The 12 plays of Christmas

Published Sat, Nov 30, 2013 12:00 AM
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Submitted by Roy C. Dicks — Correspondent

December in the Triangle is always filled with holiday-themed entertainment, especially theatrical productions. This year there’s a dozen different shows on offer, some familiar, some brand-new. Here is a handy guide to help make the right choice for every taste, budget and age level.

‘Frosty the Snowman’

by Broadway Series South

Where and when: Fletcher Opera Theater, Raleigh, Dec. 1-24

Target audience: Children

Description: A new musical about a homeless boy who writes Santa Claus a letter asking for a family for Christmas. Santa is busy, so he sends Frosty to help the boy. The show includes the classic title song as well as “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

Watch for: Frosty being built and coming alive

Tickets and info: $12-$45. 919-996-8700 or dukeenergycenterraleigh.com

‘Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch

Stole Christmas’

Where and when: Durham Performing Arts Center, Dec. 3-8

Target audience: Children

Description: The touring company of the recent Broadway musical and TV special. The grumpy green Grinch steals all the town’s presents but eventually finds out Christmas means more than gifts.

Watch for: Sets re-creating the drawings in the beloved Dr. Seuss book; the sing-along to “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”

Tickets and info: $35-$110. 919-680-2787 or dpacnc.com

‘A Christmas Story’ by Cary Players

Where and when: Cary Arts Center, Dec. 5-9

Target audience: Older children and adults

Description: A stage version of the popular 1983 movie based on humorist Jean Shepherd’s memoirs. Young Ralphie begs for a BB gun for Christmas, fantasizing all the while about all the bad guys he’ll thwart.

Watch for: Ralphie’s classmate getting his tongue stuck to a frozen flagpole; Ralphie’s family having to have Christmas Day dinner at a Chinese restaurant

Tickets and info: $16-$18. 800-514-3849 or caryplayers.org

‘Plaid Tidings’

Where and when: Temple Theatre, Sanford, Dec. 5-22

Target audience: Adults

Description: A male quartet (think The Four Freshmen) is sent from heaven to spread a little harmony in a discordant world by performing classic 1950s hits (“Hey There,” “Kiss of Fire”) and holiday songs (“Home For The Holidays,” “ Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”).

Watch for: A musical spoof of The Ed Sullivan Show; the hilarious “Holiday Catering Drill” song.

Tickets and info: $19-$23. 919-774-4155 or templeshows.com

‘Miracle on 34th Street’

Where and when: North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre, Dec. 6-22

Target audience: Older children and adults

Description: A stage version of the classic 1947 film about Kris Kringle, a man working as a Macy’s Santa Claus who claims he’s the the real thing

Watch for: The climactic courtroom scene where prosecutors try unsuccessfully to prove Kringle is a fake.

Tickets and info: $10-$15. 919-866-0228 or nract.org

‘Cinderella’

Where and when: Raleigh Little Theatre, Dec. 6-21

Target audience: All ages

Description: In the best tradition of English holiday entertainments called “pantos,” this musical version of “Cinderella” adds bits of vaudeville and audience participation. The ball is set on Christmas Eve and there are carols at the finale.

Watch for: The Ugly Stepsisters (they’re played by men); the Stepmother’s Christmas tree dress

Tickets and info: $30. 919-821-3111 or raleighlittletheatre.org

‘Black Nativity’

by the Justice Theater Project

Where and when: Titmus Theatre, N.C. State University, Raleigh, Dec. 13-21

Target audience: All ages

Description: Poet Langston Hughes wrote this retelling of the birth of Christ, staged in pageant style with narrator, soloists, chorus and dancers. Spirited gospel numbers include “Go Tell It On The Mountain” and “Sweet Little Jesus Boy.”

Watch for: Chuck Davis’ energetic choreography; the colorful traditional African costumes

Tickets and info: $20-$25. 919-264-7089 or thejusticetheaterproject.org

‘Trailer Park Christmas’

Where and when: Common Ground Theatre, Durham, Dec. 12-22

Target audience: Adults

Description: This goofy satire is set in a doublewide at a dysfunctional Southern family’s holiday party. The audience becomes the neighbors in this interactive entertainment that includes free party snacks and a karaoke sing-along.

Watch for: The funny video depicting a wardrobe malfunction; the tender moment when the dotty grandmother and ferret-loving granddaughter reminisce over photographs

Tickets and info: $17-$19. 919-698-3870 or cgtheatre.com

‘A Christmas Carol’

by Theatre in the Park

Where and when: Memorial Auditorium, Raleigh, Dec. 12-15 and Durham Performing Arts Center, Dec. 19-22

Target audience: All ages

Description: Now in its 39th year, this stage-filling version of the Dickens classic written by and starring Ira David Wood III can fill the heart and bring a tear, despite Scrooge’s outrageous antics, topical jokes and pop-song spoofs.

Watch for: Scrooge’s hilarious attempt to cross an icy street; Scrooge’s voice cracking as he joins Tiny Tim in singing “The First Noel”

Tickets and info: $30-$80. 919-831-6058 or theatreinthepark.com

‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever’

Where and when: Stars Theater & Arts Center, Fuquay-Varina, Dec. 13-14

Target audience: All ages

Description: The play version of Barbara Robinson’s popular young adult book about the Herdmans, six bullying siblings. They force their way into a church holiday pageant and take over all the good roles but interpret them in highly unconventional ways.

Watch for: The Herdmans changing the Wise Men into child welfare workers and the Angel of the Lord into a comic book super hero

Tickets and info: $5-$8. 919-557-8271 or starstheaterandart.com

‘A Civil War Christmas’

Where and when: ArtsCenter, Carrboro, Dec. 13-22

Target audience: Older children and adults

Description: Set on Christmas Eve 1864, this play with traditional carols and period songs weaves together stories of war-weary Union and Confederate soldiers, runaway slaves and historical figures from President Lincoln to Walt Whitman.

Watch for: Mary Todd Lincoln’s incognito visits to wounded soldiers; the search for a Christmas tree on barren battlefields

Tickets and info: $14-$16. 919-929-2787 or artscenterlive.org

‘SantaLand Diaries’

Where and when: Theatre in the Park, Raleigh, Dec. 13-22

Target audience: Adults

Description: The essay that made humorist David Sedaris famous is a one-man show. Jesse Gephart again offers his well-honed characterization of Crumpet, the irreverent, politically incorrect elf working in Macy’s SantaLand.

Watch for: Crumpet’s snarky zingers about the oddballs playing Santa, the obnoxious, screaming children and the frenetic, desperate parents

Tickets and info: $16-$22. 919-831-6058 or theatreinthepark.com

Dicks: music_theater@lycos.com

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