Arts & Culture

It’s the season for live holiday shows at local theaters. Here’s a rundown.

From left to right: Edsonya Charles as Ann Collier, Miguel Pineda as B.J. Gibson, Bruce Haasl as Clifton Feddington, Xander Layden as Wally Ferguson, and Christie Murphy-Oldright as Ginger Brooks in ’1940s Radio Hour’ at Harlequin Productions.
From left to right: Edsonya Charles as Ann Collier, Miguel Pineda as B.J. Gibson, Bruce Haasl as Clifton Feddington, Xander Layden as Wally Ferguson, and Christie Murphy-Oldright as Ginger Brooks in ’1940s Radio Hour’ at Harlequin Productions. Courtesy

Ready or not, the holidays are coming, and South Sound stages are promising quite a few live shows in celebration of the season.

Here’s a rundown:

‘White Christmas’

Tacoma Musical Playhouse will do Irving Berlin’s classic, “White Christmas,” directed and choreographed by Harry Turpin.

“‘White Christmas’ is such a timeless classic,” Turpin says. “The challenge and opportunity is how to manage audience expectations with what they know and love while looking at the story with a fresh set of eyes.

“I think the audience will be pleased. This is such a wonderful, warm, cozy show, filled with energetic dance numbers, great songs, and of course, THE song — the one that melts our hearts every time. It’s truly been a treat to work on this show.”

Turpin has worked on both local and national levels, with appearances and work seen at the 5th Avenue Theatre, Village Theatre, Seattle Musical Theatre, Tacoma Musical Playhouse and Reboot Theatre Company, where he currently serves as president of the board.

Turpin has performed with the 30th anniversary cast of “Annie” (National Tour/Special Broadway engagement). He is the 2018 Gregory Award’s People’s Choice Winner for Outstanding Director and Outstanding Musical for “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Lead actors in “White Christmas” include Josh Wingerter, Jake Atwood, Kaitlyn Terrill-Rose, Tasha Smith and Gary J. Chambers.

When: Through Dec. 16; shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Where: Tacoma Musical Playhouse, 7116 Sixth Ave.

Tickets: $22 to $31

Information: 253-565-6867, http://www.tmp.org

‘Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

Lakewood Playhouse brings to life the most famous Christmas letter ever written in “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.”

The true story: More than 100 years ago 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun asking if there really was a Santa Claus, and the newspaper’s response became an instant classic.

This production will mark Lakewood Playhouse’s debut of director Aaron Mohs-Hale, who also serves as the theater’s technical director, and it features an all-star roster of local actors of all ages including: Tom Birkeland, Parker Dean, Christine Choate, Kyle Yoder, Audrey LaRoy, Ed Medina and many more.

When: Nov. 23 to Dec. 16, shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with special showings at 8 p.m. Nov. 29 (pay what you can) and Dec. 6 (pay what you can/actor’s benefit)

Where: Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd.

Tickets: $20 to $26

Information: 253-588-0042, https://www.lakewoodplayhouse.org/

‘Scrooge! The Musical’

The ever-popular “Scrooge! The Musical” is Tacoma Little Theatre’s Christmas offering, directed by Micheal O’Hara, musically directed by Zachary Kellogg and choreographed by Eric Clausell.

Get ready for ghosts and the well-known tear-jerking story and great music.

For those who might not know the story by Charles Dickens — as if there can possibly be someone who doesn’t know it — the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge undergoes a profound experience of redemption over the course of a Christmas Eve night after being visited by the ghost of his former partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.

Andrew Fry plays Scrooge, TLT artistic director Chris Serface plays The Ghost of Christmas Present, Evie Merrill is Tiny Tim and Joseph Woodland is Jacob Marley.

When: Through Dec. 30, shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday with added performances Dec. 15, 22, 26, 27

Where: Tacoma Little Theatre, 210 North I St.

