By Dave Barton
By LP Hastings
By Sarah Bennett
By LP Hastings
By Jena Ardell
By Steve Lowery
By R. Scott Moxley
By Joel Beers
Photo by Ken Howard/SCRA Christmas Carol
Maverick Theater, through Sun. In this new adaptation of Dickens' novella, adaptor/director Brian Newell has written two new scenes dilating on the relationship between Scrooge and his partner, Jacob Marley. Reason to see it: It's new and it's cheap—$7 to $12. Reason not to see it: Who needs yet another version of this story?
A Christmas Carol
South Coast Repertory, through Tues. SCR's holiday institution stars Hal Landon Jr. as Scrooge. Reason to see it:It's got history, star power and topnotch production values. Reason not to see it:Tickets for adults top out at $43.
The Glory of Christmas
Crystal Cathedral, through Dec. 30. In the Christian gospels, Jesus Christ was born in virtual anonymity and then laid in a rustic manger surrounded by barnyard animals. In this show—now consumed by a chain-burger-inspiring 3 million—Jesus' birth is witnessed by, among others, flying angels, three adult camels, six horses, a yak, a llama and a baby water buffalo. Reason to see it:It's Busby Berkeley big—a baby water buffalo! Reason not to see it: You don't wish to support a garish mockery of one of the greatest stories ever told.
Holiday Tidings, No Small Presents
Chance Theater, through Sun. This is a bill of original plays staged by the New Voices Playwrights Theatre. It promises to "deliver a vast assortment of delectable parcels. Some plays are bright, some are dark, but all are original and entertaining." Reason to see it:Original theater from one of Orange County's established playwrighting groups. Reason not to see it: This is experimental theater, and the plays might very well suck.
Camino Real Playhouse, through Sun. The Spencers (who are really the Waltons) are a large family living at the foot of a Virginia mountain. This is their heartwarming Christmas story. Reason to see it:You really like The Waltons? Reason not to see it: Harold Pinter didn't write this one.
South Coast Repertory, through Tues. This is South Coast Repertory's annual spin on the traditional Latin American Christmas observance, in which community members make a procession through their neighborhood to commemorate Mary and Joseph's search for lodging. Reason to see it: It's a reconfigured show from the powerful original, designed to fit into SCR's new jewel-box theater. Reason not to see it:See listing for SCR's A Christmas Carol.
The Lutz Radio Show
Hunger Artists Theater, through Sat. This Christmas show "centers on the comedic travails of the disorganized staff of a 1940s radio show scrambling to put on a last-minute Christmas program for their listeners before they are taken off the air." Reason to see it: It's an original show, and the Hunger Artists have a fine stable of talented actors. Reason not to see it: Unlike many older Americans, you have not been mesmerized by the nostalgic, revisionist history of 1940s radio shows—which were, for the most part, diabolically bad.
Seussical the Musical
Orange County Performing Arts Center, opening Wed. Not really a holiday show, this one still feels right for the category. When the good doctor shuffled off this mortal coil, his widow opened the monetary floodgates to his estate. This musical, which stars the execrable Cathy Rigby as the beloved/malignant Cat in the Hat, includes music from the highly acclaimed team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, the duo behind Ragtime. What's it about? According to the flacks, "When chaos erupts in the Jungle of Nool, it will take the Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, Mayzie LaBird and a gaggle of characters to bring harmony back to their world." Reason to see it: Eric Idle, of Monty Python fame, had a hand in the story. Reason not to see it: Harmony? We have a president who believes harmony flows from the barrel of a gun. Contemplate that for the holidays.
The Sixth Annual A Dolt's Only Xma$ Pageant
Stages, opening Sun. Sketches, poems and songs designed to blow off holiday steam. Things have tended to get highly profane and even sacrilegious during the past five installments, with everything from bare breasts and reindeer rape to Mafia wise guys looking to rub out some kid born under a star. This year's centerpiece is "Great Moments in Christmas History," a satirical examination of "the role the Catholic Church has played in the creation, manipulation and commercialization of Christmas." Reason to see it: It's cheap—$5—and includes live music from some pretty good local musicians. Reason not to see it:A certain OC Weeklytheater reviewer wrote most of the crap.