Another pandemic holiday season is upon us, but this time there are vaccines and falling COVID-19 case numbers and … the return of in-person theater.
That means the in-person return of warm and fuzzy holiday classics, like ACT’s “A Christmas Carol,” in its 46th year, as well as hilarious favorites like “The Dina Martina Christmas Show” and “Scott Shoemaker’s War on Christmas,” all of which will grace stages this December.
After two years of seemingly endless bad news, seeing them on stages again will be like catching up with old friends. For some, the antidote to these strange times of masks and mandates, partisanship and pandemic, might be to embrace the absurd and the dark and have a holiday laugh.
Here we highlight four shows that will help ring in the end of the year with a little good cheer, a lot of laughter and a touch of the ridiculous. For more holiday shows, keep an eye out for our holiday listings, coming out Sunday in print and online.
“The Winter’s Tale”
Take a Shakespeare play about the tragicomic undoing of two royal families and add music. That’s what the Seattle Rep has done with this musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale.”
Ostensibly a love story, the play gets pretty bleak as tragic and surprising consequences unfold after a jealous king accuses his wife of infidelity and banishes his newborn daughter. In a series of bad decisions, two kings and former best friends end up enemies and one family breaks apart with some of them literally an ocean away (talk about social distancing).
Of course, it’s a Shakespeare comedy so all’s (mostly) well in the end. And as our own skies darken for another winter amid a pandemic, a mostly good end to the year might be just the dose of goodness you need.
For those uncomfortable with in-person theater at this time, you’ll be glad to know this will be a hybrid filmed and in-person play, with video available for streaming.
Dec. 16-19; Seattle Rep; streaming and in-person options available; in-person at Cornish Playhouse, 201 Mercer St., Seattle; pay what you choose; seattlerep.org
“A Very Drunken Christmas Carol”
Whether you’ll be celebrating the holidays with a big family feast or with a bag of popcorn on your couch, if you need a little help getting into the holiday spirits, Seattle Opera has a show that can help. Rob McPherson, also known as “The Drunken Tenor,” leads in a kooky take on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” in which The Drunken Tenor embarks on a Scrooge-ian journey of redemption. Along the way, instead of Christmas ghosts, he meets musical characters like The Soprano, The Mezzo and The Baritone. It’s a tale that might inspire you to appreciate the finer holiday spirits like some mulled wine, whiskeyed eggnog or a peppermintini.
7:30 p.m. Dec. 10 and 4 p.m. Dec. 12; Seattle Opera, Tagney Jones Hall at the Opera Center, 363 Mercer St., Seattle; $45; seattleopera.org
“A Very Die Hard Christmas”
Because nothing says Christmas like a hostage situation, right?
The debate over whether or not “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie has been ongoing since the movie first came out in July 1988 with plenty of holiday allusions to contrast with the shoot-’em-up heroics.
Whichever camp you fall into, “A Very Die Hard Christmas” promises more laughs than bullets and emphasizes the wonderful absurdities of the bloody action movie that became a holiday favorite. It just might be the punch in the face you need for another masked and distanced holiday season.
Dec. 3-26; Seattle Public Theater, 7312 W. Green Lake Drive N., Seattle; $28-$36; seattlepublictheater.org
“The Return of the Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show, Live!”
After last year’s streamed special, BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon are touring again this year with their annual holiday show. Cheeky, musical and just snarky enough, it’s the perfect mood-setter for whatever makeshift holiday plans the pandemic has forced us all into. With song lyrics like, “Let’s have a passive-aggressive Christmas, because we’re all stuck here till we’re free,” it’s sure to help us all laugh away some of the challenges going into this season.
8 p.m. Dec. 21-24, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Dec. 26; Neptune Theatre, 1303 N.E. 45th St., Seattle; $25-$99; stgpresents.com