Theater patrons will have an overflow of productions to feed their holiday spirits beginning this week when all the local community theaters plus a college begin staging their Christmas performances.
It’s a rarity that local theater groups have productions scheduled simultaneously, but it isn’t surprising considering that it’s the holidays. Luckily, they’re scheduled for multiday runs, so there shouldn’t be a problem catching as many as you desire. The problem might be with keeping your mind straight on which production you’re attending when.
The performances serve up everything from the differing perspectives of the Nativity to all the secrets behind Old St. Nick. One is filled with the quirky characters of a small town and another is an adult comedy. Nearly all offer light-hearted views of Christmas themes, and two include music: one as a musical and another accompanied by choral singing.
Here’s the rundown:
Joplin Little Theatre
“Six Who Were There,” Wednesday, Dec. 1, through Sunday, Dec. 5, at the JLT’s Park Playhouse, 3009 W. First St. Curtains go up at 7:30 p.m., except on Sunday when there’s a 2:30 p.m. matinee. Tickets are $18 for adults; $15 for seniors and students; and $8 for those 12 and younger. Tickets may be purchased online at joplinlittletheatre.org or by phoning the theater at 417-623-3638 between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
This is a meaningful but beautifully simple production in which six people present monologues that recount their own version of what happened on that starry night in Bethlehem. The monologues are accompanied by choral singing.
Stone’s Throw Dinner Theatre
“The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus,” Thursday, Dec. 2, through Sunday, Dec. 5, and Thursday, Dec. 9, through Sunday, Dec. 12, at the theater, 2466 W. Old 66 Blvd., west of Carthage. Showtimes are 6:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $29 for adults; $26 for seniors; $24 for students; $23 for youth up to age 12; $12 for youngsters ages 6 through 12; and free for children ages 5 and younger. Because this is a dinner theater, reservations are required and may be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 417-358-9665.
Based on a book by L. Frank Baum, who also authored “The Wizard of Oz,” this production explores the origins of Father Christmas and how Santa became such an iconic figure. The play chronicles the life of St. Nicholas and explains how he created his first toy, how he learned to laugh and why he climbs down chimneys.
Ozark Christian College
“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical,” Thursday, Dec. 2, through Sunday, Dec. 5, at the OCC Chapel, 111 N. Main St. Curtains go up at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $12 for adults, and $8 for children ages 12 and younger. Tickets may be reserved online at occ.edu/Christmas. For information, email Carolyn Hardison at email@example.com or phone 417-626-1221.
This is a musical adaption of Barbara Robinson’s classic novel about a family of rowdy kids who crash Sunday school and demand parts in the church’s annual Christmas pageant. Because the kids had never heard the Christmas story, they take some liberties in retelling it. Soon the town calls for the pageant to be canceled until someone steps up to help everyone see the Christmas story through new eyes.
Stained Glass Theatre
“Fruitcakes,” Thursday, Dec. 9, through Sunday, Dec. 12, and Thursday, Dec. 16, through Sunday, Dec. 19, at the SGT theater, 2101 Annie Baxter Ave. Curtain times are 7 p.m., except on Sundays when 2:30 p.m. matinees will be held. Tickets are $10 for adults; $5 for children ages 4 to 14; and free for those age 3 and younger. Tickets may be reserved online at sgtjoplin.square.site/events. For information, email sgt firstname.lastname@example.org.
The production is a recipe for holiday cheer, considering that it mixes together a batch of fruitcakes, three dozen Christmas trees, 10,000 outdoor Christmas lights, a chicken pox epidemic, two Southern spinsters, an estranged old man, a lost cat named Tutti Frutti and a Christmas hog named Buster. It tells the story of a city kid who has run away from home and traveled as far as his money will take him, ending up in a town full of people who are “nuttier than fruitcakes.” He soon comes to admire, appreciate and adore the little town and its inhabitants.
Dream Theatre Company
“Who’s Holiday!” Thursday, Dec. 16, through Saturday, Dec. 18, at Studio 124, 124 S. Main St. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. nightly. Tickets are $15, and they may be reserved online at showtix4u.com/event-details/57919. For more information email email@example.com or phone 417-622-6470.
This is a funny, but heartfelt comedy for adults only — you must be 18 or older to attend. It tells the story of Cindy Lou Who, who recalls the Christmas Eve she met the Grinch and the twisted turn of events her life has taken as a result.
Considering the caliber of community theaters we have for a city of our size, it’s a guarantee that any one of these productions will be worth the attendance. It’s a way to support local theater while nabbing the holiday spirit.