In the upcoming month, for every precious staging of "The Nutcracker" and each perfect kick of a Rockette's heel, there is an offbeat, wacky holiday show made with the cheeky, campy feel the gay community has come to love -- probably because it largely created it.
From the tradition of downtown emcee Murray Hill's "A Murray Little Christmas" to a naked "Nutcracker" benefit for homeless LGBT youth services, New York performers come together this holiday season to stuff our stockings and jingle our bells in a way only they can do.
Fans of the bizarre and burlesque shouldn't miss the annual holiday extravaganza that is "A Murray Little Christmas." Downtown nightlife impresario Hill brings the charm of the Borsch Belt to Le Poisson Rouge on December 18 for his annual Yuletide celebration.
This year's event features all of the nuts, fruitcakes, showgirls, and hi-balls for which Gotham is renowned, including performances by Dirty Martini, Bridget Everett, Moisty the Snowman (Bradford Scobie), Sebastian the Elf (Carmine Covelli), the Brian Newman Trio, the Lesbian Overtones, and many more.
"I'm very excited to bring the show to the main room at Le Poisson Rouge," said Hill. "Booze will be flowing all night! I'm debuting a brand new opening number, 'Back Door Santa,' with the Brian Newman Trio. Me and my showbiz pals are going to do everything we can to get folks into the holiday spirit. Rudolph is also making a surprise appearance to teach the kids an important lesson about being different!"
The famed reindeer's performance is made in tandem with Hill's creation of an "It Gets Better" video, to communicate to LGBT youth thinking of taking their own lives that it's worth hanging in there for the opportunities to see their prospects and the support they enjoy improve.
As is his tradition, Hill will sing his rendition of "Have Yourself a Murray Little Christmas," as well as debuting an original song -- this year, "Love You, Kids," accompanied by pianist Paul Leschen.
And of course, Santa Claus will make an appearance.
"A Murray Little Christmas" is presented on December 18 at 7 and 9:15 p.m. at Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street at Thompson Street. Tickets are $25 at mistershowbiz.com.
Hill also lends his considerable talent as narrator in "Moisty the Snowman Saves Christmas," a holiday extravaganza at Dixon Place, whose renovation last year will dazzle anyone who hasn't been back since.
In this original musical, which had a sold-out run at the 2009 New York Musical Theater Festival special events series, Bradford Scobie's Moisty tells the tale of how one little gay snowman can make a difference. Compiled from snow, cigarette butts, White Castle wrappers, dog doo, and mulch, the filthy snowman comes to life when an enchanted orange traffic cone is placed upon his head.
This enthusiastic, optimistic, kind-hearted but self-centered snowman is "queenier than Johnny Weir at a Fire Island tea dance" and simply adores Christmas. So when mean Mayor Bloomburger-Meisterburger (Patricia Dell) and her hulking henchman, Snow Monster (Stephen Vera), decide to cancel Christmas, Moisty embarks on a journey to find Santa Claus and bring the holidays back to the city.
Along the way, he meets a mess of misfits from the Island of Recalled Toys, including Brooklyn teenage homeboy Yoyo the Elf (Dorian Shorts), toxic lesbian rag-doll Jaggedy Ann (Deanna Glover), and the Baby Jesus himself (a prop). When the gang finally finds Santa Claus, they discover he has gone through a dramatic change. Trannie Claus?
"Everyone should experience 'Moisty The Snowman,'" Hill said. "Moisty's a wonderful, twisted, and whacked out holiday character who is played masterfully by Bradford Scobie."
The show runs December 3-4 and 10-11 at 9:30 p.m. at Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street, between Rivington and Delancey Streets. Tickets are $20 atdixonplace.org or 212-219-0736. Guests can enjoy a $1 discount on drinks with their program, and are invited to stay after the show to meet the cast.
Brooklyn gets bare this winter when the neo-Baroque dance-theater group Company XIV presents the world premiere of "Nutcracker Rouge," an erotic, sensuous re-imagining of the beloved "Nutcracker" tale. Choreographed and conceived by artistic director Austin McCormick, with a script adapted and written by Jeff Takacs, the show contains partial nudity and fully opulent flair.
"I conceptualized the show with a respectful nod to the 'Nutcracker' ballet while infusing it with a style I am calling Baroque Burlesque, a synthesis of iconic striptease and the 17th century noble style," said McCormick. "Led by her godfather, Heir Drosselmeyer, Marie-Claire is transported into the Kingdom of the Sweets, a sensual world where scantily clad confections show her the ropes in pursuit of winning her Nutcracker Prince's love. The show is at once sumptuously classical and decadently dangerous, complete with gender-bending, erotic choreography, and barely-there costumes."
Called "inventive and brainy, a high-entertainment mix of music-hall, cabaret, theater, and dance" by the New York Times, McCormick's work garners widespread critical acclaim.
From their home in a converted tow truck warehouse at 303 Bond Street in Boerum Hill, the Company XIV ensemble of Marisol Cabrera, Laura Careless, Sean Gannon, Yeva Glover, Michael Hodge, Mina Lawton, David Martinez, Delphina Parenti, Marla Phelan, and Jeff Takacs will bring "The Nutcracker" to life in a way that Balanchine could never have imagined.
The extravaganza includes an eclectic blend of music, from Tchaikovsky to Vivaldi to Duke Ellington, and text inspired by Alexandre Dumas's adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffman's "The Nutcracker" as well as Charles Perrault's "Little Red Riding Hood."
Company XIV will donate 50 percent of all profits to the Ali Forney Center (aliforneycenter.org), which provides safe and decent housing as well as social services to homeless LGBT youth across New York.
"Nutcracker Rouge" runs December 10-12, 17-19, and 31; and January 1-2 and 7-9 at 303 Bond Street, between Union and Sackett Streets. Tickets are $25-$40 at CompanyXIV.com or 800-838-3006. No one under 16 years old will be admitted.
Finally, for musical thrills without the frills, join in a community concert at Phil Kline's "Unsilent Night." At 7 p.m. on December 18, beginning in Washington Square Park, a procession of boom box-wielding participants will wend their way through Greenwich Village to Tompkins Square Park, playing cassettes and CDs of holiday songs provided by Kline. Think of it as caroling for the modern set. For information, visit unsilentnight.com.