If it's December, you’ve probably had your festive fill of Rudolph and Ralphie. Fortunately, there are some alternative ways to rock around the Christmas tree this month. With a hip-hop swaggering The Nutcracker, a hilarious Die Hard parody and a Latin twist on A Christmas Carol, these productions add spice to your entertainment eggnog.
The Hip Hop Nutcracker
A modern dance spectacle set to Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet, the timeless tale is transported from 19th century Germany to contemporary New York City. Performed Dec. 13 at the State Theatre, this production features a dozen dancers, a DJ, a violinist and Kurtis Blow, the first rapper ever to sign to a major record label in 1979. “We stay entirely true to the score and the characters,” says Randi Freitas, the show’s associate choreographer. “The twist we put on it is a beautiful mix of hip-hop and street dancers.” The stylish production, accented with digital graffiti and vibrant costumes, consistently attracts a multi-generational audience. “What I enjoy the most is giving these dancers a platform they don’t usually have,” Freitas says. playhousesquare.com
A Xmas Cuento Remix
Indebted to Latin culture, Maya Malan-Gonzalez’s bilingual, musical take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is part of a rolling world premiere, with simultaneous performances being staged in Portland, Oregon, and Chicago. Running Dec. 5-12 at the Cleveland Public Theatre, this adaptation has a predominantly female cast, with strong, complicated Latina characters taking the place of Ebenezer Scrooge, Jacob Marley and the three ghosts. “This was inspired by a Latino adaptation of A Christmas Carol my father wrote,” says playwright Malan-Gonzalez, whose parents founded the Milagro Theatre in Portland. “It was important for me to amplify the roles women play in upholding our traditions and how they relate to their families.” In true Dickensian fashion, the musical pays tribute to the past while also addressing such current social issues as gentrification and community-police relations. cptonline.org
Yippee Ki-Yay, Merry Christmas: A Die Hard Musical Parody
In this musical spoof’s Cleveland premiere at the Blank Canvas Theatre, it’s 1987 in Los Angeles, and police officer Bruce McClane is trying to reconcile with his estranged wife at a Christmas Eve office party at Nakatomi Plaza. But things take a turn for the naughty list when German terrorist Hans Olo takes the cast — and audience — hostage, leaving their fate in the hands of McClane, the authorities and Arnold Schwartzer-Schnitzel. “I joke that this is our ‘opposite-Christmas show,’ ” says Blank Canvas founder and artistic director Patrick Ciamacco, who opens the show Dec. 6-21. “This is a good show to go to with friends to get your mind off [holiday] stuff. It’s true to the movie; it definitely has a 1980s flair to it.” blankcanvastheatre.com