THEATER

by Traci Vogel


OPENING THIS WEEK

*THE DINA MARTINA CHRISTMAS SPECIAL · On the Boards

*IF ORNAMENTS HAD LIPS · Lauren Weedman

MISS SAIGON · Paramount


ONE WEEK ONLY

*BLESSED: AN EVENING OF DANCE · Amie Baca

CABARET · Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center


CLOSING THIS WEEK

THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE · Jane Addams Theater

EARTH AND SKY/MURDER IN GREEN MEADOWS · Playhouse Theater

*THE GAME OF LOVE AND CHANCE · Seattle Rep

THREE DEATHS IN DENMARK · GREX


OPENING AND CURRENT RUNS


*ALIENS IN AMERICA

As a monologuist, Sandra Tsing Loh has the advantage of having found both an extremely funny and likeable persona and the kind of family-interaction material that is so poignantly hilarious that it nearly makes you cry. Much of this material, including the segment wherein her elderly father searches for a Chinese mail-order bride, has been performed on NPR. Seattle Rep's Leo K. Theater, Seattle Center, 443-2222. Tues-Sun at 7:30, Sat & Sun matinees at 2, through Jan 15. $29/$39.


BLACK NATIVITY

A gospel play that powers up Langston Hughes' poetry with narration and gospel songs. Back for a second season of popular acclaim, if Black Nativity doesn't get you in the holiday spirit, you might as well end it all now. Intiman Theater, 269-19000. Thurs-Sat at 8; Sat-Sun matinees at 2; Sun, Tues, Wed at 7, through Dec 26. $10-$38.


THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE

Adapted from Shakespeare's A Comedy of Errors, musical farce and comedic misunderstandings abound. Add your own hilarity -- bring a banana peel! Jane Addams Theatre, 11051 34th NE, 363-2809. Fri-Sat at 8, Sun at 2:30, through Dec 11. $16-$20.


CABARET

The SCCC Drama Department, directed by Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates, takes on spectacle extraordinaire in a mounting of the Broadway hit Cabaret. Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center, 324-2744. Thurs-Fri at 8, Sat at 2 & 8, Sun at 3, through Dec 12. $10-$12.


A CHRISTMAS CAROL

ACT's yearly production of Charles Dickens' celebration of top-down management returns, with David Pichette and Peter Silbert alternating as Ebenezer Scrooge. A Contemporary Theater, 700 Union St, 292-7676. Times and days vary, through Dec 26. $12.50-$35.


CITIZEN SCROOGE

Unexpected Productions promises a holiday twist in this production described as "a cross between Orson Welles' film Citizen Kane and Charles Dickens' classic, A Christmas Carol." With Steven Grenley as Ebenezer Scrooge. Market Theatre, 1428 Post Alley, 781-9273. Thurs-Sat at 8, Sun at 7, through Dec 23. $10.


*THE DINA MARTINA CHRISTMAS SPECIAL

Journalists often find themselves at a loss when it comes to describing the surreal world of Dina Martina, hostess extraordinaire. With song, dance, stories, special guests, and festive gifts for the lucky, Ms. Martina (performed by Grady West) plies the sweetness out of schizophrenia, with the all-important help of her charming and talented daughter, Phoebe. Even if you usually hate holiday shows, you won't want to miss Dina Martina. On the Boards, 100 W Roy St, 217-9888. Thurs-Sun at 8, through Dec 19. $15-$18.


EARTH AND SKY/MURDER IN GREEN MEADOWS

Two mystery/thriller one-acts, both by Douglas Post, twist things up at the UW. Playhouse Theatre, 4045 University Way NE, 543-4880. Wed-Thurs at 7:30, Fri-Sat at 8, Sun at 2, through Dec 12. $8-$10.


THE FARNDALE AVENUE TOWNSWOMEN'S PRODUCTION OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL

"Seattle's only deli theater," RipTide, presents its annual holiday spoof, in which an all-woman theater guild's version of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol does not turn out quite as expected. Each performance includes a buffet dinner. Liberty Deli, 2722 Alki Ave SW, 405-8433. Thurs-Sun at 6:30, through Dec 19. $22.


