Top Things to Do This Weekend: Dec 18–21

Key & Peele's Keegan-Michael Key wants to Twist Your Dickens. Also in the holiday mood this weekend: a Mafia boss, a Modernist poet, a Portland Mercury editor, and those unavoidable Sugar Plum Fairies.

By Portland Monthly Staff December 18, 2014

Just like your holiday larder, this weekend's entertainment calendar is stuffed with sweet seasonal treats. But as if to remind you that wintertime cheer is fleeting, many of the attractions featured in our annual Holiday Guide wrap up within the next four days (we note five shows below). Why not gift yourself a night out (or two)? After all, Santa-themed theater comes but once a year!

Keegan-Michael Key

CLOSING The Second City's A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens
Thursday–Sunday, Portland Center Stage
The famed Chicago improv troupe returns for a second time to stage its satirical romp through this ubiquitous holiday tale, with audience input and revolving local celebrity guests—or not-so-local, as is the case for Friday's performance, which features a one-night-only cameo from Comedy Central's Keegan-Michael Key, star of Key & Peele (and, we hear, an old friend of Twist Your Dickens cast member Jaime Moyer).   

CLOSING Rudolph! On Stage!
Through Saturday, CoHo Theatre
For the second time, local funny-woman Shelley McLendon puts Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer in her affectionately mocking crosshairs. The cherished 1964 stop-motion-animated movie has sentimental value for McLendon. But that won’t stop her, along with local comedians Michael Fetters, Jon Breen, and Jed Arkley and Portland Mercury editor Wm. Steven Humphrey, from ridiculing the film at its most unintentionally funny, complete with commercial interruptions and acted-out stop-motion.
CLOSING Liminal: E. E. Cumming’s Santa
Through Sunday, Back Door Theater
"Small, spontaneous, and strange." That's how Liminal co-artistic Director John Berendzen describes this five-part modern allegory culled from E. E. Cummings texts like Santa Claus and Little Tree that has Santa facing off with Death. If this dark comedy is anything like Liminal' production of Our Town last year (also directed by Berendzen; see our review here), expect the wrapping on this holiday hodgepodge to resemble no other gift of the season.
CLOSING Bag&Baggage: Miracle on 43rd Street
Through Sunday, Venetian Theatre
Last year, this Hillsboro company skewered It’s a (Somewhat) Wonderful Life with a 1940s-era radio performance gone horribly wrong. This season B&B gives the same treatment to the story of a Macy’s Santa who turns out to be the real deal—only with an added mafia boss, show-tune-loving detective, and station manager with digestive problems.
Through Saturday, Sanctuary @ Sandy Plaza
The officers of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein assemble for the 1956 addition of their annual quiche contest only for a nuclear threat to reveal some long-held secrets. This five-woman feast of double-entendre and absurdism was a hit at the 2012 New York International Fringe Festival.
Thursday, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
The series of collaborations between PBO, Seattle’s Pacific MusicWorks, and Early Music Vancouver continues with an evening of German baroque music, including Cantatas 1, 3, and 6 of Bach’s Oratorio. 
Cirque Musica
Friday and Saturay, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
The visually stunning world of circus performance collides with the festive music from the Oregon Symphony. From hula hoop gymnastics to aerial choreography, one wonder will be how the international touring acts fits everything onto the Schnitz's small stage.
Sunday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Someone in your household probably started playing this music in November, so you might as well gather the family together for an afternoon of holiday classics that—all grinchiness aside—really never get old. 
Jason Webley and Friends: Margaret
Thursday, Wonder Ballroom 
This new album from accordian troubador Webley sets to music the tragic life of one Margaret Rucker—a mysterious woman born in 1907 in Webley's hometown of Everett, WA, whose scrapbook was serendipitously found by Webley's friend Chicken John Rinaldi some 90 years later in a San Francisco dumpster (really!). Joining Rinaldi and Rucker for the official album release are collaborators including Led to Sea, Eliza Rickman, and Shenandoah Davis. 
Yung Lean and Sad Boys
Saturday, Hawthorne Theatre
If there are jazz, blues, and folk purists, you can bet that hip-hop has its own self-appointed army of gatekeepers. These are the folks most likely to deny legitimacy to Internet sensation Yung Lean, an impossibly baby-faced teenage rapper from Sweden with a penchant for Arizona Iced Tea and awkward, well, everything. What does keeping it real mean to white Millennials from the burbs of Scandinavia? Find out as Lean (real name Jonathon Leandoer Håstad) and his posse Sad Boys take the stage at punk venue the Hawthorne Theater. 
Oregon Ballet Theatre: The Nutcracker
Thursday–Sunday, Keller Auditorium
Some things are tradition for a reason. Legendary choreographer George Balanchine’s technically rigorous take on the iconic Tchaikovsky score is a classic, and OBT’s enduringly popular production fills seats every year.  


In Passionate Pursuit: Arlene Schnitzer
Thursday–Sunday, Portland Art Museum
 Without the support of this art-loving couple, the local art scene wouldn’t be half what it is today. This exhibition displays the eclectic range of their collection: paintings and sculptures by Northwest and West Coast masters, Han dynasty Chinese art, Native American ceramics and beaded bags, and more. Read our profile of Arlene Schnitzer, "The Arlene Effect."
ShowPDX: A Decade of Portland Furniture Design
Thursday–Saturday, Musuem of Contemporary Craft
For 10 years, ShowPDX has been exhibiting some of the best furniture made in Portland (since before the term 'maker' was even a thing—read our story). Now the Museum of Contemporary Craft is giving the best of the best a retrospective.
CLOSING Katherine Bradford and Sarah Gamble
Thru Saturday, Adams & Ollman
Sharing a tendency towards jaunty and expressive, Bradford and Gamble's art, while conceptually distinct, can visually balance the other out. Bradford's work can be abstract, at times fantastical, and yet utterly human. Gamble dabbles in a more stirring, metaphysical realm with what she creates on canvas. Read our profile of Amy Adams, the gallerist behind Bradford and Gamble's exhibition. 
All Summer in a Day
Saturday–Sunday, Fourteen30 Contemporary
Contemporary gallery Fourteen30 has currated a response to Portland's mild and monotonous winter called All Summer In A Day, featuring work from prominent artists including Matt Connors, Erika Verzutti, Kristan Kennedy, Owen Kydd, and Diane Simpson. 
CLOSING The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs
Through Saturday, Oregon Children's Theatre
This family-friendly farce tells the familiar story from the perspective of the Big Bad Wolf—who, you might not be surprised to find out, insists it was all a setup.
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