Every Christmas Story Ever Told! After running with that wildly successful menopause musical for nearly a third of a year, the American Heartland Theatre launches its new season with a show that also seems a sure thing: A group of actors, heartsick at the thought of yet another A Christmas Carol, instead dash off through every other Christmas story they can think of in one 90-minute comedy. With skilled comic actors Ken Remmert, Ron Megee and Martin English, this has potential. Still, we can already think of Christmas tales they'll likely leave out: that one about the dead Santa-playing daddy from Gremlins, say, or that whole crazy thing about King Herod killing every newborn male in Jerusalem. Through Dec. 31 at American Heartland Theatre at Crown Center, 2450 Grand, 816-842 -9999.
A Night, Improvised Providing continued evidence of Kansas City's improv renaissance, the promising young troupe called Counter Clockwise Comedy which features a couple of members of Improvabilities leaving their gag-a-minute safety zone for the wilder world of building scenes and characters closes its 2006 season by introducing audiences to "The Rant," a long-form improv structure in which a single audience suggestion is explored at length. "This provides us with a palate of emotional depth and character motivation," promises CCC's Bess Wallerstein. Because the group's also bringing in ringers Steve Jones and Tommy Todd, we bet all those feelings won't stanch the funny. Sat., Nov. 4, at Westport Coffee House, 4010 Pennsylvania. For reservations, see http://www.counterclockwisecomedy.com/.
Over the River and Through the Woods Of all the crowd pleasers mounted at the New Theatre over the years, this, according to the hype, is the pleasingest a comedy about grandparents conspiring to keep an adult grandson from accepting a promotion that would force him to move far away. Cue laughs and lessons about the importance of family. Of course, many in the cast including Marion "Mrs. C." Ross have abandoned their families to come to the Midwest for the show. Through Nov. 12 at New Theatre Restaurant, 9229 Foster in Overland Park, 913-649-7469.
The Rocky Horror Show With sellout crowds extending the run for one more weekend, old Rocky still has legs. And pumps, nicely worn by a hardworking, almost bare-assed ensemble. The actors hump and bump across the Late Night stage as though it's their own private primate house. There's little point in carping about how familiar it is or that the narrative the basic wherefores and whofucks is a glittery muddle. One serious complaint: Vanessa Severo and Spencer Brown, pansexual spectaculars as Columbia and Riff Raff, are too often shunted to the background to maintain the production's breakneck pace. This is almost made up for by Scott Cox's Frank N. Furter, who is like Liza Minnelli playing a horny Joker, making every song a perverse epic. Hit the late show, where the audience is almost part of the ensemble. Through Nov. 4 at Late Night Theatre, 1531 Grand, 816-224-3004. (Reviewed in our October 26 issue.)