It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! And by that I mean Christmas is in a week. Nearly every play in town is holiday-themed, so bring a Santa hat if you’re headed out tonight. Here’s a summary of what reviewers thought of the holiday productions:
- 5th Avenue brought back White Christmas from their 2006 season, including most of the original cast. The reviews are fairly split; Seattle Fine Arts Examiner was impressed with “not only at the caliber of dance and singing of the entire cast, but also at the fact that this particular musical presents all aspects of love (familial, friendship, and romantic) without hitting you over the head with a “This IS the holiday spirit” message.” Others felt the play felt a little stale despite an extremely talented cast. Seattle Times’ Misha Berson calls it a “retro sugarplum” with a “stale book (and) snappy cast” while the Seattle Weekly says “as a romantic comedy, there’s precious little romance in White Christmas, and the comedy is far too precious.” Still, as West Seattle Weisenheimer puts it, “how can you get tired of all those Irving Berlin tunes?”
- Black Nativity is moving out of Intiman next year for a larger venue but it’s received nothing but raves for its final run in the Intiman Playhouse. Broadway Hour Seattle calls it “The perfect way to start our quest for understanding and love in a world that desperately needs a prescription-sized dose of compassion.” Over on the TeenTix blog, Marissa praises Nativity for being “uplifting, energizing, and everything else that is necessary for a stirring welcome into the season of Christmas.”
- ACT has two well-received productions for Christmas: A Christmas Carol as well as Sister’s Christmas Catechism. Tickets are going fast for A Christmas Carol with Kurt Beattie and R.Hamilton Wright alternating nights as Scrooge. How’s this for a nice set of review quotes? “One hell of a bravura performance, in a confectioner’s delight.””A superb production from start to finish, in every aspect.” “Visually appealing, intelligent, and occasionally humorous.” “The costumes are fantastic, the acting stellar, the dancing enjoyable, the jokes funny, the child actors impossibly adorable.” Well done, ACT! They’re not done, either – Catechism also has received only raves. “It’s sly. It’s mildly subversive. And it’s one holy, catholic and apostolic riot.” Seattle P-I. “It sounds cute—and it is—but it’s also pretty f*cking funny.” Well done, ACT!
- Due to the tragic Greenwood fire, Taproot Theatre brought back It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play at North Seattle Community College as their theatre space is still under repair. Bringing back Wonderful Life looks to be a great move for the company as it patiently waits to return home; the show was well-received when it was first produced and is still well-received this year. The Seattle Times describes it as “a Depression-era message of valuing community and family over wealth and me-first individualism that reverberates today.”
- The award for show least-connected to Christmas while still kinda related to Christmas goes to Seattle Shakepeare Company‘s Twelfth Night (Or What You Will.) Reviews were mixed, with BroadwayWorld calling it “an adequate telling of an overdone show” while SunBreak enjoyed it a bit more. “The play races along, despite its actual length, and ends, as the best do, too soon.”
- Two showings of Plaid Tidings – one down at Olympia’s Capital Playhouse and one over at ArtsWest. The News Tribune enjoyed the Capital Playhouse version, saying “As if an hour and a half of harmonizing and nostalgia from an all-male quartet were not enough to keep an audience entertained, there’s the added benefit of inspired comedy.” Shannon from the TeenTix blog loved the version at ArtsWest, “filled with singing and precise barbershop-style songs, relatable characters, and hysterical comedy.”
- Can’t forget Village Theatre! Meet Me in St. Louis is “charming message about family-togetherness and trying to make the best of things” according to Seattle Gay News. Seattle Times really enjoyed it: “With its attractive singing and dancing, and its other blithe charms, it is the Village at its considerable best.”
There is plenty more holiday cheer where that came from, including A Christmas Cabaret as SecondStory Rep, Poona the F&*kdog in Olympia (something tells me this is not a typical Christmas play), Judy Garland at Open Circle, and two seperate shows at Seattle Public Theater (including David Sedaris’ hilarious The Santaland Diaries.) Unfortunately I would never have time to list them all here! So check out Seattle Performs for the month of December and see what appeals to you.