Review: ‘Oy Vey in a Manger’ at Theater J

Just in time for a soon-to-be new U.S. Presidential administration, and growing political and racial division, the all-male drag queen comedy troupe quartet The Kinsey Sicks returned to Theater J after a five year absence, for their Christmas-themed show Oy Vey in a Manger. In a show featuring stomach-bursting, cringe-worthy jokes, The Kinsey Sicks put on an uproariously hilarious, musically-infused Chanukah-Christmas mashup that left a venue full of twisted parodies and crushed funny-bones.

The Kinsey Sicks. Photo by Paco Ojeda.

The Kinsey Sicks consist of founding member Ben Schatz as Rachel, Jeff Manabat as Trixie, Spencer Brown as Trampolina, and Nathan Marken as the baritone-voiced Winnie. Having performed everywhere from New York’s legendary Studio 54 and 42 states over the past 17 years, and having released nine hysterical CDs (You can listen to several samples of their music here.), the envelope-shredding Kinsey Sicks are a study in outrageousness. As Theater J’s Artistic Director Adam Immerwahr put it: “The drag queen performs the classical role of the ‘fool’—permitted to say things we could never say otherwise.”

The uber-talented Sicks, donned in colorful dresses and fabulous wigs, and who as a group sang acapella throughout, started their outrageous Christmas parodies off with “God Bless Ye Femmy Lesbians”, a parody of “God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen”.  In between the singing, there were double entendres and jokes galore, including a crack about every Jewish mother thinking her’s is the “Son of God” and Winnie’s R-rated story about a bris ceremony. From there, the troupe sang “I Had a Little Facial (She Looks Like Beyoncè)” and Winnie provided strong lead vocals for the hard-R-rated “Lusty the Snow Man.”

After Trixie’s joke about Syrian refugees, the troupe sang the immigration-themed “Anchor Baby” to the tune of “Santa Baby”. Brown’s Trampolina sang well in the double entendre-laced “Oh! Hoey Night” a send-up of “Oh! Holy Night.” Rachel warned her fellow Jews that they “better not pout, better not cry” in “Chanukah Medley (Jews Better Watch Out, Hock Your Wages)“ aka “Santa Claus is Cumming Too Soon”; the jokes kept coming, Trixie offered a toast to the new “leader of the free world—[Russian President] Vladimir Putin.”

“Don’t Be Happy, Worry,” led by Schatz’s Rachel, and sung to the tune of Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” was a hilarious highlight. Rachel sang: “In every silver lining, there is a cloud…If you’ve got nothing to worry about, you’ve got something to worry about.”

The Kinsey Sicks, Photo by Maurice Molyneaux.

Trixie raised the roof with her “Oh Tranny Boy” solo, and the troupe turned “Christmas Time in the City” into the crystal-meth-themed “Crystal Time in the City.” Rachel kept the party going with “Hymen Heaven,” sung to the tune of Irving Berlin’s “Cheek to Cheek”, the setup of that joke was the 72 virgins supposedly promised to Muslim terrorists upon death. The Sicks even parodied Berlin’s “White Christmas”, turning that tune into “Vanna White Christmas” a reference to a certain game show letter-turner.

Out of the Kinsey Sicks twisted mouths, “Hallelujah” became “Eva Longoria”, and “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” became “Oh Come Ye Unfaithful.”

From there, “Feliz Navidad” became an X-rated parody. Somehow the show veered off into a long series of jokes about the Donner Party of Old American West fame and frozen body parts that was well—you’ll look at yourself funny for laughing at. The Donner Party references didn’t stop there, continuing with the songs “Soylent Night” (a reference to the cannibal-themed science fiction movie Soylent Green) and “I Ate Maria” (“Ave Maria”).

Legendary composer Puccini’s O Mio Babbino Caro” became an ode to fitness and diet guru Jenny Craig coming “to the rescue” after Holiday gorging, in the song “Jenny Craig Feel My Sorrow“, thanks to Manabat’s strong vocals as Trixie.

After Trampolina aka “Trumpolina” made a crack to Trixie about “open carry” of firearms being for White people, the troupe broke into “Nothing More Fun Than a Gun.” And on it went, with cracks at everything from President-Elect Donald Trump’s advisor Steve Bannon, to kisses under the “cameltoe.”

I loved the Christmas-decorated living room, complete with mini-santas and an impressive tree, by Co-Scenic Designers Audrey Bodek and Tom Howley. The packed house gave the Sicks a well-deserved standing ovation for a raunchy-good time.

So “don ye now your gay apparel” and get down to Theater J and prepare to have your funny bones broken by the delicious Kinsey Sicks.

Running Time: Two hours, with a 15-minute intermission.

Oy Vey in a Manger plays through December 28, 2016 at Theater J –  in the Washington District of Columbia Jewish Community Center – 1529 16th Street NW, in Washington DC. For tickets, call the box office at (202) 777-3210, or purchase them online.



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