Gold Dust Orphans Deliver Demented Yuletide Fare with ‘Rudolph’ (4.5 Stars)
“RUDOLPH, the Red Necked Reindeer” Written by Ryan Landry; Directed by James P. Byrne; Costumes by Scott Martino; Sets by Windsor Newton; Sound by Roger Moore; Starring Ryan Landry, Olive Another, Penny Champagne; Liza Lott, Jesse Wood; Runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 pm and every Sunday afternoon at 5:00 pm until December 23rd.!
For theatre lovers looking for a traditional holiday production to get them in the holiday spirit, there’s always ‘A Christmas Carol’ and “It’s a Wonderful Life”. But for those of us with slightly edgier tastes, we know we can always count on the Gold Dust Orphans to keep all the Christmas hype in its proper perspective with an outrageous display of holiday Nutcrackin’. And this year they again deliver in a big way.
Last year it was “The Grinch/Christmas Carol” holiday classics that received the Orphans Orphan’s twisted treatment, with “Mrs. Grinchley’s Christmas Carol”. This year it’s “Rudolph the Red Necked Reindeer” a brutally funny musical horrification of the Rankin Bass TV production with a side dish of ET and it’s now-adult child star Drew Barrymore (in a wicked parody by Liza Lott). The flyer for the production carries a big bold warning: This is an ADULT parody! DO NOT BRING YOUR CHILDREN! – which could well be extended to right-wing Christians and homophobes as well. Family fare it ain’t. But fun? You can bet your rum-soaked eggnog it is.
“It’s the coldest winter in 200 years,” sing Santa’s helpers in the show’s opening number, and while Santa (Tim Lawton) is sitting in his easy chair, smoking a bong and being nagged by his gold lame jumpsuited Jewish wife (the always hilarious Penny Champayne) the elves are freezing to death (literally) because Jolly St. Nick won’t heat the workshop. Meanwhile Mrs. Claus is upset that she and her husband have never been admitted to the local country club, one that the Romney-esque reindeer couple – the appropriately named Thurston (Gene Dante) and Lovie (Ryan Landry) Howell – appear to be the admission committee gatekeepers of.
Opportunity knocks for the Clauses however, as Lovie delivers the title character (quite unexpectedly) with the wonderful birth defect – a glowing red neck. Mrs. Claus sees this mutant childbirth as an opportunity to blackmail the Howells into a country club admission, and it just escalates (or devolves, if you’re a sentimentalist) from there.
The story follows the original (sort of) with the narration delivered by a wise old snowman – who is now a snowwoman after gender reassignment surgery and goes by the name of Sharon (Keith Orr) – complete with a carrot nose and two nipples made out of pieces of coal.
As Rudolph (Orphans newcomer Jesse Wood) grows older, he not only has the glowing red neck, but has also developed all the secondary characteristics of a southern redneck, including the deep backwoods Arkansas accent. When the spiteful Mrs. Claus exposes Rudolph glowing nape in front of all the other reindeer and the flight instructor, he is shunned by all, except of course, Clarisse (the always adorable Grace Carney) and he leaves Christmas town. Over at Santa’s sweatshop, Hermie the Elf is not quite cutting it as a factory worker (due his preoccupation with becoming a proctologist) and after being humiliated by his boss and co-workers, decides that he too must get out of Dodge. Rudy and Hermie soon meet on their road to destiny with a fun parody of the Bing Crosby-Danny Kaye early drag classic “Sisters” from the Irving Berlin-scored movie “White Christmas”, which includes a stop at the Island of Dangerous Toys.
It is at the Island where the show really becomes manic. Gold Dust Orphans musical productions are known for having a least one show-stopping number, and the Island is where the lunacy launches into high gear. Led by King Glitterpuss (Jane Pittman) and a measles-infected toy elephant (the thunder-stealing Delta Miles) the cast rips it up with a killer gospel/rap inspired number. The other song and dance numbers shine as well, and the costumes by Scott Martino are outrageously campy. There’s also a great use of puppetry (and I dislike puppets almost as much as mimes), including the Abominable Icicle Snow Monster Lady who terrorizes our heroes throughout.
So if you’re looking for traditional holiday heart-warming stuff, you might want to curl up with a clicker and your beverage of choice and watch the traditional Christmas classics, but if you’re looking for an edgy bit of Yuletide fun, this is the show.