THEATER | Five Nativities, seven Christmas Carols, six Nutcrackers, and more: Your complete guide to holiday theater 2010


This is our guide to holiday theater in 2010. For our 2012 Twin Cities holiday theater guide, click here.

For a lot of theatergoers, the holidays are the most boring time of year—companies roll out the roasty old chestnuts that will fill the seats with nostalgia-soaked (and eggnog-soaked) people who are more concerned with whether their granddaughter is behaving herself and keeping her crushed velvet dress clean than with anything actually happening on stage. 

But I happen to love the holidays—I can thank, or blame, my mom for that—and I find it interesting to see how companies try, year after year, to work new variations on the same old themes. Some of them, wonder of wonders, even come up with new themes! Thus, I here present the Daily Planet’s second annual guide to holiday theater, a comprehensive roundup of what’s on stage this season with links to our previously-published reviews.

Like last year, this guide is sorted into six categories: Nativities, Christmas Carols, Nutcrackers, Santa/elf shows, “Christmas episodes” in series, other holiday shows, and notable December shows without holiday themes. This list reflects shows that have been announced to date. If you know of a show that should be in this guide, please let me know:

Black Nativity

Nativity pageants

La Befana, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre
Avalon Theater, Minneapolis
In the Heart of the Beast’s Latina-flavored take on the Nativity pageant follows an old woman in search of little baby Jesús. Last year the Daily Planet’s Sheila Regan called HOTB’s La Natividad “a beautiful piece of theater that combines faith, storytelling, community building, spirituality, and a political message.” This year, Leslie Kruempel says that La Befana “is captivating from the very start, for both the younger and older members of the audience.” Which Grinch might it convert? A Grinch who needs to be shown that a big heart is more important than a big budget. (December 3-30;

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!, SteppingStone Theatre
SteppingStone Theatre, St. Paul
Each year, the young performers at SteppingStone put on The Best Christmas Pageant Ever! Is it the best Christmas pageant ever? “If you haven’t been to a school pageant yet this year,” wrote my mom in 2008, “consider going to see this show.” Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who’s wistful for those endearingly awkward school pageants. (December 3-23;

Black Nativity: Now’s the Time, Penumbra Theatre
Penumbra Theatre, St. Paul
Penumbra’s beloved holiday tradition is rebooted with a new production featuring TU Dance. Daily Planet critic Sheila Regan called last year’s Black Nativity “a joyful celebration with some great music and wonderful performances.” The same is true of this year’s show, writes reviewer Leslie Kruempel. Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who needs to be reminded of the reasons for the season—faith and community. (November 26-December 26;

The Holiday Pageant, Open Eye Figure Theatre
Open Eye Theatre, Minneapolis
After growing from a living room show to a big spectacle at the Pantages, last year Open Eye’s holiday pageant came back home to the company’s cozy storefront theater. In my review of that production, I called it “one of the most fascinating and disturbing holiday shows in town…and yet the production is fundamentally joyful.” Reviewing this year’s production, Lea Sorrentino recommends that you go—as long as you know what you’re getting yourself (and, if applicable, your kids) into. Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch with a decidedly irreverent attitude towards the Christmas Story. (December 3-23;

Mary Loves Joseph, Pick a Line Productions
Mixed Blood Theatre, Minneapolis
The debut production from this new company promises to tell the Christmas Story “through sketch and song.” The show, written by Shanan Custer, features Custer, Zach Curtis, Paul Reyburn, and Eric Webster. Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who wants to watch an irreverent take on the Nativity without having to dodge Michael Sommers’s spit. (December 9-23;

Golden Girls

Christmas Carols

A Christmas Carol, Burnsville Civic Light Opera
Burnsville Performing Arts Center, Burnsville
Local talent takes the stage with sets created for a 2008 L.A. production starring John Goodman and Christopher Lloyd, featuring recorded narration by the late Sir John Gielgud. Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who hasn’t enjoyed a single Christmas since Gielgud went off to join the ghosts in 2000. (December 10-12;

