Play by play: December 25, 2009

By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  December 23, 2009

THE CHRISTMAS REVELS | "Staying home for the holidays" is how the Revels folks explain their 39th annual celebration of the shortest day, and no one stays home like Revels. The special guests are traditional singer and clogger Suzannah Park (representing Appalachian America), gospel singer Janice Allen (representing African-American America), and flute player Leon Joseph Littlebird (representing Native American America), and the theme is the Tree of Life. This is a roots Christmas Revels, and trees are everywhere, from the invisible (or did you see it?) one that Littlebird nourishes center stage to the small evergreen that's brought out and decorated with homely ribbons and apples to the Tree of Life quilt that's unfolded and displayed before being refolded into the baby Jesus's swaddling clothes during "The Cherry Tree Carol." The traditional mummers' play is appropriately short and, apart from the unhousebroken horse, straightforward, with Revels' Smoky Mountain Dancers clogging their way through the longsword dance that brings about the death of John Barleycorn. No gags or gimmicks are needed, not when you have Allen rocking the joint with "Children, Go Where I Send Thee" and Park with her nasal twang beaming like the bright morning star and the Roaring Gap Dancers and Chorus bringing willow-tree authenticity to "I Will Bow and Be Simple." This is one of the best Christmas Revels ever. | Sanders Theatre, 45 Quincy St, Cambridge | 617.496.2222 | Through December 27 | Curtain 3 + 7:30 pm Sat | 1 pm Sun | $25-$52; $15-$42 children under 12

MAMMA MIA! | Greece for the holidays! Join Donna, Rosie, Tanya, Donna's daughter Sophie, those three surprise guests (one of whom has to be Sophie's father, right?), and Abba songs ranging from "Dancing Queen" and "S.O.S." to "Take a Chance on Me" and "Money, Money, Money" as that fabled Mediterranean isle once again hosts Sophie's wedding. | Colonial Theatre, 106 Boylston St, Boston | 800.982.ARTS | Through December 27 | Curtain 1 pm Thurs | 2 + 8 pm Sat | 2 + 7 pm Sun | $42.50-$91

THE 101 DALMATIANS MUSICAL | Rachel York stars as Cruella De Vil alongside "15 talented Dalmatians" in this live stage musical version of the animated Disney film. Styx's Dennis DeYoung composed the score; BT McNicholl did the book and lyrics; Jerry Zaks directs. | Wang Theatre, 279 Tremont St, Boston | 866.345.9738 | Through December 27 | Curtain 1 pm Thurs | 2 + 7:30 pm Sat | 1 + 6:30 pm Sun | $28-$75

THE SANTALAND DIARIES | New Repertory Theatre reprises its Downstage @ New Rep dose of anti-holiday cheer: Joe Mantello's stage adaptation of David Sedaris's delightfully sour account of his servitude as Crumpet the Elf, a toiler at Macy's Santaland. Gary Littman makes his Crumpet debut; Christopher Webb directs. | Arsenal Center for the Arts Black Box Theatre, 321 Arsenal St, Watertown | 617.923.8487 | Through January 3 | Curtain 7 pm Tues-Wed | 3 + 7 pm [December 31] or 4 pm [December 24] Thurs | 3 + 7 pm [January 1] Fri | 4:30 [December 26] + 8:30 pm Sat | 3 + 7 pm [evening December 27] Sun | $30

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  Topics: Theater , Entertainment, Richard McElvain, Bette Davis,  More more >
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