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Double Your Pleasure and Shine Your Shoes
White Christmas overtakes Christmas Carol, but Nutcracker pulls away
By Suzi Steffen
Used to be, come November/December in the Eug, you’d know where you stood. Actors Cabaret of Eugene presented a funny spectacle of A Christmas Carol; Willamette Rep did the gloomier, more thoughtful, no angel children in jack-in-the-boxes version.
|Still from White Christmas the movie|
And the Lord Leebrick started in with the It’s a Wonderful Life radio play in the Wildish. Tie it up with a Nutcracker bow, and you’d have your holiday performance jollies all taken care of just before the Eugene Opera kicked in with something more full of semi-intellectual vigor (I say semi because opera plots make their writers look like crazed fools; but no one goes to opera for the plot).
When Willamette Rep took its final bows in May 2008, a Eugene theater-lover could be forgiven for expecting less on the doubling-up front. Then the Leebrick took a breather from holiday schmaltz. Stepping up to the holiday plate, ACE went for the new musical version of the classic Paramount film musical White Christmas.
So did the Shedd.
Hence ACE’s marketing campaign as the FIRST Eugene performance of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (the ACE version opens Friday, Nov. 20 and runs through much of December), and hence the Shedd’s emphasis on its stars as long-time Shedd and Eugene favorites (an accurate description indeed of people like Bill Hulings and Shirley Andress). The Shedd’s White Christmas opens Dec. 4 and runs for two weekends, smack-dab in the middle of ACE’s run, so fans of Irving Berlin can run from the pre-recorded ACE version to the live orchestra at Jaqua Concert Hall in the same weekend (or two). Weirdly, the Very Little Theatre managed to plan The Dresser, a play set in the same time period as that of White Christmas, for a Dec. 4 opening (it’s not a holiday play, so it’s not in our holiday calendar; but do look for it in our regular paper in a few weeks).
Cottage Theatre keeps the Dickens fires burning with a production of the musical extravaganza Marley & Scrooge, which looks at the events of A Christmas Carol through the chain-rattling perepective of Marley, who’s out of redemptive luck. M&S opens Dec. 4 as well (thus occupying every last one of the Weekly’s theater critics in one fell swoop), and runs through Dec. 20.
All of that is mere prelude, of course, to the Main Performance Event of the season, every little kid’s dream show, the Eugene Ballet Companay’s performances of The Nutcracker. Mouse King! Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies! The poor old Nutcracker and young, cusp-of-puberty Clara! For families with small children, it’s a holiday tradition, and a fine one. Grab those velvet bows and shiny patent-leather shoes, kids, and dress up for the ballet (Dec. 18-20 in Eugene and 22-23 in Salem; Nutcracker Tea Dec. 20).