*IF ORNAMENTS HAD LIPS

On the Boards scores the other funniest holiday show of the season: Lauren Weedman's emotionally high-strung portrayal of Debraa, who will make you feel as if your relatives are sweet, cuddly bunny rabbits in comparison. Get your tickets now to this "Interpersonal Christmas Hell" (not suitable for children). On the Boards, 100 W Roy St, 217-9888, Thurs-Sun at 9. $10/$12.


*THE GAME OF LOVE AND CHANCE

"It's been a while since the Seattle Rep has put its considerable resources behind a mainstage production and come up with something as valuable as its elaborate settings. Resonant, witty, and gorgeous to behold, Stephen Wadsworth's adaptation and staging of Marivaux's The Game of Love and Chance, the Rep's latest offering, is not only a complete delight but may well be one of the best things you'll see all year." (Steve Wiecking) Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St, 443-2222. Tues-Sun at 7:30, Sat-Sun 2 pm matinees, through Dec 11. $10-$42.


KING LEAR

"Director John Kazanjian's spare staging of King Lear sometimes illuminates the timelessness of Shakespeare's storytelling and sometimes seems as stiff as a board game. Kazanjian wrangles his players with fleet efficiency (though the show's second half wanes some until the bodies start piling up) and, for whatever doesn't work, he surges the evening forward with his clarity of action and respect for the sheer thrill of the tale." (Steve Wiecking) First Christian Church, 632 Broadway, 328-4683. Wed- Thurs at 7:30, Fri-Sat at 8, through Dec 18. $15.


Late Night Catechism

And the nun goes on. This is an evening of audience participation and interactive improv theater: think Sister Windy crossed with Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You. ACT, 700 Union St, 292-7676. Thurs-Sat at 8, Sun at 2, extended for eternity. $24.50-$29.50.


MEAT SELLS OUT/MEAT RETROSPECTIVE

After a couple of years spent shocking, appalling, and otherwise entertaining Seattle audiences, extreme theater kings Piece of Meat are leaving town to try their schtick in Los Angeles. You can wish them well by attending the final pre-departure installment of their club-oriented show mixing "the best and worst of sketch comedy and performance art." The evening also includes a screening of the work-in-progress video, Meat Sells Out. Proceeds will be shared by Piece of Meat and the new Artery theater co-op, and a reception "with food and cigarettes" follows the performance. Speakeasy Cafe Backroom, 2222 Second Ave, 729-7438. Fri-Sat Dec 10-11 at 8. $10 at door, no advance tickets.


MISS SAIGON

The helicopters throb, the interracial romance throbs, and the music throbs in this melodrama set in Saigon in 1975; a big-budget touring production that's graced our city once before and now returns to draw more fat wallets. Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St, 292-2787. Thurs-Sat at 8, Sun at 7:30, Sat-Sun matinees at 2, through Dec 26. $15-$65.


THE NUTCRACKER PUPPET BALLET

The tickets are cheaper than PNB -- and the size of the performers is about the same, too, if you think about how far back you'd be sitting in the real Opera House. Stars from the Carter Family Marionettes present Christmas puppet-style. Northwest Puppet Center, 9123 15th Ave NE, 523-2579. Fri at 7:30, Sat-Sun at 1 & 3, through Dec 19.


OWEN MEANY'S CHRISTMAS PAGEANT

This John Irving-approved (he actually attended last year's performance) adaptation of A Prayer for Owen Meany returns to Book-It, bringing to life all the characters from Gravesend, New Hampshire for yet another all-thumbs pageant reenactment. With Stephen Hando as Owen Meany! Stage One Theatre, on campus of North Seattle Community College, College Way N & N 92nd St, 216-0833. Thurs-Fri at 8, Sat at 2 & 8, Sun at 2, Mon-Wed Dec 20-22 at 8, ends Dec 23. $10-$15.


