OPENING AND CURRENT RUNS


APPALACHIAN CHRISTMAS HOMECOMING

The return of the holiday deluge, in the form of forbidden hillbilly love. Yarns are spun, songs are sung, and memories are embellished upon. Taproot Theatre, 204 N 85th St, 781-9707. $18-$26. Wed-Thurs at 7:30 pm, Fri-Sat at 8 pm, matinee Sat at 2 pm. Through Dec 28.

THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER

Bad kids overturn a church's Christmas pageant in another holiday cash cow. Bathhouse Theater, 7312 West Green Lake Dr N, 325-6500. $18 for adults; $10 for kids, students, and seniors. Thurs-Sat at 7:30 pm, Sun at 2 pm. Through Dec 29.

BLACK NATIVITY: A GOSPEL SONG PLAY

Back for another season of popular acclaim, a gospel play that powers up Langston Hughes' poetry with narration and gospel songs. If Black Nativity doesn't get you in the holiday spirit, you might as well go home and listen to Lawrence Welk. Intiman Playhouse, 201 Mercer St, 269-1900. $10-$42. Fri-Sat at 8 pm, Sun-Thurs at 7:30 pm, no performance Mon. Through Dec 28.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL

Schizophrenic miser haunted by his demons seeks redemption, ACT profits. (Well, everyone but the marketing staff. Can't wait not to return the calls of the new, "aggressive" PR team.) ACT Theatre, 700 Union St, 292-7676. $23-$36. Thurs-Fri at 6 and 8:30 pm, Sat at 2 and 7 pm, Sun at 1 and 4 pm, Mon at 6 and 8:30 pm, Tues at 1 and 4 pm. Through Dec 28.

A CHRISTMAS MEMORY

A Capote Christmas, with a smattering of Dylan Thomas thrown in for good measure. Book-It Repertory Theatre at Seattle Center House Theatre, 305 Harrison St, 325-6500. $19. Thurs-Sat at 7:30 pm, Sun at 2 pm. Through Dec 22.

CRAVE

Final week. See review this issue. Freehold East Hall Theater, Oddfellows Hall, 1529 10th Ave, second floor, 405-1612. $12-$14. Dec 19-20 at 8 pm. Through Dec 20.

* THE DINA MARTINA CHRISTMAS SHOW

Final week. "Christmas just wouldn't be kreesh-mish anymore without a Yuletide extravaganza à la Dina. However, there's a darkness streaking through Dina's misguided optimism and clueless largesse this year, a melancholy bee buzzing in her satirical holiday bonnet. There's a flame-licked visit to hell, earthquakes, the séance-style return of Dina's dead mother, and a depressing (but hilarious) glimpse into Dina's future. Still, it's all in good, tragic fun, and you'd be a fool to miss it." (Adrian Ryan) Dina Martina at On the Boards, 100 W Roy St, 217-9888. $18. Thurs-Sun at 8 pm, with additional performances Dec 20-21 at 10:30 pm. Through Dec 22.

* HAM FOR THE HOLIDAYS V: CINCO DE PORKO

"The format is traditional Koch-Platt: sketch comedy, spoofs, and musical parodies, dusted with lowbrow cleverness and camp. But please note: Porko is nontraditional holiday humor, which means, as in most things, you don't have to be gay, but it helps." (Adrian Ryan) Northwest Asian American Theatre, 409 Seventh Ave S, 325-6500. $18-$20. Wed-Sat at 8 pm, matinees Sat-Sun at 4 pm. Through Dec 29.

* HAPPYPANTS!

"HappyPants! teeters at the far edge of camp--where the act of mockery begins to overshadow the object of mockery and everything becomes garish and muddled--but the show pulls some tricks of sincerity out of the American Musical Handbook to create a splendid evening full of real talent." (Gregory Zura) Hunter Koch Productions at ACT Theatre, 700 Union St, 292-7676. $24.50-$29.50. Sat at 8 pm, Sun at 2 pm, Tues-Wed at 7:30 pm. Through Dec 29.

HOLIDAY XXX

Final week. See review this issue. Live Girls Theater, 620 Alaskan Way #203, 568-1985. $10. Thurs-Sat at 8 pm. Through Dec 21.

* A KAREN CARPENTER CHRISTMAS

Final week. See review this issue. Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave, 325-6500. $20-$25. Thurs-Fri at 7:30 pm, Sat at 2 and 7:30 pm, Sun at 2 and 6 pm. Through Dec 22.

* THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE

An old wardrobe becomes a portal and Christ becomes a lion in this ambitious staging of C. S. Lewis' Jesus-freak classic. "My son (who is six) and I enjoyed this adaptation of C. S. Lewis' most famous book for two reasons. One, the big set pieces. We are suckers for large backdrops that move mysteriously on and off the stage, and the winter world (the best part of the book) was superbly realized. Two, the play sticks very close to the original text. With exception of one small disagreement--my son liked the songs and I didn't--we were equally pleased with the performance." (Charles Mudede) Seattle Children's Theatre, 201 Thomas St, 441-3322. $12-$26. Fri at 7 pm, Sat-Sun at 2 and 5:30 pm. Through Jan 11.

* THE LIZZIE BORDEN PLAY: A SPECULATION

Final week. "Smart, scary, and wry, this true-crime deconstruction is a breezy, bracing antidote to an overdose of high-fructose holiday cheer." (Tamara Paris) Theatre Babylon at Union Garage, 1418 10th Ave, 720-1942. $12. Thurs-Sat at 8 pm. Through Dec 21.

