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November 17 – December 17, 2006

A way gay holiday musical! Using the premise of It’s a Wonderful Life, a young gay man wishes he hadn’t been born gay, and an angel grants his wish! This show has it all – showboys, drag, dancing reindeer and a gospel singing dyke!

This new holiday classic comes with a bit of gay apparel! You get a madcap musical pageant that celebrates the season and that celebrates real family values, as our gay hero faces troubles Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey never dreamed of. The community theater group ‘The Lavender Players’ is getting ready to stage their new Christmas show “Randolph the Rainbow Reindeer.” The writer, Joe, is driven to the brink of despair by family, church, and political tides. But with a bit of intervention from beyond, It’s a Fabulous Life builds to an unforgettable holiday climax.

With musical numbers like “The Pole Got Hot!,” “Don’t Drag Me Through the Holidays Again,” “Great to Be Straight” and “Lavender,” you’ll “Jingle All the Way” home!







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Director and Choreographer: David Brannen

Musical Direction: Steven Withers


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by Pat Launer
December 1, 2006

Now, for a whole other take on intolerance, swish on over to Diversionary Theatre, for its twisted little twist on a holiday perennial. It’s a Fabulous Life concerns a gay man so beleaguered by his prissy, catty, diva, queenie actor/singer friends, he wishes he weren’t gay at all. And before he can say ‘Feather boa!,’ a guardian angel appears and grants his wish. Like the Jimmy Stewart character in the film, Joe learns how different his world would be if he weren’t in it. And he comes to cherish what he nearly gave away, including friendship and love. Under the direction and choreography of David Brannen, the cast is a riot, though varied in their singing and dancing abilities. The songs, like “Randolph the Rainbow Reindeer,” are not just campy, they’re clever. It’s over the top but somehow irresistible. It’s hard not to get a good laugh from this goofy, glitzy paean to old movies, gay icons and the unrelenting love of lavender.
©2006 Patte Productions, Inc.

Curtain Calls on
by Pat Launer
December 1, 2006


THE SHOW: It’s a Fabulous Life, a tres gay take on the 1946 Frank Capra classic, with book by David Sexton, songs by Albert Evans and David Sexton, additional music by Eric Alsford and Andrew Sargent

THE BACKSTORY: Playwright Sexton went through his own identity crisis, which spawned the play. He was everything a young gay man should be: handsome, fit and creative. A perfect stereotype. But then he was diagnosed with colon cancer, and his weight dropped to 79 pounds. As he examined his new, non-stereotypic identity, he realized how much he loved his gay life, even with all its trials and challenges. His musical play started in 2003 in Ft. Lauderdale, went on to Miami and Chicago, and this is its West coast premiere.

THE STORY: Riffing on “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Sexton gives us Joe (the Jimmy Stewart stand-in), but his problems are a world away from George Bailey’s. He’s trying to rehearse his recently-written holiday show, Randolph the Rainbow Reindeer, but the cast – a bevy of queens, divas and a dyke – is driving him nuts. And his parents won’t let him bring his boyfriend home for the holidays. It all becomes too much for him; he wishes he hadn’t been born gay. And presto! Change-o! A guardian angel appears to grant his wish. Just as George did, Joe sees what his friends would be like without his influence. He comes to cherish everything he nearly left behind, and he returns happily to his lavender lifestyle.

THE PLAYERS/THE PRODUCTION: Director/choreographer David Brannen has marshaled an energetic, 11-member cast, and put them through their paces — even if not all of them can sing or dance with aplomb. They can put over a song – and isn’t that all that counts? Well, in this kind of play it is. Musical director/accompanist Steven Withers sees to that. With all the males up there, it’s actually the lone woman, Victoria Rose, first a dykey reindeer and then a knockout chanteuse, who has the most powerful and versatile voice. But there are many musical highlights in campy-but-clever numbers like “The Pole Got Hot” and “Don’t Drag Me Through the Holidays Again.” As the outrageous drag queen Miss Carlotta, Trevor Peringer, with the megawatt smile, is uproarious (and makes quite a femme fatale). C.J. Altarejos is touching as Joe’s lover, Luis; Aaron Marcotte is funny as the relentless star-wannabe; and as the angel, Ole Kittleson is a charmer, white tux, wings and all (after he’s successful with Joe, he earns his lavenders). There’s a positive message of self-acceptance under all the glitz, feathers and tight pants (though those bike shorts don’t do anyone any favors). But mostly, this is just a delicious, over-the-top holiday confection. As the Diversionary folks put it, you’ll Jingle All the Way home.

