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See Some Holiday Theater and Soon You'll Lose those Ol' December Blues 

Boost your elf esteem

It's well known that some people get depressed during the holidays, and why not? On Christmas Eve, Santa will be flying all over the world, going in and out of all kinds of homes — and there are still no plans to keep him quarantined for 21 days when he enters the U.S. Clearly, this is a massive Ebola risk that Emperor Obama is willfully ignoring.

But there are countervailing forces that may pull you out of your well-reasoned depressive state. For instance, there are almost a dozen shows — almost all opening this week at local theaters and closing before Christmas — that could brighten your outlook. Here is a sampler of holiday theatricals in the area.

New Stuff

These shows haven't been seen in Northeast Ohio before.

American Falls

Cleveland Public Theatre: 6415 Detroit Ave., 216-631-2727,

Eight people in Miki Johnson's play get together, sort of, to tell us about themselves. Their lives contain a lot of love, pain, violence and one suicide. So, you know, it ain't exactly Frosty the Snowman.

A Civil War Christmas

Dobama Theatre: 2340 Lee Rd., Cleveland Heights, 216-932-3396,

Written and assembled by Paula Vogel, this play with music takes place on Christmas Eve, 1864, in Washington D.C. Abe and Mary Todd are there, along with John Wilkes Booth and some other assorted soldiers and escaped slaves, as the stories weave together and speak to aspects of the human spirit.

High Fidelity

Blank Canvas Theatre: 1305 West 78th St., 440-941-0458,

If you love rock music, you might also love this stage version of the movie starring John Cusack and Jack Black. The owner of a vinyl record store and his two clerks explore their romantic lives while delivering a rock score by Amanda Green and Tom Kitt, who wrote the score for Next to Normal.

Irving Berlin's White Christmas

PlayhouseSquare: 1615 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000,

This touring production is the stage version of the Bing Crosby/Danny Kaye movie, featuring many familiar tunes including the title song. I can never watch the movie without crying at the General's concluding speech, so I'm packing Kleenex, just in case.

Clara and the Nutcracker

Talespinner Children's Theatre: 5209 Detroit Ave., 216-264-9680,

Are there little ones around? If so, you can treat them to a sampling from this delightful kid-focused troupe. Often employing masks, puppets, and loads of inventive staging, the adult TCT performers will take Anne McEvoy's adaptation of The Nutcracker and give it a unique spin all their own.


Produced by convergence-continuum at The Liminis: 2438 Scranton Rd., 216-687-0074,

This show already opened, and it's definitely not a candy-coated holiday bonbon from con-con. It's a brutal, ugly and riveting telling of a nasty night in Dublin, written by Mark O'Rowe.

Holiday Traditions

Exact Change None Too Fragile Theater: 1835 Merriman Rd., Akron, 330-671-4563,

My newly revised one-person show travels to Akron for a two-day, three-performance run at the None Too Fragile Theater, Dec. 12 and 13. Tighter focus on the gender journey, 40 percent new material, same old performer.

A Christmas Carol

Great Lakes Theater: 2067 East 14th St., 216-241-6000,

It's been running this time every year for the past 193 years (just kidding...I think). But this Dickens' story never fails to grab hold, especially as produced by GLT.

A Christmas Story

Cleveland Play House: 1407 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000,

Yes, the leg lamp and the boy in the bunny suit are back, with a (mostly) new cast. But all the same great storytelling is there, thanks to Jean Shepherd, the original author of the boyhood stories and co-writer of the iconic movie.

Mary Poppins

Beck Center: 17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-521-2540,

Grab your aerodynamically sound umbrella and float over to Lakewood, for this locally produced premiere of the crowd-pleasing, family-friendly show that toured here a while back.

Conni's Avant Garde Restaurant

Cleveland Public Theatre: 6415 Detroit Ave., 216-631-2727,

It's an indescribable mashup of outrageous comedy, a game show, cabaret singing, and a multi-course dinner cooked and served by the cast. Unmentionable things are done with a hand mixer. 'Nuff said.

The Santaland Diaries

Cleveland Public Theatre at Playhouse Square: 1615 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000,

Crumpet and his many neuroses are on display again, this time with Eric Schmiedl as the jaded, gay elf punching a time card at Macy's.

There's the lineup. So make your reservations, get that spiked eggnog on an IV drip, and enjoy the season!

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