ETC teams its talented intern acting company with a collection of regular pros who excel in selected roles, especially Deb Girdler as an over-the-top villainess (the Queen of Hearts in Alice) and Michael Bath (he’s the befuddled White Rabbit). (Nov. 28-Dec. 30; 513-421-3555, ensemblecincinnati.org)
On a much smaller scale, but aimed straight at anyone who loves holiday movies, is Falcon Theater’s rendition of It’s a Wonderful Life. Performed in the tiny Monmouth Theatre in Newport, this is a faithful rendition of the classic film about George Bailey and Bedford Falls. But it’s presented as a radio play with sound effects you can watch and actors playing multiple roles. (Dec. 7-15; 513-479-6783, falcontheater.net)
Other shows, definitely not for the kids, cast a wry look on the holidays. Don’t be fooled by the titles: These are for grown-ups. Chief among them is Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s Every Christmas Story Ever Told – And Then Some!, a mash-up of Dickens, the Grinch, Frosty, Rudolph and many more. It’s done with a few comic twists and a very drunk Santa, a formula that attracts groups of friends and office outings. Cincy Shakes has moved Every Christmas Story from its previous holiday home (Arnold’s Bar & Grill) to its own mainstage (Dec. 16-30; 513-381-2273, cincyshakes.com).
New this season at Arnold’s will be The Naughty List, under the auspices of Know Theatre. OTR Improv will take audience suggestions and filter them through holiday movies. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings. (Dec. 2-30; 513-300-5669, knowtheatre.com).
New Edgecliff Theatre has moved The Santaland Diaries to a new venue, the Aronoff Center’s Fifth Third Bank Theater. David Sedaris’s sardonic monologue about working as an elf at Macy’s is hilarious (played by Brian Griffin this year), but, again, not for the kids. It’s paired for the first time with Ginna Hoben’s The 12 Dates of Christmas, a new monologue featuring Annie Kalahurka. (Nov. 29-Dec. 8; 513-621-2787, newedgecliff.com)
Several theaters offer shows that are intended to match up with seasonal moods, even if they lack holiday content. That would include the Covedale Center (513-241-6550, cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com), this year staging Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (originally created for television), and Oscar Wilde’s witty classic, The Importance of Being Earnest at Cincinnati Shakespeare (Nov. 29-Dec. 16, 513-381-2273). If you’re seeking good entertainment without all the cheer, the Playhouse’s smaller Shelterhouse stage has Hank Williams: Lost Highway, a compilation of songs by the legendary Country Western singer. It’s not an upbeat tale — Williams drank himself to death at 29 — but a great cast authentically and entertainingly performs his hits. (Through Dec. 30; 513-421-3888)
And while you’re thinking about holiday entertainment, don’t forget that these theaters offer gift certificates and flex-passes that make great holiday gifts for people who love going to the theater. ©
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