Certain rituals signal the start of the Christmas season — holiday ice rinks, the Macy’s tree lighting, the return of “The Nutcracker” and nothing but holiday movies on the Hallmark Channel (leaving no room for “Golden Girls” reruns).
However, fans of Miami’s favorite grays still have reason to rejoice with “The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes,” onstage beginning today at the Victoria Theatre.
“It has become an annual pilgrimage for many,” says Matthew Martin, who plays Southern belle Blanche Devereaux in the beloved stage show, which he also directs. “It truly is a family show, inclusive of everyone. The characters Dorothy, Sophia, Blanche and Rose are like family to them as well, so it’s truly a Christmas party.”
Featuring drag luminaries and “Trannyshack” favorites — Heklina (Dorothy), Cookie Dough (Sophia), Martin (Blanche) and Pollo Del Mar (Rose) — in two new, Christmas-themed “Golden Girls” episodes, the show runs 12 performances. Today’s opening night benefits AIDS Housing Alliance/SF.
This year, the show recreates twofer episode “Rose the Prude/Blanche and the Younger Man” and fan favorite “Ladies of the Evening,” in which the girls are incarcerated on a morals charge.
“The Golden Girls” stage show debuted in 2005 in the Western Addition Victorian home of former cast member Mike Finn. It began selling out Mama Calizo’s Voice Factory and CounterPULSE before settling at the Victoria Theatre in 2011.
While the re-enactments are mostly faithful, the performers do take some liberties with the material.
“These are two new episodes for the cast and audience and there’s some nips and tucks with addition of material from other episodes,” Martin says.
To transform into Blanche, the actor and San Francisco native — perhaps best known for his Bette Davis impersonations — says all it takes is an audience, a pair of heels and a push-up bra.
“With Blanche, of course, there’s the sexy, sassy, fun character,” he added, “and Southern is always fun to play.”
As the youngest of six children, Martin fondly remembers his earliest Christmas performances, dancing around the living room to Christmas records for his large, extended family.
Like Christmas, now-classic “Golden Girls” episodes also bring back warm memories.
“Almost 30 years later, we can’t get enough of the reruns on TV and love to celebrate them onstage,” he says. “There is certainly a warm, cozy, nostalgic feel to the show. It goes back to the top-notch comedic writing and four brilliant comedians. Plus, the human issues, the laughs, the fits and fights and resolutions remain humanly the same. We can all relate to all of it.”
IF YOU GO
The Gold Girls: The Christmas Episodes
Where: Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Sundays; closes Dec. 22