If you like a little good, honest raunch along with your holiday tidings, The Dolls have done you a favor.
The drag troupe’s newest Christmas production delivers on everything fans have come to expect: brilliantly kitschy costumes, an extravagant storyline, the shortest skirts this side of Hollywood and the dirty jokes to go along with them.
Dolls in Toyland takes place in the titular fantasy land, where Mother Goose serves as our guide and Jack and Jill live as teenagers in perpetuity. Jill is unhappy with her life and, in It’s a Wonderful Life fashion, is taken on a journey through alternate realities to show her exactly how good she’s got it. She solves a murder in Santa’s lodge, feels a bit stiff in Barbie’s Dream House and lives out a steamy tearjerker in the Sugarplum Fairy’s dressing room. Along the way she meets more than 20 characters played by The Dolls’ reliably funny cast.
Tequila Mockingbyrd is in fine form as a re-imagined version of Mrs. Claus, Lot’s wife Ildeth (she was turned into a pillar of salt in the Bible), the Queen of Hearts, Barbie’s best friend and the Sugarplum Fairy. She commands the stage whenever she’s on it, delivering the best musical number of the night: “The Twelve Daze of Christmas,” in which she performs every verse slightly more inebriated than the last. Dolls regular AJ Carian is hilarious as Red Riding Hood and Hermie (the elf who wants to become a dentist in the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV special), with a cameo as Dora the Explorer. The show’s star, Jill, is played by another Dolls veteran, Chastity Belt-Off, who’s always spot-on. Other notables are Jim Johns as Lucifer, Joe Moncada as Mother Goose, Pattie Roxxx as Jackie Frost and Seymour Johnson as an exceptionally lovable Jack.
The cast is on point, but there are some glitches in the performance. A day after opening night, some sounds cues were off (i.e., some music ended before it should), a few lines were stumbled over and there were several moments of awkwardness generated by jokes that fell flat. Most of the shows’ puns and innuendoes were well-received by the audience, which actually skewed on the gray-haired side, but, as is the case in almost any comedy show, some missed the mark. The fart jokes in particular just didn’t work (do they ever?).
The stage at the Aux Dog Theatre might also be too small for the show, which includes multiple set changes and more than a dozen cast members. Soirée Entertainment provided some great dance numbers, but most of them were performed in front of a drawn curtain. The amount of stage the dancers were left with was so small that they kept catching their feet, or their entire bodies, in the curtains—still, they seemed undaunted. The set design is great, with professionally painted backdrops and a giant toy soldier that stands at attention (in more ways than one) on stage left throughout the show.
The Dolls’ Christmas shows have become a much-loved tradition in this town. They are equal parts vulgarity and mirth, with puns that will make you blush and props that will make you laugh. The Dolls are an outstanding drag theater troupe, and while they’ve done drama they generally stick to frolicking fun. That’s what you’ll get in this show. Don your Santa hat, put a candy cane in your pocket and go for a good time. And, for goodness’ sake, leave the kids at home.