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This Way Outta Santaland, Home for Hanukkah With Bubbe, and six more new holiday stage shows

Santa Diaries veteran Mitchell Fain returns with a revue of his own.

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Last week we gave you eight holiday-show reviews; here are eight more—including some for Hanukkah—with still more bounty to come. —Tony Adler

CARIN SILKAITIS
  • Carin Silkaitis

Barney the Elf I think it's a safe bet that the Other Theatre Company's raunchy, adults-only holiday parody revue Barney the Elf got a massive rewrite a couple weeks ago—in fact, I'd venture to pin this down to just after midnight on November 8. Some of the modifications to our traditional take on Kris Kringle and his minions were probably in place to begin with: Santa's elves are, let's be real, slave labor in a freezing facility with no vacations or benefits, and a past iteration of the show contained the rough outline of Barney's expulsion from the polar assembly line for being gay. Nonetheless, as Santa's thin-skinned brat son takes over for him when he dies, supplanting his clearly much more qualified mother, Mrs. Claus, and instituting a set of new optimizations to the factory to slash regulations left and right, we know that, whatever else this year's Barney is, it's gonna be "yuge." —Max Maller

Christmas at Christine's, at Silk Road Rising - CRIMSON CAT STUDIOS
  • Crimson Cat Studios
  • Christmas at Christine's, at Silk Road Rising

Christmas at Christine's This sweet, lighthearted holiday cabaret, written and performed by Christine Bunuan, weaves together holiday songs, some familiar, some not, with Bunuan's recollections of Christmases past. Bunuan has a lovely voice and a winning onstage rapport with her laconic accompanist, Ryan Brewster, and her song selection, though mild, is diverting (a Jewish parody of "Santa Baby," called "Moishe Baby," is one the high points) . But it's her deceptively simple stories about life in theater or visiting her extended family in the Philippines that make this Silk Road Rising show a cut above your average holiday revue. It helps that Bunuan has a very likable, relaxed stage presence and a born raconteur's ability to make even the most mundane tale riveting. —Jack Helbig

The Christmas Schooner - BRETT BEINER
  • Brett Beiner
  • The Christmas Schooner

The Christmas Schooner John Reeger and the late Julie Shannon, creators of this facile, treacly Christmas musical, implant a purportedly rhetorical question at its center: Why would Michigan sea captain Peter Stossel risk his life sailing his schooner laden with Christmas trees 300 miles to Chicago across a stormy November Lake Michigan in 1882 just so that others "can know the joy of Christmas?" Here's my answer. Stossel, singled out in the show as an astute businessman, chops down 2,500 trees without paying for them, then sells them for 50 cents a pop. He and a skeleton crew score $1,250—roughly $30,000 in 2016 dollars—for five weeks of work. Profit is a singular motivator, especially when you can mask it behind Jesus and tradition. Bring the whole family! —Justin Hayford

Goy to the World and a Happy New Year If you grow up Jewish in America, part of your birthright is an endless supply of raw material for sketch comedy: nagging mothers, cantankerous grandfathers, tense holiday dinners, summer camp, Hebrew school, south Florida, awkward bat mitzvah speeches, middle-aged ladies who play mah-jongg, Woody Allen, Seinfeld, matzo. The five-member cast of Goy to the World has dutifully included all of these elements in their hour-long show. And yet, they also manage to render most of it completely unfunny. Part of it is cliched writing and weak punch lines. Part of it is poor timing and an overreliance on bad accents. As cantankerous old zaydes say, Meh. —Aimee Levitt

Home for Hanukkah With Bubbe - COURTESY COMEDYSPORTZ THEATRE
  • Courtesy ComedySportz Theatre
  • Home for Hanukkah With Bubbe

Home for Hanukkah With Bubbe: An Interactive Holidays Experience What fresh mishegoss is this? While I suppose I should be grateful for any acknowledgement of the Jews' little corner of December, I can't help feeling we can do better than this 60-minute hodgepodge. ComedySportz introduces us to Bubbe and Zayde ("grandma" and "grandpa"), who are throwing a Hanukkah party for the loose ends in the family: grandchild Samuel, whose parents went to Acapulco without him; grown son Bradley, who should only find a nice girl; and Uncle Sal, who tells cornball jokes ("Did you hear about the bagel that got attacked on social media? It was a shmear campaign"). The group generates some goodwill (particularly Cynthia Kmak's beatific Zayde), but no interest inasmuch as the gathering turns out to be little more than a context for playing improv games, often tediously. —Tony Adler

[Recommended] This Way Outta Santaland (and Other Xmas Miracles) Mitchell Fain bookends his eight holiday-season run performing the David Sedaris's 1992 comic tour de force "The Santaland Diaries" at Theater Wit with this casual, heartwarming chatback chronicling his experiences over the monologue's lifespan. Alongside musicians Meghan Murphy and Julie B. Nichols, the self-deprecating Fain ribs and reads the audience, pours drinks for his stage partners, and recounts memories from his own family, both nuclear and in spirit. At the center of the story is the complicated but beautiful relationship actors have with their craft. A consummate showman, Fain interweaves prepared bits with freewheeling conversation and keeps any creeping mawkishness at bay with just the right cabaret number. —Dan Jakes

Twelfth Night - COURTESY MIDSOMMER FLIGHT
  • Courtesy Midsommer Flight
  • Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night "Love thoughts lie rich when canopied with bowers," says Duke Orsino, Illyria's resident voluptuary, and few could disagree after taking in Midsommer Flight's Twelfth Night at the Lincoln Park Conservatory, where big-finned palms and gadding vines nod you all the way to your seat. The sumptuous garden atmosphere bleeds into the play, which is well acted and endearingly staged by director Beth Wolf. Nick Loumos is an excellent, princely Orsino; Meredith Ernst is also wonderful as the humble Viola, in disguise as his page boy. As Orsino futilely attempts to woo the countess Olivia (Kanomé Jones), the courtly intrigue offsets the earthy repartee of the play's underclass. Chris Smith sounds all the proto-Falstaffian notes in his fine reading of Toby Belch, while Alex Mauney, who sings beautifully, is a touch oversexed as Feste. —Max Maller

Yuletide Genocide - JERRY A. SCHULMAN
  • Jerry A. Schulman
  • Yuletide Genocide

Yuletide Genocide This questionably named holiday version of Stage 773's biannual one-act festival features ten-minute alternate takes on classic holiday stories from six local theater companies: Stage 773, Indie Boots, New American Folk Theatre, the Right Brain Project, Reutan Collective, and Hobo Junction Productions. Kicking off the evening with the strongest piece is host Stage 773, presenting The Gift of the Magi. After Della comes home with her horrendous haircut, excited to give Jim a chain for his prized pocket watch, we find out that Jim sold off his most prized possession—not his watch, actually his penis—to buy her combs. Indie Boots' Little Women-based same-sex love story is a little too sweet surrounded by generally unimpressive perversity, though Anthony Whitaker is enjoyably dry in New American's It's a Holiday, Charlie Brown. —Marissa Oberlander

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