Friday Night: The Golden Girls Christmas Episodes
Friday, Dec. 11, 2009
Mama Calizo's Voice Factory
Better than: Sitting around your kitchen table eating cheesecake with four old ladies.
The holidays make lots of people feel nostalgic for times past, but the Trannyshack crew really makes you relive television days gone by with their hilarious reenactments of old Golden Girls episodes. Wisecracking drag queens Heklina (Dorothy), Cookie Dough (Sophia), Matthew Martin (Blanche), and Pollo Del Mar (Rose) don their tackiest Christmas sweaters and take us back to the Miami abode where this senior citizen crew tackled issues of friendship, dating, and cheesecake eating during the mid to late '80s. And when I say these gals revisit The Golden Girls, I mean they really put you in that era's frame of mind. In between scene changes, the two-episode stage production airs audio of television commercials that originally played during the show, ads with such now-forgotten catch-phrases as "Where's the beef?" "I've fallen and I can't get up," and the Slinky song. It's the icing on an already rich performance: with The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes you can revel again in the dry humor that drove the show while marveling at how seamlessly these actors blend with their characters.
The show begins as a group trip down memory lane--although the emcee did ask audience members not to yell out the lines before the actors can say them, even if some people in the crowd "know these episodes probably better than the cast does." Signing along to The Golden Girls theme song, "Thank You For Being a Friend," was fair game, though, and people crammed into the chairs and benches around us were chiming in during the opening of both episodes performed on Friday night.
Once the actual episodes started, though, folks piped down and let the Golden Girls deliver the drama. The two Christmas shows performed this year are different than last year's (encouraging taking in these performances as a yearly holiday tradition). This round, the first episode has Dorothy on a blind date that turns into an extended sexual affair, while Rose and Blanche take on community service work with a couple motherless teens in town. In the second show, the ladies volunteer at a homeless shelter where Dorothy's ex is a down on his luck Santa.
In both episodes, Dorothy is the star. With her love life both past and present a total mess, and her mother hounding her from the sidelines, there are plenty of opportunities for Heklina to milk her character's deadpan sense of humor. Heklina as Dorothy is a perfect combination of personalities: part pushover, part stubborn, independent woman; full of sarcasm and full of sensitivity for her housemates. And perhaps most importantly, Heklina is master of Dorothy's comic facial expressions, which often convey as much as her one-liners.
Pollo Del Mar has also honed her chacter's looks, throwing the audience plenty of Rose's airheaded stares and dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks grins. All the actors are great, though: Cookie Dough delivers an endless supply of tough love and wisecracks as Dorothy, and Matthew Martin becomes every inch of Blanche's hyper-horny woman. The cast is rounded out by excellent supporting characters, who swap roles (gender and otherwise) throughout the shows.
In the end, it's hard to think of a better way to escape all the insanity that December seems to bring than to go back in time with four hilarious drag queens acting as four sassy seniors living it up in the '80s.
By the way: For a preview of the Trannyshack crew's non-holiday episodes, there are a couple YouTube clips online.