Eric Petersen, Alan Mingo Jr. and Haven Burton
in Shrek the Musical
(© Joan Marcus)
Eric Petersen, Alan Mingo Jr. and Haven Burton
in Shrek the Musical
(© Joan Marcus)
You'll be happy all ogre again when Eric Petersen and Haven Burton arrive with the national tour of Shrek the Musical (December 1-January 2, 2011) at the Orpheum. The show has been retooled since its Broadway run, including a new number for the dragon that's supposed to be scorching! Meanwhile, Bay Area native and Dancing with the Stars champ Cheryl Burke leads a touring production of Luis Bravo's Forever Tango (December 21-January 9) at the Marines Memorial Theatre.

'Tis the season for Christmas-themed shows, including a new musical adaptation of Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory (December 1-26) at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto. Robert Kelley directs the sweet tale of a shy boy and his eccentric aunt from a book by Duane Poole, with music by Larry Grossman and lyrics by Carol Hall. Broadway veteran Penny Fuller plays the aunt, with the cast also including Eileen Barnett, Maggie Brown, Jennifer Chapman, Richard Farrell, Peter Heitz, Gabriel Hoffman, Joshua Park and Cathleen Riddley.

American Conservatory Theater celebrates its 34th season of humbug with A Christmas Carol (December 2-24). James Carpenter returns as Scrooge in the adaptation of Dickens by artistic director Carey Perloff and Paul Walsh. Sebastopol's The Rep presents A Christmas Carol Sonoma County-style in an adaptation by Jon Tracy (December 1-19) and Center Rep in Walnut Creek bows to the Cynthia Caywood and Richard L. James version of A Christmas Carol (December 9-19). Ebenezer then sings in Leslie Bricusse's musical Scrooge! at Town Hall Theatre Company in Lafayette (December 2-19).

A classic holiday film makes the musical stage transition in Sheldon Harnick and Joe Raposo's A Wonderful Life (December 2-19) at Hillbarn Theatre in Foster City, and Berkeley's Aurora Theatre Company celebrates the holidays with Meg Mackay and Billy Philadelphia, the First Couple of Bay Area theatre, mixing American songbook standards with traditional and non-traditional seasonal tunes in Naughty & Nice (December 17-30).

Exit Theatre is full of musical spirits with Cora Value's Christmas Corral (December 3-11), The Oddman Family Christwanzaakuh Spectacular! (December 2-18), another Christmas Crap-Array (December 16-18) with the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco, and Veronica Mannion's Booze, Boys and Brownies: A Musical Journey (December 3-11).

San Francisco Ballet restages The Nutcracker (War Memorial Opera House, December 9-27) and you can enjoy a Dance-Along Nutcracker (December 11-12) at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Sweet Can Productions present Candid (December 17-January 9), an intimate and theatrical holiday circus directed and choreographed by Joanna Haigood at Dance Mission Theater. Ludwig Bemelmans' spunky heroine celebrates Madeline's Christmas (December 7-19) at Palo Alto Children's Theatre. Someone's been very naughty indeed at A Very Merry Murder Mystery (December 3-11) with BATS Improv at Fort Mason. Drag divas Matthew Martin, Heklina, Pollo del Mar and Cookie Dough are joined by Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Gos for The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes (December 2-23) at Counterpulse.

Stepping away from Yule tidings, New Conservatory Theatre Center invokes the spirit of Forbidden Broadway with a much-anticipated revival of Tom Orr's Dirty Little Showtunes! (December 3-January 16). Under the same roof, Stephanie Temple directs her own adaptation of Rock 'n Roll Cinderella (December 4-31) for the Family Matinee Series. For the African-American Shakespeare Company, Velina Brown directs an uplifting retelling of Cinderella (Buriel Clay Theatre, December 3-19) starring Khamara Pettus as the slipper girl and Matt Jones as her prince.

Homer's The Odyssey provides inspiration for The Salt Plays, Part Two: Of The Earth (December 2-January 16), written and directed by Jon Tracy for Shotgun Players in Berkeley. Tony-winning director Mary Zimmerman spins 1,001 tales in the limited return engagement of The Arabian Nights (December 11-30) at Berkeley Rep.

42nd Street Moon fosters some Babes in Arms (December 1-19) under Dyan McBride's direction of a restored 1937 book. Big hair, big dreams and a beat you can't stop drive Hairspray (December 3-12) presented by Children's Musical Theatre of San Jose at the Montgomery Theater.

Also of note: Cinnabar Theater's Young Rep plucks The Winter Rose (December 3-19) in Petaluma; Lisa Quoresimo directs Siddhartha: The Bright Path (December 10-January 9) at The Marsh Youth Theatre; and Moshe Cohen and Theatre of Yugen present Mr. Yoowho's Holiday (December 16-January 2) at NOHspace.