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BWW Review: THE KINSEY SICKS IN OY VEY IN A MANGER at Theater J

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The perfect “let it all hang out” holiday treat!

BWW Review: THE KINSEY SICKS IN OY VEY IN A MANGER at Theater J
The Kinsey Sicks. Photo by Conor Tierney.

The Kinsey Sicks are back! With a militant vengeance and a satirist's lampooning eye, this hilarious Dragapella Barbershop Quartet, entertained the Theater J audience in their show The Kinsey Sicks in Oy Vey in a Manger with a raucous and resounding devilish leer. Traditional Holiday lyrics were turned upside down ---and were encrusted with lewdly lascivious lyrics that had the audience almost falling out of their seats with laughter.

This marvelously witty and acerbic group is extremely hard to categorize, and this non-categorization is an asset since the vivid immediacy of this extremely relevant quartet constantly provokes and disarms one's preconceptions. A vivid, imposing, and eye-catching gift-laden Christmas Tree is the backdrop for a secular contemporary living space that might just be "that" certain manger that we have heard tell of at this time of year. This premise is the jumping-off point for an evening of deadpan glares, sarcastically sneering rejoinders, and witty one-liners as consumerism, pop culture, religion, social conventions, and hypocrisy are all attacked with fervor.

This bewitching quartet is, indeed, excruciatingly funny, and fiercely humorous but this often obscures the fact that all the members of the quartet have fine singing voices, sharp comic timing and an unerring sense of how to inhabit a stage. At times, the manic pace of the comedic material combined with the many reference points, made for an almost surrealistic sense of time. All four members of this group have developed their individual character's persona with truth and a sense of heightened reality.

Jeff Manabat as the glamorous Trixie has an impressive, soaring operatic voice and he pulls all the stops out as he sings of the wonders of Jenny Craig. Music Director Manabat also wrote the original music with Emeritus member Benjamin Schatz and helped with the arrangements (The creative arrangements are also credited to Chris Dilley and Irwin Keller). "Silent Night" will never be the same again after listening to the spot-on "Soylent Night".

Spencer Brown has created a character of wacky and endearing coquettishness as Trampolina. The hard-hitting "Get A Gun" was a tour-de-force of comedic and satiric timing. Brown's finely etched character helped to convey the irreverence of the show without a strident tone.

Nathan Marken (as the pragmatically controlling yet, concurrently, ditzy character Winnie) was a revelation. Marken shone in the "War on Christmas" ("White Christmas" parody) and the song "Nice Jewish Girls" which was a winning novelty song replete with interesting wordplay on the world's influential Jewish women.

Breaking down the fourth wall ensued in the Second Act when J. B. McLendon (As the rage-filled character Angel) singles out a gentleman in the audience to interact with. McLendon knows how to push the envelope of ire-driven comic delivery and still hit the mark. McLendon is a strong, visceral presence and he really delivers in the amusing new take on Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry Be Happy" entitled "Don't Be Happy-Worry" (This emphatic yet breezy satiric song was accompanied by rhythmic doo-wop throughout by the other members of the group).

The Kinsey Sicks have been provoking audiences for almost thirty years with their unique brand of irreverent, leftist-political lyrics, music, and repartee. Upon reflection, I have not seen so many non-PC swipes at the established order since the heyday of the old National Lampoon and Mad Magazines.

In Provincetown and San Francisco, I first encountered this ever-evolving group. They have adapted their material well in each touring stop. This visit is no exception. The Kinsey Sicks have never been known to soften their message, so be warned that this is adult material.

Special citations to Emeritus Member Benjamin Schatz for the Original and Parody Lyrics and Thomas Howley for the glitzy, kitschy, and creative set.

The Kinsey Sicks in Oy Vey in A Manger ---the perfect "let it all hang out" holiday treat!

Running Time: One Hour and forty-five minutes with a fifteen-minute intermission.

Oy Vey in a Manger runs through December 25, 2021 at Theater J in the Edlavitch DCJCC's Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater located at 1529 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tickets are available at theaterj.org or by calling the ticket office at 202-777-3210.


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