|Dina Martina (courtesy Dina Martina)|
The Dina Martina Christmas Show
Through December 24, 2018
Dina Martina is celebrating her 20th year of producing a Christmas extravaganza with her now-world-wide known persona. Off-stage, Martina-creator Grady West is likely one of those quiet types that doesn’t attract a great deal of public notice when sipping coffee in a shop somewhere. But Dina enters with panache and splash and attempts to win the audience over with a combination of bad pronunciations, off-key singing, and generally groan-worthy jokes. And that is all on purpose.
For the last bunch of years, her show has been a complete sell-out in the squished and run-down performance space at Seedle’s (Dina’s way of saying Seattle) beloved ReBar. It’s become a holiday tradition to pack into those hard folding chairs, grab a bunch of drinks and let Dina mash up her stories and forget lyrics to songs.
This year, it’s her first celebration at ACT Theatre, where her costumes have gotten even better, and the set is quite a real set, with faux paintings, a real movie screen for segments of moving pictures, and room for a grand piano for the grand Chris Jeffries, Dina’s “adult prodigy” musical accompanist, to play.
Like any smart performer, every year is a bit different. But somethings stay resolutely the same. She doesn’t try to make sure the show makes sense, and in fact immediately claims to not pay attention to continuity or cohesiveness. She has two different moments in the evening when she gives away “jifts” to some lucky audience member, and the jifts are memorable and the kind of thing that we’d locally expect to find at Archie McPhee’s. (She has a spectacular problem with hard “g” sounds and will sing a phrase like, “sleigh ride toJether with you.”)
Dina is a drag star, but she’s a “bad” one whose costumes don’t fit well (and the costumers work really hard on that) and who wears a terrible wig, and then earnestly comes out onto the stage and powers on through as America’s worst holiday host. For many, that means a lot of hilarity and fun. There are many followers who make her show an annual tradition and will buy her “merch” and sing her praises.
For others, it’s just not their kind of humor and there’s no saving the show for them. The difficulty is how to decide if you’re going to love her or hate her unless you go and see her. Some equate her with John Waters’ characters and some think her “bad drag” act is a complete waste of money.
Humor is really subjective. If you have never seen her and have not considered this holiday tradition, well, it might be a bit late for you. Twenty years ago, she was a real phenomenon and was some of the only counter-programming around. Her brand of off-hand drag, with huge, over-sized lips, awkwardly see-through costuming, and almost unbearably bad singing was new and spooftastic. It’s hard to keep a character like this fresh for all these years.
In general, most of what she does is genial and good-natured. She doesn’t general go after anyone with a major chip on her shoulder. It is a holiday show, after all, and she’s trying to spread good cheer. If this sounds like a good time, then definitely get yourself downtown. Pick a designated driver and drink ahead of time and then buy more at the theater. If that’s your idea of a good time, happy holidays to you!
For more information, go to www.acttheatre.org or call 206-292-7676.