A Christmas Carol, Guthrie Theater
Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis
It’s become a holiday tradition for my family to see whether this will be the year that my mom finally gets her wish and sees a Guthrie Christmas Carol where the Fezziwigs’ turkey doesn’t jump off the table and run around the room. We thought last year’s abbreviated production (read my Daily Planet review here) might be the one, but…nope! There went the turkey, doing laps around the Wurtele Thrust. This year the company is staging a completely new production, with a new script by Crispin Whittell and direction by Joe Dowling. Will the turkey trot? Update: No, it does not—but overall, the new production is not an improvement. Which Grinch might it convert? The many people—I don’t know who you are, or how numerous you are, but I know you’re out there—who were getting bored with the Guthrie’s previous production. (November 19-December 30;

A Christmas Carol: The Golden Girls Remix, Theatre Arlo
Bryant-Lake Bowl, Minneapolis
After a successful debut run last year, the beloved TV icons return to the BLB. “Even if you’re not the least bit amused by the premise of setting A Christmas Carol in the Golden Girls’ Florida home,” I wrote last year, “you’ll likely still be amused by the result. And if the notion does tickle your fancy, you should definitely go; the only way you’ll be disappointed is if the show sells out and you can’t get in.” Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who thinks that all BLB shows are sloppy and unprofessional. Wait until he or she sees the custom-made opening credits. (November 29-December 15;

A Christmas Carol: Unscripted & Uncensored, ComedySportz Twin Cities
ComedySportz Twin Cities, Minneapolis
I don’t really want to think about what might have been “censored” from Dickens’s story. Scrooge’s nightgown flying up in the wind? Martha Cratchit’s unplanned pregnancy? The Ghost of Christmas Present farting? No doubt all those bases will be touched this holiday season in Calhoun Square. Which Grinch might it convert? The one who inevitably falls asleep during the Guthrie’s Christmas Carol. (November 19-December 30;

Comedy Roast of Mr. Scrooge, Actors Theatre of Minnesota
Camp Bar, St. Paul
Letting the ol’ crab have it are local comedians including Josh Carson, EJ Subkoviak, Tera Avenell, Adam Fielitz, Matthew Glover, and Chris Knutson. What, no Gilbert Gottfried? Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who will go downtown for Jerry Seinfeld, but not Joe Dowling. In fact, the Actors Theatre website fires right across the bow: “This ain’t the Guthrie’s Christmas Carol!” (December 5-22;

Fezziwig’s Feast, Actors Theatre of Minnesota
Harriet Island, St. Paul
This production addresses the most painful aspect of all other Christmas Carols: audience members don’t get to eat any of the Fezziwigs’ elaborate smorgasbord. The food is nothing special, as I note in my review, but Richard Ooms makes a wonderfully satisfying Scrooge. Which Grinch might it convert? The ones whose least favorite thing about theater is that, unlike TV or movies, you don’t get to eat during it. (December 2-19;

A Klingon Christmas Carol, Commedia Beauregard
Landmark Center, St. Paul
Well, here’s another mark of distinction for the Twin Cities: Commedia Beauregard has discerned that they are the only company in the world to produce a full-length play in Klingon every year. It’s a lot of fun for hard-core Trekkers, writes Bev Wolfe—for the rest of you, maybe not so much. Which Grinch might it convert? Not the Vulcans, that’s for sure. (November 26-December 12;

Ballet Minnesota


The Classic Nutcracker, Ballet Minnesota
The O’Shaughnessy, St. Paul
I reviewed this production in 2008, and wrote, “Ballet Minnesota bills its holiday production as The Classic Nutcracker, and the title doesn’t lie—even if ‘classic’ is used in the sense of a Realtor describing a ‘classic split-level.’ You get your party scene, you get your cute mice (or, in this production, ‘cheese friends’), you get your showdown with the Rat King, you get your divertissements, you get your pas de flippin’ deux, and everyone goes home feeling warm and fuzzy.” Which Grinch might it convert? The porch-sitting grassroots Grinch who’s sick of going downtown for the big flashy spectacles. (December 17-19;

Loyce Houlton’s Nutcracker Fantasy, Minnesota Dance Theatre
State Theatre, Minneapolis
Among locally-produced professional Nutcrackers, this is the one to beat: a big show choreographed by Houlton. It’s a holiday tradition for hundreds of Minnesota families, and my aunt Betsy now understands why. Which Grinch might it convert? The local-centric Grinch who gripes that the Hennepin theaters only host shows from out of town. (December 17-19;

