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Local Life

Theatrical options for the holiday season

Traditonal to modern shows offer something for everyone


The holidays mean something different to everyone, but if there’s one thing that most can agree on, it is that they should be spent with the people who mean the most to us.

And as far as activities go for the holidays, few are better than sharing the community and thrill of live theater.

“The holidays are the time of year when people are busiest, so it’s really special that they make time to be together at the theater,” said Josh Hartwell, a playwright and actor who has written two holiday shows this season — one at Lakewood’s The Edge Theater and Golden’s Miners Alley Playhouse. “It makes you feel closer to the people you care about when you make time to do things with them.”

This time of year, theater-goers have a variety of options to select from — more traditional to dark comedies and shows that highlight holiday themes, like “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” which is playing at the Arvada Center.

“’Joseph’ is a great family-oriented show, with some wonderful messages,” said Stephen Day, who plays Jacob and Potiphar in the show. “There’s powerful moments of redemption, and a great exploration of family dynamics.”

The musical brings together all kinds of genres, from pop and country to rock. Which means there’s something for everyone to enjoy in the show, said Sarah Rex, the narrator in “Joseph.”

Another show that embraces the theme of the season is “Seussical,” which is plays at Littleton’s Town Hall Arts Center. The show is an amalgamation of several of the Dr. Seuss’ most popular stories, including “Horton Hears a Who,” “The Cat in the Hat,” “The One-Feathered Tail of Miss Gertrude McFuzz” and “Horton Hatches an Egg.”

“Christmas and the end-of-year holiday celebrations are all about family, and there is a long-time tradition of families sharing certain productions together, passing the experience on to new generations to share,” said Bob Wells, director of the show. “’A Christmas Carol’ and ‘The Nutcracker’ are the champions, and I hope ‘Seussical,’ with its story, music, dance, sets and costumes, will become part of the merry tradition.”

Those looking for more off kilter fare can check out “The SantaLand Diaries” at The Jones at the Denver Center for Performing, based on David Sedaris’ experiences from his stint as a Macy’s elf in New York City, and the world premiere of “Resolutions,” written by Hartwell and directed by Missy Moore at The Edge.

“The idea was to create a holiday show that wasn’t really about the holidays,” Hartwell said. “It’s kind of a Quentin Tarantino holiday show. It’s something unlike everything else out there.”

The show is about three middle-aged couples who meet up after the holidays at a cabin in Vail. Each year their social event includes exchanging white elephant gifts, making their resolutions for the upcoming year and, of course, some drinking. But as relationships change, so does the event.

“It’s a black comedy, but it has some grimness, too,” Hartwell added.

For the traditionalists, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ production of “A Christmas Carol” is a perennial favorite, and hard to top.

But for a more personal approach, Hartwell adapted Charles Dickens’ classic for Miners Alley in Golden.

His version follows six local actors who challenge each other to bring Dickens’ classic to life as swiftly and simply as possible. This allows for a blending of the classic elements of the fable to mix with modern sensibilities.

“The journey is so interesting, and I think Scrooge is more complex than people realize,” said Jim Hunt, who plays the miser in the production. “People who come to our show are going to see something fresh and new. In the end, it’s about family and coziness, and that fits with the holiday season.”


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