Celebrate Holiday Season with Show in Philly

by Debra Miller
Central Voice Phila. Arts Correspondent

MORE PHOTOS BELOW – A great way to celebrate the season is by enjoying holiday-themed plays with family and friends. Not only do you get to spend quality time together, but theater tickets make fabulous presents, and your purchase also helps to support Philadelphia’s cultural community. That’s three gifts in one.

Among this year’s top picks are premieres of new works and remounts of old favorites. Lantern Theater Company celebrates one of Philadelphia’s most compelling actor/playwrights in a three-play extravaganza, Between Heaven and Hell: The Anthony Lawton Festival, comprising C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce, Shel Silverstein’s The Devil and Billy Markham, and Lawton’s autobiographical Heresy. If you haven’t seen these works before–or even if you have–be sure to catch this “spiritual theater for a secular audience,” performed in repertory at St. Stephen’s Theater, December 3-19. Lawton is the master of intense one-man shows, intimate self-examination, and pondering the virtues and vices of organized religion. He will make you think, make you laugh, and make you very uncomfortable, as a great performer should.

Now in its seventh successful year, Flashpoint Theatre Company offers a new take on David Sedaris’s autobiographical The SantaLand Diaries, with Flashpoint’s own Noah Herman directing. Chronicling the author’s true stint as a Macy’s elf during the Christmas shopping season in Manhattan, company founder Derick Loafmann reprises his hilarious role as Crumpet, Santa’s smart-mouthed helper, from December 1-19, at Philadelphia’s Adrienne Theatre.

Back by popular demand, 1812 Productions makes its annual foray into political comedy with its fifth installment of This Is the Week that Is, which runs December 2-31, at Plays & Players. Written and performed by the popular Week ensemble (including Tony Braithwaite, Scott Greer, Dave Jadico, Susan Riley Stevens, Steven Wright, and 1812 co-founder and director Jennifer Childs), this perennial favorite has a script that changes nightly with the evening news. Local, national, and international events are all fair game for parody, in a show designed to laugh at, instead of lamenting, the present state of the world. What better holiday gift?

For family-friendly entertainment, from November 9-January 9, Philadelphia’s historic Walnut Street Theatre presents an all new production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, based on the Paramount Pictures film classic of 1954. Song, dance, and nostalgia reign supreme, so if you love reminiscing about an old-fashioned holiday, let cast crooners Jeff Coon, Ben Dibble, and Paul Nolan take you there. Bing Crosby’s version of the title song remains the best-selling single of all time, with over 50 million copies sold worldwide. Walnut Street’s show is also likely to sell out fast, so get your tickets soon.

People’s Light & Theatre Company in Malvern mounts its seventh annual holiday panto–the British tradition of winter musical comedy based on familiar fairytales and children’s stories, injected with contemporary references and audience participation. Pete Pryor, whose direction of Cinderella earned him a Barrymore in 2009, returns again this year for The Three Musketeers (The Later Years), both as the director, and the villain. Other returning cast members from past pantos include Kim Carson, Chris Faith, Andrew Kane, Tom Teti, and Mark Lazar, playing Queen Agnes of Malvaria. The raucous comedy, set in the swashbuckling world of the 17th-century court, runs November 17-January 9, and promises fun for all ages.

Last but not least, a newly penned show by the Berserker Residents, commissioned for Theatre Horizon, premieres December 10-31, at the Centre Theatre in Norristown. The Very Merry Xmas Carol Holiday Adventure Show follows the arctic escapades of a snowman, a red-nosed reindeer, and a man from London-town through a wacky world of confused Christmas tales. As the last-hope heroes battling a malevolent force that threatens to destroy the very spirit of Christmas, the unlikely trio experiences talking objects, time travel, and a howling villain intent on devouring every Christmas story ever told. Bring the whole family for this inventive comic delight, featuring Fringe Festival alumni and Berserkers Justin Jain, Dave Johnson, Brian McCann, and Bradley Wrenn.
Come with your family, come with your friends, come with your partner, or come alone—but do come to Philadelphia for some terrific seasonal entertainment. Why not make it a holiday tradition?

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One Response to “Celebrate Holiday Season with Show in Philly”

  1. Deb Miller Says:

    I already saw White Christmas at the Walnut Street Theatre, and agree with my own selection of this classic as a top pick for the holidays! To be sure, it is nostalgic, old-fashioned, and traditional; but it’s also a top-notch musical production, worthy of a Broadway stage. The cast is excellent, the familiar songs and dances are spectacular (especially I Love a Piano), and the costumes and sets are lavish. So if you love the great age of Broadway musicals, this is definitely for you. Back row tickets start as low as $10.

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