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Christmas without a family show is like will ferrell without Zooey Deschanel. And so, Vancouver proffers a reprise of the sweet (Mary Poppins), the safe (Sesame Street Live: Let’s Dance), and the slightly sassy, which is our pick this season. Cinderella: An East Van Panto (Dec. 3 to 28, York Theatre. Thecultch.com) is a panto (i.e., pantomime) in the British Christmas tradition, requiring a Dame (played by a man), a principal boy (played by a girl), and a lot of local references, double entendres, and audience participation. Do dress up and eat lots of candy. Don’t tut at the people yelling at the stage, as they did for last year’s Jack & the Beanstalk. They’re embracing panto’s true spirit, and you should too.
Determinedly more adult is the Trailer Park Boys’ Dear Santa Claus, Go F#ck Yourself (Vogue Theatre, Dec. 12 & 13. Northerntickets.com), as Bubbles, Julian, and Ricky filter the true meaning of the season-and the question of whether or not Santa does, in fact, exist-through their inimitable personalities. Grownups may also want to take a gander at A Twisted Christmas Carol (Revue Stage, until Dec. 27. Artsclub.com). Billed as the holiday anti-classic, this partly improvised jaunt through the Dickens tale promises to be an irreverent and fun schnapps chaser to the saccharine fare so prevalent at this time of year.
Missed the sold-out run of Chelsea Hotel in March? Never fear: it’s back for a limited run (Firehall Arts Centre, Dec. 13 to Jan. 3. Firehallartscentre.ca) over the holidays. Inspired by-and in homage to-the songs of Leonard Cohen, this local production’s strength comes from the power of Cohen’s poetry as well as the musical talents of the players as they spin through a bona fide Canadian icon’s work.