Ham for the Holidays V: Cinco de Porko
Northwest Asian American Theatre

Through Dec 29.Thank GOD Cinco de Porko wound up being one of the funniest Peggy Platt-slash-Lisa Koch (aka "Dos Fallopia") shows I've ever seen, because at first--YIKES. I thought she was gonna crash and burn.

The opening number was the trouble. Though sparkly and (literally and figuratively) gay, it suffered from an unfortunate case of "What Are the Words?," a common symptom on opening night. Thankfully, Ham's was a light case, hardly noticeable; still, it's scary how easily even the slightest self-consciousness and tension can transform an audience's laughter to wooden smiles and glassy stares.

But Peggy Platt saved the day in a big, big way when she tugboated onstage as an overgrown four-year-old in candy-striped footy pajamas. Finally, Ham's heart bloomed and a jillion red balloons of really good bad humor were set free.

The format is traditional Koch-Platt: sketch comedy, spoofs, and musical parodies, dusted with lowbrow cleverness and camp. The inclusion of Andrew Tsakos (who was terrific, and often in a fruited hat) made it campier. But please note: Porko is non-traditional holiday humor, which means, as in most things, you don't have to be gay, but it helps. ADRIAN RYAN

Voices of Christmas

ArtsWest

Through Dec 24.Dear Santa Claus,

I haven't asked for anything from you in over 20 years, so I was wondering if you could get me something really, really big this year--tickets for everyone in Seattle to see Voices of Christmas. This show is what the holidays are all about. Sure, some people will think it's the kind of sappy stuff intended for grandparents and little kids, but it's those people who need to see this show.

With its terrific cast of harmonizing singers belting out nearly every holiday classic from the most sentimental folk songs to inspirational operatic arias, Voices of Christmas is sure to melt even the most cynical bastard's heart into figgy pudding.

In between these joy-inducing songs, the actors (somewhat stiffly, but we'll excuse them) explain how people all over the globe celebrate this time of the year, illuminating the fact that we're pretty much all the same. It's the kind of mushy message that briefly renews harmony between enemies but gets forgotten every year. So... Santa, you might be getting a lot of requests this year for world peace--I just thought you should know that this might be one way to help deliver a little bit.

Thanks!

GREGORY ZURA

Sugar Plum Fairy

Seattle Repertory Theatre

Through Jan 12.MEMO

From: Marketing Department

To: Artistic Director

Re: Christmas Product

Congratulations! In Sandra Tsing Loh's Sugar Plum Fairy, we've found a Christmas product acceptable to our core demographic, with edge enough to attract younger consumers. Set in the suburban '70s and stuffed with bittersweet moments of adolescent self-realization, the story follows Tsing Loh's battle with her skinnier and more talented older sister for the lead role in a ballet school production of The Nutcracker. The humor is bland, but as a performer, Tsing Loh has personality to spare and the requisite parade of wacky characters twinkled with heartfelt zest. I'm glad to see we're not skimping on the production elements--realistic settings, glittering costumes, and many, many blinking lights are sure to keep our core subscribers awake.

Unfortunately, no matter how nice the set or how slick the performance, the fact remains that it's very difficult to care about yet another holiday memoir, especially one about a teenager with unfulfilled dreams and parents who just don't understand. If Tsing Loh had been the heir to an obscure throne or maybe the world's youngest astronaut, that would be different. As it stands, we're lucky to have brand-name talent. Whatever we spent shipping in a minor celebrity from NPR was well worth it. MATT FONTAINE

Psychiatrist's Night Out

Odd Duck Studio

Through Dec 14.To the three poor, misguided souls who wrote, directed, and performed Psychiatrist's Night Out:

I have a relative (let's call her Jane) who wrote an autobiographical novel about her colorful life in the restaurant and rock 'n' roll scenes of '70s and '80s Los Angeles. The subject matter was interesting enough, but Jane's prose was painfully lousy. She had the funds, however, to pay a vanity press to publish the volume in an attractive hardcover edition. Now it lives on her shelf as an unread, self-indulgent curio. Because no one in the reading public should have to wade through her slop, she had the good sense to keep the novel a strictly private pleasure.

You three should take a leaf from Jane's book. If Psychiatrist's Night Out were a movie, it would become a cult classic. It's a wretched vanity project, and the second worst live performance I have seen anywhere in my life, including elementary-school holiday pageants and crooning, atonal hobos at the Pike Place Market. I don't have enough space to begin a taxonomy of your failure, so ask an honest friend what you've done wrong.

You're probably very nice people and may someday evolve into great artistic butterflies. But for your sakes, ours, and God's, please pupate in private. BRENDAN KILEY

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