If anyone is going to steal Christmas, it might as well be a diva like Amy Armstrong, who can steal a show, a scene, whatever, just by showing up. She is, in the best sense, a woman of large, demanding charisma, and you can see the evidence for yourself this weekend at the Lakeshore Theater. (By the way, is it just me, or is the Lakeshore always in a state of semi-fog? It’s like there’s a permanent smoke machine clicked on low—and, why?) Back to Armstrong. She has clearly rehearsed the music for this cabaret revue, but all the banter in between is of-the-moment. With Freddy Allen accompanying on piano (and Mark Diffenderffer on drums), Armstrong peeks her head out from the curtain and sings, “All I want for Christmas is a one-night stand.” Well, alright. Armstrong is a natural comedian, and she is not afraid to engage with the audience. In fact, she courts it. “The bar is open throughout the entire show!” she said, followed, an hour later, by a sarcastic: “Gee, I’m glad we left the bar open for the whole show,” as the crowd threatened to topple out of control. Only Armstrong could get away with such a bait and switch. Get drunk! And then, pull yourself together, ya drunks. “Hey, whore!” was a heartfelt greeting shouted from the peanut gallery. “I know that person,” Armstrong shot back—and the thing is, I think she did. Another catcall: “Suck it!” Armstrong: “Oh, hi Chad!” The show (which could use some beefing up in the second half) also includes a number that was new to me, called “I Farted on Santa’s Lap (Now Christmas Is Gonna Stink),” and a liquor-themed “12 Days of Christmas”: “Three shots of Makers; two Slippery Nipples; and a large Long Island Iced Tea.” She only made it through nine. Did I mention? Armstrong has a killer voice, and she can carry a tune while sipping a cocktail. Now that’s talent. Hearing that someone in the audience was doing whippets in the bathroom, she recounted an anecdote: “I always wanted the whipped cream more than the whippet,” and proceeded to act out the episode. That story segued to another: “One time, someone gave me pot brownies.” “One time!” the audience roared back. “Freakin’ marabou,” she said coughing on stray bits of her costume, “how do you drag queens do it?” She’s like the one person you really want to show up at your party. (Nina Metz)
At the Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, (773)472-3492. This production is now closed.