as well. Each song is cued by Marken who provides the ladies with their melodies. If you've never seen, or heard barbershop, it's incredible to watch. Those unfamiliar with the barbershop quartet style, it can best be described as a cappella group, unaccompanied by music. The fact that you'll be bending over in laughter doesn't hurt either.
Scenic Designers Audrey Bodek and Tom Howley have transformed Theater J into a temple of tinsel and holiday tchotchkes. How else do you describe a Christmas tree with a bra on it? Seriously the living room set is filled with Christmas and Hanukah decorations complete with plastic Santa, moving electric reindeer and colored window lights that pop. For those, like me, who love that kitschy style of decoration, you'll love this set.
Oy Vey In A Manager doesn't tend to have the good cheer of It's A Wonderful Life or the powerful message of A Christmas Carol. What it does have is four melodic ladies and enough humor to take the edge of a stressful season. Right now, what more can you ask for?
Runtime is one hour and forty minutes with one intermission
Note: Adult language is used in this production
Oy Vey In A Manager runs thru December 28th at Theater J - 1529 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20036. For tickets please click here.
Photo: The Kinsey Sicks. Credit: Paco Ojeda