Christmas and New Years are just days away, but fret not, seekers of holiday entertainment. New York is still packed with choices, and off-Broadway's offering a myriad of alternatives to dancing elves and Ebeneezer Scrooges. We've highlighted ten indie-picks from beyond Broadway, ranging from the highbrow to the obscene. Not matter how you make your season jolly (prescient historical dramas, Frank Cappra's George Bailey, copious drinking, naked guys, etc.), there's something for you in this magical alt-holiday gallery. God bless us, everyone!
If you're a viewer who loves old-timey holiday entertainment, consider going waaaay back to spend Christmas Eve with the Presidential Lincolns circa 1864! Tony Award nominee Bob Stillman (Dirty Blonde) and Tony Award winner Alice Ripley (Less than Normal) play Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln in this rumination on our country's greatest national tragedy in conjunction with the true meaning of Christmas. Historic talking points: freed slaves, Christmas carols, dying Jewish soldiers, and Walt Whitman. Also, Ripley as Mary Todd, which is an inspired bit of casting.
If Patrick Stewart can do it, so can Broadway funny woman Jackie Hoffman (The Addams Family). See Jackie as she is visited by the Ghosts of Chanukah Past, Present, and Future in this unique one-woman take on the Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. Expect extended bouts of kvetching.
The holidays are brutal on families, but have you ever felt the urge to murder your octogenarian nanna in order to collect her considerable estate? See how such a scheme might pan out with your brood in playwright Brian Gianci's foul-mouthed comedy about serious family drama during the holiday season, then think about what power moves you're ready to make over the dinner table.
Project Runway Season Four finalist and long-time drag specialist Chris March has dreamed up a costume fantasia in the vein of Tchaikowsky holiday favorite The Nutcracker, switching out marzipan for white trash and Hasidic Jews. March himself appears in drag as "Clara," a plus-sized trailer park ballerina princess. You can pair this show with a visit to libation establishment Marie's Crisis in the neighboring West Village if you're in the mood for the campiest Christmas ever.
They're men! Men in tights! This hilarious all-male ballet troupe has become something of a high-brow holiday tradition at Chelsea's The Joyce Theater, and is a must-see escape from loop TV screenings of A Christmas Story. Don't miss prima ballerina Ida Nevasayneva's (aka Paul Ghiselin) dying swan routine in the Trocks' brilliant interpretation of Swan Lake Act II—he puts Natalie Portman and Black Swan to shame.
DR. SEUSS' HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! THE MUSICAL
(running through December 30 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden)
"Fahoo fores dahoo dores" welcome Dr. Seuss back to the Theater at Madison Square Garden with his unforgettable Grinch. Seuss' iconic children's pick comes to life in this live-action, lavishly costumed stage adaptation of the much-loved story about a nasty, cave-dwelling, green creature whose heart grows three sizes bigger when he tries to steal all the Christmas presents in Whoville. Perfect for families and kids at heart.
(running through December 30 at the Roy Arias Studios & Theatres at The Times Square Arts Center)
Title get your attention? Good, since that's kind of the point, though the overarching purpose of this holiday tease is to make you laugh. Of course you'll have to wait until the very end for these spirited young actors to take it all off, but if you've got eggnog in a flask then who cares? In the meantime you can enjoy holiday-themed comedy sketches like "How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Holidays," "Dad Came Out This Christmas," and "The Worst Jews In the World."
A beautiful and inspired revamp of the famed Frank Capra film about suicidal nice guy George Bailey and the divine intervention that occurs just in time for Christmas, the "play" is staged as a live radio broadcast, complete with Foley sound and you as the studio audience. An especially good choice for those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.
This acid trip of a holiday children's show tells the stale of a fly-swatter-happy city kid who kills seven flies with a single swat, then crafts a vanity belt to commemorate the event. Afterwards, he travels through the snow to meet the Scarlet Pimpernel, a pea, December, a Witch, an Ogre, and a Princess. Makes any sense to you? It doesn't to us either, at least not on paper, which is half the fun. To see just what kind of alternative holiday experience this is you'll have to be adventurous and show up in person.
Like Mariah Carey before him, Tym Moss (creator of The Gayest Christmas Pageant Ever!) is double-dipping on holiday cheer with his newest creation Girl, A Lopsided Tree Won't Ruin Christmas. The show is essentially an attitude-heavy romp about unemployed rough trade elves and gay cowboys...or something like that. Just don't get drunk at The Duplex before you show up at the theater, ok? That's how stuff like this happens.