Don we now our gay apparel for a homegrown show-in-the-making called A Drag Christmas Carol.
The gender-bending “jukebox musical” is set to premiere November 29 at Obsidian Theater in the Heights, starring the reigning Miss Gay Texas America, Regina Blake-Dubois as herself.
Co-director Kelsey McMillan says the show also boasts openly gay Houston performer Wyatt Whitson as both Winchester and Lady Gaga, who is the Ghost of Christmas Present in this update of the Charles Dickens classic about Ebenezer Scrooge.
“Our Scrooge is an ultra-conservative politician, Beauregard Flint, who pushes a ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’ omnibus bill that screws everybody,” McMillan says. “Our Bob Cratchit character is his daughter, Chastity, who is liberal and a lesbian. She is pregnant with a child coming into the world. The journey our Scrooge takes is to find an open mind.”
Production numbers of holiday classics will feature Blake-Dubois, who serves as the Jacob Marley character from the 1843 Dickens novella, conjuring ghosts to visit the politician in his dreams.
“Because it is a modern interpretation, we wanted to incorporate drag characters, and it was really important for us to get a local queen to play herself. [Otherwise] we wouldn’t have done it,” McMillan says.
Other LGBTQ cast and crew members will include Scott Lupton as both Blacklung and Dan, stage manager Sara Denton, sound designer Jarred Popoff, and costume designer Eddie Edge (with Caroline Harrell).
In Obsidian’s script, the late Freddie Mercury of Queen is the Ghost of Christmas Past, while the Ghost of Christmas Future is revealed as three handmaidens from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
McMillan traces the origins of A Drag Christmas Carol to her meeting with Obsidian’s artistic director, Tom Stell, and playwright Rhett Martinez to consider what show the theater might perform for the holidays.
“All the good Christmas shows are already being done at other theaters, so we discussed ideas for a new show that would highlight our amazingly talented actors,” she says. “We thought of doing a cabaret, but it would be nice to have a through-line, and to enjoy this really collaborative process of creating a show that could be performed every year, possibly.”
Martinez “went and wrote the script,” says McMillan. “We are up to draft number two, and Rhett will be in rehearsals with us to update it and bring in some of the actors’ own personalities.”
“The script is peppered with all-recognizable holiday classics,” McMillan says, including “Santa Baby” performed by representatives of tobacco, oil, and gun lobbies.
“You can hum along or tap along to all of the music,” says Ryan Barrett, whose drag persona is Regina Blake-Dubois.
“I love Christmas,” he adds. “It is always my favorite time of the year, probably for as long as I can remember. To be doing this in drag makes it a dream moment for me, and I am representing the brand of Miss Gay Texas America with something entirely new. I love the energy of this project and the family we’re making and the opportunity to be ‘out’ on stage. It is giving me lots more confidence.”
Meanwhile, Blake-Dubois continues to host The Broad’s Way, her weekly show at Michael’s Outpost in Montrose. It’s the gig that caught the attention of the creators of A Drag Christmas Carol, explains McMillan, whose co-director, Stell, also plays Beauregard Flint.
Haley Hussey portrays Chastity. Rounding out the cast are Arianna Bermudez, Danielle Bunch, Kyle Stephens, Caleb Wyrick, Madison Mapes, and Sammi Sicinski, who is the wife of the playwright. Sicinski also played Lulie in 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche for Boiling Point Players in 2015.
The musical director is Kiefer Slaton. Zoe Casseday is the assistant stage manager. The set designer is Nolan LeGault, and Allen Titel designed the lighting.
What: A Drag Christmas Carol
When: November 29–December 15
Where: Obsidian Theater, 3522 White Oak Drive
This article appears in the November 2018 edition of OutSmart magazine.