THE PLACE: Diversionary Theatre, through Dec. 17


Two Christmas gifts unwrapped in theaters

By Michael L. Greenwald
San Diego Union-Tribune
November 22, 2006

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Everywhere you go.
And especially in theaters, what could be much sweeter?
Than a sleigh full of yuletide shows.

God bless the 14 merry gentlemen – and one very brassy lady – who officially launched the theatrical Christmas season in San Diego earlier this week. At the Diversionary Theatre, 10 men and a woman present “It’s a Fabulous Life,” a campy twist on the Jimmy Stewart holiday classic, while the Spreckles hosts “Plaid Tidings,” the holly, jolly return of that quartet of forever popular Plaids.

San Diego knows that the hugely entertaining Plaids are (insert your superlative: audience participation is abundant in both shows). They’re pros who’ve honed their considerable musical and comedic skills for 17 years, a third of that time locally. By contrast, the Diversionary enterprise seems amateur, sometimes obviously so, at other times admirably so.

If we must compare Christmas oranges to apples, consider the common ground shared by these cheery holiday offerings: both shows play the “acceptance card.”

“Fabulous Life” is a gay musical-within-a-musical. Joe (versatile Zachary Bryant), who plays “Randolph the Rainbow Reindeer,” isn’t sure he wants to be gay. He’s despondent because he can’ttake his partner, Luis (C.J. Altarejos), home for Christmas dinner, that quintessential gathering of family and loved ones.

An angel (Starlight mainstay Ole Kittelson, in white tux and lavender wings) grants Joe’s wish to be “straight,” which leads to messier complications (he’s no longer a fabulous dancer). Miss Carlotta, a drag queen (Trevor Peringer, doubling as Mrs. Claus, in the show’s campiest performances), delivers a touching, if overlong, monologue that convinces Joe to accept the reality of his gayness.

Both shows have some trouble getting started. The first act of “Fabulous” is little more than a parade of song-and-dance numbers for the guys’ annual Christmas show. Only in the second act does David Sexton’s meandering script advance plot and real character, allowing the company to settle into some passable acting under David Brannen’s direction.

(Paragraphs in this review about “Forever Plaid” were dropped. See the full review at Sign On San Deigo)

Gay & Lesbian Times
by Jean Lowerison
November 22, 2006

It’s a Fabulous Life

It’s a bitch when you can’t get your whole reindeer chorus line together to rehearse because Donner and Blitzen just had to hoof it to Tampa for Cher’s fifth farewell tour.

But director Frank (John Martin) tries to make the best of it in the West Coast premiere of It’s a Fabulous Life, David Sexton’s high-spirited twist on the classic holiday film. The show plays through Dec. 17 at Diversionary Theatre, directed and choreographed by David Brennan.

The plot features Randolph the Rainbow Reindeer, a.k.a. Joe (Zachary Bryant), in the George Bailey role. Joe’s plan to take boyfriend Luis home to meet the parental unit meets with a lukewarm (at best) reception from mom; at the same time, Joe and Luis run into a relationship snag. When Joe wishes aloud that he’d never been born gay, an angel in the form of legendary former director Arthur (Ole Kittleson) grants his wish. And then Joe starts to realize how important he is to his family and friends, and that being gay is not only his lot but the life he chooses.

It’s a Fabulous Life boasts great characters (Trevor Peringer’s flashy RuPaul-like Carl/Carlotta/Prancer is one of my favorites, with comments like: “Remember, the audience is the enemy. They have to be beaten into submission”) and terrific songs by Sexton and Albert Evans (where else will you hear songs like “The Pole Got Hot” and “Don’t Drag Me Through the Holidays Again”?).

And let’s not forget the “tech crew” – Angela (Tori Roze), the butchest dyke on the block, who turns out to be a heck of a gospel singer to boot.

OK, the message is less than subtle and some of the action has been seen before, but what could be more festive than high-stepping reindeer, Mrs. Claus in drag, a gospel-singing dyke and Starlight Opera veteran Kittleson with wings?





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