Play by Play: January 1, 2010

By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  December 30, 2009

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS | The American Repertory Theater makes its first Loeb Drama Center appearance of the season with this holiday musical with book and lyrics by Randy Weiner and music by Obie winner Diedre Murray. Part of new ART artistic director Diane Paulus's "Shakespeare" season, it got a thumbs-up from the New York Times "This rousing musical has taken the plot from The Winter's Tale, tossed out anything resembling Shakespearean language, and achieved a hypnotic effect with musical numbers that leave the audience whooping" — so never mind that the language is the best part of any Shakespeare play and just enjoy the R&B and gospel treats, which are legion. The cast includes Gregg Baker, Mary Bond Davis, and Jeanette Bayardelle; Paulus herself directs. | Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St, Cambridge | 617.547.8300 | Through January 3 | Curtain 2 + 7:30 pm Thurs | 2 + 8 pm Sat | 2 pm Sun | $25-$75; $15-$65 seniors; $20 student rush

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM | Next up for Actors' Shakespeare Project is the Bard's mix-and-match comedy of moonstruck love, with Benjamin Evett directing, Marianna Bassham as Titania, and Robert Walsh as Bottom, plus Shelley Bolman, Autumn Elise Henry, Jennie Israel, Michael Kaye, Curt Klump, and John Kuntz (Puck?). | Midway Studios, 15 Channel Center St, Fort Point Channel, Boston | 866.811.4111 | Through January 24 | Curtain 10 am [January 6, 13] Wed | 10 am [January 7, 21] + 7:30 pm Thurs | 7:30 pm Fri | 3 pm [no January 2] + 8 pm Sat | 2 pm Sun | $47; $38 seniors; $25 students

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 3 + 7 pm Thurs | 3 + 7 pm Fri | 8:30 pm Sat | 3 pm Sun | $30

SLEEP NO MORE | The second entry in the American Repertory Theater's mini-season of revisionist Shakespeare is presented by the London troupe Punchdrunk at the Old Lincoln School in Brookline Village; entering as part of a group, you're handed a white mask and invited to explore the four floors of the environment in any way you choose. The mood is set by World War II ballads and Bernard Herrmann's music from Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, and by the dim lighting and the creepy venue. Everyone's experience will be different; ours included the banquet in the school auditorium, a strobe-lit Black Sabbath in the basement, a stroll through Birnam Wood, and an unsettling version of Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking scene where she's attended by a nurse in a hospital ward. | Old Lincoln School, 194 Boylston St, Brookline Village | 617.547.8300 | Through January 3 + January 14–February 7 | Curtain 7 + 7:20 + 7:40 pm [January 1, 2 @ 7:20 + 7:40 + 8 pm] Thurs-Sun | $35-$39


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