Three performers dressed as Dorothy, Blanche, and Rose from The Golden Girls. Dorothy is seated on a couch on the left, Rose is on the right, and Blanche stands between them in the back, with two small Christmas wreathes encircling her breasts.
From left: David Cerda, Grant Drager, and Ed Jones in The Golden Girls Save Xmas—A Lost Episodes Parody at Hell in a Handbag Credit: Rick Aguilar Studios

Hell in a Handbag Productions serves up a hefty helping of Christmas camp in this new episode of its “The Golden Girls: Lost Episodes” franchise, which purports to feature never-broadcast episodes of The Golden Girls, the 1985-1992 NBC sitcom about four over-60 women—three widows and a divorcee—sharing a home in Miami.

In Handbag artistic director David Cerda’s comedy, the fab four—man-hungry southern belle Blanche, naive Norwegian American Rose, sarcastic Dorothy, and Dorothy’s tart-tongued Sicilian mother Sophia—are enlisted as Santa’s helpers after Santa wrenches his back during a bedroom workout with Blanche on Christmas Eve. Riding a nuclear-powered sleigh, the girls spread the holiday spirit worldwide while learning a lesson about the value of chosen families.

The Golden Girls Save Xmas—A Lost Episodes Parody
Through 12/30: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM; also Wed 12/20 and 12/27 7:30 PM; no show Sun 12/24; the Hoover-Leppen Theatre at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted,, $42 advanced general admission, $45 at the door, $55 VIP/reserved seating

It’s funny and raunchy but in director Frankie Leo Bennett’s staging, surprisingly heartwarming, as well. In the roles created on TV by Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty, Rue McClanahan, and Betty White, the Golden Girls are played in drag by Cerda (Dorothy), Ryan Oates (Sophia), Grant Drager (Blanche), and Ed Jones (Rose), whose loopily wistful stories about life in her native Saint Olaf, Minnesota, are a high point of the show. Solid support comes from Michael Rashid and Danne Taylor as Sophia’s friends Esther Shapiro and Nancy Drew, Scott Sawa as Dorothy’s coarse ex-husband Stan, Terry McCarthy as Santa, Robert Williams as Mrs. Claus (don’t worry, it’s an open marriage), Kelly Bolton as Darlene, a temp worker hired to help out during the holiday crunch, and Eustace Allen and Tyler Anthony Smith as a pair of pointy-eared elves. Adding to the fun are Madeline Felauer’s outlandish costumes and an audience sing-along rendition of the TV show’s theme song, “Thank You for Being a Friend”—a festive carol for any season.