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker, Moscow Ballet
State Theatre, Minneapolis
The Moscow Ballet seems to be quite the international organization these days; last year I traded a number of e-mails with an office in Connecticut that seemed confused about my request for review tickets, and I just received a press release about this year’s American tour of the Great Russian Nutcracker, divided into East and West legs. We’re “West,” along with “Butte, MN.” Update: The tour found Minneapolis all right, and Aunt Betsy was pretty blown away by the amazing spectacle. Which Grinch might it convert? The Russian Grinch who complains that the ballet—which debuted in St. Petersburg in 1892—has become too Westernized. (December 3-4;

Nutbuster!!, Third Rabbit Dance Ensemble
Bryant-Lake Bowl, Minneapolis
“Ensemble” is kind of a generous term for what you see here, which is a solo piece unless you count the blow-up doll that stands in for the Sugar Plum Fairy. In John Munger’s take on Tchaikovsky’s ballet, the Nutcracker story unfolds as a booze-fueled vision in the head of a lonely, sick old man. Intense? Yes—among holiday-themed shows, this is as bracing as it gets. In my review last year, I wrote, “nothing else I’ve seen in town shreds, burns, and pisses on the smoldering ashes of the envelope like John Munger’s Nutbuster!!Which Grinch might it convert? The fan of modern dance who wants to see something a little more challenging than Mother Goose stories. (December 8-22;

The Nutcracker, Twin Cities Ballet of Minnesota
Burnsville Performing Arts Center, Burnsville
This straightforward production puts no special spin on its Nutcracker except to call itself, with pride, “the first and only south of the Minnesota River.” With a November 19 opening, it’s also the first Nutcracker out of the gate. Which Grinch might it convert? The Houlton hater. Is there such a thing? (November 19-21;

The Nutcracker According to Mother Goose, Zenon Dance Company
Southern Theater, Minneapolis
Zenon Dance Company, the Twin Cities’ leading creators of contemporary dance, roll out their annual holiday production—pint-sized, and featuring more inventive dance than you might expect in the average kiddie show. “The dancing will please children who love dance,” writes Kate Gallagher in her Daily Planet review, “and woo those who have never seen a dance show.” Which Grinch might it convert? The cultural-capital Grinch who wants to see a show where “appropriate for children” isn’t synonymous with “boring.” (December 16-19;

Church Basement Ladies

“Christmas episodes” in series

Adult Swim presents Tim & Eric Awesome Tour, Great Job! Chrimbus Spectacular 2010, Adult Swim (Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! series)
State Theatre, Minneapolis
The show might be over by the time you finish reading its name on your ticket. Wielding irony like a bludgeon, lo-fi sketch comedians Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim have their way with the holidays. A “review”? Yes, I wrote a “review.” Which Grinch might it convert? The young Grinch who’s flopped on her bed watching Hulu while her mom is yelling at her to get ready to go to the theeee-a-turd. (November 17;

Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas, Plymouth Playhouse (Church Basement Ladies series)
Plymouth Playhouse, Plymouth
For those who don’t get enough church basement ladies during the rest of the year—onstage and in actual church basements—Plymouth Playhouse revives this show. “If you are looking for some feel-good entertainment that will leave you smiling,” wrote my mom in her Daily Planet review of last year’s production, “this is the show for you.” Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who doesn’t like his or her holiday entertainment to have a lot of city-slicker pretensions. (November 4-January 16;

A Don’t Hug Me Christmas Carol, Hennepin Theatre Trust (Don’t Hug Me series)
Hennepin Stages, Minneapolis
For Minnesotans who like to laugh at stereotypes of Minnesotans. “Regardless of how you perceive Christmas or Minnesota,” wrote my aunt Betsy in her Daily Planet review last year, “A Don’t Hug Me Christmas Carol offers a buffet of funny and endearing experiences any of us can pick from and feel right at home.” Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who wishes that Christmas shows had more bawdy puns and ice-fishing jokes. (November 26-January 2;

