By: Jordan Cohen
Drag star Miss Vodka Stinger is at it again with her Merman-like vocals and acerbic wit, this time with a Christmas show backed by the duo The Martha Rayes (Dan Travis and Anne Rodeman), performing as Stinger’s cute and abused worker-elves.
Decked out in eye-popping emerald green and a red beehive hairdo, Ms. Stinger takes us from hilariously campy interpretations of popular Christmas songs, to envelope-pushing jokes, and hilarious celebrity spoofs – all framed by a narrative device that more or less serves its purpose.
The narrative device is simple: the long suffering, singing and dancing elves have had just about enough of Stinger’s slave driving, and are ready to pack it up and leave her to her own devices. But in the knick of time, the beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy, clad in a tight red cocktail dress, sprinkles the elves with frankincense, gold, and myrrh, sings a jazzy version of “Man With the Bag,” and – phew! – all is made right in Stinger’s realm. Hey, what’s a drag show without a little drama?
All that is well and good, but the real story here is Vodka Stinger, unadulterated, with her big personality, Broadway-belt, and wacky bits. Her upbeat version of “Jingle Bells,” full of shimmies and campy choreography, opened the evening with a bang. The list-song, “It’s Christmas…Ugh,” detailing the miseries of the season, was appropriately prickly and kept the laughs coming.
Performing a 40’s-inspired original song about three little girls awaiting Santa Clause’s arrival – “We’re three little girls with three little curls right in the middle of our forehead” – Stinger and elves frolicked and mugged with daffy glee. The evening was filled with 70’s-style variety show choreography, danced by all with a wink and a nod.
Stinger is not shy about getting sentimental, and thankfully so. She delivered lovely and heartfelt renditions of “What Are You Doing for New Year’s Eve?” and a mostly sincere version of “White Christmas.” She let it all go in her encore, belting out rousing versions of “Let it Snow” and the old classic, “I Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl,” which she performed to critical acclaim in The Comedy of Errors at San Diego’s Old Globe last summer.
Hands down, the funniest segment of the evening arrived when stinger donned a pair of oversized 70’s glasses (think Charles Nelson Reilly) and presented a slide show of children’s drawings of everyday Christmas scenes with celebrity heads photo-shopped onto the stick figure bodies. Who knew that Catherine Zeta-Jones and Glenn Close spend their Christmases at the Bodies exhibit? Or that Michael Feinstein and Barbara Cook lay in bed each Christmas Eve watching Silver Linings Playbook and eating almond butter? Oh, and is that Margot Kidder behind a bush!?
I literally choked on my wine, I was laughing so hard.
Miss Vodka Stinger’s Christmas Special
With Vodka Stinger, Dan Travis, and Anne Rodeman
Music director: Frank Spitznagel
December 12, 2015 (one night only)
254 W. 54th St., Cellar, New York, NY 10019