Nothing can take the edge off of holiday stress like a good dose of escapism and hearty laughter. Central Kentucky theaters are here to help.
No matter where you live in the Bluegrass, there is probably a seasonal production that will help you relax and enjoy Christmastime.
Here are a few of the reasons to visit the theater this holiday season. See the sidebar for a fuller list of productions in Central Kentucky and beyond.
The 12 Dates of Christmas by Project SEE Theatre and The SantaLand Diaries by Actors Guild of Lexington: The first full season by Project SEE Theatre includes The 12 Dates of Christmas, a one-woman comedy about a 30-something actress in New York looking for love. Written by Transylvania University adjunct playwriting professor Ginna Hoben, The 12 Dates of Christmas has been compared to Bridget Jones's Diary and is written, directed and acted by female artists. (Don't confuse it with the ABC Family TV movie airing Dec. 11; it has the same name but a different story line.) (7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, 15, 17; 2 p.m. Dec. 11. Downtown Arts Center, Lexington. $15 one show, $25 for both SantaLand Diaries and 12 Dates, $12 students, $8 student rush and group rates. (859) 225-0370. Projectseetheatre.com.)
The 12 Dates alternates its performances with an all-guy crew in The SantaLand Diaries. Reprising elements of Actors Guild's nomadic strip-mall production of David Sedaris' script a few years ago, including star Timothy Hull, the play is a hilarious and sarcastic skewering of Sedaris' work as a holiday elf. (7:30 p.m. Dec. 8, 10, 16; 2 p.m. Dec. 18. Downtown Arts Center, Lexington. $15 one show, $25 for both SantaLand Diaries and 12 Dates, $12 students, $8 student rush and group rates. (859) 225-0370. Actors-guild.org.)
Looking for Mrs. Santa Claus by Studio Players: Yet another original script — written by Lexington playwright Margaret C. Price, who penned last season's Actors Guild hit Belle Brezing — is on Studio Players' stage. The world-premiere production is a feel-good musical about the power of a child's wish, and an elf and a kind woman who believe in its magic. Studio Players productions often sell out, so be sure to get your tickets in advance. (8 p.m. Dec. 2, 3, 9, 10; 2:30 p.m. Dec. 4, 11. Carriage House Theatre, Lexington. $17, $10 students. (859) 225-0370. Studioplayers.org.)
Madeline's Christmas by Lexington Children's Theatre: The area's professional children's theater revisits the iconic character Madeline as her Paris schoolmates deal with the flu before Christmas break. Read a review of the show on Page 13. (7 p.m. Dec. 3; 2 p.m Dec. 3, 4. Lexington Opera House, Lexington. $17 adults, $14 children. (859) 254-4546, Ext. 247. LCTonstage.org.)
Smackdown for the Christmas Crown by The Rep: The new musical theater group in town debuts with a story of two 1950s vocal groups vying for the coveted Christmas Crown at an annual holiday variety show. The Rep's Facebook page describes it as, "think Lawrence Welk after 6 beers." (7:30 p.m. Dec. 16-18. Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center, Lexington. $18.50 adults, $14.50 seniors, $10.50 children and students. (859) 280-2218. Thereptheatre.com.)
IN THE REGION
A Tuna Christmas: Frankfort is offering some Tuna this year. Bluegrass Theatre Guild in Frankfort will produce A Tuna Christmas, the wildly popular comedy about the colorful characters in the town of Tuna, Texas. The second of a trilogy about the "third-smallest town" in the state, A Tuna Christmas features two men playing more than 20 characters, including women. It's a raucous Southern comedy that is part homage, part satire and all funny. (By Bluegrass Theatre Guild. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2, 3; 1:30 p.m. Dec. 3. The Grand Theatre, Frankfort. $15 preferred seating, $12 adults. (502) 223-7529. Bluegrassthreatreguild.com.) (A previously listed production by Rose Barn Theatre in Richmond has been canceled.)
Scrooge: The Musical by The Woodford Theatre: If Charles Dickens were alive and had copyright on his ideas, he might be the richest man in the world. The story and characters of his A Christmas Carol have been recycled and revamped in countless ways, and the play continues to be a wildly popular Christmas tale. The Woodford Theatre is bringing a musical version of the classic tale to the stage. Film buffs might notice that the score and book by Leslie Bricusse closely resemble the 1970 film Scrooge, starring Albert Finney. (8 p.m. Dec. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17; 2 p.m. Dec. 4, 10, 11, 17, 18. Falling Springs Arts and Recreation Center, Versailles. $19, $12 students. (859) 873-0648. Woodfordcountytheater.com.)
A Christmas Carol: If you want to see a "straight" version of A Christmas Carol, Wilmore and Berea are the places to go. The Bluegrass Performing and Visual Arts Association in Jessamine County and the Berea Arena Theatre will produce the iconic work.)
(By Berea Arena Theatre. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7-10; 2 p.m. Dec. 11. Berea Arena Theater, Berea. $5. (859) 986-9039. Bereaarenatheater.com.)
(By Bluegrass Performing and Visual Arts Association. 7 p.m. Dec. 9, 10, 16, 17; 2 p.m. Dec. 11, 18. Asbury Theological Seminary McKenna Chapel, Wilmore. $15 adults, $12 students. (859) 881-8247. Bluegrassarts.org.)
Candace Chaney is a Lexington writer.