Just like rock-and-roll legend Elvis Presley, PEEP!!! impresario, director, and star Lissa Brennan (a.k.a. Miss Pixie) is dreaming of a blue Christmas. 'Twas the PEEP!!! Before Christmas, the fourth installment of Brennan's rollicking R-rated old-timey vaudeville and burlesque revue, will provide just that Friday and Saturday night at Manbites Dog Theater in Durham.
"We're bringing back some of the previous characters, and probably always will," says Lissa Brennan. "The 'Jack & Mildred' segments with Jay Oberski and me and the 'Sacco & Vanzetti' bits with Jay, Jeff Detwiler and myself seem to becoming staples of the show.
"This particular installment is different from the previous ones in that there's an actual framework in addition to the sketches. Usually, Bucky Sidewinder [Lance Waycaster] tells his jokes in-between segments, but we're without him this time around. Instead, we're introducing a hyper-academic theater critic named Shelly Forest (I'm sure you can figure that one out) who attempts to shut down the show in protest of my supposed non-feminist approach. I won't give it away, but I'm sure you can imagine that she's unsuccessful in her endeavors.… I liked writing it with this kind of structure, and I think (but can't be sure) that we'll continue to have a through-line from beginning to end in upcoming installments."
According to Miss Pixie, the lineup for 'Twas the PEEP!!! Before Christmas includes the following comedy skits, song-and-dance routines, striptease, etc.
1. "Salvation Barmy" — "A bell-ringing priest [Derrick Ivey] and a hip-shaking whore [Hope Hynes] solicit from a single street corner."
2. "Jack and Mildred Wait for Santa" — "Everyone's favorite couple [Jay O'Berski and Lissa Brennan] returns for a late-night explanation of the Xmas Holiday."
3. "Santa Baby" — A Mystery Broad (?who could it be?) enlists the Peep Toms for the Eartha Kitt materialistic classic."
4. "Sacco & Vanzetti Slide Down Your Chimney" — Everyone's favorite Italian anarchists [Jeffrey S. Detwiler and Jay O'Berski] invite an uptight old maid [Brennan] to sit on their laps as they try to collect paychecks as department-store Santas."
5. "Too-Too" — "Miss Pixie [Brennan] takes it off to 'The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.'"
6. "Winter Wonderland" — "A beautiful song by resident belter Maureen McMullen Muntner."
7. "It's a Wonderful PEEP!!!" — "A world without Miss Pixie?" With Lissa Brennan, Gina Kelly, Derrick Ivey, Jay O'Berski, Maureen McMullen Muntner, Jeffrey S. Detwiler, Hope Hynes."
8. "The Twelve Peeps of Christmas" — "Christmas carol turned drinking game." With Lissa Brennan, Gina Kelly, Derrick Ivey, Jay O'Berski, Maureen McMullen Muntner, Jeffrey S. Detwiler, Hope Hynes."
What inspired Lissa Brennan to create PEEP!!!? "The quickness of it is challenging to me as a producer," she says, "writing the sketches, coming up with songs, creating the striptease, rehearsing, costuming, etc., in less than two weeks time has yet to become easy and probably never will. Fortunately, I thrive under pressure.… At the same time, this is a format in which I can be more relaxed as a writer. I'm working on a few full-length works right now which require a different kind of attack; more research, a more rigid structure. PEEP!!! is more fun and games."
Brennan admits, "I've always loved a pun, the more groan-inducing the better, and this is the perfect form in which to indulge that guilty pleasure. As an actor, being able to work in a vaudevillian style — very presentational, over the top at times — is a blast. Working as writer, director, and actor, the sky's the limit as far as being as outrageous as we can; and I think we all enjoy the opportunity to get out there and be fools."
Dog & Pony Show presents 'Twas the PEEP!!! Before Christmas Friday-Saturday, Dec. 20-21, at 8:15 p.m. at Manbites Dog Theater, 703 Foster St., Durham, NC. $10. 919/682-3343. http://www.manbitesdogtheater.org/2/.