Review: ‘The Golden Girls Christmas Episodes 2016’ (****)

by Charles Kruger

The Golden Girls deserve a national monument! Drawing by Argyle C. Klopnick.
The Golden Girls deserve a national monument! Drawing by Argyle C. Klopnick.
This reviewer is a voting member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)
This reviewer is a voting member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)

In the 1980s, hit television shows included “ALF” (about an Alien Life Form that ate cats), The Cosby Show (the less said now, the better) and the highly unlikely “Golden Girls” about four women of a certain age (old) sharing a condo somewhere between Miami and the mausoleum.

Who can forget Rose Nylund, Dorothy Zbornak, Blanche Devereaux and Sophia Patillo, especially as played by seasoned pros Betty White, Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty. Those gals could make a bowl of fruit juice itself from laughing. And they did it with seemingly no effort at all. The rumor around Hollywood was that on filming nights, when most series performers had to work until the wee hours, the Golden Girls walked off the set every week in time for happy hour somewhere out there on Cahuenga Boulevard.

From its very first weeks, GG’s held a special place in the hearts of gay men. Perhaps it was the witty dialogue, or the fact that they were a surrogate family (a necessary reality for gay men in the 1980s, long before gay weddings and adoptions), or the over-the-top delivery and sexually explicit characterizations that were unusual for women performers, but typical for drag queens.

Which brings us to the point: Back in the 80s, there was a fashion for reviving TV series as performance pieces—most famously a group of Chicago actors recreated episodes of The Brady Bunch with great success.

So, a few years ago, a group of San Francisco drag queens, headed by the one-and-only super-talented Heklina, conceived of an idea made in drag heaven: get four talented drag queens to recreate some Golden Girls episodes, and, heck, why not do it at Christmas and — voila — a drag tradition was born. And Heklina, founder of Tranny Shack, KNOWS a thing or two about creating drag traditions.

The result is, if you will, the Golden Girls on steroids! If Rue McClanahan could get a laugh with a sexy wiggle as the slutty Blanche, Matthew Martin can make it even bigger with a wiggle like a roller coaster off to the senior prom with nothing good in mind. And in his hands, the smirk is an art form.

Martin is good, and so are his cohorts DArcy Drolinger (Rose), Heklina (Dorothy) and Holotta Tymes (Sophia Petrillo).

In short: this is funny stuff and a great way to kick off the holiday season.

The drag performers are equally matched for comic joy by Manuel Caneri and Tom Shaw who fill in as various love interests. Also, stage manager Sailor Galaviz is extremely funny in an uncredited cameo as an obnoxiously obtrusive jester in a medieval theme restaurant.

Go! Be Mary! Happy Christmas to all!

“The Golden Girls Christmas Episodes” plays at the Victoria Theatre through December 23. For further information, click here.


Rating: ****
(For an explanation of TheatreStorm’s rating scale, click here)

“The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes.” Produced by Heklina and D’Arcy Dollinger. Director: Matthew Martin. Scriptwriters: Susan Harris, Mark Cherry, Gail Parent, James Valley. Set Designer: Hector Zavala. Light Designer: Leonardo Hidalgo. Sound Designer: Lori Fowler. 


Dorothy: Heklina. Rose: D’Arcy Drollinger. Blanche: Matthew Martin. Sophia: Holotta Tymes. Miles Webber/Tony Delveccio/John Neretti: Manuel Caneri. And Sailor Galaviz as “The Jester.”

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