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Christmas on the Pole 

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;

click to enlarge stage_rev-2.jpg

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.

click to enlarge Daniel and Gladys Finkelstein celebrate the holidays at the Everlasting Arms Motor Park.
  • Daniel and Gladys Finkelstein celebrate the holidays at the Everlasting Arms Motor Park.


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