From the absurd to the sublime, from the classic to the contemporary, and from the family-friendly to the, uh, less-so, Charleston's theater community has a plethora of productions coming up over the holiday season. We've put together a summary of just some of this season's shows so you can plan out your theater-going experience (check out all theater events and news on our website — and stay tuned for reviews of some of these shows coming soon).
A Doublewide, Texas Christmas
Where: Flowertown Theatre, 133 S. Main St. Summerville
When: Nov. 29-Dec. 14
More info: flowertownplayers.org
Summary: Doublewide, Texas (population: 10) is the Lone Star State's newest, smallest town, and the most wonderful time of the year is now the most stressful. After being crossed by the county, township papers in jeopardy, Doublewide residents look to prove themselves in the county's "Battle of the Mangers" competition with their "Nativity at the Alamo" display.
"A Doublewide, Texas Christmas is a comedy about a dysfunctional extended family, working together for a common goal against insurmountable odds," says director Larry Spinner. "What I like most about this show is that it is a comedy with a serious message. Through the laughter, it reminds us of the need to be compassionate and forgiving. Anger and revenge are self-destructive, and everyone deserves a second chance."
Holiday Spectacular at Cultural Arts Center Charleston
Where: Citadel Mall, 2070 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. Suite 112. West Ashley
When: Dec. 5-22
More info: cartscc.com
Summary: Holiday Spectacular is a family-friendly holiday show filled with dancing reindeer, multiple tapping Santas, a choir of Christmas elves, singers from NYC, and a special visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. CACC has assembled a cast of 23 that includes three guest artists from New York and Los Angeles, CACC's resident Company Ensemble Members, and 10 young performers ranging in ages from 8 to 16. This 60-minute musical revue features Christmas tunes of yesterday and modern classics, and the show features CACC's traditional mix of exceptional talent, lavish costumes, and innovative and theatrical staging.
"If you didn't see last year's Winter Wonderland display at Citadel Mall, now is your chance to be dazzled," says Cultural Arts Center Charleston's artistic director, Kirk Pfeiffer. "This show is a Charleston favorite among so many local families. It's Radio City, it's timeless holiday classics, stunning costumes, incredible singers, innovative choreography, high kicks, the fastest, fanciest footwork in Charleston, Santa and Mrs. Claus, elves, reindeer, and tender moments that remind us all of the true meaning of the holidays."
Della's Diner: A Country Musical Comedy Soap Opera
Where: Threshold Repertory Theatre, 84 Society St. Downtown
When: Dec. 6-22
More info: charlestontheater.com
Summary: Della's Diner by Tom Edwards holds the record for the longest running musical in Atlanta's history. It started in 1978 and ran into the late 1990s with a total of six episodes. Threshold is producing the episode that started it all, Blue Plate Special. Home cooking, cornball humor, and a dash of social significance furnish the principal ingredients of this folksy country musical, which spoofs a Tennessee-style soap opera as it spins a tale about Della Juracko, her mixed-up relationships, and the threatened future of her diner.
"This is the sixth time I have worked on a production of Della's Diner, which should tell you just how much I love these characters," says director Don Brandenburg. "The last Della's Diner production to which I was connected was in 2005, so I thought it was time to introduce a new audience to the fun of Della's Diner and also welcome back theater patrons who have already experienced the craziness—infidelity, divorce, paternity uncertainties, a secret adoption, brain surgery, amnesia, blindness, and divine miracles are just some of the issues that arise and are resolved, all in a period of two hours."
Elf, The Musical
Where: Dock Street Theatre, 135 Church St. Downtown
When: Dec. 4-22
More info: charlestonstage.com
Summary: Based on the 2003 Will Ferrell film, Elf, The Musical tells the story of Buddy, who mistakenly crawls into Santa's bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. Raised as an elf and unaware that he is actually a human, Buddy realizes he is different when he grows up to tower over the other elves and finds that he is a disastrous toymaker. With Santa's permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his true identity.
"We're pulling out all the stops this holiday season," says director Marybeth Clark, "inviting in professional scenic and costume designers to bring this magical production to life. Kimberly Powers, who designed our extravagant sets for last season's Mamma Mia!, is joining us once again to design the multiple grand sets featured in Elf, The Musical, and guest scenic charge artist Susan Crabtree has joined the crew to paint many of the glorious show backdrops you'll see featured throughout the production. Also joining us for the very first time is guest costume designer Eric M. Hall, who has designed over 100 colorful and imaginative costumes, including various pairs of elf legs for one of our show-stopping dance numbers. Sam Henderson, our resident music director, is leading an orchestra of seven musicians who will play the vibrant and ravishing score written by Matthew Sklar. There's also delightful choreography and explosive dance numbers choreographed by our own resident choreographer, Cara Dolan. We can't wait to spread the magic and holiday cheer with our patrons."