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A Different Kind of Holiday Cheer

Drag queens, loopy variety shows, and even a white-trash Nutcracker provide a welcome alternative to singing orphans and smiling kicklines this holiday season.


A scene from Naked Holidays.  

The Nutcracker and the Mouse King
The Beckett Theatre, 410 W. 42nd St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-239-6200
Pipe Dream Theatre presents a dark (but not too scary for the whole family), new musical version of the classic holiday perennial that trades tutus and Balanchine's graceful choreography for a steam-punk sensibility and evil, life-size mice.

A Civil War Christmas
New York Theatre Workshop, 79 E. 4th St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-460-5475
In the season of Lincoln, Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Paula Vogel mines the nation's troubled past in her new work, in which historical and fictional figures reflect on their lives in the war-torn country on Christmas Eve 1864.

Naked Holidays
Times Square Arts Center, 300 W. 43rd St., nr. Eighth Ave.; 212-239-6200
Mischief and merriment reign freely in this evening of holiday-themed shorts (returning for its sixth year), including Dad Came Out This Christmas, The Worst Jews in the World, and, of course, the The Naked People Play.

Chris March's Butt-Cracker Suite!
HERE Arts Center, 145 Sixth Ave., nr. Spring St.; 212-352-3101
Former Project Runway contestant and current trafficker of all things in bad taste, March brings his over-the-top touch and one-of-a-kind costumes to The Nutcracker, setting it in a tacky trailer park decked out with pink flamingos and ugly Christmas sweaters.

A Chanukah Charol
New World Stages, 340 W. 50th St., nr. Eighth Ave.; 212-239-6200
Broadway favorite Jackie Hoffman reprises her alternately hilarious and heartfelt one-woman show, in which she is visited by Chanukah spirits of past, present, and future while taking a critical look at her desire for nationwide fame.

Happy Mollydays
Laurie Beechman Theatre, 407 W. 42nd St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-352-3101
Elementary school security guard and sometime poet Molly "Equality" Dykeman battles the Percocet-induced fog of her mind to try to put on her second annual Christmas variety show, featuring appearances by Michael Musto, Bambi Galore, and Jubilee Diamond.

Let's Kill Grandma This Christmas
Theatre at St. Clement's , 423 W. 46th St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 866-811-4111
Family tension rises to new heights in this pitch-black holiday comedy about a family pondering the murder of its 80-year-old matriarch in order to obtain her fortune.

Jackie Beat: Come, They Told Me
Laurie Beechman Theatre, 407 W. 42nd St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-352-3101
Deranged drag star Jackie Beat returns in her fifteenth annual holiday show to eliminate all seasonal goodwill and cheer with numbers like her cocaine-fueled rewrite of "Let It Snow" and a pregnancy confessional in "Santa's Baby."

Bumbug the Musical
The Clurman Theatre, 410 W. 42nd St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-239-6200
A Christmas Carol gets filtered through the immigrant experience in this new rock opera that follows embittered New York deli owner Scroogewala as he battles holiday merriment after failing to realize the American dream.

Distorted Kristmess
Laurie Beechman Theatre, 407 W. 42nd St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-352-3101
The ladies of the long-running drag hit Distorted Diznee apply their twisted lens to classics like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas, complete with a visit from the Port Authority Cockettes, a low-budget version of the Rockettes.

Nightmare (Before Christmas): The Experiment
Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, 107 Suffolk St., nr. Rivington St.; 212-352-3101
Providing fear instead of cheer, this sensory-overloading theatrical experience returns for a second year to test the audience's threshold for scary things in a creepy lab setting, pushing an already seasonally-anxious crowd to its limits.


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