It's now Day 22 of the Hallmark/Lifetime Christmas-movie siege. The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, which former Reader critic Dave Kehr described as "Preston Sturges's affably blasphemous version of the Nativity," is the antidote to all those sugarplums and saccharine. "Caustic and chaotic in the arch Sturges manner," Kehr wrote, "it's probably his funniest and most smilingly malicious film." $11
I've been looking over the list of plays presented by Goodman Theatre's New Stages initiative since its inception ten years ago. Pretty impressive. The roughly annual festival offers staged readings and—since 2011—workshop productions of new work by interesting playwrights, and some of the free performances have that retrospective shoulda-been-there mystique theatergoers both love and dread. Just for example: the 2005 New Stages featured an early look at Elliot, a Soldier's Fugue, the Pulitzer Prize-nominated first third of a trilogy by Quiara Alegría Hudes (who went on to win a Pulitzer for the next third, Water by the Spoonful); 2006 saw The Brothers Size from Tarell Alvin McCraney's great "The Brother/Sister Plays"; and the 2007 edition gave us Lynn Nottage's devastating (and, yes, Pulitzer-winning) Ruined. This time around New Stages is concentrating entirely on Latino playwrights, which seems to have changed the dynamic somewhat. One play is returning for a workshop production after having already received a staged reading in 2012; two of the participating playwrights are a lot better established than has been the norm. There's a smaller pool, in short, with fewer wild cards. Continue reading >>
As holiday tradition goes, seeing The Nutcracker is up there with tree trimming, eggnog sipping, and passive-aggressive dinner conversation with your hyperultraconservative uncle. The Robert Joffrey-choreographed version—which relocates the action to 19th-century America—is being performed for the 26th year and features more than 100 dancers from the area dancing alongside Joffrey Ballet company. $31-$132
I thought this was some kind of game. Now I'm locked in a room with ten strangers and a zombie. Botched experiment, mutated virus, the same way these things always happen. Not sure if we're going to make it out. The chain holding the zombie back keeps getting longer. At first, an hour seemed like plenty of time to figure out how to escape. We searched the room for clues and joked about who would be the first to die. The solution came together bit by bit. But time is running out. No more jokes now. We've almost cracked the final puzzle. Thirty seconds left. Time for one last try. If we fail, print this as a warning. —Keith Griffith $28http://roomescapeadventures.com
'Tis the season for gliding over a shimmering sheet of solid ice, effortlessly tossing off spins and triple axels. Or maybe just taking a few awkward steps away from the edge of the rink and falling flat on your ass. Ice skating is so much fun! Especially when there's hot chocolate afterward.