If there is any place in the world a celebrated comic playwright can collide with some lipstick and Charles Dickens, it is San Francisco. So brace yourself: “Cora Values’ Christmas Corral” will beat the dickens out of, well, Dickens, and send some spirits soaring at the same time.
The lowdown: Writer-performer Sean Owens, Exit Theatre’s artist in residence, morphs into drag alter ego Cora Values. Think sweet, add sharp and put the lady in a Gas N Gulp, then stand back.
“Cora lives in a rich, rich world all her own,” Owens says with a chuckle. “In Cora’s world, there has never been a stage adaptation of this lost literary classic, so she is very excited to bring the story of ‘A Christmas Carol’ to the stage. Unfortunately her story, from the library in her hometown of Rectal, Texas, is missing a few pages. So there will be several key times when she will be relying on the audience.”
Owens tapped into his inner Cora years ago. He says she actually began as a hospitality speaker, “trying to show four-star restaurateurs in The City that the same type of hospitality should be in effect whether you’re at a Fleur de Lys or a Gas N Gulp.”
Cora also comes with a creative clan who helped bring the show to life, known as “the rectal regulars.” Emmett Cornpike (under the pseudonym Don Seaver), composed four new original songs, including a “destined-to-become-a-classic ballad” dubbed “Another Lame Holiday.”
And there is Roweena Tiffley (aka Amanda Ortmayer), the show’s technician, who plays Tiny Tim.
Merle Dagnat (alias Don Wood) plays almost everybody else in the classic, including Marley, Bob Cratchit, Fred and some ghosts.
This just in: Cora’s “ex-husband” and executive chef Zeke Plummett is “incapacitated,” so expect the character of Scrooge to be yanked directly from the audience each evening.
What does Cora have to say about this spectacle, which is already generating buzz?
“When I heard that I’d be talking to ‘The San Francisco Examiner,’ I thought it was the ‘mortuarial examiner,’” she says. “But what a relief because there really have been no incidents at the Gas N Gulp of late.”
As for her surprising longevity and success, Cora is frank: “Well honey, if there’s any success to be measured, I measure it in the width and breadth of my pie slices. You know, people don’t remark that much on my filling anymore, but they do remark on my crust.”
Bless her heart.
IF YOU GO
Where: Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy St., San Francisco
When: 8:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; closes Dec.11
Tickets: $15 to $25
Contact: (415) 673-3847, www.brownpapertickets.com