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For Gold Dust Orphans, a journey to outer space — and a new home

Qya Marie and Mark Leahy in "Christmas on Uranus."
Qya Marie and Mark Leahy in "Christmas on Uranus."Michael von Redlich (custom credit)

If you think Ryan Landry will leave any scatological pun unturned when he titles a show “Christmas on Uranus,’’ you don’t know Landry very well.

If you do know Landry, his work, and his general sensibility, you will probably feel right at home with his latest holiday sendup of all things seasonal, cinematic, and televisual, even as he and his merry band of Gold Dust Orphans adjust to a new home of their own.

Having bade farewell after more than two decades to the basement confines of the Machine nightclub, the Orphans have relocated to the third-floor function hall of the South Boston Lithuanian Citizens’ Association. On opening night, Landry seemed energized by the different surroundings, moving among the audience before the show and distributing inflated light-sabers to patrons with instructions to “Wave these during the big number,’’ then mingling with bar patrons during intermission.


Apart from writing the show as usual, Landry plays a towering figure out of Arthurian legend — Bea, that is. He has incorporated Dorothy of “The Golden Girls’’ into his “space opera,’’ affording him the chance to wear a gray wig and a flowing caftan while delivering Arthur-like eye rolls and slow burns.

The plot Landry has devised for “Christmas on Uranus’’ is one of his more ingenious, though that ingenuity is too infrequently matched by the dialogue. In any given sketch, the setup is likely to be more memorable and clever than the jokes.

But even when working with less-than-topnotch material, the small-m machine that Landry has assembled and honed with the Orphans over the years can generate enough comic mayhem to provide you at least a moderately good time, especially when it is wrapped within Landry’s loving riffs on movies and TV shows — “Star Wars,’’ "A Christmas Story,'' “Lost in Space,’’ the "To Serve Man'' episode of "The Twilight Zone,'' and, yes, “Golden Girls’’ — that both trade on and tickle the audience’s shared fund of pop-culture knowledge.


Directed by Kiki Samko, “Christmas on Uranus’’ revolves around the kidnapping of Santa Claus (Tim Lawton) by the evil emperor of Uranus (Matt Fear). An extraterrestrial Grinch if ever there was one, the emperor holds Santa captive as part of a nefarious scheme to stockpile enough weaponry to defeat a rebel alliance and take over the universe. Allied with the emperor is a villain named, what else, Lord Sphincter, played with terrific gusto by Qya Marie (who doubles as Lieutenant Ahora, an apparent homage to Lieutenant Uhura from “Star Trek.”)

The Robinson family embarks on an outer-space mission to rescue Santa, traveling from planet to planet aboard a rocket ship that includes John (Mark Leahy), Maureen (Penny Champayne, the stage name of Scott Martino, who also handles the costume and set design), Judy (Samko), Penny (Jessica Barstis), and Will (Corey Desjardins). Also on the scene are Don West (Mark Sikowitz), who responds to every crisis by immediately taking off his shirt. That gratuitous torso-baring somehow remains consistently amusing, as does Maureen’s breathily melodramatic "Oh, John, I’m afraid'' at nearly every dramatic turn.

But the single funniest performance in “Christmas on Uranus’’ is delivered by Sarah Jones, even though we can only hear, and not see, her. Encased in a robot suit, Jones plays Dorothy’s mother, Sophia, an acid-tongued android who is forever undermining her daughter. The actress does an excellent job channeling the voice and mannerisms of Estelle Getty, who portrayed the mother in "Golden Girls.''


Many of the hallmarks of a Landry/Orphans production are present in “Christmas on Uranus’’ — puppets that look like Muppets gone to seed; deliberately mistimed sound effects alternating with found moments when the “Splat!’’ of an inadvertently flubbed line is mined for laughs; tiny models that efficiently depict epic, even intergalactic, journeys; and copious sight gags, including a dance sequence on Venus by creatures whose torsos are adorned by flapping phalluses.

Those costumes are the handiwork of Martino. In production after production, he raises the bar, then clears it. The gaudy extravaganza of outfits he has designed for “Christmas on Uranus’’ range from sci-fi to steampunk and virtually constitute a show in themselves. The venue may have changed, but Martino remains the not-at-all-secret weapon of the Gold Dust Orphans.

Don Aucoin can be reached at aucoin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter@GlobeAucoin


Written by Ryan Landry. Directed by Kiki Samko. Sets and costumes by Scott Martino. Choreography by Rose Garcia. Music direction by Tim Lawton. At South Boston Lithuanian Citizens Association, 368 W. Broadway, South Boston, though Dec. 22. Tickets $49-$59, www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4256257

Don Aucoin can be reached at donald.aucoin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeAucoin.