Monday, November 30, 2009

l'étoile's Guide to Holiday Theater

By Rob Callahan

We heart dramatic holiday classics and quirky new plays alike, and luckily for us there's definitely an abundance of both circulating around the Twin Cities theater scene this month. From offbeat comedies to Nutcrackers, our handy-dandy seasonal performance guide will fill you in on some of the best of 'em. Feel free to add in any great ones we've missed in the comments section below!

Holiday Pageant at Open Eye Figure Theater

In this edgy yet family-friendly production, The Shepherd's Play is transformed through a modern, mischievous interpretation that tells the story of the Nativity from Lucifer's point of view. Combining astonishing puppetry and memorable music, Open Eye's Holiday Pageant boasts trumpets & tricks, angels & devils, shepherds and a little lamb and provides fun for the young and old.

Running Thursday through Sunday until December 20th, with additional shows on the 21st, 22nd and 23rd at Open Eye Figure Theater, 506 East 24th Street in Minneapolis. Box Office: (612) 874.6338

NOTE: This is a Theater All Year eligible performance. Visit to purchase discounted ticket voucher packages good at over 3 dozen local theaters for yourself or as gifts.

Miracle on Christmas Lake

Yellow Tree Theatre revive their wildly successful holiday comedy, Miracle on Christmas Lake. In an original play by Yellow Tree founder, Jessica Lind, you'll follow the adventures of two New York City actors who leave behind the bright lights of the big city to run a small community theatre in Minnesota. When their theatre's holiday production falls apart with only twenty-four hours to go before opening night, heartwarming hilarity ensues as the cast scrambles to complete a new show literally overnight.

The show runs Wednesday through Sunday until December 27 at Yellow Tree Theatre, located at 320 5th Ave. S.E. Osseo, MN 55369. Box Office: 763-493-8733

Fat Man Crying

Joking Envelope presents the story of a depressed Santa on the verge of giving up and the couple who try and save him. An irreverent and vaudevillian production with a small, talented cast, this show explores the deep hilarity inherent in the idea of a Santa who has lost his powers. As Father Christmas drinks his sorrows away and tries to bring the happy couple down with him, an old enemy lurks in the background. Beware of Santa's mysterious arch-enemy: Dave!

Playing December 4th, 5th, 11th, 12th, 14th, 18th and 19th at Minneapolis Theatre Garage, 711 W. Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis. Box Office: 612-280-9210

Brett Favre's Christmas Spectacular

From Brave New Workshop comes the topical yuletide tale that will spike your holiday season with comedy. The new show from this mainstay of Minneapolis performing arts offers a break from the family fumbles of the holiday season. Featuring seasonal favorites along with all-new sketches and songs, from now through the first week of January.

Tickets to "Brett Favre" are available at the production's website, with dates that aren't sold out yet indicated in bold. Brave New Workshop is located at 2605 Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis, in the heart of Uptown. Box Office: (612) 332-6620.

NOTE: This is a Theater All Year eligible performance. Visit to purchase discounted ticket voucher packages good at over 3 dozen local theaters for yourself or as gifts.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze

Ornaments come to life with pageantry, music and majesty transforming ordinary holiday figurines into extraordinary aerialists, acrobats, musicians and dancers performing fantastical feats of pomp and cirque-umstance. Bonus: booze, gambling and casino buffets.

through December 27th at Mystic Lake Casino. Box Office: 952-496-6563

S. Gunter Klaus and the Story Before

Presented by Jon Ferguson Theater & John Heimbuch and set in a remote village, S. Gunter Klaus and The Story Before tells the fantastic tale of a lonely toy-maker engaged in an epic battle with the dark of winter. This world premiere production, created by award winning director Jon Ferguson and acclaimed playwright John Heimbuch in collaboration with an ensemble of some of the Twin Cities’ most exciting theater artists, promises to become an instant holiday classic and extraordinary excursion from the norm. A celebration of the power of the imagination and the gift of hope. Witness a magical new story of the origin of Santa Claus, long before we told it.

Running December 10th through the 23rd at the Southern Theater, 1420 Washington Avenue South in Minneapolis. Box Office: 612-340-1725

NOTE: This is a Theater All Year eligible performance. Visit to purchase discounted ticket voucher packages good at over 3 dozen local theaters for yourself or as gifts.

