It’s a testament to the inexplicable runaway popularity of the annual drag queen Golden Girls Live: The Christmas Episodes that all evening performances ‘til Christmas are nearly sold out, and additional weekend afternoon matinee performances had to be added to accommodate demand. Now in its 13th consecutive year, this campy Golden Girls stage reboot has run almost twice as long as the original NBC TV series, mixing slices of cheesecake with cake make-up on gloriously geriatric drag queens.
Golden Girls Live: The Christmas Episodes is probably the most G-rated of all recurring annual drag shows on San Francisco stages. It proudly wears the badge of a drag show you can take your family to, a useful production when entertaining out-of-towners during the holiday season.
The t-shirts on sale in the lobby are very much on point.
True Golden Girls fans know there are only two Christmas episodes in the series canon, which Heklina and company wore out years ago. The gang now Christmasifies other regular Golden Girls episodes into their holiday show to create new, different performances each year.
And the theme song “Thank You For Being a Friend,” is repeatedly refrained in sing-along fashion, so do brush up on those lyrics if you want to be in on that fun.
But the garish grandmotherly apparel, old lady statement necklaces, and Golden Girls inspired wardrobe wizardry are all brand new for this year’s show. The obligatory sitcom-style applause when each character enters the stage is also inevitably a roar of laughter, as the sheer ridiculous of each queen’s senior-wear cracks up the audience when she enters for her scene.
Heklina and D’Arcy Drollinger stand out in the Bea Arthur and Betty White roles, mugging out with their slapstick comic skills often for minutes on end with high hilarity. The entire cast has the wit to nail the drag-inspired zingers added to the script, and scene transitions all feature Christmas carol sing-alongs that make both of the 30-minute episodes last an hour apiece.
Watching Golden Girls Live: The Christmas Episodes is like gorging on Christmas cookies as a full meal. There’s no real substance to it, but the sugar high is fantastic and the visual pizazz is off the charts. This is merely a collection of sitcom tropes and wink-nod gay wisecracks, but for fans of drag queens portraying Miami Beach retirees, this act never gets old.
Golden Girls Live: The Christmas Episodes, Thursdays through Sundays, Dec. 6-23, evening and matinee shows, at the Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St., $25-$50; 415-863-7576 or goldengirlssf.com