OPENINGS & PREVIEWS

A Christmas Carol

Portland Playhouse's renovated church in Northeast is giving us rare, classic Christmas fodder. With a retro parody of Carol onstage in Hillsboro, The Miracle Worker slated for Artists Rep and Santaland taking over Portland Center Stage (again), the endearing Playhouse is going refreshingly traditional. Drew Harper reprises his role as Scrooge, singing the original Victorian carols by one of the top traditional composers off-Broadway, Rick Lombardo. This will be the show's third year, meaning it's had time to work out any kinks. Not that there were many. Lauded as endearing and whimsical, the production won three Drammys for it's decidedly untwisted Dickens. No 5 pm show Sunday, Dec. 5, extra shows 7 pm Tuesday, Dec. 15 and 4 pm Saturday, Dec. 19. Shows at 1, 4 and 7 pm Tuesday-Wednesday, Dec. 22-23, and 11 am and 2 pm Thursday, Dec. 24. Portland Playhouse, 602 NE Prescott St., 488-5822. 7 pm Wednesday-Saturday and 2 pm and 5 pm Sunday, through Dec. 24, with no 5 pm show Sunday, Dec. 5. $20-$36.

A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff

Local musician Alicia Jo Rabins is also a poet, artist and Torah scholar, and she uses that multi-hyphenated résumé fully in this experimental song cycle backed by Portland artist Zak Margolis' full-length animation. Boom Arts is sponsoring the return of this 2014 show that meditates on two gods of American culture, religion and wealth. Disjecta, 8371 N Interstate Ave., 286-9499. 7:30 pm Friday-Saturday and 7 pm Sunday, Dec. 4-6. $20-$50.

The Dissenter's Handbook

Dario Fo's irreverent redos of Italian folklore make for a show that's more comedy than pure theater. It's like bawdy story time and traditional clowning with a side of slapstick. Matthew Kerrigan stars again, following up this summer's staging at CoHo. Shaking the Tree's main name, director Samantha Van Der Merwe (who just finished staging Sarah Ruhl's Passion Play all around town), is adding an extra Fo kicker to this show: The Tale of a Tiger. It's a short story about a tiger nursing a Chinese revolutionary back to health after he gets gangrene. It's rare to hear a show promise to be subversive, hilarious and spiritual…and actually believe it. Shaking the Tree Theatre, 823 SE Grant St., 235-0635. 7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday and 5 pm Sunday. $25.

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Live!

Date night for mom and dad is the Winningstad this weekend. Peter Story's one-man show meditated on the best-selling wisdom of John Gray's relationship (read: self-help) guide and throws awkward squabbles, miscommunication, outright fights and infuriating habits right in your face. What better date than an evening where one middle-aged man who does comedy professionally shares his thoughts on sex, inspired by an older middle-aged man with a Ph.D. who has more thoughts on sex? Winningstad Theater, 1111 SW Broadway, 800-273-1530. 8 pm Friday-Saturday,

ALSO PLAYING

Bite Me a Little

Bit Me a Little
Bit Me a Little

Sometimes a show needs a few years in the cellar fermenting to bring out the pungent qualities that make it an acquired taste, loved all the more for its quirks. That's almost the case for the self-aware vampire musical Bite Me a Little. First introduced as a staged reading at the Fertile Ground Festival in 2012, Arlie Conner's Bite Me is now enjoying a fully produced theatrical run at Post 5 Theatre. This time, it's a little dirtier, a lot louder and still appreciably rough around the edges. Looking for a venue to host his high-school reunion, the lovable dweeb Ben Davies (Brian Burger) books Dr. Hurt's Palace of Fun, unaware that it's actually a vampire night club and sex dungeon. Initially keen to win back his high-school sweetheart, Jenny (Chrissy Kelly-Pettit), Davies immediately becomes enamored with the club's sultry singer Raven (Sydney Weir, the only original cast member), and renounces Jenny as a tease in the show's catchiest musical number, "Fuck Jenny." Meanwhile, a parallel plot line follows detective Joe Brookhyser (Jim Vadala) on the case of a serial killer, leading him to the Palace of Fun, too. There's plenty going on, but the runtime ends up feeling about 20 minutes too long. In fact, Bite Me a Little might even benefit from eschewing the little decorum that it maintains. All it needs is some gratuitous nudity and a little financial backing for a few hundred gallons of spewing blood, and it could be the next cult classic. PENELOPE BASS. Post5 Theatre, 1666 SE Lambert St., 971-258-8584. 7:30 pm Thursday-Sunday, through Dec 12. Shows on Friday Dec. 4th and 11th are at 10 pm. $20.

