My Thursday night at the theater began with lights, curtains, and an impromptu sing-a-long to The Golden Girls theme song. The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes brought fans and dedicated friends everything they expected and more, as they returned this year to San Francisco’s Victoria Theater. Renowned drag talent celebrated the equally legendary television show with holiday cheer, as this parody stands as great winter tradition in the Bay Area.
This show takes place in two acts, the first act the Season 4 episode “Love Me Tender,” where Dorothy dates a man that she has nothing in common with besides sex and Blanche and Rose volunteer as big sisters for two teenage girls. The second act is the Season 2 episode “It’s a Miserable Life” where Rose starts a petition to save an old neighborhood tree, that is thwarted by the nasty old woman Frieda Claxton at the end of the block. Both acts use the original script of these Golden Girls episodes, which is great for fans who laughed at memorable lines and moments recreated for the stage. I thought the pacing of the dialogue and transitions, as well as comedic timing, flowed well on stage due to this incredible cast.
San Francisco drag legend Heklina played the incomparable Dorothy Zbornak, who brought the character’s sharp wit and undeniable presence to the role. Heklina really took command of both episodes and lead the cast through a hilarious night of theater, punchline to punchline. D’Arcy Drollinger, who was recently seen on stage as Frank ‘n Furter in The Rocky Horror Show, played the charming and endearing Rose Nylund, which further proved his acting chops. Matthew Martin was the debutant herself Blanche Devereaux, who played well off Drollinger in the first episode of the night, bringing back what we love about Blanche’s saucy character. Rounding out the cast was my favorite gal, Sophia Petrillo, whose snark and Italian charm played by Holotta Tymes expertly mirrored that of Estelle Getty. Joining the cast opening weekend was RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 2 winner and Golden Girls fanatic, Alaska Thunderf**k 5000. Alaska played one of the teen girls Rose and Blanche mentored, along with a funeral home director and Frieda Claxton. You could tell Alaska was living her fantasy, fully committed to these iconic moments from the beloved show with her comedic chops and enthusiasm.
What’s great about The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes is whether you are a die-hard fan or hearing about the show for the first time, the entire audience was fully engaged in this show. These characters are so iconic and accessible that even those stranger to the show will love this dragged up parody. The Golden Girls has been a long favorite show of the LGBT+ community, consistently featuring gay storylines and a cast of entertainment icons like Bea Arthur, who gave thousands back to homeless LGBT youth. The simple presence of a queer centered production of The Golden Girls with drag performers is rewarding on its own, but you can tell this production had a lot of dedication and love towards these characters. I highly encourage anyone who is a fan of The Golden Girls, local San Francisco drag, or cheesecake to get your tickets to The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes early next holiday season, because this production will sell out fast!
Jordan Nickels is a playwright and dramaturg, originally from the Midwest, with a Bachelor of Science in Theatrical Studies from Ball State University. He previously worked with Nashville Children’s Theatre, Goodspeed Opera House, Florida Studio Theatre, and The Walt Disney Company. He also served as a Blog Contributor and Managing Editor for over two years at Camp Broadway in New York City. Jordan currently resides in San Francisco, CA and works as a Development Assistant at American Conservatory Theater. Website: http://www.jordannickels.com, Twitter and Instagram: @jnickels8.