Minneapolis/St. Paul Spotlight: December 2009 – Christmas Time is Here

November 30, 2009.By Zachary Stewart, Theater Mania.

Hennepin Theatre Trust and Theater Latte Da team up this December for what is quickly becoming a Minneapolis Holiday Tradition, All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914  (December 17 - 20). Now in its third year, the show tells the story of the Christmas of 1914, when German and Allied soldiers on the western front of World War I laid down their weapons and met with each other in No Man's Land (the thin strip of land between the trenches) to sing carols over their meager rations of food and drink. The male vocal ensemble Cantus provides a cappella accompaniment to this unique theatrical event featuring dramatic readings of first-hand accounts of this real-life Christmas Miracle.

The national tour of In the Heights  swings into the Orpheum (December 1 - 6). Set in Manhattan's Washington Heights neighborhood, the show is the winner of the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical. Green T Productions presents an original stage adaptation of Akira Kurosawa's acclaimed 1950 filmRashomon with Tales of Rashomon  (Mixed Blood Theater, December 17 - January 30). Based on the short stories of Ryunosuke Akutagawa, this existential murder-mystery is set in 12th Century Kyoto.

The Guthrie hosts two one-night-only events this month: First, Kevin Kling returns with his hilarious one-man show about Christmas in the Midwest, Tales From the Charred Underbelly of the Yule Log (December 7). Then, Sounds of Blackness presents The Night Before Christmas - A Musical Fantasy (December 21), a modern, hip-hop infused adaptation of the classic Christmas poem.

Penumbra Theatre brings back their annual holiday production, Black Nativity  (December 3 - 27). Constantly in flux, this year's version has been subtitled A Season for Change, and features new songs like "The Soulful Noel" and "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus." John Munger, artistic director of the Third Rabbit Dance Ensemble, presents his one-man version of The NutcrackerNutbuster!! The Ballet  at Bryant Lake Bowl (December 9 - 23). In Munger's adaptation, The Nutcracker is a psychotic day fantasy in the mind of Uncle Drosselmeyer. Also at Bryant Lake Bowl is Janelle Ranek's one-woman showLetters to Santa...Postage Due!  (November 29 - December 19).

Youth Performance Company gets in the holiday spirit with their production of The Elves and the Shoemaker  (Howard Conn Fine Arts Center, December 3 - 20), a Grimm fairytale about a pouty Princess who threatens to cancel Christmas unless someone can make her laugh. Families will also enjoy Disney's Beauty and the Beast  at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts (December 15 - January 3). With all of the classic songs from the Academy Award-winning film, plus a few more, this stage spectacle is an excellent holiday gift for audiences young and old.