The Ghost of Christmas Plays Passed (Over)

MasksMotif’s latest issue includes a spread on all of the dueling versions of A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life, and makes mention of *one* alternative Christmas production (Barker’s Butterfingers Angel…). However, we kept digging deep into the stocking and, lo and behold, a couple of gems remained behind after the initial frenzy of holiday gifts. To that end, we highlight two additional alternatives to Scrooge and Bailey (as well as yet *another* take on A Christmas Carol) that are sure to warm your cockles in non-traditional fashion.

Newport Playhouse & Cabaret Restaurant — A Doublewide, Texas Christmas

From the writing team of Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten (known colloquially as the law firm-esque Jones Hope Wooten) comes A Doublewide, Texas Christmas. Known for their “deliciously funny words from the Southern side of life,” this team, alone or together, has given us “The Golden Girls” and “Dearly Departed”, so a “Battle of the Mangers” competition in an unincorporated Texas township seems logical. Fighting “the Big Guys,” the residents of Doublewide stage a “Nativity at the Alamo” in a bid for legitimacy, and it only gets crazier from there. Celebrity-obsessed mothers, vengeful raccoons and a dose of mental illness round out the proceedings as Yuletide in Doublewide careens toward a wacky, but heartwarming conclusion. If Dickens had only thought to include raccoons and mobile homes, Carol may not have been so dreary.

A Doublewide, Texas Christmas, directed by Tony Annicone, runs Nov 23 through Dec 31 at Newport Playhouse & Cabaret Restaurant, 102 Connell Highway, Newport.

Epic Theatre Company — A Christmas to Forget

Aaron Blanck’s two collections of surreal and oddly compelling holiday tunes are presented with tongue firmly planted in cheek, but also manage to convey a genuine sense of celebration. His skewering of the Christmas-centric nature of the holidays invites us all to remember everyone this time year, not just the ones on Santa’s list. To that end, Epic Theatre follows up last year’s Jesus Christ! And Other Christmas Tales with Blanck’s self-penned and directed A Christmas to Forget. “It’s based on my two Christmas albums, Aaron Blanck’s A Christmas to Forget and Aaron Blanck’s A Christmas 2 Forget,” says Blanck. “It’s a darkly comedic yet surprisingly hopeful and untimely wholesome musical experience, celebrating (and playfully satirizing) the way the theater and our world treats the holidays that aren’t Christmas and the people that aren’t the lead.” He recommends that audiences be 15 and older due to “language and jokes about Natalie Woods’ death. Anyone coming to the show should make sure they don’t take anything too seriously, because whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan or none of the above, I have found a way to lovingly mock traditions we all hold near and dear.” Sounds like an instant classic.

Epic Theatre Company presents A Christmas To Forget, written and directed by Aaron Blanck. Nov 29 through Dec 8. Thursdays, Fridays, & Saturdays @ 8pm. Artists’ Exchange, 50 Rolfe Square, Cranston. Students (high school and college) and Military can receive free tickets by contacting Epic Theatre Company. For tickets, go to: artists-exchange.org/events.html

Attleboro Community Theatre (ACT) – The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge

With so many Christmas Carols out there, one or two were bound to slip through the cracks, so we are remiss in not mentioning ACT’s own spin, The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge, written by Mark Brown and directed by Jeanne Smith. A year after his miraculous transformation, Ebenezer Scrooge is back to his old ways and is suing Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future for breaking and entering, kidnapping, slander, pain and suffering, attempted murder and the intentional infliction of emotional distress. What good could come of the spirits of Christmas being put on trial? Well, you’ll have to cross state lines to find out.

Performances will be held at the Ezekiel Bates Masonic Lodge, located at 71 North Main Street in Attleboro. Performance dates are Nov 30, Dec 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16. Friday and Saturday evening performances are at 8pm, and Sunday matinees will be at 2pm. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online via squareup.com/market/acttickets. Senior and student discounts apply at the door or online. Tickets available by calling 508-226-8100 or emailing attleborocommunitytheatreACT@gmail.com.

Did we miss anything else? Possibly. The season is chock full of offerings, holiday-themed and otherwise, and the Holiday Theater Bingo card has fewer spaces than shows to fill it, so grab some friends and family, or sit alone and shed a single tear as your soul finds the redemption of whatever spirit moves you. Marley may be dead, but RI Theater is as alive as its ever been.

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