Whoa Tannenbaum: Non-Traditional Christmas Offerings in the District

December 15, 2010


The winter holidays are all about tradition. But who gets to decide what that even means? You’ve been good all year long. Santa won’t put you on the “naughty” list for trying something a little different this weekend. What could be more festive than the Civil War? Giant, glaring creatures chiseled from slabs of ice, you say? Touche. Venture into uncharted holiday territory with all the tweaked takes on Christmas that D.C. has to offer.

Tulle to the World
In the traditional version of “The Nutcracker,” little Clara’s godfather brings her a toy nutcracker doll that she finds enchanting — never mind that a nutcracker is clearly not that fun a gift. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington has filled this plot hole for our modern times with “Men in Tights: A Pink Nutcracker,” which re-imagines Tchaikovsky’s ballet as a gay love story. “It’s fun and campy and … pink,” says director and choreographer Craig Cipollini. The program is split into two parts: First, 200-plus members of the GMCW will perform choral arrangements of classic carols, accompanied by a full orchestra and a full-size organ. Then, the guys will sing the story of young Clarence, who receives a hunky prince for Christmas (much better than a crusty old nutcracker) and promptly gets into it with his brother, Fritz, who also has his eyes on the prize. Arguing, jealousy and a whole lot of tulle: Just like real Christmas.
» Lisner Auditorium, George Washington University, 730 21st St. NW; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m., $20-$50; 202-293-1548. (Foggy Bottom)


Keeping Christmas Civil
Kick off 2011 — when the D.C. area goes wild with events commemorating the 150th anniversary of a bloody, divisive conflict — at Leesylvania State Park’s Civil War Christmas, featuring a historically accurate Santa. The Jolly One’s patriotic, star-bedecked garb is based on an 1863 Harper’s Weekly drawing by Thomas Nast, in which he delivers socks and other goodies to soldiers — who actually did desperately want socks. Costumed interpreters will be on hand to chat about the 1860s, period music will be played, and light refreshments (including some that aren’t hardtack) will be served. Children can make garlands out of cranberries and popcorn, and tree ornaments from other ingredients from our primitive pre-tinsel past. This is the “Little Women” Civil War (vaguely bad and far away), not the Ken Burns version, so, please, don’t ask Santa whether the South will rise again or whether it was ultimately all the cotton gin’s fault.
» Leesylvania’s Visitor Center, 2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Drive, Woodbridge, Va.; Sat., 11 a.m.-4 p.m., and Sun., 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; $2 per person or $6 per family; 703-583-6904.

The Land of Ice and Snow
The awesomely bizarre experience that is Ice! (don’t forget the exclamation point!) at the Gaylord National Harbor begins with a borrowed parka. No, you don’t know where it’s been, and, yes, it makes you look fat. But you’ll need it as you wander through a mind-bending representation of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” carved entirely from ice — in so much detail you can see the hairs in Cindy Lou Who’s braids. Along the way, discover what vodka feels like on Spring Break: Take a spin down the ice luge (or the less x-treme children’s slide). The tour concludes with a slowly melting nativity scene. Not into Jesus? Reflect instead on the enormous, nondenominational tree made of Peeps, right off the indoor skating rink.
» Gaylord National Harbor, 201 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Md.; through Jan. 9, $24; 301-965-4000.

Broad Comedy
The Christmas story — with its homeless, pregnant teenage mother who no one wanted to help — is really quite sad. Good thing the “ladies” of the Kinsey Sicks take it a step further with the threat of manger foreclosure in “Oy Vey in a Manger,” a campy drag stage show sure to at least mildly offend everyone who attends. Big mouths, glitter, puns and four-part harmonies bring the holiday spirit a shot of harsh reality. “O Come Ye Unfaithful”? Sounds like the aftermath of an office party. “Soylent Night”? Christmas comes for cannibals, too.
» Theater J, 1529 16th St. NW; opens Sat., through Jan. 2, $15-$60; 202-518-9400. (Dupont Circle)

Merry Kix-Mas
Christmas in Baltimore can be enjoyed on many levels. There’s the refined Inner Harbor, with its tasteful lighted boats and ”Don’t Bother Me, I’m Crabby„ stocking stuffers. For optimum John Waters-spotting opportunities, there’s Hampden’s ”Miracle on 34th Street,„ where a block of rowhouses keeps BG&E in business for another year with 50,000 blazing watts of twinkling lights. But for the true Maryland believers, hon, there is Kix-Mas. Kix, that classic band of high hair and even higher vocal range, brings heavy metal home for the holidays at Ram’s Head Live. Lead screamer Steve Whiteman brought the subtle shadings of the Mur-lun accent to millions with 1988’s ”Blow My Fuse,„ which went platinum and put Kix on bills with RATT and Britny Fox. They should have been the next Warrant! But they were still heroes locally, playing out pretty much every single weekend for 10 years, and giving heshers a reason to cling to our Aqua Net even as the world changed around us. So, expect a family reunion of sorts when Kix blows up Christmas on Saturday.
» Rams Head Live!, 20 Market Place, Baltimore; Sat., 8 p.m., $25; 410-244-1311.

Written by Express’ Shauna Miller, Holly J. Morris, Kristen Page-Kirby and Fiona Zublin
Photo by Julian Vankim

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Kristen Page-Kirby | December 15, 2010