Grenadine McGunkle's Double-Wide Christmas
Starring Dorian Rush, Brian Peterson, Brad Caldwell, Bob Edes Jr., Ashley Ricord, Lisa Picone, Jack Long, Dwayne Sepcich and Donald Lewis
7 p.m. Sat.-Sun., Dec. 20-21
One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., 606-9903; www.norunningwithscissors.com
If you hear Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" twice in one hour, chances are you're in a karaoke bar or a strip club. (Everybody together now: "A smell of wine and cheap perfume ...") Running With Scissors' current installment of Grenadine McGunkle's Double-Wide Christmas is loaded with double-barreled homages to the strip-club interpretation, and they would make the show well worth the ticket even without the inspiring holiday message.
For the uninitiated, Running With Scissors spawned the trailer-park holiday musical in 2001 and annually revisits heroine Grenadine McGunkle (Dorian Rush) as she prepares an interfaith extravaganza at the Everlasting Arms Motor Park in Hogwalla County, nowhere. Pabst-swilling Grenadine is the melted Kraft slice that binds all the white bread together in the randy little town of Pittsville. And as she sings every year, she "... needs a little Christmas/ Right this very minute/ Crockpot on the table/ Cocktail wieners in it." (Veteran theatergoers know the hand gesture.) Regular sidekicks include Madge McGillicuddy (Elizabeth Pearce), who plays the show's music on what sounds like a Casio keyboard with a bouncy preprogrammed beat, and Punkin (Brad Caldwell), wig and makeup master for the men and women of the park.
This year's tale is less a three-act drama than a crowded sitcom scheme with some overlapping vignettes. Bob Edes Jr. is uproariously swishy and funny as mailman Johnny Shoemake. He's a bit too sexy for his open shirt and hiked cargo pants. The only thing more revealing is his co-opted Christmas carol about his wife hanging around with another woman. The mail service ain't great, but Johnny delivers, as is his motto. In fact, he also delivers a cluster of gifts from a mysterious stranger.
Gladys Finkelstein (Brian Peterson), who is always quick with a song — channeling both Charo and Barbra Streisand — steps in to try and perk up the mailman. In a platinum blonde up-do wig and animal-print mini-dress, she explains that there's no need for Johnny to worry about spending the holidays alone; it's really about the presents. The extremely gifted Gladys then treats Johnny to a Hanukkah song with a spicy Latin beat.
Gladys also introduces her friends to her son Daniel (Dwayne Sepcich). He's in from Hollywood to film a pilot for what he hopes is the next big reality-TV show. Helen Highwater (Jack Long) gives him an eyeful, particularly for a small town girl living in a lonely world.
Two of Hogwalla's least lonely girls, Grenadine's sister/cousins Crystal (Lisa Picone) and China (Ashley Ricord), are traveling entertainers and make the trek home from Branson, Mo., for the party. China punctuates everything she says, and apparently a lot of what she thinks, with a hair flip and a breast shake of staggering latitude. Crystal has a Christmas miracle on her hands and by this part of the show the only question left is which mysterious stranger left her with the gift. An ensuing three-way dance number is one of the highlights of the show.
As usual, Grenadine has more than enough raunchy innuendo to stuff your stocking and light your menorah. There's even a nod to Kwanzaa. The story is a little looser than Crystal and China, but the musical numbers are over the top. Catch it before the traveling company takes it slouching toward Bethlehem.