Scrooge scowls again, as Nebraska Theater Caravan rolls into Red Bank for its annual staging of A CHRISTMAS CAROL — but not before filmmaker and Bad Tastemaker John Waters X-plains why he LOVES Christmas. (Waters photo by Greg Gorman)
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear here, to all who fear that the Count Basie Theatre has momentarily joined the perceived War on all that jingles and jollifies: John Waters absolutely LOVES Christmas — the “compulsive desire to give and receive perverted gifts;” his “religious fanaticism for Santa Claus, and an unhealthy love of true crime holiday horror stories.”
With a track record of forty-plus years as an author, lecturer, sometime actor, Bad Tastemaker authority and director of game-changing underground/ indie films (from Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble to the happy crossover of the original Hairspray) — and fresh off a modern-day odyssey that spawned the book Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America — the man in the pencil mustache makes his Basie debut on the night of Tuesday, December 16.
Succinctly entitled A John Waters Christmas, the 8 pm show finds the Baltimore-born raconteur riding into Red Bank “on his sleigh full of smut” with a one-man show that “puts the X in Xmas” — and for which tickets ($29 – $129) can be reserved right here. It so happens that Waters’ Bad-Santa sleigh will be sliding in fast on the ice-tracks of Junie B in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells — a playfully titled but family-friendly touring stage show (adapted by Allison Gregory from the children’s book series by Barbara Park) in which “sassy first-grader Junie B. Jones and her classmates embark on a hilarious adventure that packs a message about the joy of giving.” Take it here for tickets ($20 – $25) to that 4 pm performance — and around the corner for more holiday humbug.
Rolling their wagons into Red Bank for the fifth consecutive year, the troupers of Nebraska Theater Caravan return on Wednesday, December 17 with a show that’s become a staple of the seasonal schedule at the Basie: their original staging of the Charles Dickens chestnut A Christmas Carol. Adapted by playwright Charles Jones — and incorporating instantly familiar hymns and carols like “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Away in a Manger” — the big touring production boasts a cast of nearly 30 players, a full orchestra, detailed costumes and some celebrated ghostly special effects designed by professional stage illusionists. Rest assured, old Scrooge sees the light after his harrowing night of spirit visitations — and the show remains a first-class treatment of a timeless fable of redemption and the power of community, for which tickets to the 7:30 pm performance ($35.50 – $49.50) can be reserved here.