“It’s our largest tour ever,” Christopher Keyes says about A Drag Queen Christmas 2021. And he means by any measure, from size of cast and crew, to number of cities, to extent of stage design. “An ongoing joke in the office is, ‘This tour is so big, it took me 17 months to do all the pre-work for it.'”
Keyes says this year’s show has tracked similarly to those he’s organized for Murray & Peter Present in prior years. “Compared to 2019’s Christmas tour, the preparation is almost identical,” he says. It hasn’t proven a challenge to ensure all cast and crew members are fully vaccinated and willing to comply with all mask-wearing and pandemic-related safety protocols on the upcoming 38-city tour.
The inspiration for the show is Disney’s Frozen. There’s something poetic about the first show since the pandemic taking inspiration from the Snow Queen-centered tale of being trapped and cut off from loved ones and the world for a protracted period of time. The elaborate wintry set, designed by Keyes, consists of “two 15-foot Nutcrackers, over 14 Christmas trees [and] over 18 life-size presents, polar bears, snow owls, you name it.
“We have a killer cast this year,” he adds. “It’s phenomenal.” Trinity The Tuck will co-host with Peppermint in select cities, including D.C. and Baltimore. The lineup for both local shows is slated to feature Denali, Kylie Sonique Love, Crystal Methyd, Heidi N Closet, Miz Cracker, and Jan Sport.
In addition to performing a few numbers each, each queen will have a chance to share, as Keyes puts it, “any fun stories, stuff that’s happened — who accidentally took a dump on the bus when they weren’t supposed to. They tell all the dirty, dark, secret stuff that the audience really wants to hear. They come to see the show, but they really want to know what’s going on behind the scenes.”
Keyes has headed up drag touring productions for Murray & Peter since 2014, when it was still a novel concept. “Before that, you mainly saw [drag] talent at your bar or pride event,” the 33-year-old says. “Murray & Peter wanted more of a night out atmosphere — something you get dressed up to go to, and at a theater where you sit in designated seats, not stand around a bar for an hour and a half.
“No one really expected it to blow up as big as it did,” he continues, adding that shows like A Drag Queen Christmas have even become their own kind of tradition. “Christmas season is not Christmas season without A Drag Queen Christmas.”
A Drag Queen Christmas is Thursday, Nov. 18, at 8 p.m., at the Warner Theatre, 513 13th St. NW and Saturday, Nov. 20, at 8 p.m., at Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre, 12 North Eutaw St. Purchase tickets to shows in any of the tour’s cities at www.dragfans.com.
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