Tickets: $22 to $27

Information: 253-272-2281, www.tacomalittletheatre.com

Panto in Federal Way

For the 11th year running, Centerstage in Federal Way is doing a traditional English-style Panto for its Christmas show.

Pantos are fractured fairy tales with raucous rock ‘n roll music, cross-dressing characters and lots of audience participation — all based on popular children’s stories. The characters and costumes appeal to children, as does the throwing of candy into the audience, while the puns and sexual innuendo appeal to adults.

It’s the kind of thing everybody should see at least once if not over and over. This year’s Panto is “Rapunzel.” Guaranteed to have audiences laughing out loud from start to finish.

When: Nov. 30 to Dec. 23, shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Where: Centerstage at Knutzen Family Theatre, 3200 SW Dash Point Road, Federal Way

Tickets: $29 adult, $25 senior and military, $15 student, $12 under age 17

Information: 253-565-6867, http://www.centerstagetheatre.com/

‘Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol’

“Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol” is Olympia Family Theater’s holiday offering.

It is a child-friendly updating of Charles Dickens’ classic tale. Tiny Tim (Zachary Clark) is now 15 years old and Scrooge (John Serembe) is still a greedy old bah humbug.

When Scrooge refuses to give Tim’s father Christmas day off, Tim dreams up a spectacle involving pie sellers and booksellers and puppets and ghosts to scare the old curmudgeon back into the Christmas spirit.

“Who could pass up the opportunity to play Scrooge during the holidays,” Serembe said. “It’s been a joy to work with this cast and director and in this great theater. This is my fifth go-round at the role of Scrooge, but all have been in vastly different versions of the classic.”

Serembe moved to Olympia a few years back after working in film and television in Los Angeles. He was in popular television series including “Cheers” and “Scrubs” and has been in many shows with Harlequin Productions.

OFT founder and artistic director Jen Ryle said of this show, “There will be puppets and carol singing. It should be a festive holiday show, perfect for the whole family.”

When: Through Dec. 23, shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday with one special Thursday performance Dec. 7.

Where: Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave. NE

Tickets: $15 to $20, available at Yenney Music, 2703 Capital Mall Dr.,

Information: 360-570-1638, http://olympialittletheater.org/

‘A Christmas Story’

Easily one of the top three Christmas stories of all time is the eponymous, “A Christmas Story” by the great Jean Shepherd.

It’s the laugh-filled story of little Ralphie Parker, who more than anything wants a Red Ryder air rifle for Christmas. In a clever twist, Olympia Little Theatre offers this adaptation by Philip Grecian updated to the 1970s and presented as a live radio play.

“Hear amazing voices and watch as we create all the classic sound effects right in front of your eyes in the KOLT studio in the Holiday classic. Come see this fabulous twist on the beloved story of a boy, his family, his friends and, of course, the leg lamp,” said director and OLT artistic director Kendra Malm.

When: Through Dec. 23, shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday with one special Thursday performance Dec. 7.

Where: Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave., NE

Tickets: $11 to $15, available at Yenney Music, 2703 Capital Mall Dr.,

Information: 360-570-1638, http://olympialittletheater.org/

‘1940s Radio Hour’

Traditionally Harlequin Productions does a musical review wrapped around the performers and workers at New York’s Stardust nightclub.

The Stardust series started in 1993 and has delighted audiences almost every years sense, first with 1940s music and then moving up to the 1960s. This year they go back to the beginning with a new version of “The 1940s Radio Hour,” the show that started the series.

A (fictional) live radio broadcast is taking place in the Hotel Astor’s Algonquin Room on December 21, 1942. With top songs of the day such as “Strike Up the Band” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”

When: Nov. 29 to Dec. 31, shows Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Where: Harlequin Productions in the State Theatre, 202 4th Ave. E., Olympia

Tickets: $25 to $49

Information: 360-786-0151, http://www.harlequinproductions.org

Check Alec’s blog at alecclayton.blogspot.com for reviews of other area theatrical productions.
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