The Harty Boys Save Christmas, Comedy Suitcase (Harty Boys series)
Bryant-Lake Bowl, Minneapolis
“This time, it’s seasonal,” reads the tag line for this new sequel to the 2009 Fringe hit The Harty Boys and the Case of the Limping Platypus. In her Daily Planet review of that production, Bev Wolfe called it “a delightfully silly show.” You might not guess it from the venue, but the Harty Boys shows are what you might call “family-friendly.” Actually, you would. Go ahead, bring the kids. (Or don’t. I don’t know. Maybe. Read my review.) Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who wishes kids still read crap published by Edward Stratemeyer instead of crap published by Hipster Runoff. (November 27-December 19;

Santaland Diaries

Santa/Elf shows

Dragmanity: Deck the Walls with Santa’s Balls! The Un-Holiday Show!, Esme Rodriguez
Bryant-Lake Bowl, Minneapolis
“Come poison the Christmas cookies! Watch the Clauses in divorce court! See Elves under the influence!” Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who is ready for a show that makes reference to Santa’s genitalia. (December 18;

Going Postal…Letters to Santa, Janelle Ranek
Bryant-Lake Bowl, Minneapolis
Janelle Ranek is “locked and loaded” with a raft of characters for this show, for which it’s probably not only appropriate but mandatory to drag out the overused word “quirky.” Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who thinks we need more shows named after 1993 slang expressions. (December 2-30;

The Night Before Christmas II—A Musical Fantasy, Sounds of Blackness
Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis
The Sounds of Blackness promise “a contemporary adaptation of the beloved poem ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas'”—and if the promotional images are to be believed, the fact that they’re a gospel choir isn’t stopping them from casting leggy ladies as reindeer. My mom enjoyed the show, especially the dancing chitlins. Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who’s been glum waiting for Tina Turner to stage her next comeback. (December 13;

Present Project 2010: Letters to Santa, Upright Egg Theatre Company
Carleton Artist Lofts, St. Paul
“Letters to Santa” is a familiar trope; Upright Egg’s spin is to place it in a party setting. Plus, the show is a fundraiser for Sharing and Caring Hands. Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who thinks that entertainment espousing the holiday spirit should follow the old stage maxim, “Don’t tell me, show me.” (December 17-19;

The Santaland Diaries, Frank Theatre
Hennepin Stages, Minneapolis
David Sedaris’s memoir of his days as an elf at Macy’s seems to have attained holiday chestnut status, with this new downtown production joining the Uptown production at the BLB. My aunt Betsy lauds Joe Leary’s solo performance. Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who wants to laugh at department stores, but also wants to shop there. (November 26-December 31;

The Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris, Theatre Limina
Bryant-Lake Bowl, Minneapolis
There may be a flashy new version up on Hennepin, but this is the “original” Twin Cities adaptation of The Santaland Diaries. For the most part it’s an enjoyable show, but it’s dragged down by insufferable original songs. (Second opinion: In her review of this year’s production, my aunt Betsy liked the songs—and the rest of the show.) Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who thinks that Jesus would choose to patronize the show in the back of a bowling alley. (November 28-December 16;

Miss Richfield 1981

Other holiday shows

Bingo Bonanza for the Holidays, Illusion Theater
Illusion Theater, Minneapolis
Here she is again, folks: Miss Richfield 1981, the drop-down, drag-out (hint, hint) winner of that fateful pageant nearly 30 years ago now. The last time we covered one of her shows, in 2008, Dwight Hobbes became offended and walked out on her. Will she be as politically incorrect this year? Well, her show title this year (unlike last) doesn’t reference Asians, Jews, or “homos,” so… Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who wants to see all the holidays skewered—every last one of ’em. (December 3-19;

Brett Favre’s Christmas Spectacular II: The Second Coming, Brave New Workshop
Brave New Workshop, Minneapolis
After meeting success with last year’s Favre-themed Christmas show, the BNW sends the poor bloke back up the flagpole. Heh, heh. Flagpole. Heh, heh. Kate Gallagher loved this show, calling it “face-hurts-you’re-laughing-so-hard funny.” Which Grinch might it convert? In her Daily Planet review of last year’s show, Rebecca Collins wrote that even “a Midwestern man can no longer hold his reserve” at the BNW. (November 12-January 29;

