There are questions that need to be answered: Do you like your humor raucous? Rowdy? Completely irreverent? Topical? Sarcastic? Wry? Ironic? Punny? Unabashedly blue? Delivered with panache and glittery costumes and really big hair? Then you will love the “Kinsey Sicks’ Oy Vey in a Manager,” now playing at Theatre J through December 25. The ultimate Dragapella® Beautyshop Quartet is again gracing (in so very many ways) Theater J’s stage to provide us with belly laughs, glamour, glitz, golden bon-mots, and a really interesting way to use mistletoe, among other standard holiday tropes.
This is a show for grown-ups—grown-ups that understand that life can be absurd, hard, and beautiful, and is best gotten through with lots of laughter, love, and sex.
The girls (think Golden Girls—well, mostly Blanche Devereaux), who have been housemates for the past two thousand years or so, are all [over]dressed for an open house (like the time Dorothy dressed like the “mother of a Solid Gold Dancer” for her “date” with the priest). Their house in Bethlehem, PA is in foreclosure and the girls need to do a clean-up of the place which somehow incorporates the actual manger where “the Christs lived.” The first act showcases their half-hearted attempts to bring some order, but so many objects bring back memories, and they just have to burst into song. And dance. And add some snark. They like to burst into anything.
In the second act, the ladies open the door—the fourth wall—and invite us all to the open house. The audience engagement at this point can’t be spelled out, but it was sliding-down-in-your-seat and snorting-with-laughter funny. I will never be able to see mistletoe without puddling on the floor, gasping through tears and laughter.
The songs our queens gift us with are original and parody lyrics by Benjamin Schatz, with original music by Shatz and Jeff Manabat, who also provides the music direction. The arrangements are by Manabat, Chris Dilley, and Irwin Keller. The book is by Benjamin Schatz, with Irwin Keller and Spencer Brown, Jeff Manabat, and Nathan Marken. Our ladies aren’t just lovely, they are talented—they can sing, dance, and banter.
The topical (i.e., political and COVID-19) humor is kept pointed but light. At some particularly acute observations delivered in such ladylike manners, the audience burst into spontaneous applause. Sadly, from 2016 on, there’s been a lot of material from which to choose. But luckily, the Kinsey Sicks know how to deliver in a way that feels fresh and punchy.
Of course the costumes are fabulous. Each is dressed head to toe in a glorious swath of vibrant color and in a style that conveys the character—from the pixieish Winnie (sporting a Laura Petrie verve for capri pants, only with sass) to the glamorous Trixie (in a green gown that is stunning and regal) to Angel’s “innocent” girl look (yes, she makes red look kind of innocent) and finally to Trampolina’s gorgeous, purple-sequined shorts suit that showcases her legs. All of the ladies wear proper gloves—so Trampolina’s look like purple latex, but they do the job.
The stage is a delightful mishmash of color and kitschy objects ranging from the sacred to the secular—the collection of several millennia.
This is a show for grown-ups—grown-ups that understand that life can be absurd, hard, and beautiful, and is best gotten through with lots of laughter, love, and sex. Don’t bring the kids, just bring yourself, your friends, and significant others and come to laugh—and maybe to get ideas for your New Year’s gown. Don’t miss this show!
Running Time: Approximately two hours with a 15-minute intermission.
Show Advisory: Recommended for ages 18+.
“The Kinsey Sicks’ Oy Vey in a Manger” runs through December 25, 2021 at Theater J, 1529 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. For more information, please click here.