If you read this column at all last year, you know how much I love the holidays. I hate the winter--and use this space frequently to complain about it--but if we must suffer through the cold, bitter weather, at least we have the holidays to make it all worth it.
Around this time of year in Tulsa, just about everything is holiday or Christmas-themed, and I like it that way. Even the same old productions, performed over and over, year after year, don't bother me because they are celebrations of a season I love. Well done or not, they get you into the spirit.
The arts community will spend the rest of this month celebrating Christmas, so I thought we'd kick off the season with a little preview of what's to come. If you've ever seen a show in Tulsa around Christmas time before, you may be all too familiar with the following. Or, it just may get you into the Christmas spirit.
The Ghost Returns
First off, as always, American Theatre Company will produce its widely popular A Christmas Carol. The show opens this weekend, Thurs., Dec. 6, and continues every weekend in December.
For the 31st time, Tulsans will sit and wonder whether that old curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge will take time from his pilfering and penny pinching to learn the true meaning of Christmas. Through time warps to Christmas past, present and future, will Scrooge learn his lesson or forever spend his life crotchety and alone? Well, I'm sure you can guess the answer to that one.
ATC's version of A Christmas Carol is always a major production, with beautifully elaborate sets and costumes and some mighty fine acting from a large cast of familiar Tulsans.
This is one to take the whole family to. The feel-good factor is high, and kids will enjoy the song, dance and slapstick humor that accompany the show. Evening performances of A Christmas Carol begin at 7:30pm and Sunday matinees start at 2pm in the John H. Williams Theater of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, 110 E. 2nd St. Tickets are $20. For more info, visit www.tulsapac.com.
In addition to this warm and tingly holiday classic, ATC will put on another festive performance, this one a little more mature. Mike Pryor will star in David Sedaris' one-man memoir of misadventures at a Macy's department store as an elf in The Santaland Diaries.
Sedaris' other memoirs, including Me Talk Pretty One Day and Naked, have garnered an almost cult following for their brash hilarity and blatant commentary. The Santaland Diaries helped launch Sedaris' very successful career as a writer, eventually ending up in Barrel Fever before being adapted into this play. The show provides sardonic commentary on the business of Christmas, which, for some rings very close to home. Regardless of the sarcasm, the show is honest and truthful about certain aspects of the holidays and should still provide a sort of merriment of its own.
The Santaland Diaries runs Dec. 14-15 and 19-22 at 8:15pm and Dec. 16 at 2:15pm in the Liddy Doenges Theater of the Tulsa Pac. Tickets are $20.
A group that tosses family fun out the window and instead opts for a slightly more cynical celebration of the holiday season (of any season for that matter) is the 50 Swats Collective, housed in the Nightingale Theater, 1416 E. 4th St.
During the last few years, audiences have enjoyed the group's rather sadistic look at Santa Clause and his relationship with the eight animals responsible for guiding his sleigh in The Eight Reindeer Monologues. This year, though, 50 Swats is mixing it up, performing instead Unwrapped, another series of monologues and dialogues centered on the holidays. Don't think Santa is off the hook, though. No one is in 50 Swats' productions.
Though they claim to be based on the holidays, the pieces performed will also likely contain themes of sex, greed, consumerism, love, giving, taking... and more. Nothing is off limits, and, in the end, the group hopes to leave its audiences wondering what Christmas is really all about.
The show starts at 8pm Dec. 13-15 and 20-22. Tickets are $8. For more information, visit www.nightingaletheater.com.
Must-See Christmas Ritual
What else does Tulsa never ever get tired of around the holidays? That would be Tulsa Ballet's The Nutcracker. TB's version, choreographed by Artistic Director Marcello Angelini and set to the old familiar score of Peter Tchaikovsky, opens in the Paris Opera House in the 1920s.
Marie, a young dancer, falls asleep to awaken to the magic of the Nutcracker Prince, the Mouse King, their armies of toy soldiers and young mice and the glittering snowflakes.
The Nutcracker continues to be a Tulsa favorite year after year, Angelini's choreography adding new life and excitement to the traditional production. The ballet opens Sat., Dec. 15 at 2pm and 7pm and continues Sun., Dec. 16 at 2pm, Dec. 20-21 at 7pm, Dec. 22 at 2pm and 7pm and Dec. 23 at 1pm. Tickets are $15-55. For more information, visit www.tulsaballet.org.
Some New Holiday Decor
In the visual arts, the Tulsa Artists' Coalition Gallery presents "Yellow Snow: An Alternative Holiday Show and Sale," opening Fri., Dec. 7 with a reception from 6 to 9pm at 9 E. Brady.
"Yellow Snow" is a juried exhibit open to TAC members and non-members, and jurors include Steve Tomlin, Lisa Regan and Grace Grothaus. The jurors awarded John Gaskill's mixed media work "Street Gang Warrior Cookies" Best in Show, and gave juror's choice awards to Joni Younkins-Herzog's "Bronx Cheer," Neil Scanlon's "Don We Now Our Gay Apparel" and R.C. Morrison's "Double Hoax (Homage to Westermann)." A People's Choice Award will be voted on by those attending the opening reception.
TAC Gallery hours are 11am-2pm Tuesday through Friday and 6-9pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit www.tacgallery.org.
For more holiday events and happenings, arts related and not, visit our Events calendar, beginning on page 46.
Until next week, Happy Holidays!
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