Friday, November 16, 2018

That's What She Said

He: How do you take it? She: Anyway you give it.

That simple exchange could sum up the entire evening. It was a girls' night out for dinner and a play, but it was the equal opportunity offender of a cabaret that got us most jazzed.

Make no mistake, dinner at Peter Chang in Scott's Addition - somehow, unbelievably, Queen B's first visit there - was every bit as fresh and expertly cooked as it always is (anything eaten with two scallion bubble pancakes is automatically memorable), not to mention netting all three of us compliments on our hair.

On a cold, rainy night, what woman doesn't love hearing that?

When we got to Richmond Triangle Players for "Who's Holiday," a look at the later life of Cindy Lou Who of Whoville, we picked up our tickets and were told to fill out a card with our worst Christmas present ever (although mine wasn't my worst, just lame), which Pru and I dutifully did.

It was like a ransom. We had to bare our souls before we were allowed into the theater.

Set in Cindy Lou Who's dilapidated trailer somewhere in the snowy hills of Mt. Crumpit, the one-woman play utilized the multi-talented Kimberly Jones-Clark as Cindy Lou, explaining through rhyme and song how her life had gone south after meeting the Grinch. I don't want to spoil anything here, but let's just say it was a tale about diversity and how sometimes your parents don't want you to marry someone who looks different than they do, even if he impregnates you.

Prejudice is real, y'all.

Telling that sad tale of woe involved a rap song sung under a spotlight in a darkened room (complete with conclusion reached: a Grinch is always a Grinch) and hearing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" sung in a pitch-perfect Judy Garland voice by Cindy Lou in a green leather bustier and red capri pants.

Fortunately, it also involved Cindy Lou realizing that the years spent in jail for killing the Grinch allowed her to blossom as a person and even, at the very end, reunite with the love child she and the Grinch had produced before his nasty fall off the mountain.

So, at least there was redemption.

And, it's probably safe to say, the holiday season has been officially kicked off since this was clearly a Christmas offering to theater-goers. Can't say I'm happy about such a ridiculously early start to the most annoying of seasons, but sometimes a play is just a play.

After it ended, some in the audience left, but most merely milled about because our programs clearly invited us to stay for a special holiday cabaret featuring Georgia Rogers Farmer and Josh Worsham afterward. And with only a brief, one act play to start, it was still awfully early.

Staff moved around clearing empty wine and cocktail glasses, but when a guy made a move to clear Pru's coffee mug, she looked disappointed to be reminded it was empty of caffeine. He responded by offering to fetch her a fresh cup and she was so surprised and grateful, she uncharacteristically agreed to take it anyway he gave it.

Don't quote me on this, but that may be the first time those words ever left her lips.

Last in line in the ladies' room, I overheard several women discussing how the theater will be building more bathrooms, a very good thing given that two stalls is never enough at intermission. Meanwhile, those of us in line marveled at all the dialog Clark had had to memorize to carry the entire play, an impressive feat. A woman washing her hands polled us all, asking who was staying for the cabaret.

Well, duh.

Pru and I knew what a treat we were in for, having seen Georgia on multiple occasions and being well aware of her double threat status when it comes to comedy and music. Her ensemble tonight was black pants, a black t-shirt printed with a tuxedo front, black Chuck Taylors (low tops) and shoulder-dusting rhinestone earrings for pizzaz.

She was accompanied by Josh Worsham, clad appropriately in a red holiday sweater that read, "Baaa humbug," and asking the crowd, "Are you drunk yet? You're going to wanna be!"

With their tongues planted firmly in cheeks, these two were primed to deliver the ideal holiday music for a heathen.

I'm talking about their song choices, beginning with "Text Me Merry Christmas (a smiley face will do)," a modern day ode to keeping your phone charged when your loved one is off celebrating with their family and you want to reach out.

Georgia cooed "Santa, Baby," walking through the room as she did so, and noting, "Everyone looks scared!" as she approached them. She must not have been able to smell fear on me because she stopped to sing a few lines to my face.

