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Theatre In Chicago's 2012 Holiday Show Round-Up

Holiday Plays In ChicagoBy now it's no secret that, every holiday season, the Goodman Theatre puts on a classic production of A Christmas Carol, that the House Theatre puts on a hip production of The Nutcracker, or that several theatres put on competing productions of It's A Wonderful Life. I have written about each of those in the past, and they all continue to be well-crafted, popular, and valid holiday entertainments. But it is also no secret that Chicago has a vast array of smaller storefront and warehouse venues putting on an equally vast array of theatre, and the holidays are no exception. And many of these are just as well-crafted and valid as the bigger crowd-pleasers, but due to their size, location, or subject matter tend to get overlooked. So for this year's Holiday Show Round-Up I'd like to highlight some of those more obscure, unusual, and off-off-off-Loop holiday productions that fly well under the radar like a sled pulled by reindeer (how else do you think the man avoids being shot down year after year?).

For example: It's A Wonderful Santa Land Miracle Nut-Cracking Christmas Story...Jews Welcome. The title of this inclusive holiday romp brought to you by Street Tempo Theatre at Stage 773 typifies what the Chicago storefront scene has to offer during the season: generous helpings of tongue-in-cheek, mostly good-natured send-ups of holiday traditions. This show in particular also includes "singing, dancing, stories, interactive games, and non-holiday-specific eggnog."

Chicago is of course an improv town, and so Christmastime in Chicago would be somewhat less than complete without a couple of improv-based holiday offerings. From your old friends The Second City comes The Second City Dysfunctional Holiday Revue, playing at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Aurora. It is billed as "a comedy act that delivers a healthy dose of seasonal satire with holiday film classics, family gatherings, [and] improvised Christmas carols." And at Chemically Imbalanced Comedy there is Scenes With Santa. CIC's house improv team, Meow Meow Ruff, will join up each week with a different college improv ensemble to put on an "interactive night of holiday-themed comedy, based on audience suggestions."

If you and yours are looking for something more musical and Fabulous (with a capital F), We Three Lizas might be for you. Produced by About Face Theatre in the Steppenwolf Garage space, We Three Lizas is a world-premiere "dark, sexy holiday musical" about one Conrad Ticklebottom who, in an attempt to conjure the great Queen of Wishes, inadvertently summons Liza Minelli instead.

Commedia Beauregard (CommBeau for short) is presenting A Klingon Christmas Carol at the Raven Theatre space. I know I've written about this one in the past, and I will continue to do so for as long as it exists, simply because it does exist. IN ORIGINAL KLINGON WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES. Also includes "narrative analysis" from the Vulcan Institute of Cultural Anthropology. Bring Grandma.

A lot of the self-described "antidotes" to the typical earnest, heartstring-pulling holiday story tend to be, as mentioned, in the vein of ironic parody. On the other hand, Hellcab. Presented by Profiles Theatre (natch), Hellcab is a gritty, urban night-in-the-life drama of a Chicago cabbie as he recounts the various colorful characters who populate the back seat of his taxi one Christmas Eve.

And finally, a couple for the kiddies. These last two aren't exactly "storefront" or "unusual", but they are relatively new productions, and one of them is a Chicago premiere, so they warrant a quick mention.

First, Madeline's Christmas. Madeline and her vine-covered old house in Paris are coming to Theatre of Western Springs starting November 30. This one gives me a twinge of nostalgia. My sister was a Madeline fan when she was little (and I may or may not have watched a couple of the videos with her at one point).

The Chicago premiere of Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical is coming to the Cadillac Palace Theatre downtown for two weeks starting December 5. This popular Broadway stage version of Mr. Geisel's much-loved parable is narrated by Max the Dog and features the hit song "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch", as well as "Welcome Christmas" and many more.

There are many more holiday shows than these to be found all over Chicagoland, for all audiences. Bear in mind, though, that not every show is for all audiences. Be an informed consumer and investigate beforehand the material and appropriate age levels of the play you want to see.

For a complete list of the holiday shows in Chicago go to our Holiday Plays In Chicago page.

Luke Heiden
Contributing Writer

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