“God bless us, everyone!” doesn’t warm the cockles of every holiday heart.
Traditional holiday theatrical fare is great, but sometimes you need an alternative. Thankfully, here in the Bay Area, we can do holiday entertainment with edge. Here’s a handy guide to some Carol alternatives (not that there’s anything wrong with A Christmas Carol, mind you – find a Carol guide here).
The Rhino Christmas Panto – Theatre Rhinoceros artistic director John Fisher, the man who brought us Medea: The Musical, joins with composer James Dudek , to create a big musical comedy about a disgruntled young man who is show the meaning of Christmas by a fairy – a real fairy – who takes him from the manger in Bethlehem to a gay bar in Oakland. Continues through Dec. 21 at Theatre Rhino, 2926 16th St., San Francisco. Tickets are $15-$40. Call 415-861-5079 or visit www.therhino.org.
Pictured at right, clockwise from top: Jordan L. Moore as Carol Channing, Nicholas Yenson as Jesus Christ, Jean Franco Pilas as An Early Christian, Aaron Martinsen as Aaron, Norman Muñoz as Constantine the Great, Erin Tate Maxon as Slumber Girl, and Rachel L. Jacobs as The Christmas Fairy in The Rhino Christmas Panto, written and directed by John Fisher, with music and lyrics by James Dudek. Photo by Kent Taylor.
The Eight: Reindeer Monologues – Playwright Jeff Goode delves into what happens at the North Pole the other 364 days of the year. It just so happens that one of Santa’s eight tiny reindeer has accused the old man of sexual harassment. Each of the hooved creates gets a chance to speak in this adults-only show. Continues through Dec. 20 at EXIT Stage Left, 156 Eddy St., San Francisco. Tickets are $28. Call 800-838-3006 or visit www.brownpapertickets.com.
Wrapping Paper Caper – Here’s an alternative for the entire family. And this one just happens to be my favorite of the annual holiday shows in the Bay Area. Puppeteer Liebe Wetzel, working with director Jeff Raz and her Lunatique Fantastique puppeteers, does amazing things with found objects such as wrapping paper, wrapping paper tubes, tinsel garlands and rain coats. Imaginative and captivating, this is a show you really should see if you haven’t. Continues through Jan. 4 at The Marsh, 1062 Valencia St., San Francisco. Tickets are $10. Call 800-838-3006 or visit www.themarsh.org.
David Hirata & Friends in Magic Holiday – Here’s another Marsh tradition, and it’s also a great one for the entire family. Juggling, magic, comedy – it’s all here, and it’s all delightful. Continues through Dec. 29 at The Marsh, 1062 Valencia St., San Francisco. Tickets are $10. Call 800-838-3006 or visit www.themarsh.org.
Black Nativity – One of the most enduring and rewarding of the annual holiday shows is this Lorraine Hansberry Theatre tradition inspired by Langston Hughes’Black Nativity, a gospel re-telling of the Christmas story. Gospel great Arvis Strickling-Jones headlines this music- and dance-filled spectacle. Performs Dec. 11-28 at the PG&E Auditorium, 77 Beale St., San Francisco. Tickets are $20-$36. Call 415-474-8800 or visit www.lhtsf.org.
Christmas Crap-Array – The Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco presents its second annual bit of holiday irreverence, which features soloists and ensembles performing raunchy, hilarious skits and new songs sure to appeal to grinches and Scrooges as well as naughty boys and girls looking forward to receiving a Christmas Eve spanking from a burly, bearded guy. Three performances only: Dec. 18, 19 and 20 at the Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy St., San Francisco. Tickets are $20-$40. Call 800-838-3006 or visit www.brownpapertickets.com.
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The Crap-Array is a great show! You’ll rarely see anything else like it. An aptly titled, irreverent, cabaret-like mix of material. LGCSF, aka the “Slash Chorus” is truly unique and adventuresome in their programming. A uniquely San Francisco show as well.