Come and trim my Christmas tree
With some decorations bought at Tiffany
I really do believe in you
Let's see if you believe in me

Josh did an extremely clever revision of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" called "The Restroom Door Said Gentlemen," replacing the traditional lyrics with more topical ones about the male and female signs being switched on public bathrooms and the problems that caused once he found himself in the ladies' loo.

The next song was introduced as for "our Jewish friends," resulting in Georgia singing "Shalom" to the tune of Adele's "Hello." With references to latkes ("We need more apple sauce!") and dreidels, their ode to the Chosen People had the audience dying laughing.

After putting on a scarf with a keyboard pattern, Josh announced, "This is a holiday favorite and, to be honest, I'm not sure why." The duo launched into "Baby, It's Cold Outside," with Georgia playing the part of the aggressor, feeding Josh drinks, rubbing her body parts on him and barring the door to punctuate the song's suggestive words. At one point, she lashed him to the couch so he had to spend the night at her place.

"Nothing like a politically incorrect song tonight!" an audience member seated next to Queen B called out about the very improper tune. But Georgia was quick, immediately calling back, "That's why we're here!"

To compensate, Georgia promised us a "sweet one" next, doing "I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus," eventually seeing Daddy hugging, fondling and finally undressing Santa before it was all over. What's sweeter than that?

I know, Josh's next song - "Coming Out This Christmas" was even more saccharine, with lines like, "Here's your Christmas present, Mom and Dad. I'm gay!" Meanwhile, Georgia draped a yellow and orange boa around his neck as he sang to drive the point home.

Not every song skewered tradition. There was a singalong to "Rudolph" and a straight version of "The Christmas Song," but all that was just prelude to the big number. When you've got a voice like Georgia's that spans octaves and the comedic timing of a pro, of course your slam bang winner is going to be "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

Except that instead of all that crap about turtle doves and marchers marching, Georgia was using the cards we'd filled out with our worst Christmas presents ever written on them. So, we got two "coupons for a free hug" and one pair of "used underwear from my Grandmama," that kind of thing. My personal favorite was the five "diabetic socks and I was only 45," for the way Georgia got all those syllables to work in that one line.

Although she sang through blocks of cement, MAGA hats, Chlamydia, electric curlers and fire extinguishers with no problem, she paused when she sang "half whistle bowtie" because, as Josh informed everyone, "For those who don't know, Georgia makes half whistle bowties."

Are you kidding? Beau is the bowtie king, so we know all about her talent.

But the best submission of all came directly from Pru, so we heard Georgia sing about 12 "home colonoscopy test kits," a line that cracked up the entire audience for its ridiculousness and had Pru calling out, "Thanks, Dad!" Queen B and I already knew about the test kits  because Pru's Dad had gifted not just her but Queen B as well, even going so far as to try to explain how they worked before Pru shut him down.

Once the song ended, Josh called out to the crowd, asking who wanted to claim their entry and Pru raised her hand. Her worst gift offering had gotten the biggest laugh, by far, so why not be recognized for it? When Georgia saw her hand, she squinted at Pru and observed, "I thought sure you were the chlamydia!"

For submitting the finest worst present, Pru was awarded a limited edition ornament of Georgia and Josh, a holiday keeper the likes of which Hallmark only wishes they put it out first.

This most sacrilegious of holiday cabarets closed out with the Barbra Streisand arrangement for "Jingle Bells," chosen because it was what Josh's mother used to play while they decorated the Christmas tree.

My only question is, do you even have to come out to your parents if your Mom is already playing Babs for you? Doesn't she kind of know?

Personally, I've long been a fan of that album for all the unusual arrangements and offbeat timing on it, not to mention the woman's voice, a mainstay in my life since the Bicentennial. Because of that longevity, when we got to the line, "The horse was lean and lank. Misfortune seemed his lot. We got into a drifted bank and then we got upsot," I knew the proper response was, "Upsot?" and was one of a few who called it out.

That's how I take my doses of the holidays: with irreverence, bathroom humor and the occasional comedic bit from the queen of the Chosen People. Only latkes could have made it better.

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