Regional Reviews: San Francisco
The Inventive Kinsey Sicks Returns to San Francisco in the World Premiere of
The New Conservatory Theatre Center and The Kinsey Sicks (America's Favorite Dragapella Beauty Shop Quartet) are sublimely tacky in a Christmas musical that leaves no sacred cow standing. Oy Vey features the four a cappella drag queens singing with biting wit after they have visited the crèche. In fact, they even have the manger right on the stage as they answer the age old yuletide question, "Why is this night different from all other nights?". The show premieres a collection of favorite holiday songs with some way out lyrics that probably would not appeal to your priest, preacher or rabbi. You might say they are X-rated songs not suitable for born again Christian meetings.
The Kinsey Sicks began their career here in San Francisco in 1993 and went on to play in many theaters and cabarets in America, always to great reviews and wonderful audience reception. In 2001, the four starred in the Off-Broadway production of Dragapella!, Starring The Kinsey Sicks at Studio 54. The New York Times reported that their voices were "sweet as birdsong" and Variety called them "sublime." They were nominated for several awards for their inventive lyrics.
Songs heard for the first time in Oy Vey include "God Bless Ye Femmy Lesbians," "A Lay in the Manger" and a new Christmas cuisine standard, "Soylent Night." I won't even go into the lyrics on that song. We can't forget favorites like "I'm Dreaming of a Vanna White Christmas," "Oh Come All Ye Unfaithful" (no need to go into those lyrics either), "It's Crystal Time in the City" and what they have done to the Sound of Music's "Edelweiss," I blush to tell.
Kevin Smith Kirkwood as Trixie really pours it out in a Whitney Houston song in the second act. He dazzles the audience with a powerful impression of the diva and "her personal problems." Irwin Keller as Winnie (a cleaning freak who I thought was Joan Crawford) is wonderful in a song about cleaning the floor. The show's lyricist Ben Schatz plays Rachel, a sex-obsessed Jewish mama who gets the audience to do the "Lithuanian Folk Dance." He also comes out into the audience to help them get into the mood of this "folk song" and then picks some poor fellow to come up on stage so he can do a little lap dance. Schatz's vulgarity as a performer is surpassed only by his sly inventiveness as a lyricist. Trampolina, played by Chris Dilley, complains that her character is not fleshed out but Dilley makes up for it with his golden pipes.
The Kinsey Sicks wear extravagant 1950s drag and present some of the best tight harmonies that I have heard in a long time. They have pitch perfect doo-wop in songs that cross the line of political correctness. They have the voices and harmony of angels, but they are devilishly sinful. The Washington Post said "It's Rent on nitrous oxide."
Oy Vey In a Manger plays through January 3 at the big theater of the New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, Ca. For tickets call 415-861-8972 or on line at www.nctcsf.org. Other attractions currently at the NCTC are Charles Busch's You Should Be So Lucky and Lunatique Fantastique's Construction Cabaret.
Jonathan Tollins's The Last Sunday In June opens on January 14, 2004.