Ready for a laugh already? This season’s holiday theater lineup is just the ticket.
I’m just gonna put this out there: It’s been a pretty sucky fall, and we’re entering the most stressful season of the year. Let’s all take a nice break, go sit in a darkened theater and feel merry about life for a while. The holiday theater season is in full swing, and the offerings at local theater companies will fill you to the brim with Christmas cheer.Buttcracker 7: Ozmosis
Seasonal cheer can be a theater company’s bread and butter—even audiences who may not normally attend live theater find themselves drawn to holiday shows, where the feel-goodness is baked right in.
“People really do tend to want to come to the theater during the holidays,” said Mary Bennett, Brüka’s Producing Artistic Director. “It’s one of the reasons we continue to do Buttcracker.”
Now in its seventh iteration, Brüka’s parody of “The Nutcracker” might have Mr. Tchaikovsky rolling in his grave, but if it’s merry you want, you’ll find it here.
Buttcracker’s basic premise is to—loosely—follow Tchaikovsky’s script: Young Clara’s crazy godfather Drosselmeyer gives her a toy nutcracker for Christmas, and in her dreams the nutcracker becomes a prince, takes her to the Land of Sweets and introduces her to characters who dance for her. Brüka’s story annually employs a different theme to tell this same journey story. This year’s Buttcracker 7: Ozmosis sets Clara on the yellow brick road that takes her to the warped Land of Oz, and the Ozians are the “sweets,” including the scarecrow, the tin man, the lion and even the wicked witch, all of whom try, and rarely succeed, to entertain her. Reserve your tickets ahead of time for this popular local favorite, and arrive a few minutes early to enjoy the whiskey bar. Just leave the kiddies 12 and under at home—this one’s a bit bawdy. Runs Wednesdays through Sundays until Dec. 23.
Tickets and information: www.bruka.orgSantaland Diaries
Reno Little Theater
If the trappings of the holiday season are getting to you, carve out about 90 minutes for some catharsis with Joe Mantello’s stage adaptation of David Sedaris’ essay, Santaland Diaries. It’s the highly fictionalized story ripped from Sedaris’ journal about his time working as a Christmas elf named Crumpet at Macy’s Santaland. From the archetypal elven personalities and nightmare children to the celebrities he bumps into and the indignities he suffers at the hands of Santa, Sedaris lays Christmas bare—but also with a lot of heart and his signature self-reflective style, which might renew your faith in Santa after all. Reno Little Theater presents a double cast, with Evonne Kezios and Ryan Costello alternately playing the wisecracking Crumpet, and two different sets of players performing as the chorus of Macy’s characters. RLT is making it easy to see both casts with an online schedule for each posted on its website and ticket discounts for audiences who want to catch the other cast. A Christmas karaoke party follows each performance, and for those attending matinees, arrive early to browse the Holiday Bizarre Bazaar for gifts made by local artists. Runs now through Dec. 11. Check the website for specially priced performances.
Tickets and information: www.renolittletheater.orgA Christmas Carol
Laughing Owl Productions Theatre Company
If classic, family-friendly, holly-and-ivy Christmas shows are more your speed, visit one of Reno’s newest theater companies, Laughing Owl, which is making Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol an annual tradition. Founded in May 2015 by local theater veterans Dave and Angela Anderson, Laughing Owl is on a mission to produce classic theater as originally written—no modernizations, no musical adaptations, just good, timeless works from the likes of Beckett, Ibsen and more. This second-annual production of the Dickens favorite draws on the work of Sir John Mortimer, the English dramatist commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company to adapt it for the stage. In order to retain as much of the original novella as possible, Mortimer developed a chorus, with each line spoken by a different actor, conveying much of the narration and description written by Dickens himself. The sparse, simply furnished set is decorated by the audience’s imaginations. Fifteen actors perform the 50-some-odd characters in the story, save for Bob Gabrielli, the actor playing Ebenezer Scrooge. During intermission, local musician Branden McKinnon and several characters from the show, in dress, who will act as Victorian street musicians, will entertain audiences. The show runs Dec. 8-23.
Tickets and information: www.laughingowlproductions.comMiracle on 34th Street
This 20th century classic takes on Santa’s cynics. The Eldorado Reno presents this family-friendly musical based on the beloved 1947 holiday movie, with book and music by Meredith Willson. It’s the story of single mother Doris Walker, who doesn’t want her daughter Susan’s head filled with romantic notions about Christmas and Santa Claus. That is, until Doris is told to hire a Santa for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and begins to believe the Santa she’s hired might actually be the real Kris Kringle. The 90-minute performance features some beloved holiday songs, such as “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas,” “Silent Night” and “Jingle Bells” (audiences are invited to sing along), as well as some not-so-familiar tunes such as “Pinecones and Hollyberries” and “My State, My Kansas.” Performances run Tuesdays through Sundays until Jan. 1.
Tickets and information: www.eldoradoreno.comA Charlie Brown Christmas
TheatreWorks of Northern Nevada
Talk about a 20th century classic. TWNN is honoring Charles Schulz and the 50th anniversary of the beloved holiday special A Charlie Brown Christmas. The lovable loser Charlie Brown is joined by Snoopy, Sally, Linus, Lucy and the rest of the Peanuts gang as he sorts through the season’s commercialism to learn the true meaning of Christmas. This production features a cast of more than 20 children under the age of 15 from around the community. TWNN intends to make this an annual holiday tradition. Four performances take place Dec. 2-4 at the McKinley Arts & Culture Center. Come early and catch The Note-Ables singing carols before the show.
Tickets and information: www.twnn.orgElf The Musical, Jr.
Wild Horse Children’s Theater
If smiling’s your favorite, don’t be a cotton-headed ninny muggins—check out the Northern Nevada premiere of Elf the Musical, Jr. Based on the Will Ferrell film that’s become a holiday must-see, it’s the story of Buddy the Elf, a human orphan who sneaked into Santa’s bag and lives at the North Pole as an elf—until he discovers he’s not a real elf and embarks on a quest to New York to meet his real dad, Walter, who is unfortunately on the naughty list. Along the way, Buddy manages to show others how to find and keep their Christmas spirit. This musical version features a host of endearingly funny songs with names like “Never Fall in Love With an Elf” and “Sparklejollytwinklejingley.” This junior version cuts out the not-so-exciting excess to make for a shorter show that little ones can sit through. (Catch the full grownup version at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts later this month.) Eighty local students, age 4 to 18, comprise the cast. Look for huge dance numbers with innovative choreography—think office chairs and clipboards in Walter’s office—by Robin Kato-Brong. Stick around after the show for photos and treats with Santa. Performances run Dec. 2-11 at the Brewery Arts Center Performance Hall in Carson City.
Tickets and information: www.wildhorsetheater.com