The Book of Mermen

Kicking off it's 26th season, Triangle asks: What happens when two door-to-door Mormons go knocking and find the musical comedy queen Ethel Merman? A few titles come to mind—"Anything Goes", "I Get a Kick Out of You" and "Some People". Or maybe "Turn it Off" and "I Am Here for You". The notoriously flamboyant and bedazzled Triangle Productions! stages playwright Leo Schwartz's parody of a parody, which played for four months in Chicago. If this seems like an odd holiday offering, all religion aside, Triangle promises that it's heartwarming to see salvation-peddlers go head-to-head with the songstress. It's all about acceptance—amen? Triangle Productions!, 1785 NE Sandy Blvd., 239-5919. 7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday and 2 pm Sunday, through Dec. 19. $15-$35.

Disney's Beauty and the Beast

Broadway, in Portland's newest tour, brings dancing teacups and promiscuous feather dusters in Beauty and the Beast. True, it's nothing new, but watching grown men high-kicking while wearing fork costumes can't be too dull. To their merit, the U.S. Bank performances always deliver sparkle, And for a children's spectacle, this isn't a bad bet to start the holiday season. By the end of caroling trees and too many Tiny Tim's, an angry band of villagers battling spoons might seem refreshing. Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St., 241-1802. 7:30 pm Tuesday-Friday, 2 pm and 7:30 pm Saturday, 1 pm and 6:30 pm Sunday, Dec. 1-6. $35-$155.

Dec. 4-5 and 4 pm Saturday, Dec. 5. $55.

COMEDY & VARIETY

The 3rd Floor XXXIII: The Final Chapter

Thirty-three shows and 20 years after it started as a group of recent college grads who thought that they were pretty funny, one of Portland's oldest comedy troupes is retiring. Boasting over 50 company members and alumni, the group promises even more for their farewell sketch comedy show at Milagro, notably beef ghosts (hamburgers?) and Tony Marcellino from Portland improv troupe the Liberators. Milagro Theatre, 525 SE Stark St., 236-7253. 8 pm Friday-Saturday, through Dec. 19. $16-$19.

Black Laughs Matter: A Comedy Show Fundraiser

Nathan Brannon
Nathan Brannon

Black lives matter; black spaces matter; black laughs matter. The historically African-American Lodge of Freemasons on the corner of North Mississippi and Fremont has served the community since the 1960s, and is danger of closing its doors. In an effort to bring awareness to the lodge, and the raise money to keep it running, one of Portland's funniest comics, Nathan Brannon is hosting a special comedy event. The night's lineup includes comics Curtis Cook, Jeremy Eli, Alyssa Yeoman, Ed Black and the Real Hyjinx, along with music from Brannon Rockwell-Charland and the funk/soul duo Free! Mason Jar. St. Joseph Grand Lodge, 3505 N Mississippi Ave., 282-4468. 7:30 pm Sunday, Dec. 6. $15.

Comedy In Space!

One of Portland's newest comedy showcases is back for its December installment. Conceived by Whitney Streed and hosted by Streed, Jenna Zine and Hutch Harris, Comedy In Space treats audience members to pictures in an alien photo booth, swag from local sponsors and sets from some of the best local comedic talent. This month's comics include Lucia Fasano, Jeremy Eli, Dan Weber, Barbara Holm and headliner Bri Pruett. And, as always, Christian Ricketts will be checking in from space in character as Carl Sagan. Mission Theater, 1624 NW Glisan St., 223-4527. 8 pm Wednesday, Dec. 2. $6-$8. 21+.

Doug Loves Movies

The only thing High Times Stoner of the Year Doug Benson loves as much as (or more than) weed is movies, his long-running podcast, Doug Loves Movies, is a testament to that. Coming back to Portland for a one-night taping, Doug is bringing along some fancy guests to play a host of movie games and chat about cinema. Helium Comedy Club, 1510 SE 9th Ave., 888-643-8669. 8 pm Sunday, Dec. 6. $20, online purchase only. 21+.

Earthquake Hurricane

Four forces of Portland comedy have invited some LA comics take over the bike shop. Curtis Cook, newly-minted Funniest Five member Alex Falcone, Anthony Lopez and Bri Pruett welcome visiting comedians Simon Gibson, Jonathan Rowell and Pat Regan, all from TV town. Velo Cult Bike Shop, 1969 NE 42nd Ave., 922-2012. 9 pm Wednesday, Dec. 2. Free ($5 suggested donation). 21+.

