Dec. 18 2013 02:37 PM

Circle Circle dot dot production tops our coverage of local plays

Michael Nieto in Bearded
Photo courtesy of Circle Circle dot dot

All I want for Christmas is something new to review. Well, wish granted, thanks to the emerging theater company Circle Circle dot dot. Its Bearded, written by artistic director Katherine Harroff, is a frequently funny look behind the scenes of a shopping-mall Santa station. A quick-change, four-person ensemble (Cory Hammond, Keith Hammond, Michael Parrott and Taylor Wycoff ) plays all the precocious kids and their often annoying parents, while soft-spoken Michael Nieto dons the St. Nick duds and Soroya Rowley and Laura Kaplan-Nieto (an Anne Hathaway look-alike) portray rival Santa's helpers. The day in the life of a San Diego mall Santa comes off much like an extended Saturday Night Live sketch, but with actual cohesiveness and, truth be told, more laughs. When Bearded makes some serious points about the meaning of the season and the innocence of children, it turns treacly, but, in large part, this new play focuses on being childlike and funny, and it is on both counts.

Bearded runs through Dec. 21 at 10th Avenue Theatre, Downtown. $15-$25.

For the second year in a row, Cygnet Theatre's holiday production is a live radio "broadcast" of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. What was novel last year is just OK this year, although a couple of changes seem to have been made to the show, including the addition of a song or two.

Cygnet's Old Town Theatre once again is transformed into "WCYG Playhouse," complete with sound-effects gadgets galore, applause signs to prompt audience response and shining microphone stands for the actors. It's a terrific set. Last year's cast returns, including Tom Stephenson as Scrooge; ex-Channel 8 anchorman Jonathan Dunn- Rankin as the radio host, Freddie Filmore; and the all-star talents of Melinda Gilb, David McBean, Brian Mackey, Maggie Carney, Patrick McBride and Melissa Fernandes (great animal noises, Melissa!).

Even if you saw this last year, you can't go wrong a second time. Yes, Scrooge still reforms at the end, and, yes, the audience is still goaded into holding hands, swaying and singing "White Christmas" as an encore (yours truly most reluctantly), but what the hell? Tis the season.

A Christmas Carol runs through Dec. 24 at the Old Town Theatre. $29-$54.

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Now Playing

The Eight: Reindeer Monologues: An adult-oriented dark comedy in which the reindeer have some things to say about ol' St. Nick. Presented by Different Stages, it runs through Dec. 21 at Swedenborg Hall in University Heights.

Scrooge! The Musical: The title explains it all. Through Dec. 21 at C3 Performing Arts Center in Grantville.

A Christmas Carole: Cygnet Theatre continues its tradition of presenting the holiday classic in the style of a radio play, complete with old-timey commercials. Through Dec. 22 at The Old Town Theatre.

A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant: The life story of L. Ron Hubbard is satirized, in musical form. Through Dec. 22 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista.

A Year with Frog and Toad: Yep, this is a family-oriented musical based on the beloved Frog and Toad children's books. Presented by Oceanside Theatre Company, it runs through Dec. 22 at The Brooks Theatre.

Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge: Christopher Durang's musical spoof of A Christmas Carol supposes that Gladys Cratchit is an angry, boozing, modern American woman who happens to have 21 kids. Through Dec. 22 at Patio Playhouse in Escondido.

White Christmas the Musical: The stage adaptation of the classic 1954 film about a couple of Army buddies who become a music duo and fall for a pair of sisters. Presented by San Diego Musical Theatre, it runs through Dec. 22 at the Birch North Park Theatre.

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!: This'll be the 16th year that the green one will slink onto the stage at The Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park. "Fah Who Doraze," indeed. Through Dec. 28.

The Humbug Holiday Spectacular: A world-premiere musical comedy revolving around Horatio the Humbug and his quest to satisfy the Spirit of Christmas. Through Dec. 28 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach.

Reasons to be Pretty: In Neil LaBute's plain-spoken comedy, four blue-collar characters wrestle with notions of physical beauty and the power of modern-day language. Presented by Ion Theatre Company, it runs through Dec. 28 at BLKBOX Theatre in Hillcrest.

Catch a Falling Star: Lambs Players' holiday play this year revolves around a woman's attempt to film a musical Christmas card at a remote mountain cabin that was meaningful to her father. Through Dec. 29 at Lamb's Players Theatre.

Scrooge in Rouge: San Diego's LGBT theater sends up the Dickens classic with a fast-paced music-and-comedy extravaganza. Through Dec. 29 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights.

Forever Plaid: Paid Tidings: The wholesome revue of 1950s-style harmony singing returns—again. Through Dec. 31 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad.

Crime Pays: A radio game show with dastardly overtones, served up with dinner, is presented by Mystery Cafe at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill.


See all events on Tuesday, Oct 25