"You're the boss, applesauce."
That's what Mother Flawless Sabrina, the drag mother of playwright and performer Taylor Mac, would always tell Mac. A gigantic portrait of Sabrina hangs above the tinsel-festooned stage of Holiday Sauce, Mac's dazzling tribute to a mentor that is cleverly disguised as a holiday show.
Sabrina was an iconic trailblazer in the transgender and gay communities who passed away in 2017 after heavily impacting American gay life in the 1960s. She was eclectic, wearing false nails all year that she would only remove before fisting, Mac tells the audience. She was also full of queer proverbs, and Mac drops plenty of them during the show. Many know of Sabrina through The Queen, an early, pioneering documentary on drag culture that has been making the rounds lately:
MacArthur genius Taylor Mac is an unparalleled creator, and Holiday Sauce matches Mac's bedazzled excellence. This music-filled show about "Christmas as calamity" (and, again, Mother Sabrina Flawless) is an epic—and I really mean epic. There are flying angels, and Jesus shows his butthole.
You can also touch Jesus, if you want, and he'll give you shots of Jameson. The show is bombastic and colorful, landing somewhere between drag and cabaret and classical Greek tragedy. The supporting cast and band are even brighter, with the interludes from Mac's vocalists, Steffanie Christi'an and Thornetta Davis (Detroit's "Queen of the Blues"!), being some of the show's best moments.
Per usual, Mac is draped in the loudest costumes ever invented, created by the equally genius designer Machine Dazzle. Describing the content of Machine Dazzle's explosive, Radical Faerie-touched costumes is a collegiate course in and of itself, but I'll try to explain a few of the looks: An opening outfit concocted in a witch's brew containing elven hands, bitch heels, Nutcracker knee-highs, and roasted jolly Christmas pigs for shoulder pads; a heavenly pink angel's tutu plucked from the sky weighed down by horse ornaments and a wreath that doubles as a carousel; a major white holiday gown with an entire forest scene erupting from the gown's crown that descends down the back to spell out a surprise and make the wearer look like a wintertime Godzilla.
But the pomp and dazzle never overshadow the show's source: Mother Flawless Sabrina. I was surprisingly moved by Mac's screaming earnestness. If you're fond of Mac or Machine Dazzle or Flawless Sabrina or color or life or cheer or anger or good entertainment, you must go see the show before it leaves town tomorrow. It deserves sycophantic praise.
Some related media to get you in the mood: