Old friends, new favorites
It’s time again for holiday shows in Sacramento
“Marley was dead to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.”
And so begin a pair of holiday favorites. Both the Sacramento Theatre Company’s very traditional version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Capital Stage’s not-so-traditional, flat-out rambunctious holiday play Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some) begin with this simple declaration.
Marley was dead. And we’re always happy to hear it again.
For proof, just check out STC’s full-on Victorian presentation of the classic story, featuring top hats, mufflers and ghosts (at least one of which wears a velvety robe and hides a pair of sinister twins beneath his skirt). There’s snow and a goose as big as a boy and yes, there’s even “Humbug!” and a chorus of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” If you’ve never seen a traditional version of the story—or even if you have, but still yearn for the time period in which Christmas as we know it was invented—make sure to get your tickets for A Christmas Carol early.
On the other hand, if you’ve had about all the Scrooge you can stand, you’re tired of Rudolph, and you can barely muster a giggle for the Norelco snowmen, then Capital Stage has just the thing: The thoroughly mangled, outrageously funny mash up of every Christmas-themed movie or television show from It’s a Wonderful Life to Frosty the Snowman. Of course, Gustav the Green-Nosed Reingoat makes an appearance, too. What? You don’t remember him? Well, he is less well-known than the copyright-protected red-nosed reindeer.
Once you’re done laughing so hard you snort flaming rum punch out of your nose, there’s still time to catch the Sacramento Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker, which makes use of dozens of local children as dancers in addition to the company’s principals. What’s Christmas without “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” and the battle between the nutcracker’s soldiers and the troops of the Mouse King? One of the nicest parts of this tradition is the inclusion of a live orchestra, the Sacramento Philharmonic (made possible this year by a special fundraising campaign). The Nutcracker continues to be a cost-effective and delightful way to introduce young ones to both classical dance and music, while still keeping the holiday happy.
Finally, there’s an option for those who’d prefer a more California-style Christmas: the Sutter Street Theatre is reprising its successful Holiday in the Hills. Penned by Sutter Street company members Mike Jimena and Connie Mockenhaupt, it’s historical fiction set in Folsom in the late-19th century. Along with traditional favorite Christmas music and a bit of dancing, the show imparts bits of Folsom and Northern California history, making it that favorite of all grandparents—fun that’s educational, too. But it’s not a straight-up history play—Holiday in the Hills includes some historical anomalies—but it’s all in good fun.
And that’s the point, isn’t it? Seriously, lighten up. After all, Marley is dead, and there’s no doubt about that.