Here's an alternative to those saccharine, Normal Rockwell painting-esque, Currier-&-Ives scene-like Christmas festivities. Hanukkah, you ask? Nope. Kwanzaa? Nuh-huh. Los Posados? Not hardly. It's still Christmas. It's just a modern, cynical, world-weary kind of Christmas. And also a spray-your-hair and shake-your-booty kind of Christmas. But, hey, at least it's not the 17th A Christmas Carol, 11th Nutcracker or seventh Frosty the Snowman, right? So, WaterTower Theatre offers a substitute for the normal stuff while still not straying too far from the manger. Returning for a fourth year is Rockin' Christmas Party, a singing and dancing tribute to chart-topping music from the '60s, '70s and '80s. The soundtrack ranges from Motown girl-group hits to Madonna's "Holiday" and The B-52s' "Love Shack" performed by several returning cast members, a few newbies and a live band. Also returning is Nye Cooper as Crumpet in the David Sedaris (as adapted by Joe Mantello) story The Santaland Diaries, in which Sedaris recounts a Christmas spent as a 30-something, out-of-work actor employed as a department-store elf, who endures taunting by disrespectful parents, vomiting kiddies and belligerent Santas. The new addition is PUNCH DRUnK Comedy's holiday review called Flocked, which spikes the eggnog with sketches and songs about binge drinking, murderous yard decorations and other fa-la-la-laughable situations. The latter two involve adult language, so kids should stay at home to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas...again. Rockin' Christmas Party, in the main theater, previews at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, opens 8 p.m. Friday and runs through December 21 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $25 to $35. The Santaland Diaries, in the Stone Cottage, previews 8 p.m. Thursday, opens 7 p.m. Friday and runs through December 21 at 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sundays. There will be no performance December 7. Tickets are $15. PUNCH DRUnK Comedy's Flocked, in the main theater, runs 10:45 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, December 5 through December 20, plus 8 p.m. Monday, December 15. Tickets are $10. All three productions take place at the WaterTower Theatre's home at the Addison Theatre Centre, 15650 Addison Road. Call the box office at 972-450-6232 or visit www.watertowertheatre.org. --Shannon Sutlief
When I was growing up, my dad wasn't real big on hugs. He didn't call me "princess" or kiss me on the forehead when he came home from work. But I didn't feel like I missed out or anything. Just being there, putting up with my silly adolescent nonsense and never having us want for anything was good enough. And every Christmas Eve night he read The Night Before Christmas to me. Even when I was a little too old for it, I insisted he read it to me anyway. It was laughable, but tradition. And although I am definitely too old for it now, there's still a place in that inner child in all of us that wants to hear the story again. Better yet, come out and see Clement Clarke Moore's infamous poem come to life when the 2003 Dallas Metropolitan Ballet gives its rendition of A Visit to St. Nicholas (a.k.a. The Night Before Christmas). Guest artists include Julie Diana and Zachary Hench from the San Francisco ballet along with Mindaugas Bauzys. Performances are at the McFarlin Auditorium on the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas. Show times are 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on December 6 and 2 p.m. on December 7. Tickets cost $10 to $35. Call 214-631-2787 or visit www.ticketmaster.com. --Jenice Johnson
Hop on Over
Every lady has met a man who seems cursed by a wicked spell. Let's call it The Frog Syndrome. He ever-so-kindly retrieves your belongings, relentlessly treats you like a princess, yet there's something a little green about him. If he looks like a frog and acts like a frog, well, he's probably a prince undercover looking for some sympathy smooching. Usually with these types, another suitor enters the picture, a real prince charming, and the frog gets tossed to the pond. But sometimes the croaker can come out on top. Theatre Britain presents the world premiere of The Frog Prince by Jacque Mellor, December 5 through December 12, at the Trinity River Arts Center. This pantomime filled with songs, dance and some pretty cheesy jokes is wholesome enough for the entire family, and kids really dig it because there's plenty of audience participation involved. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for children. Call 972-490-4202. --Desirée Henry
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It's Shakespeare abridged at Quad C
Now that we have the A.M. Journal Express and The Dallas Morning News' Quick, we can get the world's news in brief--and we mean real brief. In Quick, for example, in-depth stories are reduced to blurbs, but we think that's the right idea--the DMN goes down much smoother in small doses. And it seems that this reduced-for-quick-sale approach has infiltrated the theater community as well. Beginning December 4, the Quad C Theatre of Collin County Community College will present The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (abridged), a mishmash of all 37 of Shakespeare's plays packed into 97 minutes. That's not a lot of time to move from star-crossed lovers to a haunted prince to a shrew in need of taming, but we're willing to bet it's a wild ride. Get "Your Shakespeare...quick" through December 14 in the Black Box Theatre, 2800 E. Spring Creek Parkway, Plano. Tickets are $8 for general admission, $6 for students and seniors or free with the donation of a new stuffed animal. Call 972-881-5100. --Rhonda Reinhart