Garbage People: Yule Story Bro

Garbage People has some Yuletide stories for you. Coming along to share their holiday stories will be JoAnn Schinderle, Kristine Levine and local storytelling superstar Jay Flewelling. Also sharing stories on the Waypost stage will be Daniel Martin Austin, Kyle George, Jim Stewart Allen and Sam Miller. The Waypost, 3120 N Williams Ave., 367-3182. 8 pm Saturday, Dec. 5. $6.66-$10. 21+.

Jake And Amir: If I Were You Live Podcast

Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld are best friends. They live together, work together and make hilarious videos and podcasts together. The CollegeHumor duo are dropping into the Rose City to provide humorous advice to interested Portlanders while they record an episode of their podcast If I Were You. Hawthorne Theater, 1507 SE César E. Chávez Blvd., 233-7100. 8 pm Friday, Dec. 4. $20-$25. All ages.

Jake Johannsen

Jake Johannsen is one of the fiercest and most cerebral comics working today. A veteran of more than 20 appearances on The Tonight Show, Johannsen comes to Portland for a six-show, four-night engagement, performing the type of comedy that won him an Ace Award for best writing in an entertainment special. . Helium Comedy Club, 1510 SE 9th Ave., 888-643-8669. 8 pm Wednesday-Thursday, Dec. 2-3, 7:30 pm & 10 pm Friday-Saturday, Dec. 4-5. $15-$31. 21+.

DANCE

Alice Gosti's Protecting the Herd

Protecting the Herd is one of those impossible-to-define, genre-defying performances that "focuses on questions of identity…and where art belongs." Following up spring's How to Become a Partisan in Seattle, Italian-American choreographer Alice Gosti and composer Benjamin Marx from Seattle created this hour-long dance-music hybrid to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Italy's liberation from Fascism. Marx remixed the five hour soundtrack for Partisan—a mix of WWII radio ads, 1943 political songs and organ music played in Saint Mark's Cathedral—to score a "herd" of performers. They'll move interpretatively amid Amiya Brown's light sculptures and spotlight effects for what sounds like a nostalgic fever-dream. Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave., 777-1907. 8 pm Thursday-Saturday and 2 pm Sunday, Dec. 3-6. $12-$15.

Empire

Empire, photo by Andrea Feehan
Empire, photo by Andrea Feehan

Touring circus, burlesque, comedy and acrobatics company Spiegelword is coming to Portland for the first time, taking over a parking lot at the Rose Quarter with a tent full of Cirque du Soleil-style entertainment. Billed as an adult extravaganza, it'll have contortionists, a woman who goes by Miss in a Bubble suspended in a Perspex orb, a trio called Gorilla Girls who palace in pyramids on each other, spitting tops and something billed as 3D graffiti. Spiegel means mirror in German—we're thinking this world leans funhouse. Rose Quarter Benton Lot, 542 N Broadway, 1-800-745-3000. 7 pm Tuesday-Sunday and 9 pm Friday-Saturday, through Dec. 27. $25-$99.

Noche Flamenca

It's been four years since Portland's unparalleled production company White Bird brought Soledad Barrio and her Noche Flamenca dancers here for a show. This dance, Sombras Sagradas, features four dancers, two singers and one guitarist who tour internationally doing traditional flamenco. On opening night, Portland's Pepe Raphael and the La Peña Flamenca de Portland group will put on a special preview performance in the Newmark Lobby at 7:10 pm. The ArtBar even promises to attempt tapas. Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, 1-800-380-3516. 7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 3-5. $26-$64.

Other Names for Home

Locally-born and internationally-touring, Do Jump! acrobatic company takes everyday ideas and turns them upside down or throws them in the air. Playing with the idea of home, Robin Lane's company will interpret what it means to have a sense of place through aerial arts, dance and stunts set to live music in their own home—the silent-movie house turned theater on Hawthorne. Echo Theater, 1515 SE 37th St., 231-1232. 7:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 1 pm Sunday, through Dec. 6. $25.

The Spin

Bodyvox might be the most well-balanced Portland company right now, with a crew of experienced dancers but enough quirkiness to keep it interesting. Artistic directors Ashley Roland and Jamey Hampton aren't new to this game, but every year their holiday show is completely different and unpredictable. With a game show-style premise, they prepare 20 dances for this one program, but what actually gets staged is up to the audience. Their first performance of the season—the company is finally back after losing its space and then touring places like Orcas Island—has a lot of potential. It's a bit like Wheel of Fortune, fingers crossed that the reward will live up to the risk. No 2 pm show Saturday, Dec 5. Bodyvox, 1201 NW 17th Ave., 229-0627. 7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday and 2 pm Saturday, through Dec. 19. $25-$64.