Holiday Shows Not to Miss

We don't have a partridge in a pear tree, but we've got Bach, the Beatles, and the Big Lebowski.

By Portland Monthly Staff December 20, 2012


Thru Dec 23 The family-friendly holiday comedy, starring Jeffrey Jason Gilpin and Alan King as all 22 residents of the fictional third-smallest town in Texas, is back by popular demand. It’s like A Prairie Home Companion, if Garrison Keillor played all of Lake Wobegon’s townspeople and the idyllic Minnesota community were a cracked-up Texas backwoods. For showtimes, see calendar entry. $28.25–52. Dolores Winningstad Theatre, PCPA, 1111 SW Broadway. 503-248-4335. pcpa.com

REVIEWED  The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of A Christmas Carol
Thru Dec 23 In this Bag & Baggage–produced play-within-a-play, the well-born, ill-bred women of Farndale Avenue’s Dramatic Society (played by men in drag) stage a performance of A Christmas Carol that’s as much of a train wreck as its title—to so-bad-it’s-good effect. Read our review. Wed–Sat at 7:30; Sun at 2. $15–28. Venetian Theatre, 253 E Main St, Hillsboro. 503-345-9590. bagnbaggage.org   

The Santaland Diaries

REVIEWED  The Santaland Diaries
Thru Dec 30 Though it’s been 20 years since Sedaris first read it on NPR’s Morning Edition (launching his career), the humor writer’s tale of working as Crumpet the Elf at Macy’s still holds up as an uproarious, antimaterialist Christmas classic. For this year’s production of Joe Mantello’s one-man adaptation, actor Darius Pierce steps into David’s/Crumpet’s elfin booties for the first time (for more about the show but not the actor, see our review of last year's production with Jim Lichtscheidl). Tue–Sun at 7:30; Sat–Sun at 2. $44–59. Ellyn Bye Studio at the Armory, 128 NW 11th Ave. 503-445-3700. pcs.org

REVIEWED  Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol
Thru Dec 30
Artists Repertory Theatre reprises its 2011 holiday show (read last year's review), a mash-up of sorts of A Christmas Carol and the Sherlock Holmes stories. The play, written by Seattleite John Longenbaugh and directed by Jon Kretzu, visits ghosts past, present, and future upon a retired Holmes to spook the detective-extraordinaire back into the mystery-solving biz. Wed–Sun at 7:30; Sun at 2. For ticket prices, call 503-241-1278 or visit artistsrep.org. Artists Repertory Theatre, 1515 SW Morrison St

Thru Dec 23 The conceit of this new holiday musical revue from Broadway Rose is actually rather believable, for once: a quartet of would-be actors is snowed in at a Broadway theater on Christmas Eve with only costumes, props, and set pieces. What to do but make the best of it by performing seasonal standards from Broadway shows? Portland Center Stage’s musical director, Rick Lewis, directs. For showtimes, see calendar entry. $25–40. New Stage Auditorium, 12850 SW Grant Ave, Tigard. 503-620-5262. broadwayrose.org

It’s a Wonderful Life
Thru Dec 23 Stumptown Stages adds some tinsel to the beloved 1946 film and Christmastime staple by adapting it as a musical for the first time in Bedford Falls history. The world-premiere score was co-composed by prominent Portland pianist and songwriter Michael Allen Harrison. Thu–Sat at 7:30; Sun at 2. $15–30. Brunish Theatre, Portland Center for the Performing Arts, 1111 SW Broadway. 503-248-4335. stumptownstages.com

A Very Joan Crawford Christmas
 Dec 23 Triangle Productions presents a funny, fearsome Yuletide evening with Joan Crawford. A pencil-eyebrowed, vodka-soaked Kam Sisco plays Mommie Dearest, while James Sharinghousen portrays her gentleman companion. For showtimes, see calendar entry. $15–35. The Sanctuary at Sandy Plaza, 1785 NE Sandy Blvd. 503-239-5919. tripro.org


