Avail yourself of some sparkling live theater this holiday season
Paul Ford grouching it up as Scrooge
For Christmas-theater purists, little is more sacred than a classic rendition of Charles Dickens’ moral on the true meaning of charity among mankind. With so many holiday productions tending toward a farcical bent, sometimes a familiar tale can put the season in perspective, arousing sentiments as heartwarming as a hot bowl of whatever the hell figgy pudding is.
Opening Thursday, Dec. 4, at the Vortex Theatre (2900 Carlisle NE) and running through Dec. 21, David Richard Jones’ adadptation of A Christmas Carol is exactly the brand of Victorian-era classicism that traditionalists pine over. There’s a reason this version has been a mainstay in Albuquerque theater ever since Jones premiered it nearly 30 years ago at the New Mexico Repertory Theatre. The journeyman Jones will direct a cast of 10, with Paul Ford grouching it up as Scrooge. Full of song, revelry and the ghosts of every timely tense, the beloved story of Tiny Tim’s Christmas miracle is as relevant and inspiring today as it was when first published in 1843. For more information, visit vortexabq.org or call 247-8600. (Sam Adams)
This holiday season, plenty of tasteful, family-oriented stage gems will warm the cockles of your loved ones’ hearts, bringing cheer to young and old and sending a tender message of togetherness out into the universe. So that’s cool, if you’re into that sort of thing. But if your tastes run more to spray cheese, sequined dresses and six-inch heels, you might instead choose to celebrate the raunchy return of Christmas at the Yucca Vista. The Dolls’ sacrilegious comedy staggers its way from the trailer park to the Aux Dog Theatre (3011 Monte Vista NE) starting Friday, Dec. 5 (with an opening-night White Trash Gala afterwards at 10:30pm).
This off-color yarn centers on best friends Pandora Clark and Daphne Jones as they attempt to win a reality-show contest by turning the camera on their fellow Yucca Vista Trailer Park residents. Elvis, pork chops and the Number of the Beast all make appearances in this yuletrash romp—hallelujah! Tickets, at $16 for the under-30s and $20 for everyone else, are already disappearing fast at auxdog.com. (The price at the door jumps to $25.) The show runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm until Dec. 21, with a bonus 8pm showing on Thursday, Dec. 18. Merry dragmas! (Lisa Barrow)
Yuletide sentiments mix with some good ol' fashioned musical fun when White Christmas heads to Albuquerque Little Theatre (224 San Pasquale SW) once more. Directed by Henry Avery, Irving Berlin's beloved production tells the story of two song-and-dance men, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, who become smitten by two singing sisters and follow them to a Christmas show in Vermont. It's the stuff of romance, people. Not to mention the amount of laughs, elaborate choreography and classic ditties that many theater-goers will remember from days of yore. (Keep an eye out for a special tap number during “I Love a Piano,” which was choreographed by local dance instructor Diane Gutierrez from Fishback Studio of the Dance. Full disclosure: I'm a student there.) The play runs from Friday, Dec. 5, through Christmas Eve. Performances are on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm, but you can also catch a special 2pm matinee on Saturday, Dec. 13, as well as shows on Thursday, Dec. 18, and Tuesday, Dec. 23, at 7:30pm and a Christmas Eve matinee at 1pm. General admission tickets are $24 ($22: seniors, $18: students, $12: children 12 and under). Call 242-4750 for more info. (Mark Lopez)
While I’m partial to Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas’ beery Canadian version of “The 12 Days of Christmas” when it comes to yuletide carols, it’s hard to argue with the classics. Don Gardner’s “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” lisped its way into America's heart in the 1940s. Ever since, it’s been a fixture on seemingly every groan-inducing Christmas parody album.
This season, Duke City Repertory Theatre takes the classic song and serves it up with a twist at the Cell Theatre (700 First Street NW). Virginian playwright Catherine Bush’s All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth tells the story of a 7-year-old girl who’s the whistling rock star of her grade school. Right as she’s being given her dream whistle-solo role in the school’s Christmas spectacular, tragedy strikes: A hockey puck dislodges her titular maxillary central incisors.
A familiar cast of Duke City Rep alums tackle the trials and triumphs of young Lucy Lesprit. Frank Taylor Green directs the family-friendly production, which should draw some good belly laughs from 7-year-olds who like watching adults play 7-year-olds. The fun runs Dec. 4 thru 21. For more information, visit dukecityrep.com or call 797-7081. (Sam Adams)
Green fictional characters are an angsty bunch. There’s the Hulk (“You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry”), the Grinch (“as charming as an eel”), Kermit (“it’s not easy being green”), and now comes an onstage production of the Tony award-winning musical Shrek. (“Ogres are not like cakes.”) The Jolly Green Giant is the major outlier here.
Based on the book by William Steig and the movie by DreamWorks, it runs Dec. 12 through 28 at the African American Performing Arts Center (310 San Pedro NE). Shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 4pm. Watch his curmudgeonly swamp home life thrown into disarray by a motormouth donkey and the sanitized singing folk of Duloc. There follows a quest involving a princess, dragon, gingerbread man and a little problem named Lord Farquaad.
Tickets are $22 for adults; $20 for students and seniors; $15 for children 12 and under. Visit musicaltheatersw.com or call the MTS box office at 265-9119. (Randyn Charles Bartholomew)
“Is there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” So asked Charlie Brown in A Charlie Brown Christmas, which first aired on television in 1965. Almost half a century later, folks are still singing its tunes and checking their TV guides (or Comcast menus) to see if this thing'll air once again. Fear not, kind sirs and madams. You can witness the real thing at the Box Performance Space (100 Gold SW). The award-winning musical takes human form in a new stage production directed by Doug Montoya and Kristin K. Berg. And to give folks an added treat to this already famous endeavor, Montoya's even reworked some of the music. (Don't worry, traditionalists. They're still the same songs you know and love, just a little revamped.)
“We had been working with local composer and playwright Casey Mraz on the play we just closed,” said Montoya. “[We] thought he would do a great job ... and he created a whole new feel for the songs. We are very pleased with the outcome; it is very fun and jazzy.” Catch the play on Friday, Dec. 12, through Sunday, Dec. 21. Shows run Fridays at 6pm, Saturdays at 2 and 6pm, and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are $10. For more info, go to cardboard-playhouse.org. (Mark Lopez)