Monday, December 5, 2016

Applause! Applause! Review of Ginger Minj: Mary, Did You Know? at The Laurie Beechman Theatre by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of Ginger Minj: Mary, Did You Know? at The Laurie Beechman Theatre was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 6 (2016) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!

Ginger Minj: Mary, Did You Know?
Written & Performed by Joshua Eads-Brown
Starring Michael Kirk Lane & Janine Klein
Special Guest: Chris Newcomer
The Laurie Beechman Theatre
407 West 42nd Street
New York, New York 10036
Reviewed 12/3/16  

I have seen Ginger Minj shine, sparkle, and share in the past and have enjoyed a number of her shows. However, this one was an Epic Fail. The words lame and uninspired come to mind. People paid very good money (a modest entertainment charge and a food/drink minimum), to see this show and yet the most professional people in the room were the service staff. If the show was being performed as a free concert, I would still recommend you not waste your time seeing it. Ginger Minj: Mary, Did You Know? was extremely sloppy, as though it was slapped together at the last minute with little to no rehearsals. The two backup performers, Michael Kirk Lane and Janine Klein, had music stands on stage with scripts they read from, which I found extremely unprofessional. They spent much of the time taking long glances at their "cheat sheets," at least once literally correcting Ginger when she strayed from the written notes. I was in shock. Even the technical director screwed up royally over and over again. Ginger poked fun at these very careless lapses, making a joke out of repeated mistakes with dimming and blackouts of the lighting - even audience members started to recognize when dimming (and chimes) were called for but, conspicuously, didn't happen (or happened late), as though the techie was a trainee or an incompetent last-minute replacement (or a dreadfully slow learner).

The minimal amount of choreography was torture to watch. Nobody stepped together in unison or displayed any grace or style in their movements. This surprised me, as there was so little dancing that it wouldn't have been difficult in the slightest to rehearse out the kinks and supply some dance oomph to this otherwise lackluster show. Given Michael Kirk Lane's exaggerated movements and fairy-like flitting, I am surprised he didn't fly off the stage. The costumes were by no means special but Ginger Minj's gown was the absolute worst I have ever seen. It's as if she went to 99 cents store, bought half a red gown, and then wrapped leather-like black tar paper around her torso and down her right leg. Black is supposed to be slimming. Well not in Ginger Minj's case where she saw no need to tuck or to restrain the mounds of fat bulging and protruding all over the place. It was a monstrous sight! After Michael Kirk Lane sang "I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas," he was asked if he ever got one. He responded, "Well, Ginger's here, does that count?" The answer is yes. In that hideous gown, she really did look like a human version of that beast. When she sat on a wooden stool to interview Chris Newcomer (Actor, Singer, Comedian, Gourmand), her Special Guest, I feared she might rip the fabric and burst forth in front of all of us. Ginger was a horrible interviewer revealing her ignorance on many levels and topics. For example, when she asked Mr. Newcomer to reveal something we might not know about him, he told her he was a Star Trek fan, to which she responded, "Does that mean you like Chewbacca? That's the Star Wars universe, honey, not Star Trek! Mr. Newcomer then sang "O Holy Night" to an overproduced, overly loud, track which completely drowned out his impressive voice. In the middle of the song, he had to awkwardly ask the technical director to lower the volume. Did Ginger use the opportunity to change into a new gown? Not at all. She and her fellow performers returned to their assigned spots in the exact same costumes - a missed opportunity to change things up and add some variety to this amateurish program.

Further to that point, the overall structure of the show was utterly boring. There were no changes of scenery. Just some colored lights came and went with no discernible purpose - or finesse in timing. The performers planted themselves in their designated spots on the stage and only extremely infrequently left them. The songs were each sung in a similar style, with scant connection to the incomprehensible story being told. There were little tidbits of Ginger's life around the holidays, but nothing deeply touching or even tragic. Ginger Minj does appear to have a very big heart, a good voice, and an abiding love of family and home despite her calling her father "Rick The Dick." However, she did admit, "I am probably a dick too since you are what you eat." After receiving a gift she wanted from her grandmother on her mother's side (no doubt suggested by her mom), Ginger said she then realized "my mom had my back, no matter how hairy it was." Every year during Christmas, she makes it a point to go back to her home in Lake County, Florida, which isn't that much of a burden since she lives in Orlando.

There were some funny jokes. When discussing how she lost her virginity, she recycled the old chestnut that she lost it playing football, where she went from "a tight end to a wide receiver." Michael Kirk Lane says he got herpes during his first sexual encounter - "herpes, the gift that keeps on giving!" Janine Klein says her family shops at Family Dollar because "we are all about family, but we're also cheap." Ginger said she had a second helping at Christmas Breakfast so now if asked what she got for Christmas, she can say, "Diabetes!" Janine sang a song about a dreidel. Michael says in his non-Jewish family, they called it a top. Ginger then responded that she always asks Santa for a top. Chris Newcomer said his favorite cereal is Fruity Pebbles, because "I like a cereal that reflects me in some way - fruity!" Ginger said she "has experienced every culture in the world - Dannon, Activia." After moving to New York, she says she never looked back "because I don't have a neck and my head wouldn't turn that way." 

The show opens with The Three Queens (i.e. The Drag, The Hag, and The Ho-Ho Homo) en route to visit the newborn King riding fake stuffed camels. We are told that "after the dinosaurs and before the original run of  The Golden Girls, Baby Jesus was born to The Virgin Mary." Ginger then says the story is as fake as the camels they rode in on. No parody. No satire. No subtlety. Just raw intolerance and insults. Ginger baits the audience into trying to get someone to admit they voted for Trump and then says, "There's a Trump supporter! Beat Him Up!" She then directly attacks Fox News insulting the many members of her audience who may hold political, and or religious, opinions that differ from hers. It was all a very distasteful spectacle and I could see many audience members were not at all pleased. The delightful, politically incorrect, jokes told during last year's Christmas show were all gone. Very little of worth remained. Ginger Minj did end the show on an up note by telling the audience, "When you care enough to give the very least, consider buying something off my website at"

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