by CHRISTINE SARKES SASSEVILLE
Russ King’s hilarious holiday drag satire pokes fun of ethnic groups, religion, lesbians, bad sweaters and Rosemount. No group is safe from Miss Richfield 1981’s sharp-tongued, spike-heeled humor. King’s hysterically funny Miss Richfield 1981’s Christmas Cone of Silence is a holiday tradition for many repeat audience members and a break from treacly holiday fare for newcomers. King’s beauty queen alter ego, Miss Richfield 1981, was created after an impromptu idea of spicing up a friend’s party led to stage performances. King, who grew up in Richfield, has performed annually on Illusion Theater’s stage and throughout the country since 1996.
The show mixes audience participation, new holiday sing-alongs and video montages into a very thinly woven plot about creating a cone of silence to discuss forbidden topics, while poking fun at our prejudices and poor fashion choices. With a beehive hairdo, spiked heels and better legs than mine, Miss Richfield screeches and prances her way through a largely improvised set designed to challenge any notion of political correctness. She had the audience shouting with laughter and approval at her razor-sharp barbs and “Oh no, she didn’t” stereotypes. If you are in the mood for a crazy drag queen and laugh-out-loud holiday satire, this is the show for you! Caution: If you are seated near the stage, be prepared to be “dragged” into the fun. Fashion mistakes, hairstyles and hometowns were favorite targets.
Also deserving mention is that Illusion Theater, under its co-producing directors Michael Robins and Bonnie Morris, recently won the “Outstanding Theatre” award from The National Theatre Conference (NTC), an organization founded in 1925 that meets annually in New York to discuss relevant issues in today’s theatre community and to celebrate outstanding achievement in the American theatre. In its press release, the group cited Illusion Theater’s 40-year history, during which it has “commissioned or developed almost 500 original plays that have been staged across the U.S. and worldwide. “Illusion productions have received Twin Cities Ivey Awards; two plays have been made into motion pictures; two plays have been finalists for the American Theatre Critics Association’s New Play Award; 10 have been published; and one nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. In 1978, Illusion pioneered the concept of prevention/education plays.” Our congratulations to Illusion Theater!
Miss Richfield 1981’s Christmas Cone of Silence. Written and performed Russ King, accompanied by pianist Todd Emanuel Price, directed by Michael Robins at the Illusion Theater on the 8th floor of the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, 528 Hennepin Ave. in Minneapolis, now through Sunday December 20. Please be aware that Illusion Theater uses dynamic ticket pricing for Miss Richfield, meaning that prices are subject to change as demand changes at 612-339-4944 or online at www.illusiontheater.org.