Call me an old Grinch, but I hate holiday shows. I’ll take wrapped packages and hung stockings any day of the year, but Christmas-centric theater has always been a pine needle in my side. Unfortunately, ’tis the season in Manhattan for enough Scrooge spoofs, carol-crammed cabaret, and Hanukkah high jinks to make a tourist forget all about the annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
Factor in my completely rational fear of self-indulgent one-man shows and low-budget queer theater, you can guess how hard I initially tried to avoid Jeffrey Solomon’s solo mockumentary Santa Claus Is Coming Out, which jingles all the way through December 20 at the Kirk Theater. But trust that I’ll be sending a thank-you card this Christmas to Focus on the Family, who recently accused Solomon of “using shock tactics to expose children to homosexuality” and alerted me to his magically merry and moving performance. Making Tiger Woods look like the Tooth Fairy, Solomon cleverly creates a scandal in which Santa is gay and Mrs. Claus is just a beard hired by his Jewish agent. Solomon’s other characters include a questioning little boy begging for a doll and the empathetic Rudolph, who heads up the workshop’s Misfit Task Force.
Also inciting a minor conservative uproar is drag performer Mimi Imfurst, whose hilarious holiday show Madonna’s Christmas Celebration imagines the Holy Mother as a boozy lounge singer who got knocked up by God as a teen and, like that other Madonna, made up her mind to keep her baby. Described as “worse than the sin of abortion” by the Catholic Advocacy Coalition and as “despicable, blasphemous and abominable trash” by DailyCatholic.org, the fourth annual installment of Mimi’s satisfyingly sacrilegious satire kicked off a six-city tour at the Laurie Beechman Theatre on December 6 (visit VirginMaryLive.com for remaining dates). Mimi may be going to hell in a handbag just by singing reworked pop songs — “Fast Mule,” a comic take on Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” is among the more inspired bits — but it’s definitely a trip worth taking.