Opening This Week

A Christmas Carol
Oh, come on, you old Grumpy Gus--it's Christmas! Get off your sour ass and exhibit some Christmas cheer. Stars Tobias Anderson, one of Portland's hardest working, most reliable actors. Northwest Children's Theater, 1819 NW Everett St, 222-4480, Opens Fri, runs Thurs-Sat 7 pm, Sat-Sun 2 pm, through Dec 24, $16-20

* Altered States of America
The always interesting Steve Patterson's new work is a series of mock documentary vignettes envisioning how it feels to take really fucked up drugs. Pavement Productions, at Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 777-2771, Opens Sat, runs Thurs-Sat 8 pm, through Dec 20, $13.50-15

* Biglittlethings
After years of perpetually re-mounting Frogz, Imago finally presents a show in the same vein that is entirely new and original. Biglittlethings features singing ducks, hitchhiking rabbits, insomniac hippos, and more. Like Frogz it will mix puppetry, masks, soundscapes, and live actors to what will almost certainly be dazzling effect. Imago Theater, 17 SE 8th Ave, 231-9581, Opens Wed Dec 3, runs Wed-Sat 7:30 pm, Sat-Sun 1:30 pm, Sun 5:30 pm, through Dec 28, $14-24

Judy's Scary Little Christmas
A musical adaptation of a fictitious Judy Garland Christmas special, with characters like Bing Crosby, Joan Crawford, and Richard Nixon. Sounds like theatrical suicide, but it features Triangle faves Daria O'Neill as Ethel Merman and Michael Teufel as Liberace, so we'll just have to see... Triangle Productions, at Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 239-5919, Opens Fri, runs Thurs 7:30 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 5 pm, through Dec 21, $19-$23

* The 3rd Floor Takes a Holiday
Jordana Barnes, Andy Buzan, Kevin-Michael Moore, and the rest of the mah-velous 3rd Floor crew present a holiday-themed sketch comedy bundle of joy. They'll address Valentine's Day, Father's Day, Easter, and the always hilarious Armistice Day. The 3rd Floor, at the Miracle Theatre, 525 SE Stark, 258-1681, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Dec 27, $10

The SantaLand Diaries & A Christmas Memory
The lesson learned last year is that David Sedaris' writing does not translate well to a theatrical setting, and yet this show was hugely popular last year, so PCS is reviving it. Local boy Steve Wilkerson's mugging performance in SantaLand Diaries is hammy and silly, two adjectives that are the dry, dry, dry Sedaris' worst enemies. Portland Center Stage, 1111 SW Broadway, 274-6588, Opens Tues Dec 2, runs Tues-Wed, Sun 7 pm, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, Thurs noon, through Dec 23, $16-51

One Week Only

* Star Can't Dead
The improv/sketch comedy/funny short movie team presents their monthly last Tuesday shebang. This time the theme is Christ-MAX (that's Christ to the MAX), with special appearances from local comedian Lonnie Bruhn, "US Olympic failure Michelle Kwan," and "a guy that really looks like Orlando Bloom." Jasmine Tree, 401 SW Harrison St, 223-7956, Tues 8 pm, $3

Closing This Week

* A Moon for the Misbegotten
Tim True plays the late Eugene O'Neill's favorite edified lush, James Tyrone, with affected restraint. His words are tentative; he wants to believe what he's saying, but he's not sure if he can. Luisa Sermol counters with a fierce focus; a scrutinizing of every word True says in desperate search of a sentiment from him she can lean on. It's a deeply layered portrayal of a tough, rural woman who's made a life out of hiding her vulnerabilities. JWS Coho Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, 220-2646, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, $18-$20

Current Runs

* Antiques Improv Show
The Brody revives its popular riff on the Antiques Road Show, and for good reason. The Antiques Improv Show's blend of audience participation and object "appraisals" is one of the most fun and innovative the company has ever come up with. Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th Ave, 224-0688, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Dec 20, $12

Appalachian Ebeneezer
Dickens meets coal-mining in this Depression-era re-staging of the holiday classic A Christmas Carol. Fans of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack will "dig" it. Don't "mined" if we do. Heh. Artists Repertory Theatre, 1516 SW Alder St, 241-1278, Tues-Thurs, Sun 7 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Dec 21 , $15-30

Attendance Is Mandatory
A one-man show starring local improv guy Reuben Nisenfeld, who will use the format of a government propaganda film to, we assume, mock the idea of government propaganda. Toad City Productions, at the Back Door, 4321 SE Hawthorne, 736-1027, Thurs 8 pm, through Dec 18, $7-9

Brilliant Traces
See review this issue. e3 Productions at the Electric Company, 2512 SE Gladstone, Suite 200, 232-5955, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Dec 6, $12-15

Mrs. California
A 1950s housewife wins a beauty contest, which throws her domestic world into disarray, in Magdelyn's new show. Magdelyn Theatre Company, 403 NW 5th, (971) 544-1736, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Dec 20, $12-$14

The suddenly very active Toad City presents an exploration of "the sensual celebration and spiritually provocative work of Rumi." It's hard to tell if they're being serious or not, but Sowelu all-star Lorraine Bahr is directing, so either way, it should be at least interesting. Toad City Productions, at the Back Door, 4321 SE Hawthorne, 736-1027, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Dec 20, $10-12

* The Bard
A late-night show featuring improvised songs, dances, and entire musical production numbers. Cool! Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th Ave, 224-0688, Sat 10:30 pm, through Dec 13, $9