Top five picks for must-see holiday productions

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Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere, you know that it’s that time of year again. You know what I’m talking about: cold weather, sparkling lights, trees decked out with ornaments and presents crammed underneath, and awkward gatherings with annoying relatives you only see once a year. Yes, the holidays are upon us and as is the custom the holiday productions have come out of the woodworks in force. Every theatre company in town and out has planned what they are calling the best ever holiday fare and they want you to come and see them—annoying relatives in tow. But, how does one choose from the astonishing array of colorful productions to hit the stage this year? Well, O&AN has made it easy for you. Below are listed what we consider the top five best shows to grace the stage in Music City this year. There is something there for everyone from Mom and Dad to Junior and Sis, and yes—even for crabby in-laws who show up unannounced. Take them all to one—or all—of these shows and you won’t have to increase your medication to deal with the most wonderful time of the year!

Crumpet the Elf returns to Tennessee Rep in David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries

“The Santaland Diaries,” one of Tennessee Repertory Theatre’s most popular recent productions, returns as an irreverent alternative to the seasonal saturation of fake sentimentality, high-stakes commercialism, and perennial Nutcrackers and Christmas Carols. Written by Time magazine’s Humorist of the Year (2001), David Sedaris, and adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello, Santaland plays Nov. 25-Dec. 17, in the Johnson Theater at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, 505 Deaderick St., Nashville.

Performance Schedule

  • Thursdays, Dec. 1, 8 and 15, 2005, 6:30 PM
  • Fridays, Nov. 25, Dec. 2, 9, 16, 2005, 7:30 PM
  • Saturdays, Nov. 26, Dec. 3, 10, 17, 2005, 7:30 PM
  • Saturday Matinees, Dec. 10 and 17, 2005, 2:30 PM (Signed Performance Dec. 10)

Johnson Theater, Tennessee Performing Arts Center

Tickets: $10-$40 (some restrictions apply). Tickets are on sale at the TPAC Box Office, 505 Deaderick St., in Downtown Nashville, at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Green Hills, and all Ticketmaster outlets. Tickets may be ordered by phone: (615) 255-ARTS (2787) or at www.ticketmaster.com.

‘A Tuna Christmas’ returns to TPAC

Season’s Greetings from Tuna, Texas! “A Tuna Christmas,” the hilarious sequel to the hit comedy Greater Tuna, makes its triumphant return to Nashville at TPAC’s Polk Theater for a limited one-week engagement, December 6-11. Spend the holidays once again with all your favorite citizens of Tuna, Texas, where the Lions Club is too liberal and Patsy Cline never dies, and make some new friends while you’re there.
Master comedians Joe Sears and Jaston Williams—with their deft comedic timing, trademark characterizations, and split-second costume changes—bring all 24 citizens of Tuna back to the stage. In “A Tuna Christmas,” it’s 24 hours before Christmas and all comic hell is about to break loose as the delightfully eccentric characters attempt to cope with seasonal traumas, including a disaster prone little theatre production of A Christmas Carol and a yard decorating contest that is being sabotaged by a mysterious Christmas phantom.

(Editor’s note: Be sure to read Daniel’s interview with Jaston Williams on page ?X!?)

Dates: December 6-11, 2005, James K. Polk Theater
Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC), 505 Deaderick Street, Nashville
Times: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday; 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 8:00 p.m. Friday; 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Saturday; 1:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $25-48, available at www.tpac.org, TPAC Box Office (Downtown or at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Green Hills), all Ticketmaster outlets; or by calling Ticketmaster, 615/255-ARTS (2787). Web sites: www.tpac.org; www.ticketmaster.com; www.greatertuna.com

Nashville Stages Presents: ‘A Scattered, Smothered, Covered Christmas’

When Nashville playwright Kaine Riggan sat down to write the script for his new holiday musical comedy, he had the new works of some of Nashville’s top songwriting talents by his side for inspiration.

