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Boston Metro Spotlight: December 2010

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Meghan McGeary in The Blue Flower
(© Tyler Kongslie)
There are a surprising variety of offerings this holiday-centric season. Cambridge's American Repertory Theatre is staging The Blue Flower (December 1 - January 8), an edgy musical by Jim and Ruth Bauer which premiered Off-Off-Broadway three seasons ago. Set in Weimar Germany and centered on historical figures such as artists Max Beckmann (Daniel Jenkins) and Hannah Höch (Meghan McGeary), the show explores a Dadaist aesthetic while melding Kurt Weill and Country Western.

For alterna-seasonal fare, look no further than the gay club Machine, where Ryan Landry and his merry band of Gold Dust Orphans will be mounting an updated revival of Mrs. Grinchley's Christmas Carol (December 2-19), the 1995 show that put them on the Boston theater map. Landry himself plays the bitter old boozehound who takes a Scrooge-style tour of Grinchley's "grossly checkered past, rancid present and most gruesome future." Traditionalists might prefer the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at the Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre (December 3-19). Balletomanes balked when the Rockettes bumped the Boston Ballet's Nutcracker from the Wang stage a few years back but have since found room in their hearts for both traditions, especially now that the classic is ensconced in the equally elegant Opera House (through New Year's Eve).

Last year Burgess Clark, artistic director of Boston Children's Theatre, introduced a fully dramatized, thoroughly enchanting adaptation of Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas in Wales. It's back (December 3-23) under the co-auspices of the Boston Playwrights' Theatre, with several returning cast members, including Meagan Hawkes as a doting aunt who bestows a genuinely "Useful Present." This year's Holiday Pops from the Boston Pops (December 8-26) will feature a couple of guest appearances by Broadway names: Tony winner Jim Dale narrates "The Night Before Christmas" on opening night and again on the 9th, and Jane Krakowski adds star luster to a benefit performance on the 15th. SpeakEasy Stage, in residence at the Boston Center for the Arts, varies the holiday menu with Striking 12 (December 8 - January 2), a contemporary tale of holiday burnout loosely inspired by Hans Christian Anderson's "The Little Match Girl." This "pop/rock/folk musical concert" was original conceived and performed by the indie trio Groovelily, with a textual assist from Tony Award winner Rachel Sheinkin.

Touring companies touching down include the ever-innovative dance troupe Pilobolus, appearing at the Cutler Majestic Theatre at the behest of Celebrity Series of Boston (December 3-5). At the Colonial courtesy of Broadway Across America, the road company of Jersey Boys (December 16 - January 20) duplicates the super-successful Four Seasons bio-musical still thriving on Broadway.

North Shore Music Theatre loyalists will be gratified to learn that NSMT is reviving its beloved in-the-round version of A Christmas Carol (December 3-23), with Jon Kimbell directing and David Coffee returning for his 17th turn as Scrooge. At Stoneham Theatre, Sister's Christmas Catechism starring creator Maripat Donovan (December 1-19) supplements The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (through December 23). The latter features local favorite Kathy St. George, who as an added lagniappe will perform a pair of concerts on New Year's Eve. The playlist spans American songbook classics and her specialty, spot-on hommages lifted from her popular one-woman show Dear Miss Garland.

Watertown's New Repertory Theatre is also going the concert route, presenting a bevy of favored performers in New Rep's Darling Divas Deck the Holidays (December 18-23). Waltham's Reagle Music Theatre has booked Broadway's Sarah Pfisterer as star soloist for their 28th annual holiday extravaganza, It's Christmas Time (December 3-12). Out in the Berkshires, Shakespeare & Company presents Peter Davenport in The Santaland Diaries (December 3-30), the solo show derived from David Sedaris' memoir about his travails as a Macy's elf. The small but scrappy Salem Theatre shows commendable ambition in mounting Paula Vogel's The Long Christmas Ride Home (December 1-19), a bunraku puppet-assisted study of holiday-induced familial stress which debuted at Providence's Trinity Rep in 2003.

Trinity Rep itself is presenting -- in addition to its 34th annual A Christmas Carol (through December 31) -- Joe Landry's "live radio play" adaptation of It's a Wonderful Life (December 3 - January 2), featuring company veterans such as Fred Sullivan Jr. and Anne Scurria. Tony Estrella, artistic director of Pawtucket's Gamm Theatre (a Trinity offshoot), has also come up with a new adaptation of A Child's Christmas in Wales (December 9-26), this one enhanced by live Welsh music and snippets lifted from Thomas's other iconic works.

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