Christmas cheer comes to Theatre Alliance and Children’s Theatre

by Mark Burger

Theatre Alliance of Winston- Salem, celebrating its 27th season this year, is ringing in the holiday season with laughter and music in its production of Winter Wonderettes, which opens Friday at 1047 Northwest Blvd., Winston-Salem.

Created by Roger Bean, Winter Wonderettes is the holiday-themed follow-up to the popular musical comedy The Marvelous Wonderettes (also created by Bean). Set in 1968, a few months after the events depicted in the first show, the story focuses on the annual Christmas party at Harper’s Hardware, a yuletide bash in which everything goes haywire.

The production stars Heather Maggs as Missy, Katlyn Shaw as Cindy Lou, Heidi Shafer as Suzy and Linda Shillito as Betty Jean — four gals doing their darnedest to celebrate the holidays amidst the chaos.

Jamie Lawson, artistic director of Theatre Alliance and perennial director of its productions (including this one), has spoken often about his delight and satisfaction in Theatre Alliance’s penchant for variety. Winter Wonderettes, he said, fits the bill perfectly.

“We love to try different holiday shows,” he explained.

“There are so many good ones that haven’t been done. The Marvelous Wonderettes is doing so well in its current professional run, we decided to give the Christmas version a whirl.”

Winter Wonderettes boasts a varied selection of popular holiday tunes, including “Jingle Bells” and (appropriately enough) “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Rockin’

Around the Christmas Tree,” “It’s Christmas Time All Over the World,” “Sleigh Ride Run,” “Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day,” “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” and many others.

“Our last show, Flaming Guns of the Purple Sage, left the cast bathed in blood. Now, in December, we are bathing the cast in snowflakes,” said Lawson. “Ahhh, the magic of theater! It‘s always a little crazy in these transitions, which leave one feeling little like a split personality.”

Like its predecessor, Winter Wonderettes has a few ribald moments, and “probably the biggest challenge is not to add more innuendo than the show requests,” noted Lawson. “We are keeping Wonderettes family-friendly, though.”

After all, Lawson reasoned, “we are a ‘warm and fuzzy’ group, especially at the holidays! The season of giving is atime for fun, family, hopes and dreams, and what better way to experience all of that than time spent with live theater? Wonderettes is the perfect show to embrace the holiday spirit with your family and friends.”

Winter Wonderettes is scheduled to run through Dec. 12.

Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday (Dec. 3), 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 4), 8 p.m. Wednesday (Dec. 8) through Saturday (Dec. 11), 2 p.m. Sundays (Dec. 5 and 12). Tickets are $16, $14 for senior citizens and students (with valid ID). For this Friday’s opening-night performance, all tickets are $2 off. Reservations are suggested.

For tickets or more information, call 336.838.3006 or visit the official Theatre Alliance website:

The Children’s Theatre of Winston-Salem is also getting into the festive spirit of Christmas with its presentation of the TheatreIV production of Charles Dickens‘’ holiday standard A Christmas Carol, which opens Friday at the Arts Council Theatre (610 Coliseum Drive, Winston-Salem).

For the main character, the miserable miser Ebenezer Scrooge, appreciating the true spirit of Christmas comes only after he is visited by three Christmas spirits (four, if you count the ghost of Marley), who show him the error of his past ways and the promise of joy and hope for the future … if only he can just change his ways.

A Christmas Carol is perhaps the best-known and best-loved holiday story of all time, and through the years, a number of luminaries have made the role of Ebenezer Scrooge their own: Reginald Owen, Alastair Sim, Albert Finney, George C. Scott, Michael Caine (surrounded by Muppets, no less), Jim Carrey and even Mr. Magoo. It’s a timeless tale, one that never seems to lose its relevance or charm.

Showtimes are 10 a.m. and noon Friday, 11 a.m. Saturday.

Tickets are $8 (general admission). Premium tickets (Saturday only) are $12. Reservations are strongly suggested.

For tickets or more information, call 336.725.4531 or visit the official Children’s Theatre website: www.childrenstheatrews. org.