Santa Ana’s Theatre Out celebrates the holiday season with a primetime sequel to their 2008/2009 late night hit, Darcy Hogan’s Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart But The Very Next Day You Said You Were Gay, this time titled Last Christmas II The North Pole Strikes Back Or “Return Of The Magi”–and the results are an hour of tuneful, risqué, often hilarious December merriment with a decidedly gay twist.

Two years have passed since Last Christmas I, and a quick flashback (set to the tune of “American Pie”) gives us a brief synopsis of what transpired in Episode One. (Protagonist Holly only dated gay men until an elf named Harold brought her a hetero hubby.) Now, a mere two years later, Holly’s daughter Magi (pronounced Maggie) has already reached the precocious age of 10 (hey, they do it on the soaps) and Santa’s elves have learned to their horror that she is … A Conservative! At Santa’s suggestion, elves Hugh and Noël determine to bring Magi to the North Pole for a little reprogramming.

Magi turns out to be a red-headed chatterbox with a “Thuffering Thuccotash” lithp, who can’t believe she’s really at the North Pole. She’s equally disbelieving when the elves attempt to clue her in to her the true gayness of Christmas. Even more unfathomable to the tot is the discovery that there’s not even one Christian at the North Pole, as the elves reveal in “Thank God I’m An Atheist,” sung and danced to the tune of “Thank God I’m A Country Boy.” Still, even by song’s end Maggie can’t figure out what the elves are getting at, or what that extra beat is that keeps popping up in the song.

To prove that Christmas is, was, and always will be a gay holiday, Hugh warbles “I’m Dreaming Of A Gay Christmas” (“with every Streisand song I play”), but Magi remains undeterred. “Christmas can’t be gay because being gay is wrong!” she spits out (literally). Hugh and Noël argue to the contrary with a duet of “Nothing Wrong With Loving Man-On-Man” to the tune of “Winter Wonderland.”

An insistent Magi finally gets her own solo, a Christmas song from Hugh’s home state of Ha-va-ii, “Mele Kalikimaka,” which has the preteen accompanying herself on her very own holiday green ukulele, until the elves insist that she give it back.

Round about this time, Mrs. Santa Claus arrives, hammered as usual, a silver-haired, Xanax-popping, fur-jacketed lush who’s just been thrown out of Betty Ford, hardly an encouraging sight to poor confused Magi. Explaining her dilemma to the child, Mrs. Claus belts out “The Christmas Song” with lyrics like, “They know that Santa Claus is gay. He’d rather have a boy or two out in his sleigh.”

Other Last Christmas II highlights include “Little Saint Nick,” performed as a salute to the gay man’s diet: “Get A Little More Dick.” Since it turns out that Magi has little or no gaydar (she insists that there are no gays in her home state of Nebraska), “Let It Snow” becomes “He’s a mo, he’s a mo, he’s a mo.” “Home For The Holidays” now opens with (what else?) “Oh there’s nothing like homos for the holidays.” Pigtailed lesbian elf Ginger leads her fellow Santalanders in “Christmas,” to the tune (and iconic choreography) of “Thriller,” with each performer sporting a rainbow lighted glove. “Sleigh Ride” becomes “Let’s Screw.” (“Come on it’s lovely weather, let’s get together and screw.”) And on a more political note, “Joy To The World” now opens with “Gay boys and girls, the time has come, to let equality ring.”

Completing the eclectic cast of characters are a Sarah Palinesque Tea Partier, who has followed Mrs. Claus home from Betty Ford to claim control of the North Pole, and a butch lesbian named Judy, who may just be what the nameless Tea Partier has been waiting her whole life for.

Under David C. Carnevale’s lively direction, the entire cast deliver delightful performances. Cutiepies Tito Ortiz (as dark-haired Hugh) and JT Corzine (as blondie Noël) unleash their inner fabulousness, a matched set of adorable (and talented) twinks. Alissa Sanchez brings prettiness and pizzazz to Ginger, Topher Mauerhan is a towering, terrific Santa, and no one does drunk better at Theater Out than Lori Kelley as Mrs. Claus. A very funny Jennifer Pearce plays the frumpy wingnut Tea Partier to perfection, Sarah P. accent and all, and Maryanne Mosher does well in her cameo as Judy. Finally, there’s Theatre Out’s brightest star, Andrea Dennison-Laufer, stealing scenes right and left as precocious Magi, and belting out a sizzling “All I Want For Christmas Is You” as the evening’s finale.

Playwright Hogan eschews sophistication for adults-only raunch to outrageous effect. (Only the occasional use of the offensive “fag” and “tranny” needs rethinking.) Sanchez doubles terrifically as choregrapher. Musical director Joey Baital gets his cast harmonizing melodiously to prerecorded tracks. Scenic designers Carnevale and Baital have created a colorful Winter Wonderland of a set, and costume designer Carnevale’s gay apparel are multihued treats. High marks go too to lighting designer Joy Bice and her assistant Leonard Joseph Dunham. Chelsea Mondy is stage manager.

Last Christmas II The North Pole Strikes Back Or “Return Of The Magi” provides a tangy antidote to the season’s more traditional holiday theatrical fare, with the added advantage of delivering late night naughtiness at a more theatergoer-friendly 8:00. Who would have thought that Orange County would be just the place to make the Yuletide gay?

Theatre Out, The Empire Theatre, 202 N. Broadway, Santa Ana.

–Steven Stanley
December 3, 2011
Photos: David C. Carnevale

Comments are closed.