MAG MOR

Final week. "While I am always happy to see new work that isn't total crap produced in local theaters, that's the best I can say for Mag Mor: It's new work and isn't terrible." (Brendan Kiley) Theater Schmeater, 1500 Summit Ave, 324-5801. $12-$15. Thurs-Sat at 8 pm. Through Dec 21.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, ANYWAY

This week only. See Stranger Suggests. Typing Explosion at the Little Theatre, 610 19th Ave E, 329-2629. $10-$12. Thurs-Sun at 8 pm.

MULE

Final week. "Now in its second onstage incarnation, local playwright Lois Mackey's Mule comes tantalizingly close to excellence, but misses the mark by several hairs' breadths. Almost a tight legal mystery with interesting musings on blackness, whiteness, and wealth, the script frequently loses its way, tries to cover too many bases, and ultimately devolves into a dramatically confused fog." (Brendan Kiley) JumpBac Productions at Northwest Actors Studio, 1100 E Pike St, 325-6500. $10. Fri-Sat at 8 pm. Through Dec 21.

* OWEN MEANY'S CHRISTMAS PAGEANT

Final week. See review this issue. Book-It Repertory Theatre at North Seattle Community College's Stage One Theater, 9600 College Way N, 325-6500. $15-$22. Wed-Sat at 7:30 pm, Sun at 2 pm. Through Dec 22.

RECKLESS

"The Steeplechase crew, distrusting the script's virtues, seem determined to hammer out each and every laugh they can find. The production sacrifices the writer's examination of identity and fate (i.e., the recklessness of life) to the 'faster, louder, funnier' mantra that rules much of today's theater." (Jeff Meyers) Steeplechase Productions at Liberty Deli, 2722 Alki Ave SW, 935-8420. $29 with dinner. Fri-Sat at 6:30 pm. Through Dec 28.

SUGAR PLUM FAIRY

"Set in the suburban '70s, the story follows writer and performer Sandra Tsing Loh's battle with her skinnier and more talented older sister for the lead role in a ballet school production of The Nutcracker. 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." (Matt Fontaine) Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St, 443-2222. $32-$40. Tues-Sun at 7:30 pm, matinees Sat-Sun at 2 pm. Through Jan 12.

TRUE WEST

Final week. "True West is a powerful, transcendent and deeply comic work of art, but I'm afraid this production packs all the wallop of a knock-knock joke." (Tamara Paris) Insight America at Chamber Theater, 915 E Pine St, fourth floor, 325-6500. $14-$16. Fri-Sat at 8 pm. Through Dec 21.

FESTIVALS, CABARET, & COMEDY


A(N IMPROVISED) CHRISTMAS CAROL

Final week. The holiday deluge: Dickens with audience suggestions. Unexpected Productions at the Market Theater, 1428 Post Alley (below Pike Place Market), 781-9273. $10. Fri-Sat at 8 pm. Through Dec 21.

CHAOS THEORY

Final week. "Chaos Theory is touted as a bold new experiment where sketch comedy is unpredictably merged with improvisation to create an evening of "improvedy," if you will. The results of this experiment are not unlike most other improvised comedy shows." (Jeff Meyers) The Habit Productions at Rendezvous, 2320 Second Ave, 696-8430. $10. Fri-Sat at 8 pm. Through Dec 21.

A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS IN WALES

The noted Dylan Thomas yarn, as performed by--um, puppets. Union Garage, 1418 10th Ave, 568-0446. $10. Sat-Sun at 1 and 3 pm. Through Dec 29.

* PHOENICIA & VIC AT THE HOLIDAY LOUNGE

Admirable choreographer Wade Madsen unleashes his similarly regarded alter ego Phoenicia--a svelte, blond, lounge-singing semi-sensation who's daffy as a duck, funny as shit, and accompanied by pianist Victor Janusz. Re-bar, 1114 Howell St, 233-9873. $13. Sun-Mon at 8 pm. Through Dec 22.

Piece of Meat Theatre's Fifth Annual Holiday Catastrophe

One night only. See Stranger Suggests. Rendezvous, 2320 Second Ave, 441-5823. $10. Sun at 9 pm.

* VOICES OF CHRISTMAS

Final week. "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." (Gregory Zura) ArtsWest, 4711 California Ave SW, 938-0339. $10-$26. Tues-Sat at 7:30 pm, with Sat and Sun matinees at 3 pm. Through Dec 24.

DANCE


NUTCRACKER

You know, the only ballet you've ever seen. Yes, the one with the giant mice. Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St, TK. $15.50-$101.50. Thurs-Fri at 7:30 pm, Sat at 2 and 7:30 pm, Sun at 1 and 5:30 pm, Mon at 2 and 7:30 pm, Tues at noon. Through Dec 30.

LATE NIGHT


* CARLOTTA'S LATE NIGHT HOLIDAY WING-DING

"Played brilliantly by drag-queen genius Troy Mink, Carlotta hosts a 'weekly cabaret-comedy-improv-variety show-whathaveya' for late-night theater patrons and culture aficionados. God bless Carlotta Philpott." (Lindsay Marsak) Ursa Major Theatre Company at Northwest Actors Studio, 1100 E Pike St, fourth floor, 325-6500. $8-$10. Fri-Sat at 10:30 pm. Through Jan 5.

THE TWILIGHT ZONE

Final week. The cash cow returns... and it's thirsty for blood! Theater Schmeater, 1500 Summit Ave, 324-5801. $10. Thurs-Sat at 11 pm. Through Dec 21.

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Washington Ensemble Theatre presents amber, a sensory installation set in the disco era
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