The Christmas Schooner, History Theatre
History Theatre, St. Paul
It sounds like the name of a drink, but it refers to an actual boat piloted by “a German-American shipping captain and his crew who braved the icy waters of Lake Michigan to bring Tannenbäume (Christmas trees) to the immigrant families of Chicago.” Bev Wolfe calls the show “an entertaining and endearing family show that avoids undue sentimentality, [but] is not without its flaws.” Which Grinch might it convert? The kind who has a soft spot for “heartfelt storytelling with wonderful music.” (November 20-December 19;

A Christmas Story, Children’s Theatre Company
Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis
“Really?!” said my mom when I told her that CTC was going to stage A Christmas Story. “The one with the leg lamp?!” Yes, and the f-word: “Fudge!” I enjoyed the show, writing that “for children, the CTC production of A Christmas Story is a better introduction to this material than the movie is.” Which Grinch might it convert? The nostalgic Grinch who thinks Christmas was better back when Kindle was something you burned and 3G was just a move in Battleship. (November 16-December 31;

A Christmas Story, Mounds Theatre
Mounds Theatre, St. Paul
The Children’s Theatre is getting in on the Christmas Story act this year, but the Mounds Theatre has been at it since 2004. Which Grinch might it convert? The anti-CTC Grinch. I don’t mean me, I swear it! (December 3-19;

The Enchanted Toy Shop, St. Paul City Ballet
E.M. Pearson Theater (Concordia University), St. Paul
Once again this year, the SPCB presents the other white meat: the Christmas ballet that’s not The Nutcracker. It’s “a fairly well-enchanted evening,” says Aunt Betsy. Which Grinch might it convert? The one who chokes on Sugar Plum Fairies. (December 17-19;

An “Eventually” Christmas: Holidays at the Mill, Mill City Museum
Mill City Museum, Minneapolis
The museum’s exhibit-in-an-elevator becomes a theater for this play, written by Joseph Scrimshaw, portraying life at the mill back when business was booming and the holiday party was the event of the year. “While I won’t recommend you make a special effort to see the show for its theatrical merits,” I wrote last year, “history buffs will have (so to speak) a blast, and fans of Scrimshaw’s brand of brainy but accessible humor will also enjoy taking a trip up the tower.” Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who’d rather bury his nose in a copy of Smithsonian than go out in the cold. (December 11-19;

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company
Hillcrest Recreation Center, St. Paul
There’s no more arguing: the Iveys matter. The 2009 Ivey Award to puppeteer Chris Griffith has certainly mattered for this production, which now enters its third consecutive year. Reviewing the show last year for the Daily Planet, though, Rebecca Collins was unimpressed. “Sometimes even the greatest acting talent can’t overcome a mediocre script.” Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who thinks that having at least one Hanukkah show, for Pete’s sake, is not too much to ask of this diverse community. (December 7-17;

Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, Stages Theatre Company
Stages Theatre Company, Hopkins
Junie B. Jones, the young star of Barbara Park’s mildly controversial book series for children (Junie’s grammar is authentically incorrect rather than didactically precise), is now a franchise—and every franchise needs a Christmas special! Tammy Rose reports a one-word review from her young theatergoing companion: “Wow!” Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who wishes there was a The Best Christmas Pageant Ever that’s not The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. (November 19-December 27;

A Life of Serious Nonsense: Holiday Edition, Theatre of Fools
Jewel Theatre, St. Paul
Rosie Cole and Lloyd Brant use tricks and clowning to tell “a story about the survival of love through time.” Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who doesn’t hate clowns. Does such a person even exist? (December 16-19;

The Match Girl’s Gift: A Christmas Story, Minnesota Centennial Showboat
Minnesota Centennial Showboat, St. Paul
My mom was just asking whether there would be a production of The Little Match Girl this Christmas—she remembers watching a production as a child and being horrified when the gilr’s last match went out and the play ended. This production looks to be a little more rollicking and upbeat: “Featuring live seasonal music and traditional Showboat melodrama, The Match Girl’s Gift: A Christmas Story is a holiday treat the whole family will enjoy!” Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who wishes there were more “holiday treats the whole family will enjoy.” (November 26-January 2;

Miracle on Christmas Lake, Yellow Tree Theatre
Yellow Tree Theatre, Osseo
Whether or not you love the play itself (here’s Bev Wolfe’s review of this year’s production), you have to appreciate the fact that Yellow Tree founders Jason and Jessica Lind are in fact living a Christmas miracle up there in Osseo, marking their third year staging this play that they had to compose hurriedly when the rights to their planned holiday show fell through. Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who thinks that all that Christmas-dreams-coming-true stuff is baloney. Here’s proof that it isn’t. Well, not always. (November 26-January 2;

