Dina Martina Keeps Her Christmas Extravaganza Fresh

Again.

Dina Martina's Christmas Extravaganza

Order your tickets now: By my count, you have only 136 chances in total to see Pacific Northwest Ballet's The Nutcracker, ACT's A Christmas Carol, Intiman's Black Nativity, and Seattle Public Theater's The Santaland Diaries. 'Tis the season for the comfort of the familiar. Dina Martina (alter ego of actor Grady West) has returned, too; but her annual Christmas offering is, as always, all new. No one as devoted (not to say addicted) to entertaining, or as eager (not to say ravenous) for audience approval, as Dina could dare to outright repeat herself. So the question is, how from year to year to keep it fresh, to surpass the glories of her past extravaganzas?

This she does, even without any over-the-top gags like the turkey suit she wore for her On the Boards show some years ago, a sight burned on the retinas of all who saw it. This year's show is stripped down: There are a few video highlights from Dina's fabulicious career, but no other theatrical tricks. It's just Dina, songs, and monologues. Oh, and the fabulous gifts—from strawberry-flavored Gummy Bacon on down—she bestows on a few lucky audience members.

Dina tops herself simply by doing it all worse/better than ever before: The choreography's more spastic, the songs more tasteless, the singing more excruciating (her vertiginous shifts in and out of falsetto would make Slim Whitman dizzy), the personal reminiscences and revelations more squirm-inducing. Non sequiturs and malapropisms are flung like handfuls of glitter, and sparkle like it, too: In Dina's universe, someone who does massage is a misogynist, and she says "perineum" when she means "perennial." The show's most delirious moments are her repurposing of '70s and '80s cheese into holiday songs by rewriting, or mishearing, the lyrics—and here's where I'm torn between wanting to share samples of her genius and not wanting to spoil the surprises. OK, maybe just one: Surely you remember the Rick Springfield hit "(I Wish That I Was) Jesus' Girl."

 
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