CHRISTMAS COMEDIES

7 Dec

By HOLLY BERETTO

If the holiday shopping and planning stress has you feeling more like The Grinch than a Jolly Old Elf, the cure is close at hand. Yes, you can cover your head and emerge from your cocoon on January 1, but then, you’d miss these great Christmas comedies. 

You’ve got another week to catch Main Street Theater’s hilarious presentation of Barbara Robinson’s The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Through Dec. 12). It’s the story of the Herdman children, the town terrors who take over the church Christmas pageant. Their irreverent take on the Christmas story is guaranteed to make you smile – and remember what the holiday season is all about. I laughed so hard at Kathryn Noser’s Gladys Herdman that I actually cried, and MST’s thoughtful direction by Rebecca Green Udden (doing double duty by also appearing in the recently-extended run of MST’s The Last Night of Ballyhoo) makes this a Christmas charmer. 

For over-the-top satire and snarkiness, you’ll delight in Todd Waite’s one-man tour-de-force as Crumpet in the incorrigible David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries (Through Dec. 27), brought back by popular demand at the Alley Theatre. The tale of a 39-year-old man’s temp career as an elf in Macy’s Santaland is occasionally heart-wrenching and thoroughly hilarious. Waite’s comic timing shines light the brightest star on the biggest Christmas tree. 

Meanwhile A.D. Players O Little Town of Bagels, Teacakes and Hamburger Buns (through Dec. 31) is a thoughtful comedy about the ways of faith and the personal responses it inspires. Part love story, part re-affirmation of Christmas, it follows six strangers through a Christmas Eve that turns them into much more. Patty Tuel Bailey is luminescent as Rhonda Bartlett and the flashbacks on her marriage to Albert (Marion Arthur Kirby) are thoughtfully directed and underscore beautifully what it means to believe. 

Count on the wit and wisdom from Garrison Keillor, appearing this Wednesday Dec. 9 with the Houston Symphony, to add just the right touch of spice to your season. The Symphony also performs its annual Very Merry Pops series this weekend, with performances Dec. 11-13.

Photo: (above) ‘Christmas Pageant’ at Main Street Theater; (below) Todd Waite in ‘Santaland’ at the Alley.

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