O Little Town of Chanhassen, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, Chanhassen
This premiere revue features “your favorite classic holiday tunes with a fresh twist.” On the rocks, please. Which Grinch might it convert? That remains to be seen. (November 19-December 30;

The Star Wars Holiday Special, Minnesota Film and TV Board
Bryant-Lake Bowl, Minneapolis
This annual benefit screening for MNFilmTV has become so popular that this year it’s expanding from one to three shows—which is odd, because this is the most genuinely tortuous things I have ever seen on film. You really have to see it to believe it. And to clarify, for the non-initiates: This is not a joke. There was actually a Star Wars holiday special broadcast in 1978, starring all the major actors from the movie. It was broadcast exactly once. Which Grinch might it convert? The masochistic geek. (November 17;

Super-Powered Revenge Christmas #1, Joking Envelope
Minneapolis Theatre Garage, Minneapolis
Joking Envelope gives Fat Man Crying a rest this year, instead offering this premiere by Bill Corbett of MST3K fame, in which Christmas is reimagined with superheroes. The show features what may be the dream cast of the season: Emily Gunyou Halaas, Joseph Scrimshaw, Mo Perry, Matt Erkel, and John Middleton. Will you enjoy it? Well, how excited are you about seeing a horny man-deer make suggestive remarks about a curvaceous goddess of winter? (See my review here.) Which Grinch might it convert? Nerds who have already seen A Klingon Christmas Carol like, a billion times. (December 2-18;

Tales from the Charred Underbelly of the Yule Log, Kevin Kling
Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis
Master storyteller Kling makes his annual stop at Big Blue with this bag o’ holiday…eh, you get the idea. “Beyond entertaining me,” says Leslie Kruempel in her Daily Planet review, “this show made me thoroughly proud to be a Minnesotan.” Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who’s a member of MPR. (December 6;

A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail, Youth Performance Company
Howard Conn Fine Arts Center, Minneapolis
Eeyore’s lost his tail again—but it’s Christmas, so by definition everything’s going to turn out all right. Which Grinch might it convert? The Milniac Grinch for whom any season without Pooh is a sad season indeed. (December 2-19;

British Television Advertising Award Winners

December shows that, believe it or not, have nothing to do with the holidays

2 Pianos 4 Hands, Park Square Theatre
Park Square Theatre, St. Paul
Dueling pianos aren’t just for the Shout House any more—they’re for holiday season fun! Really? Yes, for fun and drama. The show is entertaining and satisfying, says Betsy Lofgren in her Daily Planet review. Which Grinch might it convert? The one who misses Victor Borge. (December 7-January 2;

The 39 Steps, Guthrie Theater
Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis
The Jungle Theater’s Joel Sass directs this adaptation of the classic Hitchcock film, with a cast of just four: Robert O. Berdahl, Sarah Agnew, Jim Lichtscheidl, and Luverne Seifert. In my review, I wrote that the farcical production has “an appealingly loose feel” but “steadily loses momentum.” Which Grinch might it convert? The AMC Grinch. (October 30-December 19;

All Shook Up, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, Chanhassen
The Elvis jukebox musical continues through the holidays in the Chanhassen’s Main Dinner Theatre. In her Daily Planet review, Betsy Lofgren wrote that “musical fans of all ages, whether or not they’re familiar with Elvis’s music, will find All Shook Up appealing, but it will really hit a sweet spot for those who love his music.” Which Grinch might it convert? Your grandma whose hips haven’t been stirred since 1956. (through January 29;

Billy Elliot: The Musical, Billy Broadway
Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis
Judging by the number of people who have already asked if they can be my plus-one when I review this show, and by the fact that top tickets go for $133.50, taking your sweetie to the 2009 Tony winner for Best Musical is going to be one of the most surefire ways to impress her—or him. Read my very positive review here. Which Grinch might it convert? The Anglophile Grinch of what Corky St. Clair would call “the Cockney persuasion.” (December 16-January 9;

