Re-bar; ends Sat., Dec. 31
"J'ai adore vous," Dina Martina gushes at the climax of her Christmas show. As if she needed to. The consummate entertaineress has yet again assembled (in the way that train wrecks are "assembled") an evening of song, dance, and reminiscence that adds up to an orgy of affectionate generosity. The show's billed as all new, but naturally creator/drag artiste Grady West could never deprive fans of the Dina moments they love and crave: the trowel-applied glossy magenta lipstick; the inadvertently backless (unzippable) loungewear Dina fills to overflowing; another poignant visit from her daughter Phoebe (pronounced "foe-ebbie"); and, of course, her shopping bag full of holiday treasures (sit on the aisle if you want to be gifted!).
Dina's oblique relationship with the English language goes beyond mere malapropism—some of her stage banter sounds as though it was devised by random-word-generating software. Of her charity work: "I try to fry fudge for at-risk youth." Of the repertory on her new album: "tunes of broth and crockery." With her brave fashion choices, her exuberant solo choreography, and her way with a song (her set list takes an '80s twist this year), she redefines the concepts of "success" and "failure." GAVIN BORCHERT
Ham for the Holidays
Theatre Off Jackson; ends Sat., Dec. 24
An inopportunely timed Thanksgiving opening schedule forced me to attend a preview of Ham for the Holidays: Desperate Spuddwives, and therefore the Critic's Code forbids me from evaluating the performances I could cheer or slag on the official opening night. I am free to note that this is the seventh outrageously hammy revue script perpetrated by Lisa Koch and Peggy Platt (whose duo, Dos Fallopia, has a cult following exceeded only by Jim Jones), abetted by director Michael Oaks, musical director/actor/top-heavy drag queen D.J. Gommels, and Vincent Kovar in his first stage appearance in heels. I can tell you that the preview audience prevented actors from speaking for minutes at a time due to outright prolonged laughter at the sight of these clowns, before they could even open their mouths.
Not that they're disinclined to open their mouths—or, in Platt's case, color waaaay outside the lines of her lips and make her mouth resemble the Mask of Tragedy while travestying Naomi Judd (to Koch's Wynonna) and cracking pungent bathroom jokes. I am also free to reveal that they have composed some lovely original tunes, including "Middle Aged Woman" ("I can't remember squat . . . there's a ringin' in my ears, and I tend to fart a lot"), and lots of new lyrics for standards, like "That's What Friends Are For" rewritten as a pointed send-up of ambiguously supportive gay male/ lesbian relations. The longest skits skewer Dick Cheney, Angry Housewives, the nonexistent Sequim Men's Chorus, and Condi Rice (who is, of course, Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct). Platt, known for her plus-sized humor, appears to have stowed most of her weight in Gommel's overstuffed bra. Some of the writing is as funny as Dan Savage's update of The Misanthrope at Re-bar. But I'll not violate the Critic's Code by telling you just which performances I found most or least gut-busting. Let your own gut be your guide. TIM APPELO