Updated: Jan 29
Remember to check websites for pandemic protocols.
Dec. 3: God is a Scottish Drag Queen: A Christmas Special; The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, Main Stage, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia; 7:30 p.m.; tickets: $19 to $42; info: washingtoncenter.org/event/gisdq-a-christmas-special/
Is all this reverence too much for you? Want to split this Peppermint Stick Forest and step away from the treacly, Candy Land of holiday tradition? If you’re overdosed on sugar and tipping toward another Christmas coma, it’s time for a seasonal reverence cleanse at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts. In “God is a Scottish Drag Queen,” the Creator (aka, Mike Delamont) will don one of his festive holiday power suits for a naughty, holiday primer aimed at correcting everything you thought you knew about this time of year. Nothing is sacred: Yule, Saturnalia, Winter Solstice, Tiny Tim — all that sugary food — and, of course, religion. Perhaps it’s a little easier to digest with a little added irreverence, though some may think it's a bit too spicy. Either way, it’s drag — and how can that be bad?
Dec. 10: Jake Shimabukuro; Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway, Tacoma; 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.; tickets: $29 and up; info: https://bit.ly/3cZi8Gc
In 1968, about a decade before Jake Shimabukuro was born, Tiny Tim made his mainstream television debut, re-introducing the ukulele to popular culture. Tim played a mash-up of “A-Tisket-A-Tasket,” and “On the Good Ship Lollipop,” while comedy host Dick Martin rolled his eyes in disbelief. The left-handed, backward-strung ukulele, was a prop in a Laugh-In sketch, and the world really loved it. Tim’s career took off. Then faded. But Tiny Tim’s shtick included that instrument until his death from a heart attack while on stage at ukulele festival in 1996. Years later, it took Jake Shimabukuro to bring the instrument back into popular culture, but this time it was played by a virtuoso and an ambassador of Hawaiian culture. Shimabukuro brings his masterful skills to the Pantages Theater for his “Christmas in Hawaii” holiday show. The event is filled with his personal arrangements of classic Christmas carols. Shimabukuro is a master, sure, but how can anyone perform a Christmas Carol without Tiny Tim? He’s the ghost of ukuleles past.
There’s No Place Like Home
Dec. 10 – 31: The Wizard of Oz; Tacoma Little Theatre; 210 N I St., Tacoma; dates and show times vary; $29 adult, $27 student/seniors, $22 12 and under; info: tacomalittletheatre.com
Buddy Ebsen, aka, Uncle Jed from the Beverly Hillbillies, was originally cast to play the role of the Scarecrow in the 1939 MGM production of The Wizard of Oz, although he switched roles with Ray Bolger and ended up painting his face with aluminum dust to play the Tin Man. Unfortunately, prolonged exposure to aluminum dust is pretty toxic and after several days of filming Ebsen fell ill, was hospitalized and nearly died from inhaling his face makeup. The role was then given to Jack Haley, who also became ill from the makeup, but not serious enough to stop the production. As close to death as Ebsen was during the filming, it turns out that he outlasted all the film’s main cast members when he lived to the age of 95. He died in 2003. What will live forever is our love for L. Frank Baum’s tale of four travelers who skipped down the yellow brick road toward the Emerald City. Makeup these days is much safer; so don’t worry about the cast members at the Tacoma Little Theatre’s production — they’re safe from everything, except perhaps The Wicked Witch of the West.
Revel With the Devil
Dec. 18 – 22: The Christmas Revels; check website for show times; Rialto Theater, 310 S Ninth St., Tacoma; tickets: $20, $33, $36, children: $13, $20; info: bit.ly/3cuGO9u
The big question this holiday season is whether the person sitting in the back seat of a flying canoe controls the direction? They do in the water, but do the physics stay the same once a bewitched canoe takes to the sky at night? And, who might the person be, who’s controlling the direction at lift-off? You may find the answer to these questions at The Christmas Revels. The performance takes us back to a French Canadian era of both festivals and fantastic tales of adventure. Also, you’ll hear voices amalgamate into secular song, feel your toes tap, see feet clog and you’ll listen to those ancient tales retold. The Seattle Brass Ensemble, musicians Kevin Carr and Cil Pierce will provide the music, while actor Bill Johns and fiddler/storyteller Benjamin Hunter add their own mix to the revelry. You’ll have a devil of a time. Strike a deal and score some tickets. You’ll be grateful for an eternity.
Paradise Lost in Darkness? Go to the Light
Dec. 31 – Jan. 16: Tacoma Light Trail; Downtown Tacoma, with live performances at Tollefson Plaza every Friday and Saturday, 6 to 8 p.m.; free; info: tacomalighttrail.org/
There’s one commodity that has remained untouched by kinks in the international supply chain: Darkness. We’ve got plenty of it. Too much. There’s no need to order any more, please. So, in these dark times, as John Milton once said, it’s best to “consider how my light is spent.” Milton knew first-hand that lightness is important stuff. This year the Tacoma Light Trail will lead you to enlightenment and help you spend your light in ways that will make you glow. Just one step out from the darkness and you’ll feel those lights transport you to a place of blithesome-like bliss-ness-ness. (Where’s John Milton when you need him?) Then, when your legs find purchase, you can chicken walk, shimmy, twist, do the pony, or even drive if you want, through the exquisite light art that will strip you of December’s clingy darkness and make you feel like Milton or Galileo — like a member of the illuminati, without having to attend any those dreadful regional conferences in Florence. Check tacomalighttrail.org for performance times. And remember: After Dec. 21, little-by-little, things will get brighter.
— Jon Williams