A Guide to 2010’s Cures for the Common Christmas Show


Now that Christmas is so close we can almost taste the red-and-green sugar cookies, we’re starting to sour on your typical seasonal entertainment. It seems like everyone’s all The Christmas Story this, It’s A Wonderful Life that. So, if you’re like us, you may be searching for a new, original, and exciting way to get your holiday cheer on. We’ve got great alternatives for everything from The Nutcracker to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular after the jump.

Instead of The Nutcracker, see The Hard Nut

Over the weekend, we had a chance to check out The Hard Nut , a revival of visionary choreographer Mark Morris’s 1991 take on Tchaikovsky’s classic Nutcracker, which runs through December 19th at Brooklyn Academy of Music and closes out the organization’s annual Next Wave Festival. The ballet updates The Nutcracker to the sparkly, disco ’70s and is faithful enough to satisfy fans of the original. But it’s also full of witty and subversive touches: Fritz is played by a woman, while men dance the roles of both Mrs. Stahlbaum/the queen and the housekeeper. Morris’s Act I-closing snowflakes actually create a beguiling snowstorm onstage. And the enormous, black-and-white sets, based on the work of comic artist Charles Burns, are reminiscent of both graphic novels and German Expressionist film. With The Hard Nut, Morris — who also plays Dr. Stahlbaum and the king in the BAM production — playfully juxtaposes minimalism (his cast numbers 35; a traditional production might include 130 dancers) with excess to create a stunning spectacle we’re sure would have won over Tchaikovsky himself.

Instead of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, watch Community‘s Christmas special

Did you miss Community‘s holiday episode? Well, it’s not surprising — it seems like no one is watching this excellent sitcom — but it is a damn shame. The brilliant “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas,” which aired last Thursday, finds Greendale Community College’s resident pop-culture fanatic transported to the stop-motion world of America’s most beloved Christmas special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Of course, his friends (who are also animated) think he’s crazy and seek to get to the bottom of Abed’s holiday delusions. Thankfully, you can watch the entire episode (embedded above) on Hulu.

Instead of A Christmas Carol, see The Santaland Diaries

‘Tis the season for community theaters and major troupes alike to stage their renditions of the Charles Dickens stalwart. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the show — which is also available as, like, a hundred million different movies — how’s about we switch things up this year? The Santaland Diaries is a stage adaptation of David Sedaris’s hilarious 1992 NPR Morning Edition piece on his Christmas as a Macy’s elf. A few years later, the essay was adapted as a one-man show that plays this month in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City, and many, many other cities.

Instead of Jesus Christ Superstar, see Peaches Christ Superstar

Around the holidays, some of us inevitably turn to semi-religious entertainment. But instead of Netflixing Jesus Christ Superstar, why not opt for something utterly odd and unique? How about, say, Peaches — yes, the electroclash singer with all the pervy lyrics — performing the entire goddamn rock opera herself, bolstered solely by the accompaniment of her pal Chilly Gonzales on piano? No, this is not a joke. In fact, the show has been getting some pretty excellent reviews. While Peaches Christ Superstar has already made its way around the Northeast, fans in Chicago, LA, SF, and Toronto still have dates to look forward to in the next week and a half.

Instead of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, see A Murray Little Christmas

Why forsake America’s best known kick line for a drag king in a Rudolph costume? Well, aside from the $30-80 price difference, check out what the wonderful Murray Hill has to offer (aside from his hot self): burlesque beauty Dirty Martini, raunchy downtown songstress Bridget Everett, an all-lesbian a cappella group, and even someone called Moisty the Snowman. For New York’s artists and freaks, A Murray Little Christmas has become just as much of a tradition as that other holiday variety show. Check it out this Saturday, December 18th, at (Le) Poisson Rouge.