Local businesses in Andersonville offer holiday discounts along with free food and drink, live entertainment, and a visit from Santa at the Swedish American Museum (5211 N. Clark) from 6-8 PM.http://andersonville.org
The ensemble behind Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind perform 30 of their favorite two-minute plays from the past year. $9 plus the roll of a die ($10-$15)
Moshak discusses her memoir Ice 'n' Go: Score in Sports and Life.
Bell's Brewery showcases a dozen of their finest brews, including rare offerings like the raspberry ale and the harvest ale.
Strangest premise for a holiday show ever: on Christmas Eve, all the stuffed animals in Tom's Taxidermy Shop come to life to sing and reflect on their pasts. It turns out each mounted critter has a sad story to tell—even the newest addition, Dasher the reindeer, who rues a lost love. The oddest thing, though, is that Andrew Park (who wrote the book) and Scott C. Lamps (who, with Park, wrote the songs) tell this gooey story about animated corpses without a hint of irony. Santa even makes an appearance! Directed by Park, the production is packed with terrific singing, dancing, and puppetry. But I kept thinking what a darkly funny holiday show a Tim Burton or a Billy Bermingham could have made from this material. —Jack Helbighttp://questensemble.org
This season Hell in a Handbag artistic director David Cerda risks his scrappy company's financial health by replacing its perennial holiday moneymaker, Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer, and gambling on an untested show. It's likely to pay off. Cerda wrote and stars in this sublimely awful musical about Joan Crawford starring in a sublimely awful musical about the life of Jesus Christ (she's the Blessed Virgin, natch). Forcing her cast to work on December 25, the diva earns visitations from two Christmas spirits—and Bette Davis—who attempt to revive her dormant humanity. Corrupting A Christmas Carol with vulgar, campy hysterics yields almost nonstop delights—and even bits of wisdom. Director AJ Wright's daring, disciplined cast deliver the goods as Cerda's craft approaches Ludlamesque heights. Rudolph who? —Justin Hayford $15-$25http://handbagproductions.org
Sketches about the holiday season. $15, $10 with student ID
Children in the audience select a holiday storybook to be read by a narrator and performed by six actors on the spot. $12, $8 for children under 12
Late in Barrel of Monkeys' newest program of writing by Chicago elementary school students, an actress sings a fourth grader's list of things that once made him happy but are now gone forever. It's a simple, earnest, deeply affecting scene—and about the only moment in this cursory, slapdash 45-minute show when anyone appears to take the children's writing seriously. The rest of the time director Molly Brennan's cast play everything for cheap laughs, turning the sweet, unguarded texts into excuses for self-consciously hokey theater (and in two of the scenes, the kids' texts are jettisoned entirely). The uninventive staging, the perfunctory performances, and the incessant dumbing-down insult the intelligence of children and audience alike. —Justin Hayford $5-$10http://barrelofmonkeys.org
Sketch comedy inspired by children from two Avondale grade schools; some of the skits are performed in Spanish. $5-$10
The Neo-Futurists perform 30 plays in 60 minutes in this "futurist evening in the grand Italian tradition." The fare changes weekly in this long-running production; between two and 12 new scripts are performed each week depending on the roll of a die. This is funny, wise, nakedly honest, sometimes unsettling, and invariably entertaining theater. â€”Jennifer Vanasco $9 plus the roll of a die ($10-$15)http://neofuturists.org