The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged)

Three actors attempt to take us through the entire Bible in 90 minutes – complete with an expanded Christmas story. An affectionate, irreverent roller coaster ride from fig leaves to Final Judgment posing the theological question: Does God have a sense of humor? Three versatile performers prove He (or She) undoubtedly does, as they combine shtick, wordplay, physical humor, sight gags, and jokes as old as Methuselah. Whether you are Christian, Jew, Muslim, Atheist or a Purple People Eater, you will be tickled by The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged), a romp through old time religion. More fun than sittin’ in your own pew!

Showing December 3rd through 6th, 10th through 12th and 17th through 19th at Pioneer Place on Fifth, 22 Fifth Avenue South in Saint Cloud. Box Office: (320) 203-0331 or (320) 203-1233

Miss Richfield 1981's Annual Holiday Show

Our favorite gal from Richfield is on the bus as President Obama’s Czaress of Tolerance. She will acknowledge those who are different in color, religious beliefs and even physical capabilities. Nobody is left out of this show, which Miss R promises will go to new depths with new music, new videos and even some new jokes because it’s a new world out there!

Running through December 13th at the Illusion Theater, 528 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis. Box Office: 612-339-4944

This is a Theater All Year eligible performance. Visit to purchase discounted ticket voucher packages good at over 3 dozen local theaters for yourself or as gifts.

The Mystery of the Magi's Gold

This holiday installment of the popular Late Nite Catechism series finds recurring protagonist Sister in search of the Magi's Gold. The show promises audience interaction, musical highlights, wacky prizes, and non-stop laughs for one night only at the Ordway McKnight Theatre.

Running until December 27th at The Ordway, 345 Washington Street in Saint Paul. Box Office: 651-224-4222

Fezziwig's Feast 

In this play within a play, the friends of Charles Dickens gather to act out his newly-penned ghost story (A Christmas Carol) during a holiday party. Fezziwig's combines the elements of the Spirit of Christmas – the celebration, the delicious repast, and the fine fellowship of kind old Fezziwig and his family – and the story – Mr. Dickens's wonderful ghost story of redemption and compassion for one another.

Running Thursdays through Sundays until December 20th at the Harriet Island Pavilion, 200 Dr. Justus Ohage Blvd in Saint Paul. Box Office: 651-227-2464

A Don't Hug Me Christmas Carol

The cast of the original Don't Hug Me reunite to reinterpret Charles Dickens' classic holiday tale in the style of traditional Minnesotan self-satire. If you enjoyed How To Talk Minnesotan or A Prairie Home Companion, then you'll be delighted by Gunner Johnson's magical journeys through his own past, present at future as he's guided by the spirit of folk legend Sven Yorgensen one man's history of the fictional town of Bunyan Bay, MN.

Running Thursday through Sunday until January 3rd at Hennepin Stages, 824 Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis. Tickets: 800-745-3000 or 800-982-2787

The Nutcracker According to Mother Goose

Nursery rhymes blend with the music of Tchaikovsky in a mash-up of modern dance and theatre featuring the escapades of Mother Goose herself, along with Wee Willie Winkie, Mary Quite Contrary and Little Bo Peep. A child-friendly show with subtle subtext that will have parents chuckling under their breath at the production's outrageous wit.

Saturday, December 19th at the Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave. N.E. in Minneapolis. Box Office: (612) 338-1101

Ballet of the Dolls Nutcracker (not so) Suite

A touching and risque take on the classic ballet, retold with attention to such timely concerns as Christmas in a recession and Barbie's 50th birthday. As always, the Doll's spice things up with their sassy spin on classic ballet, replete with some of the coolest costumes and unique production design we've every been privy.

Running select nights through December 31st at the Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave. N.E. in Minneapolis. Box Office: (612) 338-1101

Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker

A traditional Nutcracker performance featuring spectacular sets and costumed Russian dancers, this whimsical and imaginative retelling of the classic is a rich and unique holiday event.

December 11th and 12th at the Orpheum Theater, 910 Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis. Box Office: (612) 373-5600

Minnesota Ballet's Classic Nutcracker

Back for its 22nd season, Choreographer Andrew Rist interprets this classic tale with the graceful help of the Minnesota Ballet company. Heralded for its phenomenal sets, dazzling costuming, and enchanting choreography, this ballet is so charming you'll likely want to see it twice!

December 18-20th at the O'Shaughnessy Auditorium, 2004 Randolph Avenue, St. Paul. Box office: 612-673-0404

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