Born Yesterday, Theatre in the Round Players
Theatre in the Round, Minneapolis
TRP escapes the holidays with a light, classic comedy about showgirls, newspapers, and politics in Our Nation’s Capital. “If you share my dislike for holiday classics but do want to see a show,” writes Kate Gallagher, “spend an evening this holiday season at Theatre in the Round.” Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who’s cynical about newspapers and politics, but idealistic about showgirls. (November 19-December 12;

British Television Advertising Awards, Walker Art Center
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
How can you not love this show? The Walker’s annual showcase of the most inventive U.K. TV ads is one of the most infallibly entertaining events of the year, bar none. The screenings do sell out, and quickly—so don’t wait until St. Nick’s Day to buy your tickets. This year’s crop are darker than usual, but well worth seeing as long as you brace yourself for some intense moments. Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who loves the season’s commercialism and doesn’t need to see some puppet preaching away…unless it’s a sock puppet selling PG Tips. (December 3-January 2;

Cinderfella, Ballet of the Dolls
Ritz Theater, Minneapolis
As they are wont to do, Ballet of the Dolls—taking a break from their perennial favorite Nutcracker (Not So) Suite—presents a darkly humorous take on a classic story. This time, they’re setting Cinderella in Beverly Hills circa 1960. My aunt Betsy loved it. Which Grinch might it convert? The one who attended Cinderella at the Children’s Theatre last year and thought, if you’re going to do drag, honey, own it. (December 4-26;

Fully Committed, Jungle Theater
Jungle Theater, Minneapolis
The Jungle’s December show last year—The Seafarer—was one of my favorite productions of the year. This year, the Jungle eschews a holiday theme in favor of this one-man showcase for Jeune Lune alumnus Nathan Keepers, returning to local glory from his new home in New York City. Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who’s been blue during these past years of Keepers-free stages. (November 5-December 19;

I Do! I Do!, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, Chanhassen
The Chanhassen continues its revival of the show that, in its original run at the theater, set the world record for longest-running musical with its original cast. (The two cast members eventually married each other.) “The current production is well staged and acted and may well be to your liking,” wrote Daily Planet reviewer Betsy Lofgren, “though it fell somewhat flat with my companion and me.” Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch looking for some validation in his or her belief that marriage is hard, damn it! (indefinite run;

Jeeves in Bloom, Old Log Theater
Old Log Theater, Excelsior
Oh, Jeeves. Oh, Wooster. Yep. Daily Planet reviewer Betsy Lofgren was disappointed with this show: “Jeeves in Bloom has some of the elements of a successful farce, but inconsistency in style and energy prevent it from being the breezy romp that we hoped to enjoy.” Which Grinch might it convert? The droll, Anglophile Grinch. (Through February 5;

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, St. Paul
The diminutive Andrew Lloyd Webber is no elf (my friend Megan refers to him as “the gnome”), but he’s as good as Santa for the hordes who shall wildly flock to this lavish production, with American Idol finalist Anthony Fedorov in the title role. Fedorov’s singing is better than his acting, says my mom (a veteran of a dozen Josephs) in her Daily Planet review, “but since this is such a campy production the questionable acting fits right in.” Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who prefers TV to theater. (December 7-January 2;

Pinocchio-chan, Green T Productions
Minneapolis Theatre Garage, Minneapolis
After spring runs at the Old Gem Theater (New Richmond, Wisconsin) and Mixed Blood, Pinocchio-chan makes a holiday stop at the Theatre Garage. “At two acts,” I wrote in my review of the Old Gem staging, “the show gets a little long, but it’s well-calibrated to its young target audience, and the performers have the charisma to hold the kids’ attention.” Which Grinch might it convert? The cosmpolitan Grinch who likes to see cultural cross-pollination. (December 4-18;

Puss in Boots, Old Log Theater
Old Log Theater, Excelsior
The Old Log annually presents fairy-tale adaptations for holiday children’s shows. This year, it’s the Puss. Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who likes things kept nice and simple. You know—for kids! (November 9-December 30;

The Winter Adventures of Happy, the SAD Clown, Savage Umbrella
Bryant-Lake Bowl, Minneapolis
This new show by Eric Avery “uses clown to explore contemporary issues.” Which Grinch might it convert? The Grinch who has on at least one previous occasion used the noun “clown” to describe something other than a single clown. (December 20-29;