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BWW Review: TAYLOR MAC'S HOLIDAY SAUCE at The Kennedy Center

Taylor Mac Holiday Sauce

Presented by the Kennedy Center Taylor Mac tests out a new take on the holidays. Mac (who uses the gender pronoun 'judy'), is an actor, playwright, performance artist and many other things too. Judy was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2017 and is a Macarthur Fellow. Judy's play, 'Gary: a Sequel to Titus Andronicus' premiered earlier this year in April and received 7 Tony nominations. Judy puts on an over the top concert revue that ranges from songs we have known our whole lives as well as some new songs for audiences. It is a show that is somewhat targeted at how everyone in the country knows the traditions and rituals of the holiday season whether they celebrate the holidays or not. These are rituals that everyone has grown up in experiencing such as caroling, forced visits to relatives, Christmas trees, and sitting on Santa's lap. Mac deconstructs these rituals adding in humor and comments where he sees fit.

BWW Review: TAYLOR MAC'S HOLIDAY SAUCE at The Kennedy Center

The show opens with Mac emerging from a cauldron and performing a rendition of The Velvet Underground's 'The Black Angels Death Song" mixed with a cacophonous version of 'Carol of the Bells'. If this does not set the tone for the rest of the show, I am not sure what would. Mac fills the stage with an exceptionally talented band, notably Matt Ray on piano, Viva DeConcini on the guitar, Gary Wang on bass, and Bernice 'Boom Boom' Brooks on the drums. These 4 musicians not only perform in the standard songs but also play music in the background as Mac delivers monologues and banter to the audience. Their background jam sessions help to set the tone and keep up the energy level throughout the show.

BWW Review: TAYLOR MAC'S HOLIDAY SAUCE at The Kennedy Center

Mac invited other performers to share the stage during the show notably, Ari Shapiro, the co-host of NPR's 'All Things Considered' who also has an accomplished performance resume himself performing with the 'little orchestra' Pink Martini. Shapiro offered the audience his version of 'Feast of Lights' by They Might Be Giants singing a song for Hanukah as Shapiro felt there are too many Christmas songs. It brought some variety to the holiday spirit. James Tigger! Ferguson, "The Godfather of Neo-Boylesque" put on a striptease for the audience during the 'Dazzle' number as he came out of a wrapped present and undressed till there was not much else. Mac also welcomed Glenn Marla to the stage as 'Sexual Consent Santa' and played on the idea of how children are forced to sit on the lap of Santa, a grown man with a fake beard, when they never asked to do so.

Mac was donned in dazzling costumes throughout the show and judy changed multiple times as the night progressed. The costume design was done by Machine Dazzle who also functioned as a performer in the show acting as the Christmas tree and other roles in the show. The light design was exceptionally impressive in numbers like 'Cathedral' where Mac was dangling above the stage and Mac's feet were obscured by the light and it seemed as if it was just judy's upper torso hovering in the air. Possibly the strongest number of the show was when Taylor Mac and Ari Shapiro did their rendition of The Pogues' 'Fairytale of New York' where Mac invited members of the audience to come sing alongside everyone onstage while sipping whiskey.

The show runs about 2 hours long. It was a one time engagement at the Kennedy Center but it is touring across various cities in the country during the holiday season.

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From This Author - Russell Smouse