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Central Coast holiday shows to kick off the season 

Celebrate and be merry!

We're a week into December, and it is indeed beginning to look a lot like Christmas. But forget decorating the tree just so or purchasing the perfect gift—the real question is: What forms of community holiday merriment should one partake in? There's too many festive shows and only so much time, therefore, we at New Times and the Sun humbly took it upon ourselves to highlight a few of the region's merriest offerings that are sure to put a smile on even the scroogiest of faces.

A Christmas Story

It's not really Christmas until you hear little Ralphie waxing poetic about wanting a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. That's why San Luis Obispo Repertory Theatre is bringing A Christmas Story (showing through Dec. 23) back, but this year the narrator, aka Big Ralph, is being portrayed by Don Stewart, a teacher and actor with the Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA).

click to enlarge YOU'LL SHOOT YOUR EYE OUT Ralph (Don Stewart, left) recounts what happened when his younger self, Ralphie (Weston Marum), received a coveted gift one fateful Christmas, in SLO Repertory Theatre's production of A Christmas Story. - PHOTO COURTESY OF RYLO MEDIA DESIGN
  • Photo Courtesy Of Rylo Media Design
  • YOU'LL SHOOT YOUR EYE OUT Ralph (Don Stewart, left) recounts what happened when his younger self, Ralphie (Weston Marum), received a coveted gift one fateful Christmas, in SLO Repertory Theatre's production of A Christmas Story.

"As a director I don't want to do the same thing," said Kevin Harris, show director and managing artistic director for the theatre. "The narrator really sets the tone for the show directly and communicates with the audience. Don has this wonderful, intimate nature about him."

Harris said SLO Repertory Theatre's audiences return to fill out the seats for A Christmas Story time and time again.

"It's such a privilege to work on a story that's so universally loved," Harris said. "It really encourages people to think about their own lives."

Holiday nostalgia

A Christmas Story will be showing at the SLO Repertory Theatre through Dec. 23. Tickets range from $20 to $38. Visit slorep.org for more information.

The Snow Queen

click to enlarge ICE COLD When the snow queen (Michelle McLaughlin, pictured) changes Kay for the worse, his best friend Greta must save him. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BALLET THEATRE SAN LUIS OBISPO
  • Photo Courtesy Of Ballet Theatre San Luis Obispo
  • ICE COLD When the snow queen (Michelle McLaughlin, pictured) changes Kay for the worse, his best friend Greta must save him.

If ballet is your thing, but you're tired of the same old Nutcracker year in and year out, consider Ballet Theatre San Luis Obispo's rendition of The Snow Queen.

Debuting at the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center on Dec. 15, 16, and 17, this interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen's classic tale is sure to delight.

Here's the gist: A hobglobin or "the devil himself" gets a mirror that makes the viewer turn ugly and evil on the inside. Cue the mirror falling down to Earth where shards pierce people like young Kay, changing their hearts for the worse. With Kay in a vulnerable state, he is snatched by the evil snow queen, leaving his best friend Greta to go on a quest to save him.

"It's magical," said Theresa Slobodnik, company artistic director. "It's a story of perseverance and faith. It's a beautiful story for Christmastime."

The power of friendship

Ballet Theatre San Luis Obispo's The Snow Queen will show Dec. 15, 16, and 17 at the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center. Tickets range from $26 to $44. Visit pacslo.org for more information.

Christmas Ghost Stories

Halloween isn't the only day you can ejoy getting scared out of your mind. Partake in some creepy tales this Christmas just like our friends across the pond. Gather round on Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. for a reading of local author Mark Onspaugh's Christmas Ghost Stories: A Collection of Winter Tales at Coalesce Bookstore's chapel in Morro Bay.

click to enlarge CREEPY CHRISTMAS Gather round for tales of ghosts, Jack Frost, and Santa Claus that will send a chill down your spine at a reading of local author Mark Onspaugh's Christmas Ghost Stories: A Collection of Winter Tales. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK ONSPAUGH
  • Photo Courtesy Of Mark Onspaugh
  • CREEPY CHRISTMAS Gather round for tales of ghosts, Jack Frost, and Santa Claus that will send a chill down your spine at a reading of local author Mark Onspaugh's Christmas Ghost Stories: A Collection of Winter Tales.

"It's a pretty old tradition," Onspaugh said. "It's very British. Dickens sort of set the pace. It's cold and windy. Everyone's huddled around the fire, and that lends itself to storytelling."

There won't be a fire at this event, but expect some spooky candlelight along with cookies and cider for this theatrical reading of tales like the Christmas ghosts, Jack Frost, and Santa fighting Dracula.

Is that you, Santa Claus?

Local author Mark Onspaugh will read from his book, Christmas Ghost Stories: A Collection of Winter Tales, at Coalesce Bookstore's chapel in Morro Bay on Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. Admission is free. This event is for ages 13 and older. Books will be available for purchase and signing along with complimentary cider and cookies. Call (805) 772-2880 for more information.

The Holiday Extravaganza

click to enlarge CINDER-MELODRAMA The Great American Melodrama in Oceano will once again put on their traditional holiday show, featuring a rendition of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, as well as a 30-minute vaudeville show, and a new musical retelling of the classic Cinderella fairy tale. The holiday show runs through Dec. 31. - PHOTO COURTESY OF GREAT AMERICAN MELODRAMA
  • Photo Courtesy Of Great American Melodrama
  • CINDER-MELODRAMA The Great American Melodrama in Oceano will once again put on their traditional holiday show, featuring a rendition of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, as well as a 30-minute vaudeville show, and a new musical retelling of the classic Cinderella fairy tale. The holiday show runs through Dec. 31.

The holiday season means it's once again time for the Great American Melodrama's Holiday Extravaganza, an annual multi-play production in Oceano. Daniel Schultz, artistic director for the theater group, said the holiday production is their most popular show for the entire year.

"We do three shows in one," Schultz explained. "We do A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, which is a Christmas favorite for everyone. And we of course do our famous vaudeville show as well."

In addition to the standard favorites, the Melodrama will perform a new Cinderella musical, which Schultz described as a "fractured fairy tale" set to familiar classical music tunes.

"It's an irreverent retelling of the Cinderella story all told through music," he said. "There are beautiful costumes, and it's just super funny."

A Christmas Carol runs about 45 minutes, Cinderella about 25 minutes, and the company's vaudeville act runs for another 30 minutes. Schultz noted that all of the material is family friendly. He said some of the actors have been participating in the annual holiday show for more than 20 years.

"It's great because we're sold out for almost every show," Schultz said. "We have families who come every single year, and we get to be a part of their holiday tradition. Even though it's the holidays and it's frenzied with people running around and trying to buy presents and a lot of people being stressed out, we still get to put a smile on their faces."

Glad tidings

The Great American Melodrama's Holiday Extravaganza runs through Dec. 31. Daily showtimes vary; visit americanmelodrama.com/calendar/ for times and ticket sales. Tickets cost $25 to 29. The Melodrama is located at 1863 Front St., Oceano. More info: (805) 489-2499. Δ

New Times Arts Editor Ryah Cooley and Sun Arts and Lifestyle Writer Rebecca Rose are full of Christmas cheer and mulled wine. Contact them at rcooley@newtimesslo.com and rrose@santamariasun.com.


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