On the second day of Christmas, your true love gave you what? Not two turtle doves, but a pair of golden shackles. That’s what Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme’s adoring fans have gotten them, in their telling. This is the fifth year the drag duo has gone on tour with their popular annual holiday show (in 2020 they put out a film) and they have upgraded their New York venue to the massive Kings Theatre, a 3,000-seat entertainment palace in Brooklyn.
The problem with having a successful holiday spectacular is that it becomes a tradition and people expect you to do it every year (the Rockettes have been kicking it since 1933). It requires an artist to dedicate a sizable chunk of the year contemplating Christmas. Repetition is a constant risk: Just imagine how the poor folks at Hallmark fret over concocting yet another meet-cute between a high-strung career gal and a sexy hometown woodworker.
Well, Jinkx and DeLa have had it. They decide to escape on vacation, only to discover that they’re trapped in the machine. They try to phone it in with a hastily constructed finale number conveying a special Christmas lesson, but their dancers won’t leave the stage and the show itself seems to have taken on a life of its own (impressive sci-fi sound design by Kevin Heard). There’s no easy way out, and they’re forced to come up with a whole new slate of pop parodies and hilarious sketches celebrating the season.
It is a testament to the creative partnership of Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme that this two-hour show is filled with mostly new material (additional lyrics by Major Scales): DeLa pays tribute to hot cocoa with a joyful spin on “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” Jinkx twirls like Steve Nicks around a snowman puppet in “Frosty Snowman” (set to the Eagles number “Witchy Woman”). They summon Santa Claus with a candy cane psychedelia number set to “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” And the gays go nuts for DeLa’s mash-up of “The Little Drummer Boy” and Kylie’s song of the summer, “Padam Padam.”
They’re backed by a cast of six dancers (Mr. Babygirl, Ruby Mimosa, Scott Spraags, Jim Kent, Jace Gonzalez, and Chloe Albin) performing Albin’s sharp and sassy choreography. I particularly enjoyed the Fosse knockoff number “Smart Spender,” which opens the second act and features the entire cast wearing big-box retail vests. And, of course, Gus Lanza returns as “Hunky the Elf,” strutting across the stage in an open shirt and booty shorts.
The vibrant costumes are a team effort by Dallas Coulter, Mr. Gorgeous, Paris Original, and Jamie Von Stratton. One cannot help but admire Jinkx’s black leather Christmas cocktail dress and the furry S&M satyr costume Gonzalez dons in the second act number “Krampus Daddy” (set to “Santa Baby”). The lyrics are best left to your naughty imagination, but I witnessed several spit-takes in the audience as they were performed.
The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Show still has the feel of an underground nightclub act, which is delightful in the Laurie Beechman Theatre, but can be a drawback as it moves into ever-larger venues. At times, the massive stage of the Kings seemed to swallow the performers, despite the best efforts of David L. Arsenault to fill the stage with giant Christmas ornaments. Only a Scooby Doo chase scene late in the second act seemed to take full advantage of so large a stage. For future iterations, Jinkx and DeLa might want to consider augmenting their kick line with local dancers and queer cabaret talents.
I know, I know…it’s even more effort to put into a show that only grows larger each year. But as far as work goes, it beats shoveling coal.