A scene from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
(© Joan Marcus)
A scene from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
(© Joan Marcus)
The most festive month of the year turns out to be one of the busiest for Los Angeles-area theatergoers, thanks to a wide variety of fare to make the season bright.

Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated offering is the dance theatre piece Edward Scissorhands (Ahmanson Theatre, December 12-31), which is devised, directed, and choreographed by the acclaimed visionary Matthew Bourne, based on the beloved Tim Burton film of the same name.

Also a hot ticket during this frosty-cold month will be the Southern California premiere of the Tony Award-winning family musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, directed by James Lapine (Orange County Performing Arts Center, December 19-31). Another best bet is the Troubadour Theatre Company's Jackson Frost (Burbank's Falcon Theatre, through December 30), the clever troupe's latest blend of topical comedy with vintage popular music of yesteryear, this time featuring the tunes of the Jackson Five.

Also on the musical front is The Brain From Planet X, a spoof of 1950s outer-space film potboilers, by David Wechter and Bruce Kimmel, produced at and in association with the L.A. City College Theatre Academy at the campus' Camino Theatre (December 8-16). The Broadway musical classic Oliver! (Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, through December 17), produced by Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities, should put everyone in a Dickens of a holiday spirit. Ventura's Rubicon Theatre offers the world premiere of Back Home Again: A John Denver Holiday Concert (through December 24), created by Tony nominees Randal Myler and Dan Wheetman. Also revisiting the jukebox hits of yesteryear is Plaid Tidings, the yuletide version of the Forever Plaid franchise (La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, December 15-31).

There's plenty more holiday fare on hand. Making its fifth and reportedly final annual appearance is Theatre of NOTE's clever historical spoof A Mulholland Christmas Carol (Sacred Fools Theatre, through December 23). William Wright's raucous family comedy, Texmas (Burbank's Third Stage, through December 22) is about a 70-year-old grandmother, her 35-year-old husband, and her four children who prepare to celebrate Christmas. And get ready for an out-of-this-world inter-planetary adventure in A Ray Bradbury Christmas (Pasadena's Fremont Centre Theatre, December 2-16).

Meanwhile, International City Theatre's joyous A Circus Christmas Carol makes its fourth annual Long Beach appearance (December 1-17). Sister's Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi's Gold, featuring the return of the Gestapoesque nun played by Maripat Donovan, is booked at Westwood's Brentwood Theatre (December 5-17). South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa offers its traditional Christmas fare: La Posada Mágica (The Magical Journey), about a young girl's Christmas Eve spiritual journey (December 8-23) and its lavish adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol (through December 24). The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles bestows its musical gift, Hollywood Holidays, at Glendale's Alex Theatre (December 15-17).

Amid all of the holiday hoopla are some highly anticipated non-seasonal offerings, headed by Jackie Mason --The Ultimate Jew (Wadsworth Theatre, December 14-17). Lesbian actress Adelina Anthony offers her autobiographical solo comedy Mastering Sex & Tortillas, which sounds like quite a recipe, at the Theatre District in Hollywood (through December 17).

Family fare includes the internationally acclaimed clown Slava Plumin in the Off-Broadway extravaganza Slava's Snowshow (UCLA's Royce Hall, December 12-January 7); the Actors' Gang's annual offering Holidays on the Sea II (Ivy Substation in Culver City, December 2-17), and the Santa Monica Playhouse presentation of Evelyn Rudie-Chris DeCarlo musical romp All About Santa (through December 21).