BWW Review: A DRAG CHRISTMAS CAROL lip syncs for its life at Obsidian Theater!
A DRAG CHRISTMAS CAROL is the most apt and literal title of this holiday theatrical season. It is indeed Dickens' old tale of Scrooge and ghosts, but this time hosted by local drag queen Regina Blake-Dubois. The "Bah Humbug!" guy is a Republican senator, and he is visited by Miss Gay Texas 2018, Freddie Mercury, Lady Gaga, and a coven of Handmaidens who somehow make him see the error of his Bible beating MAGA ways. If you're the choir this one is preaching to, you'll have a great time celebrating the season and making the yuletide VERY gay.
This show is co-directed by founder Tom Stell and frequent Obsidian collaborator Kelsey McMillan. Stell does double duty as the Scrooge character here named Beauregard Flint. He has a lesbian daughter who is about to give birth with her wife, and the ultra conservative grump is none too pleased about that prospect. He is also in the midst of passing a congressional bill (not so subtly numbered 666) that would strip Planned Parenthood, abolish environmental controls, and remove any gun restrictions among other things. The rest of the cast portray multiple characters from senators, pop stars, and various gays and lesbians. It becomes a glittery pop culture blender with a decidedly queer sensibility they throw a right wing jerk into. Local playwright Rhett Martinez came up with this satire along with input from the cast. It all works fine, and it is a lot of fun to see how these kids reinvent a tired old tale that you can see in its original form downtown at the Alley. This is an irreverent retelling with no apologies about what it is doing. The performers know this, and camp it up to the level of... well... that drag queen who hosts the whole thing.
Regina Blake-Dubois plays herself, and lucky for us that's fabulous enough to not make her stretch any more than the red jumpsuit she wears throughout the show. She does the same kind of patter you'd hear during any given Monday night at her home bar Michael's Outpost. Impressively enough, she sings live rather than lip sync (somewhat rare in the drag world). She's savvy enough to know taking on Mariah Carey's iconic "All I Want for Christmas is You" means she should shoot for comedy rather than crooning. She's charming throughout the evening, and makes a gracious wonderful host for the proceedings. Just enough naughty to be extra nice! Her stage debut is perfectly marvelous, and here's to hoping we see her or her male inventor again soon on the stage.
Tom Stell sticks to what he does best too - conservative backwoods hillbilly who has a change of heart. Senator Flint is the kind of character he does very well, and in this show he's awfully funny and yet sincere when needed. Haley Hussey plays the lesbian daughter, and I was impressed by how honest and real she came across. It doesn't hurt she also kicks the crap out of any musical number given to her, specifically the reworking of "Baby It's Cold Outside". She's got a great singing voice! Danielle Bunch plays her wife, and she too creates a nice three dimensional character amongst all of this silly merriment.
The rest of the ensemble just goes for broke, and ditches grounded reality. They play broad, they play fast, and they play loud as if they were all on Saturday Night Live. Some standouts include Paige Thomas when she takes on Freddie Mercury and also Caleb Wyrick as he struts around as Lady Gaga. These two are hysterical, and the directors have nailed inventive ways to present the pair of gay icons from past and present. They will rock you, and their Christmas trees are indeed delicious. I enjoyed Kyle G. Stephens who somehow navigates both a lecherous Republican as well as a gender fluid savior with fabulous flair in both portrayals. He also has one of the most impressive voices of the cast. And those creepy Handmaidens? They are pretty damn good too singing under His eye.
Obsidian Theater has announced A DRAG CHRISTMAS CAROL will be the last production in its Heights space, and they will subsequently move over to the MATCH complex in the Fall of next year. It makes strange sense to have this kind of a crowd-pleasing joyride be their swansong before they make their way into new digs and directions. So get to this one so you can enjoy the physical intimate space one last time, and witness some talented kids satirizing the Dickens out of conservative Christmas. Happy holigays!
A DRAG CHRISTMAS CAROL runs through December 15th at the Obsidian Theater in the Heights. Tickets are easily acquired through their website at www.obsidiantheater.org