Opening This Week

Mr. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge
Written by Christopher Durang, this is a modern day Christmas adventure. We start out with main character Gladys Cratchit beaten down by her obligations to 21 orphans, plus a terribly whiney Tiny Tim--so she tries to throw herself off the London Bridge. Elsewhere, Ebeneezer Scrooge is getting a visit from the ghost of Christmas past, present, and future--incarnated as a soul-singing diva. This Wild Christmas Binge is based on A Christmas Carol but incorporates every traditional Christmas story you can think of into a comedic, musical mish mash. Artists Repertory Theatre, 1516 SW Alder St, 241-1278, Opens Fri 8 pm, Runs through Dec. 26; Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 & 7 pm, Tues-Thurs 7 pm, $15-35

One Week Only

* Do Jump Holiday Show
Get psyched for the insane antics of the holiday season with the insane antics of Do Jump's extremely physical theater. Enjoy aerial dance, acrobatics, live music, comedy, etc. Hooray for the holidays! Do Jump, at Echo Theatre, 1515 SE 37th, 544-0464, Sat 7:30 pm, $20

* Ana En El Tropico
Take this opportunity to see playwright Nilo Cruz's interpretation of Anna in the Tropics performed in Spanish. Directed by Olga Sanchez. The Miracle Theater, 525 SE Stark Street, 236-7253, Mon 7 pm, free

* CaBaret PassioNata

This truly is a cabaret. Featuring puppets, comedians, robots, bellydancing, clowns, pirates, piano playing, etc. The whole thing is a benefit for Jesus Christ Superstar. Tribe Theatre and Art Gallery, 403 NW 5th, 227-3976, Fri8 pm, $5-15; It's a Beautiful Pizza, 3341 SE Belmont St, 233-5444, Sat 8 pm, $5-15 donation

Closing This Week

Cornered in the Dark
The new company Insight Out, founded by local celeb Wade McCollum, presents a new play about sexual violence written and directed and starring Haitian-American Lenelle N. Moise, who, considering she's only 24 years old, has one of the most impressive theatrical resumes we've seen. That said, we've never heard of her. Firehouse Theater, 1436 SW Montgomery St, 234-0973, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, through Nov 20, $15

It's Not Fruit
Local sketch troupe Renob Control presents another evening of interconnected comedy vignettes, including the intriguing-sounding "Pregnancy!... The Musical." Coho Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, 220-2646, Sun 8 pm, $7

* The Bards
The Brody presents an evening of improvised musicals, which, almost more than any other improvised genre, walk a fine line between utterly hilarious and totally, eye-gougingly terrible. Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th Ave, 224-0688, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Nov 20, $10

Current Runs

Anna in the Tropics
We have yet to be convinced that the intensely beloved playwright Nilo Cruz is deserving of the critical acclaim he's received. But the Pulitzer-winning Anna, a tender tragedy set in a Cuban cigar factory, is by far his most accessible work, and should at the very least, be not boring. Portland Center Stage, 1111 SW Broadway, 274-6588, Opens Fri, runs Tues-Wed, Sun 7 pm, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Nov 28, $15-55

Boston Marriage
Things are stirring again at Coho, which opens its 2004-05 season with David Mamet's play about two Victorian women of fashion who live together as if married. Coho Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, 220-2646, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Dec 4, $21

Julius Caesar
Director Fred Walton delivers a stripped-down, 90-minute production of Julius Caesar, which could have been exciting since the text is punctuated by so many cut-worthy duds, but is canceled out by not one, but TWO 10-minute intermissions. For a short play, that's two intermissions too many. NWCTC is an odd little company. Their productions invariably feature good energy, talented actors, and production values about as high as a church basement. The Magdelyn Theater space feels like a high school black box, with a cardboard-looking stage and lights that are perhaps a small step above fluorescents. Walton stuffs a massive cast into this oversized coffin, which gives the play's many street/crowd scenes a bustling urgency. The production climaxes, as it should, with Antony's funeral speech, delivered with rousing passion by Grant Turner and accentuated by the jostling throng's boisterous excitement. It's a great scene, emphasized by the quieter, less-populated moments in which Walton's staging heads south, the people move aside, and the audience is no longer distracted from the truly ugly walls 'tween which this production resides. Magdelyn Theatre, 403 NW 5th, 274-4771, Fri-Sat 7:30 pm, Sun 2:30 pm, through Nov 28, $15

* Keep Tightly Closed in a Cool Dry Place
See Review this issue Sowelu Theater at the Back Door, 4319 SE Hawthorne Blvd, 230-2090, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, $15 on Fri & Sat, $8-15 on Thurs & Sun; Call for reservations

Late Night Improv Jam
Guess what this show's about! Come on, guess! You can do it! Just one little guess... please? Give up? Okay, we'll tell you. It's a late night improv jam! Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th Ave, 224-0688, Sat 10:30 pm, through Dec 11, $6

Vitriol and Violets: Tales From the Algonquin Round Table
This is a play about 1920s New York and the great creative forces like Dorothy Parker and Robert Sherwood who used to kick it at the city's famed Algonquin Hotel. It's been done before as a staged reading, and now receives a full production, not to mention an Oregon Book Award nomination for best dramatic work. Lakewood Theatre Company, 368 S State St, 635-3901, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, through Dec 12, $24