No idea where to start when picking Christmas shows? Here’s some help.
Go all out
The perennial Christmas mainstage hits are A Christmas Carol at ACT Theatre (a lively, Northwest-classic adaptation by ACT founder Gregory A. Falls, loaded with a cast of local favorites); and The Nutcracker at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Both productions are top-ticket items bound to leave some sticker shock. But there’s a reason they’re best-sellers: they feature top talent in performance and design, and are long-time traditions for many families and visitors in search of a special holiday treat.
Start a new tradition
For things out of the norm, check out Theatre Anonymous presents: It’s a Wonderful Life from The 14/48 Projects (a one-night-only event on 12/7 full of surprises, in which no one knows who’s in the cast and grand entrances are all made from among the audience); and Sugar Plum Gary (in which a mysterious human, who bears striking resemblance to local comedian Emmett Montgomery, answers questions about Christmas years after surviving a visit from Santa). Both shows are quirky, seasonally satisfying year after year, and have become traditions of the NWTheatre family.
Meet the Herdmans
HEY! — unto you a child is born!
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson is among my very favorite books ever, and this year there are two options for catching stage adaptations of it. In the south end, Lakewood Playhouse offers a standard adaptation, and in the north end, Red Curtain is putting on the musical version. I haven’t caught any stage version, but I’m cautiously optimistic for both. And of course, make sure to read the kids’ book — it’s a treat at any age.
Avoid the fruitcake
Want to see something sweet but not saccharine? The modern stories in Maggie Lee’s The Flight Before Xmas (Macha Theatre Works at West of Lenin) and Wayne Rawley’s Christmastown: A Holiday Noir (Seattle Public Theater) just might do the trick. The Flight looks at would-be travelers stranded in an airport, and spins the tale in a smartly funny way as few can do like Lee; and Christmastown is an old-school detective story full of quirky characters.
Take a chance
While the others are tried-and-true, these productions are new — but recent work from these theatres has been impressive enough to recommend them anyway. If you’re up for an adventure with a new holiday show in the south end, check out Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol (in which a presumed-dead Holmes takes the place of Scrooge in the Christmas classic) at Harlequin Productions in Olympia; and The Christmas Spirit (a comedy over dinner with an estranged family) at Burien Actors Theatre just south of Seattle. Both theatres are friendly, homey, and put on a good show.
Check a wish off your list. All I want for Christmas is …
Your Santa letter has been answered, and then some. Check out Dina Martina at ACT Theatre, The Christmas Killings at Corgi Cliffs at Cafe Nordo, and Jingle All the Gay at Oddfellows.
A Very Die Hard Christmas at Seattle Public Theater was created just for you.
I don’t know if there will be Mariah Carey hooks in Snowglobed, but expect short sketches with writing and acting all by local theatre friends, while you sit around watching and drinking and laughing in a comfy setting. (One night only, 12/13 at Copious in Ballard.)
Chase D. Anderson is Editor & Producer of NWTheatre.org.