Randy Travis, T. Graham Brown, Dean Dillon, Helen Darling, Paul Overstreet and over a dozen other notable songwriters have songs in Riggan’s latest work, “A Scattered, Smothered & Covered Christmas,” which runs in December at both The Senior Center for the Arts and Opryland’s Acuff Theatre.

Set in (you guessed it) a Waffle House on Christmas Eve in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the musical follows an unlikely mix of characters as they find themselves “snowed in” for the night.

CMA award winner Helen Cornelius (“I Don’t Want to Have to Marry You”) makes a special appearance as the Grand Ole Opry star Tana Miller. She joins a cast of almost 50 people in telling a story that Cornelius explains only by saying, ”It’s beautifully uplifting… holiday spirit, with a twist.”

Jane Schnelle, the Executive Director for the arts center says, “Telling you more about the plot would ruin the surprise at the end of act one. It’s just as moving as it is funny.”

“A Scattered, Smothered Covered Christmas” opens December 2 as part of SCA’s award winning Shoneys Family Dinner Theatre Series presented by First Tennessee. Shows include dinner and the show for $20. It runs Thursday-Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. with dinner served one hour prior to each performance through December 11. There’s also a special preview performance on December 2 at 1 p.m. for only $15. After that, the show moves to Opryland’s Acuff Theatre for three already sold-out performances December 17 and 18.

Tickets may be purchased online at www.seniorarts.org, in person at the theatre at 108 Donelson Pike or you may charge-by-phone at (615) 883-8375. On-site childcare is also offered at the theatre for only $5 per child (ages 18 months and up) with a paid adult admission. Reservations for the childcare option must be received at least 24 hours in advance.

Nashville Children’s Theatre presents ‘Seusical’

Nashville Children’s Theatre (NCT) will present Tennessee’s professional premiere of “Seussical,” a musical based on a collection of works by Dr. Seuss, Nov. 14 through Jan. 15, 2006, in NCT’s Hill Theatre. The fantastic world of Dr. Seuss is brought to life in this colorful production as the Cat in the Hat guides us through Horton the Elephant’s adventures and mishaps. Along the way you will meet many famous Dr. Seuss characters including Gertrude McFuzz, Lazy Mayzie, and the Who’s from Whoville. Weekend performances are scheduled on Nov. 19 and 26; Dec 3, 4, 10, 17, 21 and 31; and Jan. 7, 8, 14, and 15 at 2:30 p.m. The play will also be performed Monday through Friday at 10 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. for students in Davidson and surrounding counties. All performances are open to the public, and tickets can be reserved in advance. Individual ticket prices are $9 per child (ages 2 to 17), $12 per adult and free for children under two years old. Tickets for weekday school groups of 10 or more are $6.50. Season passes and group discounts are also available. Sign-interpreted performances are scheduled for Sat., Dec. 3, at 2:30 p.m. and Tues., Dec. 6, at 10 a.m. For more information, please visit www.nashvillechildrenstheatre.org.

Nashville Ballet presents ‘The Nutcracker’

This ballet tradition is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season. Nashville Ballet and a youth cast of more than 200 dancers bring to life the tale of Clara and her magical Nutcracker doll. For the third year, surprise guest stars will appear in the lively role of Mother Ginger. Larger-than-life characters, beautiful sets and costumes, bright lights and a bold dragon operated by nine dancers take the audience on a magical adventure. They journey through the Land of Sweets and the Snow Kingdom, with suspenseful battle scenes and engaging dancing along the way. Tchaikovsky’s classic score, performed live by The Nashville Symphony, sets the mood for the ideal holiday evening.

December 9-11 and 16-18, 2005, Jackson Hall at TPAC

Tickets: $25-48, available at www.tpac.org, TPAC Box Office (Downtown or at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Green Hills), all Ticketmaster outlets; or by calling Ticketmaster, 615/255-ARTS (2787). Web sites: www.tpac.org; www.ticketmaster.com.