Theater Critic Picks
It's perfect: 12 shows for the holiday month of December, though not all (thankfully, some might say) have a festive feel to them. There are new works and old favorites, regional premieres and returning stars, and even a hell-sprite to balance out the elves.
Here are the 12 shows to see, in order by start date:
A Very Judy Christmas
Uptown Players, December 1-16
This world premiere written and directed by B.J. Cleveland pays tribute to the 1960s TV holiday specials, with Janelle Lutz returning as Judy Garland. Share the holiday with Judy and some celebrity friends, including Ethel Merman and Liza Minnelli, along with some of Garland's signature songs and holiday classics performed by a number of surprise special guests.
Fetch Clay, Make Man
Dallas Theater Center, December 5-January 13
Loosely inspired by the real-life friendship of Muhammad Ali and Stepin Fetchit, this new script from DTC playwright-in-residence Will Power brings these two iconic figures together to shape their legacies against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement.
The Santaland Diaries
Casa Mañana, December 6-22
David Sedaris' sardonic look back at his time as a Macy's Christmas elf brings some naughty to the holiday season. Zak Reynolds stars as Crumpet, the grumpiest elf in New York City, as he navigates the absurd and hilarious trials and tribulations of a middle-aged elf dealing with cynical Santas, greedy children, and their harried parents.
Bishop Arts Theatre Center, December 6-23
This retelling of the nativity story by Langston Hughes is returning for its 15th anniversary production. Spoken word, song, music, dance, and theater combine to create a one-of-a-kind Christmas pageant.
Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol
Stage West, December 6-23
Tom Mula's behind-the-scenes look at Charles Dickens' much-loved story returns to Stage West starring Emily Scott Banks. This piece takes audiences along for Marley's amazing and hilarious journey to the Mouth of Hell — and beyond. With the questionable aid of a hell-sprite called The Bogle, Marley concocts a desperate plan to save Scrooge (and himself).
Solstice: A New Holiday
Theatre Three, December 6-30
Stuart and Paulette are back in Dallas for the holidays, decking the Theatre Three halls with more than just boughs of holly. This reworked piece reunites playwright Jonathan Norton with composer Cherish Robinson and adds contributions from Janielle Kastner.
A Christmas Story, The Musical
AT&T Performing Arts Center, December 12-16
Set in 1940s Indiana, a young and bespectacled Ralphie Parker schemes his way toward the holiday gift of his dreams, an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. An infamous leg lamp, outrageous pink bunny pajamas, a maniacal department store Santa, and a triple-dog-dare to lick a freezing flagpole are just a few of the distractions that stand between Ralphie and his Christmas wish.
AT&T Performing Arts Center, December 18-23
There's never been a better time to experience this razzle-dazzle smash, the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. Come along, babe, for a universal tale of fame, fortune, and all that jazz with one show-stopping song after another and the most astonishing dancing you've ever seen.
The Phantom of the Opera
Dallas Summer Musicals, December 19-January 6
Cameron Mackintosh's spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic is part of a brand-new North American tour, with aa huge cast and orchestra of 52 people.
A Bronx Tale
AT&T Performing Arts Center, December 27-January 6
Broadway's hit crowd-pleaser based on the one-man-show by Chazz Palminteri takes you to the stoops of the Bronx in the 1960s, where a young man is caught between the father he loves and the mob boss he'd love to be.
Stage West, December 27-January 27
In this modern, comedic, and heartfelt riff on the iconic medieval morality play, fate decides the roles by lottery each night, so — as is true in life — Everybody could be anybody. And in the end, playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins asks, when it's your time to go what will you leave behind and what will you take with you?
Clowning Around With Murder!
Pegasus Theatre, December 29-January 20
The latest Living Black & White takes place in 1935 at the Fripson Clown College, where someone has murdered the founder and head professor. Harry Hunsacker, world famous detective and aspiring actor, along with his paid by the hour assistant, Nigel Grouse, meet a variety of clowns, clues, and a copper in disguise on the trail of a murderer.