Itís Queer Eye For "The Nativity".
A flamboyant playwright named Rod (Jason B. Schmidt) has come up with a brilliant idea for his next big production. Since it’s holiday time Rod has tailored an exquisite play that marries the birth of Jesus Christ with gay cultural references. His boyfriend Manny (Adam Weinstock) and mutual friend, Don (Blaine Pennington), are usually very supportive when it comes to producing Rod’s plays. But every play that Rod has written so far has bombed with audiences and critics alike.
Both Manny and Don would like to put their resources behind a hit at least once before they croak so they dump Rod’s play for another writer’s script. When Rod finds out his play has been pushed aside for another sparks fly and much drama ensues.
And that’s just the beginning of The Gayest Christmas Pageant Ever!
Joe Marshall (writer & director) has delivered a fractured fairy tale of a Christmas story with zany characters, outlandish mishaps and even a few moments of emotional depth. Currently playing Off-Broadway at the The Actor’s Playhouse, this drop dead delirious adventure is just one nutty scene after another. The mayhem starts when Rod learns that his play has been deep sixed by his two trusted friends. When they’re Plan B backfires Manny and Don try to go back to Rod’s play only to find that the jilted writer has already set his plot for revenge in motion.
Okay, so I’m kinda spoiling the first couple of scenes but that’s okay because the big fun is when the gang get started putting the Pageant together. They manage to snag a Broadway director named Margie (Crystal Cotton) to shepherd the fiasco with assistance from an overeager stage manager named Janet (Elyse Beyer). Auditions are held, the rehearsal is set-up and before you know it opening night has arrived.
Sounds simple right? Well, yeah, it does. Luckily, for the audience member that takes a chance on buying a ticket for this show the road leading from the casting call to the show’s premier is bumpy and rife with hilarity.
The show isn’t too heavy on the social issues but there are some poignant moments sprinkled throughout the story including a pivotal moment when Rod explains to his frustrated stage manager that the reason why his plays are so “gay-centric” is because he wants his voice to be heard. He wants the voice of the gay community to be noticed and not hidden under a lamp (or locked in a closet) any longer. Every other culture has their holiday tradition and special event so gay culture has the right to have one, too.
In a show called The Gayest Christmas Pageant Ever! you better believe that there are a slew of outrageous characters that will shock you, scare you and maybe even disturb you. The common denominator is that all the characters will tickle your funny bone. The whole cast is incredible but I have to mention a few notable scene-stealers such as "Miss Fag Hag 2009" winner Heather Shields as the way-too-ambitious actress “Tina”. Her monologue during the audition segment is one of the prize moments of the show.
Tina gets a worthy nemesis in the form of an upstaging upstart that goes by the name of “Frommage”. Portrayed with reckless yet dazzling abandon by Bryan Zoppi “Frommage” is a hoot and a half as he strives to upstage cast and crew alike. I also loved Alexandra Dixon as the grumpiest angel ever and Evan Schultz as the lisp-y narrator of the play.
Jim (Ryan Wright) is the resident handyman that does all the physical labor for the show while smoking blunts on his downtime (and he has a lot of downtime). Jim has an even bigger problem than his Mary Jane habit when his mother, Monica (Emily Schramel), comes for a visit. You would think a narcoleptic bigot with Tourette’s syndrome wouldn’t be very amusing but, doggone it, Mr. Marshall has managed to make this character fit right into his colorful confection of Christmas crackpots.
I can imagine some people being turned off by the “Gayest” aspect. I don’t think that’s such a bad thing since we have plenty of room for shows that are based on African American cultural themes, Jewish cultural themes, the male perspective and the female outlook. So why not have a show that includes subjects that the LGBT community would instantly recognize and relate to? Besides, the show isn’t just about gay stuff. It’s predominantly about gay stuff but not completely. So, there’s something for everyone; gay, straight or poodle.
While I'm on the subject of diversity I was also pleased with the wide spectrum of gay “personas”, if you will, present in the show. I liked that the more level headed and “cucumber cool” personalities of Manny and Don balanced out the campiness of the resident drama queens like Rod and Frommage. The Gayest Christmas Pageant Ever! provides a small yet somewhat accurate snapshot of the different types of gay guys out there.
The Gayest Christmas Pageant Ever! made me laugh. It made me laugh a lot. It was a fun and highly entertaining experience. I got totally engrossed in the lives of these beings and I could definitely relate with the drama that comes along with staging a drama. With memorable characters and crazy antics this is one pageant you don’t want to miss.
The Gayest Christmas Pageant Ever! is currently playing at The Actor's Playhouse in New York City from now until January 3rd, 2010. For tickets, showtimes and directions please check out the official website link below. You can also find The Gayest Christmas Pageant Ever! on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace.