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REVIEW: Theatre Out Revisits the Hilarious 'LAST CHRISTMAS...' (through 12/19)

ORANGE COUNTY, CA-Now in its third year, Theatre Out's riotously merry LAST CHRISTMAS I GAVE YOU MY HEART, BUT THE VERY NEXT DAY, YOU SAID YOU WERE GAY continues to slay its audiences with the naughtiest of shows likely to exist for the holidays. Like previous incarnations, it skewers those long-held traditions associated with the season, adding quite a bit of gay-ness to the party. Perhaps a reaction to the show's popularity, this version is a bit longer this year, adding more hearty belly laughs (even a song or two) to what is becoming the upstart theater company's signature holiday offering. The musical farce continues with performances at the Empire Theatre in downtown Santa Ana through December 19.

LAST CHRISTMAS..., the brain-child of local actress (and frequent Theatre Out featured player) Darcy Hogan, is a rapid-fire assault of pop culture parodies and gay jokes, under the guise of a very funny fairy tale (pun intended). In this gay revisionist re-telling of countless perennial classics (It's A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, among others), we find Holly (played by Hogan herself), a young naive Nebraskan girl with big dreams of true love. In comes three of Santa's elves (played by Darius Rose, Frankie Marrone and MaryAnne Mosher) who not only set out to help the poor girl get into the holiday spirit, but they also try to school her on the very, very gay essence of Christmas. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus... and he's a big Jewish nelly homosexual.

This campy satire is rife with so much homocentric humor that, at times, some jokes go so fast you might miss them, especially as the audience is bursting in uncontrollable laughter. In this highly comical pastiche, all of Santa's elves are gay, all Christmas songs have been censored for its gay content, and-according to one of several re-lyricized classics-"Angels We Have Heard Are Bi!" And in a wickedly twisted parallel to Frank Capra's sacred film It's A Wonderful Life, über-gay Alpha Elf Clarence (the enjoyably amusing Rose-playing the role for a third, er, straight year) makes it his mission to help Holly land herself a (heterosexual) man. Clarence hopes that by doing the good deed (finding "a breeder for Holly"), he can finally earn his coveted "Jingle Bells" from Santa. He enlists the help of fellow elves Chico (played by Marrone) and Judy (played by Mosher-doing her best impersonation of a lesbian, complete with handy tool belt).

To support Clarence's revelation that holiday songs we know and love have actually been re-written for mainstream audiences, the elf trio offers Holly a bevy of the "original" versions such as "A Gay in a Manger" and "It's The Most Fabulous Time To Be Queer." As Clarence, Rose-another frequent Theatre Out actor-is a frenetic mix of lunacy and sassiness. He could be the test-tube love-child of Paul Lynde. Hogan, working from a script she wrote herself, is a game comedienne. And Marrone, as Mexi-fabulous Chico, amps the role with much more verve compared to the previous actors that have stood in those same elf shoes. He even has an unforgettably funny A Chorus Line homage dance solo.

To keep the show fresh and timely, Hogan has written in some smart, witty additions to the script (including allusions to everything from Tiger Woods to Beyoncé). Even the addition of the very Glee-inspired "Somebody to Love,"-an unnecessary, though still funny augmentation to the show-contributes to all the holiday buffoonery. Some of the humor may make some wince (beware of flying stereotypes!), but in that enjoyable kind of way that good sardonic, dry wit can sometimes do. This is certainly not a show for kids. It is, however, a festive, gut-busting, very adult parody, that is just the kind of wicked antidote one may want if you're looking for an alternative to the typically subdued musical offerings of the season.

Top Photo: Darius Rose as Clarence, the Most Fabulous Elf. Bottom Photo: MaryAnne Mosher, Frankie Marrone, Darcy Hogan and Darius Rose. Photos by Bill Boland.

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Directed by David C. Carnevale, Theatre Out's Managing Director. Featuring Curtis Andersen, Darcy Hogan, Frankie Marrone, MaryAnne Mosher, Jack Millis and Darius Rose. Approximate Running Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes with no intermission.

Remaining performance dates: Friday, December 11 @ 8:00 pm. Saturday, December 12 @ 8:00 pm. Friday, December 18 @ 8:00 pm. Saturday, December 19 @ 8:00 pm.
 
Theatre Out's home is The Empire Theatre in the Artists' Village in downtown Santa Ana, located at 202 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, CA. Ticket Information: $15.00 adult admission. $12.00 students with valid student ID. Tickets available online at www.theatreout.com or by calling the Theatre Out Box Office at (714) 826-8700.

Visit www.theatreout.com for more information.


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From This Author Michael L. Quintos