"How the Drag Queen Stole Christmas" has a new home for its seventh annual edition.
The twisted holiday tale moves to the Calvin Center for a two-weekend run by the Rust Belt Theater Company.
Rust Belt founder Robert Dennick Joki continues to tweak the holiday show he created, and this year's production features several new songs co-written with Josh Taylor.
Special to the Tribune Chronicle
Robert Dennick Joki is back as Starrlet O’Hara in “How the Drag Queen Stole Christmas.”
"The show now opens with a song called 'Good Morning, Youngstown,' which is a take off on 'Good Morning, Baltimore' from 'Hairspray,"' Joki said. "If people don't laugh at that, there's something wrong with them. It's really funny."
Other new tunes include "Apocalypse," "Dragzilla," "I'm Gonna Get Some Sleep If It Kills Me" and a brand-new finale called "Drag It Out for the Holidays." And past showgoers can expect an all new musical number chronicling the celebrities who died in 2012.
"This year was horrible for celebrity deaths," he said. "Usually I have to pick some more obscure celebrities to round out the song. This year, they were all A-list. Try coming up with something that rhymes with (Marvin) Hamlisch."
WHAT: Rust Belt Theater Company - "How the Drag Queen Stole Christmas"
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Dec. 8 and 8 p.m. and midnight Dec. 9
WHERE: Calvin Center, 755 Mahoning Ave., Youngstown
HOW MUCH: $15 adults and $10 for students and senior citizens. For reservations or more information, call 330-507-2358.
The songs old and new are woven around a story about Starrlet O'Hara (Joki), a bitter Christmas-hating drag queen who fires the other drag performers at her club on Christmas Eve. In a haze fueled by absinthe, Vicodin and laced brownies, she's visited by the ghost of her once-conjoined twin (Suzanne Shorrab) and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future as a wakeup call to change her ways.
Suffice to say, this is not a traditional Christmas tale, and it's recommended for adult audiences. And the final performance, a midnight show on Dec. 8, is billed as a more risque event than the regular show.
This year's cast features Nicole Zayas, Marisa Zamary, Kelsie Moon, Celena Pollock Coven, Andrew Labedz, David Cirelli, Rachel Lynn Clifford, Vincent Sylvester, Jo Ellen Jacob, Beth Farrow, Lynn Sabeh, Kage Coven, Crystal Beiersdorfer, Tyler Norris, Murad Shorrab, Brooke Shorrab and Harrison Shorrab.
Murad Shorrab is the only performer besides Joki who has been involved with the show since the beginning.
"Murad and Brooke (Slanina) Shorrab met doing this show, and now they're married and have a child of their own," Joki said.
A new sound system and microphones purchased with money raised during October's production of "Living Dead: The Musical" allows Joki to move the show into the gymnasium at the Calvin Center, which gives him a larger stage to work with than he had at the Oakland Center for the Arts.
"There's a lot more dancing, a lot more choreography," he said. "I always wanted to have a couple little 'Nutcracker' spoofs, a couple little jokes about dance-y Christmas shows, but I didn't have the room before."
And, for now, Youngstown is the only place where this "Queen" will be dragged out. Joki said he got requests by groups in Columbus and Cleveland to stage the show, but he turned them down.
"I'm still not comfortable with packaging it," he said. "So much of the show has local flavor, I don't know if people in Columbus would find it as funny. And because it changes every year, I'd have to put together a generic version to go to other cities, and I just haven't done that yet."