Theater review – Tis the season

Shows for the holidays promise a lot of the usual Christmas fare. But surprise! There is also some adult humor, politics, and irreverence in the mix.

Outrageous antics

Peoples Light 3 Musketeers Rachel Kim Richard photo by Mark Garvin
Rachel Brennan, Kim Carson, and Richard Ruiz in Kathryn Petersen’s The Three Musketeers (The Later Years): A Musical Panto, with music and lyrics by Michael Ogborn, at People’s Light & Theatre Company. Photo by Mark Garvin.

People’s Light & Theatre Company in Malvern mounts its seventh annual holiday panto–the British tradition of winter musical comedy based on familiar fairytales and children’s stories, injected with contemporary references and audience participation.  Pete Pryor, whose direction of Cinderella earned him a Barrymore in 2009, returns again this year for The Three Musketeers (The Later Years), both as the director, and the villain.  The raucous comedy, set in the swashbuckling world of the 17th-century court, runs November 17-January 9, and promises fun for all ages.



1812 This Is The Week Cast photo by jj tiziou

Back by popular demand, 1812 Productions makes its annual foray into political comedy with its fifth installment of This Is the Week that Is, which runs December 2-31, at Plays & Players. Written and performed by the popular Week ensemble, this perennial favorite has a script that changes nightly with the evening news.  Local, national, and international events are all fair game for parody, in a show designed to laugh at, instead of lamenting, the present state of the world.  What better holiday gift?

Serious irreverence



Anthony Lawton in Lanterns The Great Divorce photo by Janet Embree

Lantern Theater Company celebrates one of Philadelphia’s most compelling actor/playwrights in a three-play extravaganza, Between Heaven and Hell:  The Anthony Lawton Festival, comprising C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce, Shel Silverstein’s The Devil and Billy Markham, and Lawton’s autobiographical Heresy.  If you haven’t seen these works before–or even if you have–be sure to catch this “spiritual theater for a secular audience,” performed in repertory December 3-19, at St. Stephen’s Theater.  Lawton is the master of intense one-man shows, intimate self-examination, and pondering the virtues and vices of organized religion.  He will make you think, make you laugh, and make you very uncomfortable, as a great performer should.

More for Adults

Derick Loafmann in Flashpoints Santaland Diaries photo by Arthur Malavasic
Derick Loafmann in Flashpoint Theatre Company’s The SantaLand Diaries. Photo by Arthur Malavasic.

Now in its seventh successful year, Flashpoint Theatre Company offers a new take on David Sedaris’s autobiographical The SantaLand Diaries, with Flashpoint’s own Noah Herman directing.  Chronicling the author’s true stint as a Macy’s elf during the Christmas shopping season in Manhattan, company founder Derick Loafmann reprises his hilarious role as Crumpet, Santa’s smart-mouthed helper, from December 1-19, at the Adrienne.