Adam Goldstein

Season’s Stage Greetings: A Guide to the Best Holiday Shows

It’s coming. Christmas is two weeks away, and stages across the metro area are celebrating with a wide range of shows. From British farces to musical versions of classics, theater companies are ringing in the season. Time is running out for many of these shows, so we’ve assembled a guide to some of the best local holiday picks. In a mix that includes Charles Dickens, Santa Claus and Irving Berlin, there are enough stocking stuffers for theatergoers of all stripes.

“A Christmas Carol,” through Dec. 16 at the Aurora Fox theater, 9900 E. Colfax Ave. Tickets start at $26. Information: 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org. Details: The theater’s main stage production of Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol” takes its cues straight from the original story, focusing largely on the ghost story that underlies the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge. Highlights: Directors Charles Packard and Robert Michael Sanders show a loving fidelity to the original Dickens text in his direction, and Gregory Price shines as Ebenezer Scrooge. The show also includes some genuinely spooky moments, thanks to touches by lighting designer Jen Orf and projection and sound manager El Armstrong

“Wooden Snowflakes,” through Jan. 6 at the Aurora Fox theater, 9900 E. Colfax Ave. Tickets start at $26. Information: 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org. Details: The regional premiere of Catherine Bush’s “Wooden Snowflakes,” running in the Fox studio theater until January, takes more modern cues for its holiday spirit. The romantic comedy follows two characters who have dramatically different doses of holiday spirit. Highlights: David Bluenstock and Patricia Wells deliver some moving chemistry over the course of the romantic comedy. The actors carry the weight here, and their performance makes up for some uneven moments in the script.

“White Christmas,” through Dec. 24 at the Buell Theatre, 1101 13th St., Denver. Tickets start at $35. Information: 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org. Details: Taking its cues from 1954 film of the same name, “White Christmas” follows the efforts of two World War II vets years after the battles have ended. A former commanding officer is in danger of losing his business in Vermont, and the duo join a pair of sisters/singers in an effort to raise money to keep the place running. The chances seem slim, largely because a lack of snow is keeping the tourists away. Highlights: Director Kent Thompson shows his uncanny ability to juggle sentimentality and comedy in the Denver Center Theatre Company’s production. Along with a sterling principal cast (Tom Galantich, Nicolas Dromard, Amy Bodnar and Kate Marilley shine in the lead roles), the show benefits from vintage Broadway dance numbers and a recognizable score.

“When We Are Married,” through Dec. 16, the Stage Theatre, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, 1101 13th St., Denver. Tickets start at $36. Information: 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org. Details: What would you do if you discovered on your 25th wedding anniversary that you weren’t legally married? British playwright J.B. Priestley takes this basic premise and intensifies it for “When We Are Married,” a comedy that poses that situation for three couples. The play follows as all six spouses struggle to figure out how to protect their reputations and resolve their newly unmarried status. Highlights: It may not be a straight holiday show, but there’s enough moving moments here to stress basic themes about love, family and devotion. The cast, made up of Denver Center Theatre Company heavyweights like John Hutton, Sam Gregory, Kathleen Brady and Kathleen McCall, gives this British farce its momentum and its laughs. That’s no small feat, considering all of the dialogue is delivered in the thick accent of Yorkshire. The heart and the laughs of the Priestley’s text remains intact despite the foreign notes, and the show is an ideal alternative to the run-of-the mill holiday fare.

“The Man Who Came to Dinner,” through Dec. 22, the John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. 1st Place, Lowry. Tickets start at $20. Information: thisisspotlight.org. Details: The classic comedy follows the hijinks when egotistical radio personality Sheridan Whiteside visits a small provincial town in Ohio. The arrogant critic agrees to have dinner at the house of matron Daisy Stanley, wife of a local conservative businessman, and he’s waylaid much longer than anticipated after an injury on the couple’s front doorstep. The comedy explodes from there, with a cast of archetypes pulled straight from the golden age of Hollywood. Highlights: Directors Bernie Cardell and Pat Payne find the humor and spirit in George Kaufman and Moss Hart’s comedy from the 1930s, making even the most dated references feel immediate. That success comes largely from a skilled cast. Indeed some of the smaller roles help propel this show – Todd Black is compelling as Professor Metz, Charles Wingerter is a scene stealer as Beverly Carlton and Luke Terry is downright hilarious as Banjo. Like “Married,” this show offers an ideal alternative to the familiar holiday fare.

“Miracle on 34th Street,” through Dec. 23, the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada. Tickets start at $36. Information: 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org. Details: Nothing says Christmas quite like “Miracle on 34th Street.” The musical, based on the iconic 1947 film directed by George Seaton, asks questions about the true definition of sanity and the real meaning of the Christmas holiday. When a man named Kris Kringle signs up to be Santa Claus at Macy’s Department Store, he also claims to be the real Saint Nick. A trial questioning his sanity follows, and he must answer basic questions from a crowd of doubters. Highlights: The Arvada Center’s production of the musical adaptation by Meredith Willson offers plenty of holiday spirit. The dance numbers are dazzling, the sets are top notch and performacnes by Erick Devine, Lauren Shealy, Jody Madaras, Regan Fenske and Ben Dicke are touching and charming by turns. This is a show for the traditionalists, for the Christmas crowd who never tired of a classic story.

ON THE HORIZON

“Next to Normal,” Dec. 21 through Jan. 6, the Aurora Fox theater, 9900 E. Colfax Ave. Tickets start at $25. Information: The Ignite Theatre company keeps up its profile of tackling complex and critically acclaimed shows with its production of the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning “Next to Normal.” The musical, penned by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, tells the story of a mother struggling with bipolar disorder. The production, directed by Ignite co-founder and artistic director Keith Rabin Jr., is an in-depth, uncompromising look at mental illness.

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