“There’s no place like home for the holidays.” 

This lyric from the popular song “Home for the Holidays” has become a staple of the holiday season. However, while rampant global consumerism and capitalism wants us to believe the holidays are filled with gingerbread houses and smiling grandmas, that is simply not the case for many Americans. Many of us (especially those in the LGBTQIA+ community) search for a home away from home during the holiday season. At least, that’s what Taylor Mac, co-director and star of “Taylor Mac’s Holiday Sauce” did. According to CultureVulture’s website,“Taylor Mac’s Holiday Sauce” is a “two-hour intermission-less extravaganza (musical show) for an adult, gay-friendly audience.” 

In an interview with “Q Voice News,” Mac (who uses the pronoun “judy” lowercase sic unless at the start of a sentence) described judy’s holiday experience as “tortorous and homophobic.” Mac said, “‘Holiday Sauce’ is a tribute to my drag mother, Mother Flawless Sabrina. I went to a Christmas party and a couple of holiday parties at her house. They were the best. The parties were so freeing. I didn’t have to hang out with family. I could be myself. It was a loving environment.”

“Taylor Mac’s Holiday Sauce” is brought to Ann Arbor by the University Musical Society. Mac, along with a “spectacular” band and surprise special guests, will take the stage of the Power Center Sat. Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. and Sun. Dec. 15 at 4 p.m.  

“Taylor grew up queer and went on to find a found family in New York City,” said Co-Director of “Taylor Mac’s Holiday Sauce” Niegel Smith in an interview with the Daily. Smith and Taylor are longtime artistic collaborators. “Taylor Mac’s Holiday Sauce” is just another one of their collaborative masterpieces. 

“Taylor and I are working to make the culture we want to see in the world,” Smith said. The performances in “Taylor Mac’s Holiday Sauce” contain a  celebratory and healing culture that extends to its audience, too. The audience members, many who may or may not find solace in going home for the holidays, can certainly find an exciting home for themselves while watching the performance. 

“I hope everyone is a little surprised and delighted, and we center our elders and those who came before us. You’ll know what I mean by that when you come to the show,” Smith said.

Like its audience, the show itself is changing and growing with the times. “Each iteration (of) the work changes … constantly evolving as we evolve and as our world evolves,” Smith said. 

The show skillfully uses costuming to comment on our ever-changing world. Costume designer Machine Dazzle has created costumes that can be considered characters of their own.

“There is a maximalism in Machines’ aesthetic. Inside each costume are added layers that slowly reveal themselves,” Smith said, “Machine is looking to not only express the character with the costumes but to show a deeper message beneath.” 

The costuming for this show is incomparable to almost everything in our current theatrical landscape. Quite frankly, the entire show is. I think this is largely due to the sense of community the show brings to its performance  spaces. “Taylor Mac’s Holiday Sauce” uses various artistic forms to invite audiences into a welcoming community a community of queerness, self-expression and social commentary.  A community that is both celebratory and politically aware. It is truly a feat of individualism and creativity in the arts. Staying true to yourself is much easier said than done, especially for students or other new artists who are still struggling to define themselves as creators and as people. 

When I called Smith on Friday afternoon, one of the first things he said to me was, “I love to hear from the students,” so I wasn’t afraid to ask him for some advice. How do we, as creators, remain true to ourselves? 

“Find those folks that have similar questions to you and a similar aesthetic. Always find space for your individual work. Hear notes and critiques given to you with your own point of view. Hold onto what is unique about your vision,” Smith said. 

But what if we don’t even know what our vision is?

“Then ask yourself ‘Why do I want to do this?’ What is it that you want to communicate and engage in and why?” Smith explained. 

It is questions like these that Smith and his creative team have asked themselves. Questions like these that have formed a show that unapologetically builds a community of its own. Questions like these that make me think of the Perry Como lyrics “There’s no place like home for the holidays” because the show aims to craft itself into a home that is unlike anything else for so many this holiday season.

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