With such strange, non-wintery weather, it can be hard to comprehend that the holiday season is upon us – or at least it would be if retailers weren’t so insistent with their decorating and constant gift idea promotions. Theater companies are doing their part, too, gearing up with a wide variety of traditional and anti-tradition productions. One of these, closer to the latter pole, is Balletto Stiletto at La MaMa. It’s loosely based on the Grimm Brothers’ “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” and tells the story of “the Appliance King of New Jersey” who locks his nine daughters in their room each night only to find every morning that their shoes bear the signs of long hours of partying. If it doesn’t sound like it has much to do with the holidays, well, that’s just one more thing it has going for it.
Balletto Stiletto proclaims that it’s a new holiday spectacular; advance descriptions of On Dry Land, a new play by Elizabeth Gutterman, doesn’t say much if anything about the season, but it is related in a sort of oblique way. It’s a dark dramedy about three women nearing the big 3-0, each dealing with the lack of a mother figure to help guide her life, as well as with the men in their lives, who want to be supportive. The holidays are about nothing if not working through family difficulties, so this show is certainly right in that vein, and it might even make you see your own situation in a helpful new light.
Staying with the theme of women’s lives, but shifting to a lighter key and a younger age, is The Adventures of Lock and Kay, which is showing at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Lockhart Still and KayLyn Allen started out as child prodigy musicians with typically pushy backstage parents and have become mega pop stars; the shows spin off the wild success of “Behind The Music”-like TV programs, using live performances, “interviews” with people who were influential in their career, and early music videos of theirs to allow us to follow, episode by episode, the girls’ stop-at-nothing climb to the glittery top of stardom. We're not huge Behind The Music fans ourselves, but seeing such a show live, with good measures of parody and hilarity, will doubtless be an entirely different thing.
Success in the theatre world is at least as hard to come by as it is in more media-frenzied arenas like pop music, which is why we’re always happy to see a good show get an extension or make the transfer to off-Broadway from off-off(-off-off…). We saw Apparition, by Anne Washburn, when it was at Chashama awhile back, and thought it was fantastic, so we’re glad that it’s back and on a bigger, nicer stage. As the press notes say, it's "about the feeling that something is coming to get you, and there is nowhere to hide”; it certainly isn’t your usual holiday fare, and that’s a good thing. Creepy and fascinating, with plenty that will keep you up later thinking about it, Apparition is something to go to for an antidote to the feel-good shows that are a little too abundant right now.
And in case you still need a show that will really whisk false holiday cheer well away from you, you can see Prophet, by Thomas Bradshaw. This one's about a man who, after deciding not to kill himself, is widowed and suddenly realizes he is God’s new prophet, here on Earth with a “gospel of male domination” that he practices as much as he preaches it once he takes a new wife. It’s supposed to be humorous, and we hope that’s the case, otherwise it might be a little too alarming, but we’ll trust the good ship P.S. 122, where it’s showing, on this. Even if you don’t think you particularly need help against the endlessly bright, wearisome shows that tend to dominate the season, these would all be excellent choices to see just the same.
Details after the jump...
Details: Balletto Stiletto is at La MaMa, 79 E. 4th St., from Thurs.-Dec. 18. Shows are Thurs.-Sun. 7:30pm with a matinee Sun. at 2:30pm. Tickets are available via Theatermania. On Dry Land is at the Blue Heron Arts Center, 123 E. 24th St., this week only: Wed.-Sat. at 8pm, Sun. 3pm. Reserve tickets by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The Adventures of Lock and Kay is at the UCB Theatre, 307 W. 26th St. Upcoming performances are Mon. Dec. 5 and Mon. Dec. 12, both at 8pm; reserve tickets on the website http://www.ucbtheatre.com/schedule/showdetails.php?showid=848. Apparition is at the Connelly Theatre, 220 E. 4th St., through Jan. 7. Shows are Mon.-Wed. & Fri. 8pm, Thurs. & Sun. 7pm, Thurs. also 10pm, Sat. 5pm & 9pm. Get tickets through the official website. Prophet is at P.S. 122, 150 First Ave., from Thurs. through Dec. 17. Performances are Wed.-Sat. 8:30pm, Sat. & Sun. 4:30pm. Tickets via Theatermania.