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Holiday Chutzpah

OCT goes beyond rote holiday fare with The Santaland Diaries and Oy Vey in the Manger

I’m pretty weary of the usual holiday fare — the warbling moppets, the repentant codgers, the treacle, the tinsel. And after 2016’s punishing slog? Please. I just can’t. 

So thank goodness Oregon Contemporary Theatre offers plenty of light-hearted laughs this season, with The Santaland Diaries and a visit from America’s favorite Dragapella Beauty Shop Quartet, the Kinsey Sicks.

“With its biting humor and honest observations, Santaland offers the other side of Christmas,” says its star Colin Law, reprising the role of Crumpet. 

Santaland follows the annals and antics of once-unknown writer David Sedaris as he works a miserable season in Macy’s North Pole. 

Mirth ensues. 

And don’t miss the San Francisco-based Kinsey Sicks in the Eugene premiere of their holiday classic, Oy Vey in the Manger

We recently caught up with the illustrious Kinsey Sicks — Winnie (Nathan Marken), Trixie (Jeff Manabat), Trampolina (Spencer Brown) and Rachel (Ben Schatz) — as they basked in the glow of their recent international run: 

 

Where did you get your name, Kinsey Sicks? 

Trampolina: Some sex-crazed hack named Alfred Kinsey wanted to put labels on everything, and said that if you were a zero on his Kinsey scale, you were exclusively heterosexual but if you were a six, you were exclusively homosexual. When we stepped on the scales, however, the meter broke and just said “Sicks.”

 

Your group formed in ’93, and members have changed over the years. How have you worked together to make great art? 

Winnie: Well, it’s looked basically the same … same costumes, same wigs, same hideous makeup. 

Trixie: We all share a total devotion to our craft, our dear fans and our therapist.

Trampolina: Wait … we make great art?

 

How do you put together a show? Do you write new material on the road? 

Trampolina: The girls have trusted me with the secret formula for comedy for years. Probably because I don’t know where I put it.

Rachel: We tried writing on the road, but then Trampolina got hit by a bus, so now we do it on the sidewalk.  

 

How does comedy allow for social or political commentary? 

Rachel: You know how they say you should never discuss religion or politics at a dinner party? If you actually believe that, you probably shouldn’t come to our shows. I don’t like my dinner parties safe and prepackaged, nor do I like theater that way. Getting real and challenging conventional thinking is what makes life interesting. Otherwise you can just watch Wheel of Fortune.

 

You perform all over the world. So how is it that fortune smiles, and the Kinsey Sicks will grace our leafy college town? In other words, is there a Santa Claus? 

Winnie: Well, some schmuck thought it was a good idea to bring America’s Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet to Eugene.

Trixie: Yes, as long as there are people with idle time and disposable income, there will always be a Santa Claus.

 

What can we look forward to at Oy Vey

Trixie: Oy Vey has lovably eccentric gals with a hilarious and twisted take on everyone’s favorite holiday classics. Get ready for critically acclaimed parodies, biting satire and gorgeous drag — all presented in glorious four-part harmony.

 

And how do you feel about Christmas retail going up before Halloween?

Rachel:  As anyone who has seen Oy Vey in a Manger knows, we shared the manger with Jesus and his family when he was born. I was actually there to hear his first words, which were “Post-Christmas sales!” Anything being sold before then is merely foreplay for the main event. As for Christmas before Halloween, I believe Jesus would have said “feh!”

The Santaland Diaries opens Nov. 25 and runs through Dec. 11. Oy Very in the Manger has two performances only, 7:30 pm Dec. 16 and 2 pm Dec. 18. All performances are at OCT, with tickets available through the OCT box office, octheatre.org.