By Eric J. Grimm
As Alaska Thunderf*** 5000, recent winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race walks through the audience toward the stage to perform her new show, Christmas is Gay, it’s clear that she need not utter a word to enthrall the packed house. Like the best drag queens, she is such a complete performer that her every gesture, wink, and contortion of her lips is as thrilling as anything that she says. Her character, a deadpan, brain-fried old Hollywood, tragically cursed with a rocking body, is an endless source of pitch perfect comedy. She’d be perfect to revive an interest in silent film, so fully realized is the physical interpretation of her persona. Luckily, her act is as good as she is, delivering nasty holiday joy for us Christmas-loathing curmudgeons.
Alaska’s act isn’t a tidy package, but a performer of such innate talent and exuberance could easily wing it for an hour. She leaves a section of the show open for audience suggestions, and in this particular show, she dragged up “Silent Night” beautifully before excelling at more obviously funny numbers like “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” and “I’ve Written a Letter to Daddy,” the latter of which would’ve made Bette Davis proud. Her finest moment, the full realization of her insane cleverness, is a mashup of Madonna’s “Frozen” and the anthems of the Heat Miser and Cold Miser from A Year Without a Santa Claus. It’s such a demented idea and it works beautifully as she bounces back and forth seamlessly between downtrodden piano singer and overenthusiastic child actress. It’s the best kind of holiday delight.
Alaska: Christmas is Gay is playing at Laurie Beechman Theater through December 19th. www.westbankcafe.com