Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Holiday Telethon! Miss Richfield 1981 Saves Pageant TV (In Time For Christmas) (The SOB Review) - Illusion Theater, Minneapolis, MN

Holiday Telethon! Miss Richfield 1981 Saves Pageant TV (In Time For Christmas) (The SOB Review) - Illusion Theater, Minneapolis, MN

*** (out of ****)

Tradition is a hallmark of the Holidays.

For every "Charlie Brown Christmas," there's a "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer." For every "It's A Wonderful Life," there's "A Christmas Story." For every "Silent Night" there's Adam Sandler's "Hanukkah Song."

But in Minneapolis over the past eight years, for every A Christmas Carol, there's Miss Richfield 1981, putting on her own unique blend of Holiday cheer for the adoring faithful.

This year is no different as America's extreme flipside to Australia's Dame Edna is back in her own hometown starring in Holiday Telethon! Miss Richfield 1981 Saves Pageant TV (In Time For Christmas). Yes, audiences pretty much know what to expect from this deluded would-be beauty maven, but Miss Richfield's alter ego Russ King, whom we're told has entertained audiences from P'town to Puerto Vallarta, has put just enough new mojo in MR81's tank to make for a wickedly funny Holiday slay ride.

While Dame Edna is renowned for friendly banter with the world's rich and famous, along with her put-downs from the stratosphere, the homely Miss Richfield captivates from the ground up. Sure she delights her audiences with pointed barbs, but they're easily laughed off thanks to the inherent innocence of the hapless pageant queen from one of the Twin Cities' most ridiculed suburbs.

Thankfully, in this year's edition of her Holiday show, Miss Richfield provides us with a pictorial glimpse into how she won her crown 25 years ago when one of her competitors was twirling flaming batons only to set the taffeta dress of every contestant (save Miss Richfield) ablaze. So it's with that premise that she's determined to raise funds to memorialize televised beauty pageants 24/7 via a telethon.

Yes, there are plenty of funny bits, but the show transcends the silliness of its title premise when Miss Richfield works to make the yuletide gay for the mostly straight audience during the show's second act. Engaging virtually half the audience in her own hilariously funny version of the "Twelve Days Of Christmas," MR81 takes no prisoners as she sends up virtually every religious denomination. Even funnier is her bumbling effort to lead the audience in seasonal carols (I'll stop right there lest I give away the uproarious punchlines).

And traditions being what they are, Miss Richfield closes out her show with her beloved trademark handstand, accompanying Natalie Cole's rendition of "Love." You simply have to see it to understand.

Is Miss Richfield's show for everyone? Well, if you're easily offended, the answer is no, and if you're only amused by high-minded comedy, this probably isn't for you, either. But if you enjoy broad humor from a wacky, quick-witted drag queen, then Holiday Telethon! Miss Richfield 1981 Saves Pageant TV may be just the spice (or is that spike??) needed to juice up your eggnog this Holiday season.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.

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