The diva is back and bewildered as ever!

By: Dec. 09, 2023
Dina Martin in
The Dina Martina Christmas Show at ACT.
Photo credit: David Belisle

Dear Readers, I am loathed to admit that I’ve never seen one of Dina Martina’s Christmas shows.  Hey, I’ve only had 25 years to catch one.  I have seen her perform before, way back when at Thumpers on Capitol Hill (back when that existed).  Well, she’s back at ACT this year with “The Dina Martina Christmas Show” and I had to ask myself, “Why did I wait so long?”

If you’re unfamiliar, you should get familiar, Miss Martina has been slaying audiences with her special brand of cabaret since 1989.  She’s performed across the US, Canada, and the UK.  And she has developed a rather rabid fan base as the packed house last night will attest.  But how to describe her?  Let’s take this in parts, shall we?

The Look
Part Judy Garland, part Rosemary Clooney, and part Joanne Worley (you younger readers may need to google some or all of those).  With her over-teased bouffant hair, extreme makeup and those iconic red lips, Dina is someone you won’t soon forget.  And those outfits!  Let’s just say that Dina has never heard the phrase, “less is more”, unless it applies to her having a hemline that covers her nether regions.  And her stunning Christmas fare last night was no exception.

The Set
At first glance we have, what appears to be, an ornate yet homey Victorian Christmas style manor.  But look closer to see odd portraits on the wall (was that Colonel Sanders?) and creepy baby dolls riding a hobby horse.  Is it a dream or some weird acid nightmare?

The Act
Let me just start by saying that Miss Martina may have had a few drinks before the show.  And she definitely had some more during the show.  This dynamic diva stumbles around, slurring her speech and coming up with her own lyrics to old standards.  Her rendition of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” set to Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House” was a bit of genius.  And she’s not afraid to interact with the audience as she routinely shares candies with them, checks in on whomever catches her eye, and even brought up one lucky audience member for the “Gift Parade” (which she pronounces “Jift Parade”).  It’s that old Judy Garland Christmas special but with a diva who is even less “all there”.  Add into that her terse musical accompaniment from Chris Jeffries and what we have is comedy gold.

The Reality
What Miss Martina puts out is pure comedic genius.  This may look like the sloppiest, most chaotic show, from a performer who may not be fully aware as to where she is, but this is a precise performance.  She knows exactly what she’s doing and saying down to every mispronounced word.  And the genius of it all is not only that she can keep it all straight, but that she can make it look so effortlessly crazed.  To play drunk or imbalanced is one thing, but to do it where the audience is not quite sure it’s an act is another thing entirely.  And she manages it beautifully.

This is simply a laugh riot.  And that she can keep this act up, as she has done for over two decades, and never let it get stale or one joke beaten to death is a massive feat.  And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give “The Dina Martina Christmas Show” an “I’m still laughing” YAY.  Take the family, take your friends, to see this off-kilter holiday gift.  Well, maybe leave the kids at home.

“The Dina Martina Christmas Show” performs at ACT through December 24th.  For tickets or information visit them online at