A PICNIC AT THE EARTH'S MOLTEN CORE

Tamara Paris is Pamela, "a big girl from a small town," who discovers that her artistic self is made up of a number of selves after she slides down a rabbit hole into the dirty worlds of Philly, San Diego, Ohio, and beyond. "Director Burton Curtis and his co-writer Paris respond well to one another, but at times they've muddled their own material. Paris, who is certainly funny, needs an even clearer sense of where her lines pay off -- there's a slight fuzziness between which laughs should be hit and which are funnier when tossed away -- and Curtis has obscured some punchlines with bits of business. But when the two of them are in the same groove, the result is wickedly subtle." (Steve Wiecking) Re-bar, 1114 Howell St, 323-0388. Mon at 8, open ended run. $10.


PSEUDO OMEGA

Buffoonary means more than just silly costumes in this epic fable presented by director Stephanie Roberts through storytelling, physical comedy, prophecy, and magic tricks. Not for kids. Annex Theatre, 1916 Fourth Ave, 728-0933. Thurs-Sat at 8, Sun at 7, through Dec 18. $10.


THE SECRET GARDEN

The 5th Avenue Musical Theatre Company presents the sweet story of a young orphan sent to live with her creepy uncle in an apparently haunted Yorkshire mansion, and her outing of the family's secrets with the help of a prescient robin. The 5th Avenue Theatre, 1326 Fifth Ave, 292-ARTS. Through Dec 19, times vary. $19-$50.


SANDERS FAMILY CHRISTMAS

The sentimental Sanders family (Smoke on the Mountain) returns to Mount Pleasant Baptist Church on Christmas Eve, 1941, to send son Dennis off to war armed with a round of festive bluegrass gospel music. Taproot Theatre, 204 N 85th St, 781-9707. Wed-Sat at 8, Sat matinee at 2, through Dec 23. $16-$24.


THE SNOW QUEEN

Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale features talking crows, arrogant flowers, guardian angels, and pesky devils in this holiday adaptation by theater simple. UW Ethnic Cultural Theater, 3931 Brooklyn Ave E, 784-8647. Call for dates & times, through Dec 30. $10/$7.


THREE DEATHS IN DENMARK

Methods of revenge riddle GREX's adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet, as the play's main characters explore their own motivations through speeches pulled from the original text, backed by a live Foley orchestra. "Although the most potent and well-known scenes of the tragedy are left intact and performed well -- Ophelia goes for a swim, daddy stops by for a posthumous "howdy do" -- Three Deaths in Denmark doesn't really deliver a more accessible Hamlet. Only a shorter one." (Adrian Ryan) The Chamber Theater, 915 E Pine St, Fourth Floor, 985-1019. Thurs-Sat at 8, through Dec 11. $12.


THE TRESTLE AT POPE LICK CREEK

A dangerous pact in a small town leads two teenagers to the heart of drama, poverty, and friendship. Theater Schmeater presents this Northwest premiere of Naomi Wallace's play. "As playwright Wallace can't decide if she should focus on the psychological, social, economic, or political forces that lead to her tale's tragedy, she just throws everything at us. Along the way, the play's dramatic core gets plowed under by so much cumbersome dialogue and so many megaton metaphors, an industrial-grade backhoe couldn't dig it out." (Tonia Steed) Theater Schmeater, 1500 Summit Ave, 324-5801. Thurs-Sat at 8, Sun matinee Dec 12 at 2, through Dec 18. $15.


DANCE


*BLESSED: AN EVENING OF DANCE

Dancer and dance teacher Amie Baca presents her first self-produced work, which takes off from images of the Virgin Mary to explore the spirit of movement. The piece is set to music by Parini, and will be set against two illuminated stain glass windows. Freehold's East Hall Theatre, 915 E Pine St, 726-9216. Fri-Sun Dec 10-12 at 8. $8.


NUTCRACKER

Pacific Northwest Ballet's annual tribute to the decorated food preparation tool, replete with the famous Maurice Sendak sets. Seattle Center Opera House, 292-2787. Thurs-Sat at 7:30, Sun at 5:30, Sat 2 pm matinee, Sun 1 pm matinee, through Dec 28. $16-$77.


