Another Night Before Christmas
This home-invasion Christmas story posits a dude who claims to be Santa and is caught in the home of a skeptical, sensible woman. You can bet that, by the 90-minute mark, she will have learned the true reason for the season. This year's American Heartland holiday show, a world premiere, comes somewhat pedigreed, with book and music by Sean Grennan and Leah Okimoto (the duo behind such recent Heartland premieres as Married Alive!
and A Dog's Life
). Encouraging sign: Instead of a series of vignettes based on a theme, this show actually promises a dramatic structure. Through Dec. 30 at American Heartland Theatre at Crown Center, 2450 Grand, 816-842-2999. (Alan Scherstuhl)
The Happy Elf Another coup for the Coterie Theatre: This world-premiere Christmas musical, developed by the Coterie, boasts original music and lyrics by Harry Connick Jr. That Harry Connick Jr., the one who showed in The Pajama Game that his John Raitt is as good as his Sinatra (and that his abs beat both). Based loosely on a swing number from a Connick Christmas record, The Happy Elf is billed as a "live jazz" musical. As elf Eubie tries to bring happiness to the miserable Bluesville, he also brings the swing and jive, so any "meaning of Christmas" treacle will probably go down easier than usual. Through Dec. 30 at the Coterie Theatre at Crown Center, 2450 Grand, 816-474-6552. (Alan Scherstuhl)