From steampunk Scrooge to a Christmas-themed Exorcist spoof
By Mark Peikert
Even with the addition of 3-D technology, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular can only hold your attention for so many holiday seasons. Likewise The Nutcracker and its derivations. This year, break out of your Christmas routine with one of these shows, ranging from new takes on A Christmas Carol to revivals of holiday-themed plays.When it comes to the Charles Dickens Christmas classic A Christmas Carol, it’s all about the approach. Some people like the story straight up, others with a twist. This year, there’s a little of each, with A Christmas Carol As Told by Charles Dickens (Himself) (through Dec. 24) and 3 Ghosts (Dec. 8–23). In the former, the ghost of Charles Dickens—who passed through the Downtown neighborhood of Canal Park Playhouse, where the show is being produced—recounts his evergreen story for audiences. And the latter, at Theatre Row in Midtown, is an original steampunk musical adaptation by Liz Muller and Collin Simon of Scrooge’s long night’s journey into redemption. Plus, there’s Scrooge & Gilbert & Sullivan, Dec. 9–11 at Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, Pace University, which finds Gilbert and Sullivan songs adapted to tell the story of everyone’s favorite Christmas hater.
Other musicals include Phoenix Theatre Ensemble’s The Toymaker’s Apprentice (Dec. 10–17), a holiday spoof of Donald Trump and his reality show performed at The Wild Project and Bells of St. Mary’s and The Exorcist mash-up The Asphalt Christmas (tagline: “The power of Christmas compels you”), running Dec. 8–18 at Theatre Row.
At Dixon Place, musical comedy sister duo Vickie & Nickie give Saturday Night Live’s the Sweeney Sisters a run for their money with Vickie & Nickie’s Holiday Sleigh Ride Dec. 3–10, while Jackie Hoffman brings her new solo show A Chanukah Charol to New World Stages Dec. 11–Jan. 2, 2012, in which the comedian is visited by the Ghosts of Chanukah Past, Present and Future—and Yiddish theater star Molly Picon—as Hoffman discovers that she’s a “dark, desperate diva.” Must be all that time in Broadway’s The Addams Family.
If you like your holiday season dark and adult, try Naked Holidays, running Dec. 8–30 at Times Square Arts Center. The evening of short plays includes a conspiracy among Santa’s reindeer to assassinate Rudolph; a Jewish-themed spoof of It’s a Wonderful Life; and a new take on 1984 with Santa as Big Brother. And the inclusive Holiday Stucco (Dec. 15–17), a 90-minute evening of one-acts from members of The Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group, promises that any winter holiday is up for grabs.
For those who just like to dabble in seasonal entertainment without taking the full plunge, a revival of The Man Who Came to Dinner, set during the holidays, is just the ticket. The classic comedy, starring Jim Brochu and Tony winner Cady Huffman, will have audiences laughing through Dec. 18 at Midtown’s Theatre at St. Clement’s.
Photo: Jimmy Kiefer stars as Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol As Told By Charkes Dickens (Himself) at Canal Park Playhouse. PHOTO by Jim Baldassare
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