There are two kinds of holiday shows – the ones appropriate for the whole family, and the ironic sort aimed at grownups. Let’s start with that second category. Longtime NPR listeners know David Sedaris – his radio essay “The Santaland Diaries” launched his career in 1992. That essay became a play, now on the boards at Capital Stage. It stars talented actor Gary Wright
Wright is excellent in this one-man show, and he’s a natural with the Sedaris brand of humor. The bottom line: If you’re looking for something irreverent and sardonic, this production of “The Santaland Diaries” is the way to go.
Over at California Stage, world class soprano Angelina Réaux stars in an evening called “December Songs.” Réaux has a gorgeous voice, and she sings cabaret material with witty, sophisticated lyrics. She even performs in formal dress, pouring cocktails between songs.
The California Stage venue – a converted industrial shed – is a bit funky. But this is a beautifully staged holiday concert. The bottom line? For grownups, “December Songs” is a knockout, but probably not much fun if you’re under 18.
If, on the other hand, kid appeal is what you’re after, consider the Sacramento Theater Company’s perennial holiday favorite, “Cinderella.” It’s done British-style, with tall, deep-voiced actor William Elsman playing the wicked stepmother. When he swishes on stage, wearing a loud tiger-striped dress, the audience reaction is immediate.
In this show, actors speak directly to the audience, and the kids talk back.
“Cinderella” is a large-cast, full-length production, and whether you’re a kid, a parent, or even a jaded theater critic, bottom line, this show is loads of fun.
And finally, there’s another fairy tale on stage over at the B Street Theater. “Pinocchio, the story of the lonely old woodcarver Geppetto who creates a puppet that comes to life.
I loved the give-and-take between big Rick Kleber as Geppetto and perky, diminutive Sara Lorraine Perry. So the bottom line on “Pinocchio”? It’s a compact 75-minute show – good for kids that get squirmy.
That’s the holiday round-up, from candy-canes to bitter sweets. Some shows have extra performances between now and Christmas Day. But they’ll all close by January 3rd at the latest.