FESTIVALS, CABARETS, & COMEDY


THE HOLIDAY SURVIVAL GAME SHOW '99:

MILLENNIUM, SHLUMENNIUM

Sketch comedy with audience-member participation in a "real" game show (for prizes worth tens of dollars!), with comedian Peggy Platt and others. Broadway Performance Hall, 1625 Broadway, 709-7994. Tues-Sat at 8; Sat & Sun 2 pm matinees, through Dec 26 (no show Dec 25). $17-$19.99.


IMPROSIA: COMEDY OF THE GODS

Performing character-driven scenes based on audience suggestions. Wit's End, 770 N 34th St, 547-2330. Sat at 9:30. $7.


Julie Cascioppo Experience

Songs and characters you may grow to love. The Pink Door, Pike Place Market, 1919 Post Alley, 443-3241. Tues at 8:30 & 11. No cover.


TEATRO ZINZANNI

Five months ago, this show was a true delight, boasting an array of highly accomplished and charming performers and surprisingly decent food. Now, it's a grating mess, with several key performers replaced by charmless, baby-talking howler monkeys and a little less decent food. However, the show still features the utterly amazing Kevin Kent, as well as Ann Wilson and that cute Russian juggler. Seattle Center, 222 Mercer St, 281-7788 ext 700 or 292-ARTS. Thurs-Sat at 7:30, Sun at 6:30, extended through Dec 30. $95.


*THREE DOLLAR BILL

Seattle's original gay/lesbian/bisexual stand-up comedy night is still standing in its second year. Comedy Underground, 222 S Main St, 324-8025. Tues at 8. $6.


YE MERRY GENTLEMEN

This year's Seattle Men's Chorus holiday concert features new arrangements of favorites such as O Holy Night, We Need a Little Christmas, and Angels We Have Heard on High, as well as a commissioned Hanukkah song, Over the Skies of Israel, so put on your sparkly shirt and come on down. Benaroya Hall, 323-2992. Dec 12, 13, 18 & 19 at 7. $12.50-$30.


LATE NIGHT


THE A.M. CABARET

Amoral entertainment for insomniacs; promising naked poetry, music, strippers, and drag queens. You may think you're dreaming. Coffee Messiah, 1554 E Olive Way, 860-7377. Sat from 2-4 am. $5.


COMEDY IN THE KEY OF SKETCH

Sketch comedy full of evil geniuses -- including Andrew Lloyd Webber -- presented by so-talented-they're-addictive the Habit. Union Garage, 1418 10th Ave, 819-6006. Fri-Sat at 11, through Dec 17. $5.


Jet City Improv

Improv comedy and music based on audience suggestions. Ethnic Cultural Theater, 3940 Brooklyn Ave NE, 781-3879. Fri-Sat at 10:30.


SOAPBOX

Late night improv that promises sketch comedy, local musicians, a full bar, AND free food. Northwest Actors Studio, 1100 E Pike, 324-6328. Sat at 11, through Dec 25. $5.


Theater Sports

Improv comedy with a competitive edge, brought to you by Unexpected Productions. Market Theater, 1428 Post Alley, 781-9273. Fri-Sat at 10:30, $9. Sun at 7, $5.


THE TWILIGHT ZONE LIVE

Theater Schmeater twists The Twilight Zone to further dimensions as it takes on two new episodes: "Night of the Meek," and "Nightmare as a Child." Theater Schmeater, 1500 Summit Ave, 324-5801. Fri-Sat at 11, through Dec 18. $8.


CALLS


BUMBERSHOOT

The Bumbershoot Arts Festival is seeking performers, artists, and vendors for its Labor Day weekend 2000 event. Categories include performing arts, visual arts, literary arts, 16mm and 35mm short films, and hand-made crafts. Applications are available at www. bumbershoot.org, or by calling the One Reel hotline at 281-8111.


UMO ENSEMBLE

UMO Ensemble will be holding auditions for their 2000 touring season of the newest work, Expressions of the Spirit: Tales of the Brothers Grimm on Dec 11 from 10 am-4 pm at the Theatre of Puget Sound, Seattle Center House, Fourth Floor, Room B, 305 Harrison St. Call 463-2128 to register. Be prepared to sing and move.

Support The Stranger