B y J a n a R i v e r a
SEASON'S GREETINGS! I bring tidings of great joy to all who've made The Velveteen Rabbit a family Christmas tradition only to find you had to travel all the way to Tempe last year to catch a glimpse of him. He's back!
Based on the Margery Williams classic, The Velveteen Rabbit is a story about the power of love and the joy of childhood. The velveteen rabbit, a Christmas gift, comes to life through the love of a boy. The Childsplay production, a magical mix of actors and larger-than-life puppets, has performed each year to rave reviews since 1988. In 1991 they traveled to Tucson for their first performance, and returned each year except last, when they couldn't find a performing space. This year, they'll be at the Berger Performing Arts Center.
Bad news, though, for all you who made the greedy little girl in Christmas Everyday part of your Christmas tradition. After a 5-year appearance, she'll not be back this year.
Unfortunately for the youngsters in this town, Arizona Children's Theatre, formerly in that very convenient Christmas shopping spot, El Con Mall, has called it quits.
Chin up. In addition to the smooth rabbit, there will be plenty to choose from this season. Arizona Rose Theatre Co. will again mount its traditional Christmas play, Rainbow's Magical Christmas. The cool thing about this play is that the kids get to cross that magical line into the town of Rainbow at the end of the play, and visit with Santa and the Mrs. (or Papa and Mama, as they're commonly known in Rainbow) and the elves. All the kids are asked to bring a favorite toy that's still in good shape to pass along to another child. The collected toys go to Cristo Rey and Santa Rosa Mission.
On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, Mrs. Claus will be spending her time at Serendipity Playhouse, where she'll perform Mrs. Claus' Story Time, which includes popular children's stories such as "Hansel and Gretel," sing-a-longs, and a visit from the jolly old man himself.
Also for the kids, if you move quickly (this is the last weekend) Arizona Youth Theater is producing Scrooge in Toyland, two classic holiday stories combined for "fun, frivolity and merriment."
If the kids are sick of Christmas themes (or if you're sick of the kids), entertain them with the Tucson Parks and Recreation Community Theatre production of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. This is amateur community theatre, so it may not be quite as glitzy as the recent movie (they don't have Winona), but it's live and it's free. Can't beat that.
Now for you big kids. If Christmas shopping puts you in a nasty mood, take out some frustration on Norman, the evil twin, who is after his brother's wife while she patiently waits for Joe, the good twin, to return from the war. That would be World War II.
Joe and Norman are now appearing in a good, old-fashioned melodrama at Gaslight Theatre: The Flight Before Christmas, or Coming Home on a Wing and a Prayer. Just sit back and hiss and boo a while and you'll feel better. (They frown on throwing food, but you can eat while you watch.)
If you just can't get enough melodrama, cut out of town and catch Bisbee Repertory Theatre's The Saga of Roaring Gulch, a wild-west spoof with lots of good guys and bad guys and dance hall women. Be sure to get all decked out in your best wild west get-up. You could win a prize!
If that requires too much participation after shopping all day, wind down to the music of the Gershwin brothers. After playing to sold-out audiences in September, Serendipity Playhouse brings back Rhapsody for the holiday season, featuring 30 songs performed concert style.
Serendipity is also making plans for New Year's eve with New Year's in New York, featuring Gershwin songs, Broadway hits, dancing, champagne, and hors d'oeuvres.
And don't forget, you still have one more week to see the amazing, man-eating plant at Arizona Theatre Company. Little Shop of Horrors has been extended through December 20.
Here's all you need to know to make your holiday theater plans:
Childsplay's production of The Velveteen Rabbit plays at the Arizona State School for the Deaf and Blind Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, December 22, and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. December 23. Tickets are $12.25 for adults and $9.25 for students and seniors. For tickets call (800) 583-7831.
Arizona Rose Theatre's production of Rainbow's Magical Christmas plays at Leo Rich Theatre December 16, 17, 21, 22, and 23. Tickets are $14 for adults and $7 for children, available at the TCC box office and Dillards. Call 791-4836 for reservations.
Mrs. Claus' Story Time at Serendipity Playhouse, 7000 E. Tanque Verde Road, runs every Saturday and Sunday at 12:30 p.m. through December 24. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children. Rhapsody plays at 8 p.m. every Friday and Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday through December 23. Tickets are $12 to $15. New Year's in New York begins at 9 p.m. December 31. Tickets are $17 per person, $32 per couple. Call 751-4445 for more information on Serendipity happenings.
Arizona Youth Theater's production of Scrooge in Toyland continues with performances through December 16 at 5526 E. 22nd St. Call 790-0844 for times and prices.
TPR Community Theatre's production of Little Women continues at 8 p.m. through December 16, with 2 o'clock matinees December 16 and 17, in the performing arts auditorium, 200 S. Alvernon Way. Call 791-4633 for information.
Gaslight Theatre's production of The Flight Before Christmas continues through January 6 at 7010 E. Broadway. Tickets are $12.95 for adults, $10.95 for students and seniors, and $6 for children under 12. Call 886-9428 for show times and information.
Bisbee Repertory Theatre's production of The Saga of Roaring Gulch continues at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday through December 31. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. Call 432-3786 for more information.
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