Holiday season no longer dead zone for Vegas theater

It’s that time, again. It’s the time when my predecessor, Tony Del Valle, would mourn over the plethora of saccharin, poorly adapted versions of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

The reason was not only because few theaters would produce during the holiday rush, but because the royalty houses had little to offer in the way of holiday shows. Some companies took to writing their own productions to fill the gap — typically pretty bad stuff. Having been guilty of that in the past myself, I can say it.

But, all that has changed.

During the past several years it would appear that Santa, helped by the magic of the season only he can provide, has brought us all kinds of wonderful things to see. It’s a gift Tony certainly would have appreciated.

With so much to do during the next few weeks, among whirlwind shopping trips, office parties and friends holding open houses and the like, it’s enough to leave Rudolph gasping for breath. But giving yourself an hour or so to enjoy a respite and see a show could renew your energy, as it helps you forget about crazy drivers, grumpy shoppers and stressed-out employees you’re bound to run into.

Besides visiting Santa Claus at one of the malls, there’s plenty of family fare; things you can willingly, or unwillingly, have your kids drag you to. Las Vegas Little Theatre again turns the December production over to the student workshop director Emily Fagan Baker (elves most likely assisted) for “A Christmas Story,” based on the popular movie.

Faith Conservatory brings the luscious sounds of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” based on the popular MGM musical film from the 1950s, which itself was loosely based on the 1942 film “Holiday Inn,” both starring Bing “Der Bingle” Crosby.

After closing down because of a lack of space several years ago, Theatre in the Valley makes a spectacular return with a production of “The Magic Toy Box” in its new venue at 10 W. Pacific Ave. in Henderson.

Should you not have children to be concerned about, or you do and wish to escape and leave them with a babysitter for some adult fun, have no fear. The Midnight Fomato Society is again producing the critical sensation “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians,” with previous cast members reprising their roles to ensure it’s as fun and zany as ever.

Or, you can choose Poor Richard’s Players’ “A Dick Johnson Christmas Carol.” If it’s anything like the two Best of Fringe-winning productions of “Dick Johnson, Private Eye,” you’re guaranteed a good time.

For truly irreverent fun, try Table 8’s production of “A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant,” which brings the controversial church’s teachings to life and is definitely not for children.

Whatever your choice in holiday entertainment, local theaters can provide it. Show them your holiday spirit. Go and enjoy. And then spread some holiday cheer.

Have a safe, happy holiday season and I hope to see you at the theater!

(For show dates, times and venues, check individual websites, or the calendar in Friday’s Neon section.)

Paul Atreides is one of the theater critics at the Las Vegas Review-Journal. His Offstage column appears on the first Thursday of the month.

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