Seattle-area stages ring out with holiday entertainment
Puget Sound-area stages promise a sleighful of holiday entertainment in the 2012 season, featuring Scrooge, a very large elf and The Winter Wonderettes, to name a few.
Seattle Times theater critic
Come Donner, Blitzen, Tiffany, Jamal and Cedric. Gather around the menorah and the evergreen, take a cup of Kwanzaa cheer, go kayak caroling. And while we're at it, how about taking in a holiday show at a local theater?
Yes, 'tis the season again, to ditch the mobs at the cineplex for an eve, leave behind Lincoln and vampires and James Bond, and enjoy the offerings of some of the many area stage companies gifting you with the promise of comfort and joy.
Here's a sampler of the holiday-themed offerings, including familiar chestnuts with a few new treats:
Scrooges & Company
"A Christmas Carol" (ACT Theatre): The classic crowd-pleaser from Charles Dickens about a skinflint Victorian mogul who gets a Christmas Eve wake-up call. ACT again presents its own adaptation, this time directed by the theater's new associate artistic director, John Langs (206-292-7676 or acttheatre.org).
"Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol" (Taproot Theatre): Mr. Scrooge, I deduce? Taproot brings back Seattle playwright John Longenbaugh's adroit entertainment, conflating a mystery tale featuring the moody Holmes with the Dickens morality tale (206-781-9707 or taproottheatre.org).
"Scrooge: the Musical" (Seattle Musical Theatre): The stage version of the picturesque 1992 movie musical that starred Albert Finney as you-know-who, with a score by Leslie Bricusse — who, among other ventures, wrote the theme song for the Bond flick "Goldfinger" (206-363-2809 or seattlemusicaltheatre.org).
The new old "Carol"
"Inspecting Carol" (Seattle Repertory Theatre): Some 20 years ago, Seattle Rep artistic chief Daniel Sullivan and his acting company whipped up this clever romp, inspired by the ubiquity of "Christmas Carol" productions at community theaters and by the mistaken-identity farce by Gogol, "The Inspector General." Though it's since been performed around the U.S., this is the first Rep revival in a long while. Commandeered by current artistic director Jerry Manning, it stars a current crew of local stage zanies (Ian Bell, Michael Winters, Peggy Gannon, to name a few) as hapless troupers suffering through a disastrous Dickens production (206-443-2222 or seattlerep.org).
Santa's song-and-dance helper
"Elf" (5th Avenue Theatre): This new-to-Seattle Broadway tuner is another Christmas movie-turned-live-musical. It concerns one of Santa's North Pole minions (a very large one), who ventures down to the Lower 48 to hunt for his true identity and (human) family. Heading up the show's first local production: Seattle performer Matt Owen (the 5th Ave's "Oklahoma!" and "On the Town") stars as Buddy the elf; Eric Ankrim ("Spring Awakening") directs a cast that also includes Broadway alum Kendra Kassebaum (206-625-1900 or 5thavenue.org).
A girl group Yule
"The Winter Wonderettes" (ArtsWest): First there was that retro musical about an all-guy singing group in plaid jackets. Now here's a female twist on the genre: think teased hair, harmonies and pastel frocks in a genial throwback about an all-gal quartet entertaining at the Harper's Hardware Holiday Party in small-town U.S.A. (206-938-0339 or artswest.org).
A very panto Christmas
Offering the English style of holiday stage revelry (known as pantomime, but with plenty of chat and song), in colorful all-ages shows based on famous fairy tales are "Sleeping Beauty and the Pea" (Hale's Palladium and Brewery, 800-838-3006 or brownpapertickets.com); "Cinderella" (Centerstage, Federal Way, 253-661-1444 or centerstagetheatre.com).
Wise guys (and gals)
"Wisemen" (ACT Theatre): Rosenstock Productions encores its "sacrilegious" holiday romp, which re-imagines the Nativity story as a legal battle with Jewish lawyers, an evil Santa, a gangsta Easter bunny and the like (206-292-7676 or acttheatre.org).
"Dina Martina" (Re-Bar): Everyone's favorite drag-disaster diva holds forth, in a ritual cabaret that includes gift giving, off-key vocalizing and a stocking stuffed with wacky hilarity (800-838-3006 or brownpapertickets.com).
"Home for the Holidays: Ham-ageddon" (Theatre Off Jackson): The Spudds, Sister Agnes, the Craft Lady and a batch of other wackadoodle and divine comic personae return, in the latest edition of irreverent merriment by the Dos Fallopia duo of Peggy Platt and Lisa Koch (800-838-3006 or brownpapertickets.com).
Misha Berson: firstname.lastname@example.org