Oh, what Miss Pixie wouldn't give to be loved. Pride? Dignity? Self-awareness? Check, check, check. Nope, all long ago dispensed with. Miss Pixie's Cable Access Holiday Extravaganza!!! has come to the Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre in a limited run (through December 23), and the harmless, hyperactive dear is giving her all to make sure that not a single promised exclamation point goes unwarranted.
Casey Seymour Kim is channeling Miss Pixie at the Gamm, a space that can hardly contain her enthusiasm. Martha "Pixie" Feingold has retained the "Miss" of her girlish innocence, even though she has run through husbands like a swivel-hipped survivor at Pamplona.
She started out in her parents' Borscht Belt act, Eine Kleine Klezmer, going on to become a winsome child actor. In her young Hollywood career, she was a sort of a Shirley Temple or Judy Garland, only way down the pecking order of popularity. You might remember her from such B-movie classics as Yule Be Sorry and Purim Parade.
Puberty and the public didn't treat her kindly, although you wouldn't know it from her gushing devotion to her audiences. The same compulsive impulse that prompted Sally Field's "You like me! You really like me!" Oscar humiliation years ago is coursing like heroin through the veins of poor Ms. P.
We the audience are attending this special holiday edition of - Miss Pixie Late Night Clubhouse, on Rhode Island cable access Channel 3, but we might as well be watching Liza Minnelli at a flashy Las Vegas casino, desperately belting it out for all she's worth on the last night of her contract.
Miss Pixie hits the ground running, opening with an uptempo song from the 1963 Judy Garland Christmas special. The strain of her desperate eagerness to please shows, but she's not about to crack at any of her obvious fault lines. No sirree. This Betty Ford Center habituû is as well-practiced at denial as an Egyptian rowing champ. "I dried out and I bounced back — and you remember me!" That's all she needs to know.
She's swathed in red satin and topped with a towering blonde wig — a high-quality, more-is-more wig that's constantly competing with her to impress us. In eye-catching effort, the elaborate set tries hard to keep up with them. There's a Christmas tree on one side, plus presents, a wreath, and more. On the other side are menorahs, a payess-dangling Chaim the Hanukkah Turtle, and — my favorite detail — a bauble-bedecked six-pointed, well, Wreath of David, I guess. Hanukkah is a non-event, as far as Jewish holidays go, but the pixster insists on celebrating this time of year, "Even though me and my people have been excluded."
In Kim's lovely voice, Miss Pixie sings such songs as the twangy country ditty "Christmas For the Jews" ("that mistletoe kissin' gets me hot — look, I'm svitzin'"), "Holidays in Pawtucket," and the hyperventilating closer "It's All About You." She does get help, recruiting her accompanist Kevin (Jimmy Calitri) now and then to aid the act, and also her intern Karen (Melissa Bowler). Bowler provides a funny, low-key warm-up for the show and also does a good job nonchalantly whisking the Manischewitz out of her boss's hand and otherwise wordlessly watching out for worrisome signs.
One opportunity for Ms. P. to crack is when she recounts her past lovers, such as Tab Hunter, Rock Hudson, and, uh, Paul Lynde ("He was so much fun. He had a little game called Hide the Mistletoe"). The bitterest breakup was with "my local conquest," Mario Hilario. ("If you are watching this: Mea culpa. Which is Spanish for I'm sorry.")
The show was written and developed by Kim; music and lyrics are by her, David Rabinow, and Charles Cofone, who also did sound design and musical arrangement. David T. Howard was design consultant.
Poor Miss Pixie. She's so eager to get things right. She may give the impression that she's dancing on a footprint chart, but Kim never lets the tip of her tongue peek out the corner of her mouth. Miss Pixie is too much of a professional to let us see the toll all of this is taking on her.