Hipster Santa is holding court. Millennials mourn the loss of their childhood, reminiscing about the day after Thanksgiving bookended by watching Portland's holiday parade in the morning and gazing up at the humongous tree in Pioneer Courthouse Square as its gazillion lights flicker on after dark. You're more likely these days to end up somewhere like Peacock Lane, so crowded with onlookers you're stuck looking at the back of some kid on his father's shoulders when all you wanted was to see was a goddamn glowing reindeer.
Yes, it's the holidays in Portland again, with all the glory and absurdity that the time and place entail. It also looks like a memorable season of theater in the making, so we decided to rank five upcoming shows from holy to blasphemous (in a good way). From the transcendent beauty of Black Nativity to the transcendent vulgarity of John Waters, this is your guide to a profoundly multifaceted PDX performance slate.
1. Black Nativity (PassinArt)
Holiday shows don't come much holier than PassinArt's production of Black Nativity, which enters its fifth year. Written by Langston Hughes, it's a gospel journey through the life of Christ, but you don't need to be a believer to appreciate the passion, commitment and joie de vivre of the company's singers. The brilliant Jerry Foster returns to direct, so you can expect a performance that pulses with exuberance and visual invention. Bethel AME Church, 5828 NE 8th Ave., passinart.org. 7:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 3 pm Sunday, Nov. 29-Dec. 15. Additional show 7:30 pm Thursday, Nov. 28. $7-$25.
2. A Xmas Cuento Remix (Milagro Theatre)
Like A Christmas Carol, A Xmas Cuento Remix revolves around a crotchety character being schooled by apparitions. Unlike Charles Dickens' novel, Maya Malán-González's original musical is populated by Latinx characters like Dolores Avara, a Scrooge-like figure who runs afoul of the Mayan goddess Ixchel, as well as English and Spanish Christmas songs (with a touch of rap music). Milagro Theatre, 525 SE Stark St., milagro.org. 7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, 2 pm Sunday, Nov. 29-Dec. 22. $20-$29.
3. Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Portland Center Stage at the Armory)
"Mary had neither genius nor taste; and though vanity had given her application, it had likewise given her a pedantic air and conceited manner, which would have injured a higher degree of excellence than she had reached." That's how Jane Austen describes Mary Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, which places Mary squarely in the shadow of her older sister, Elizabeth. In Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon's Miss Bennet, however, Mary is thrust into the spotlight. Some Austen aficionados regard any spinoff as heretical, but purists may be won over by the impressive cast. Portland Center Stage at the Armory, 128 NW 11th Ave., pcs.org. 7:30 pm Tuesday-Wednesday and Friday, 11 am and 7:30 pm Thursday, 2 and 7:30 pm Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 30-Dec. 29. $25-$97.
4. Scrooge in Rouge (Triangle Productions)
After rampant food poisoning incapacitates most of the Royal Musical Hall Variety Players, three actors attempt to play every role A Christmas Carol has to offer in this madcap musical. Filled with cross-dressing and playwright Ricky Graham's mischievous wit, Scrooge in Rouge is a perfect holiday production for Triangle, which remains one of the Portland theater scene's leading suppliers of bawdy impishness. The Sanctuary at Sandy Plaza, 1785 NE Sandy Blvd., trianglepro.org. 7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 29-Dec. 14; 2 pm Sunday, Dec. 8. $15-$35.
5. A John Waters Christmas: Filthier and Merrier (Aladdin Theater)
Hot take: John Waters is more wholesome than Santa. While Father Christmas runs a gift-giving scam in service of his ongoing quest for a lifetime supply of milk and cookies, John Waters is exactly who he appears to be: a self-described "filth elder" whose continued success is a rebuke to anyone who thought filming Divine eating actual dog crap in Pink Flamingos would be a career killer. In this one-man show, the People's Pervert ruminates about everything from the most dangerous toys to give children to the morality of stealing purses from cars in graveyard parking lots during the holidays, making it the most blasphemous offering on this list by far. Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie Ave., aladdin-theater.com. 8 pm Friday, Dec. 6. $37-$115.