From jolly Kris Kringle to the long-suffering George Bailey to a twisted fairy-tale version of “Little Red Riding Hood,” Tacoma area theaters are alive with nostalgia, uplifting stories and toe-tapping music this holiday season.
“Miracle on 34th Street”
The classic story “Miracle on 34th Street” graces the stage at Tacoma Little Theatre. Michael Dresdner dons the traditional red suit and white beard to become the loveable Kris Kringle, the real St. Nick playing Santa at Macy’s in Manhattan. When Macy’s doesn’t have the exact gift kids ask for, jolly and kindhearted Kris sends them to competitor stores that do have them. That does not exactly please the powers that be at Macy’s, who not only try to get rid of him, but want to have him committed to the psychiatric ward at Bellevue Hospital. To prove he’s not crazy, Kris must prove he is the real Santa.
Directed by Maria Valenzuela, “Miracle on 34th Street” features local actors including Nena Curley, Cannon Jones, Abbie Wachter and Mimosa Clyons doubling as Susan Walker, Marion Read, Kerry Bringman in this extravagant and uplifting tale.
Info: Performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 24 (no evening show Dec. 24), $20-$24, pay what you can Dec. 8. 210 N. I St., Tacoma, 253-272-2281, tacomalittletheatre.com.
“It’s a Wonderful Life”
The other great holiday classic coming is “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a stage adaptation of the Frank Capra movie.
Poor George Bailey (Ben Stahl) has been putting off his dreams of travel and adventure year after year. Family obligations and his feelings of civic duty keep him chained down in the idyllic but rather boring small town of Bedford Falls. He’s ready to give up on life when his seemingly incompetent guardian angel, Clarence (Alex Koerger) appears and shows him what a mess Bedford Falls would be if he had never been born.
You know the story. It’s been rerun on TV countless times. It’s been bringing tears of joy since the movie starring Jimmy Stewart first appeared in 1946.
Info: Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, Nov. 25-Dec. 18. $21-$25, pay what you can Dec. 8. 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd., Lakewood, 253-588-0042, lakewoodplayhouse.org.
“Meet Me in St. Louis”
Yet another popular movie from the 1940s that has been successfully adapted for the stage is the musical “Meet Me in St. Louis,” which will be presented by Tacoma Musical Playhouse. Featuring memorable songs such as “The Boy Next Door,” “The Trolley Song,” and a strong candidate for the most popular Christmas tune ever, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” The story is set in the 1904 world’s fair. It is a complex story of love and family drama within the very large Smith family in St. Louis starring Kattie Downing as Rose, Tasha Smith as Esther, and John Kelleher, who was such a delight to watch in the playhouse’s recent performance of “The Addams Family,” as Grandpa Prophater.
Info: Performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays, Nov. 25-Dec. 18. $22-$31. 7116 Sixth Avenue, Tacoma, 253-565-6867, tmp.org.
“Little Red Riding Hood”
Finally, a few miles north in Federal Way, Centerstage Theatre is offering something completely different for the holiday season. It is a British-style Panto version of “Little Red Riding Hood.” These traditional English comedies are twisted versions of popular fairy tales for children and adults with audience participation, outlandish humor (often raunchy bits the adults get but the children don’t), crossdressing actors and rocking music. The Pantos usually end with cast members slinging candy into the audience. Rest assured, this will be unlike any “Little Red Riding Hood” you’ve ever seen.
Check Alec’s blog at alecclayton.blogspot.com for reviews of other area theatrical productions.