Dec 26 at 9 For the British Commonwealth, Boxing Day—December 26—has been a tradition for hundreds of years, beginning as the designated time at which masters bestowed gifts upon their servants before evolving into a day of charity and goodwill. For Portlanders, Bachxing Day is a time to unwind after the stress of the holidays with booze and Bach. Classical Revolution PDX will be performing interpretations of their Bach favorites, and encouraging audience members to do so as well, remembering the three rules: "Any Bach. Any Instrumentation. Any Interpretation." Suggested donation of $5–20. Someday Lounge, 125 NW 5th Ave. 503-248-1030. classicalrevolutionpdx.org

NEW  Oregon Symphony        

Christmas with Johnny Mathis

Dec 22 at 7:30 Christmas with Johnny Mathis  Mathis was perhaps the last of the great pre-rock crooners to gain popularity before Fender electrified pop music forever—but “Chances Are” you already know him. For this special holiday concert, Mathis, with the symphony as his backing band, sings the seasonal standards. $35–200. Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway. 503-228-1353. orsymphony.org


The Nutcracker
Thru Dec 23 Oregon Ballet Theatre brings the visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads—yours, too!?—to life through its annual performance of Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet. Some 27,000 people turned out last season to see the flowers waltz, the fairy dance, and the Nutcracker/Prince defeat the Mouse King, making this one of Oregon’s most popular holiday events. For showtimes, see calendar entry. For ticket prices, call 503-222-5538 or visit opb.org. Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St


The Big Lebowski

NEW  The Big Lebowski
Dec 21–27 Take a night off from the holiday spirit for a, well, different sort of tradition: Clinton Street Theater’s yearly screening of the Coen brothers’ classic. Jeff Bridges plays “the Dude,” a slacker par excellence who, after being mistaken for the title character, is spooled into a web of intrigue featuring porno kingpins, feminist artists, and German nihilists. Patrons are encouraged to wear pajamas. 6:50 & 9:20. $6. Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton St. 503-238-5588. clintonsttheater.com

NEW  Charles Dickens
Thru Dec 23 The Northwest Film Center screens three cinematic adaptations of Dickensian works, in celebration of both the great Victorian novelist’s 200th birthday and the season. (Even putting aside A Christmas Carol, there’s a certain Yuletide feel to all of Dickens’s wintry, moralistic tales, isn’t there?) In addition to Brian Desmond Hurst’s essential 1951 version of Christmas Carol, NWFC is showing David Lean’s Oscar-winning 1946 Great Expectations and an Alberto Cavalcanti–directed 1947 film noir rendition of Nicholas NicklebyFor showtimes, see calendar entries. $9. Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 SW Park Ave


Wanderlust Circus' White Album Christmas

NEW  Wanderlust Circus’ White Album Christmas  

Dec 21–23 The city’s top circus-arts troupe teams up with the Nowhere Band—made up of members of MarchFourth Marching Band, Trashcan Joe, and others—in a stomping holiday celebration for those fed up with the same ol’ holiday fare. For the fifth year running, they cover the decidedly un-Christmas White Album in its entirety with decidedly un–Sugar Plum Fairy circus spectacles, without surrendering any of the seasonal cheer. Fri–Sat at 9; Sun at 8. $25. Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 NE Alberta St. 503-719-6055. albertarosetheatre.com


The Grotto’s Christmas Festival of Lights
Thru Dec 30 The Grotto’s Catholic shrine and botanical garden are unusual and beautiful enough the rest of the year, but during the sanctuary’s holiday-season light display and choral festival, it is truly a sight to see. More than 500,000 lights deck the 62-acre, cliff-straddling grounds; performances by area choral groups—170 in total—take place nightly; and hot chocolate is as abundant as Christmas spirit. Daily 5–9:30; closed Christmas Day. $9. The Grotto, 8840 NE Skidmore St. 503-254-7371. thegrotto.org 


The Peppermint Bear Show: Who Needs Sneeds?
Thru Dec 22 Rise and shine for a continental breakfast and to cheer on Peppermint Bear and Santa’s elves as they fight to save Christmas from the Grinchlike Sneed siblings. Lakewood Theatre Company is staging Peppermint Bear for the first time in the 35-odd years since it premiered (as The Cinnamon Bear Show) at the old Lipman’s department store. Sat at 9 and 11. $12. Lakewood Center for the Arts, 368 S State St, Lake Oswego. 503-635-3901. lakewood-center.org

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