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Santaland Diaries Ah, hell, pass the joint, Crumpet the elf might say about the Alley's Santaland Diaries. This tweak-your-nose one-elf show by humorist David Sedaris re-creates his excruciating job as one of Santa's gay little helpers at Macy's in New York City, complete with retching children, pissed-off Santas and the sight of actor Todd Waite in full elf regalia — thank you, designer Blair Gulledge. Waite is befuddled, exasperated, bitchy and ideal. Who knew an elf had to take a drug test? The lively monologue lasts only as long as Houston snow, but the laughs are constant and Christmas doesn't get more joyous. Through December 28. 615 Texas, 713-220-5700. — DLG

Twelve Ways of Christmas Carlton Leake's old-fashioned, family-friendly musical revue Twelve Ways of Christmas at the Ensemble Theatre is gorgeously packaged with sassy choreography by Patdro Harris, music by the best orchestra in town, inventive stage design, startling costumes in vivid candy hues and a cast of seven exceptional musical talents. Familiar aspects of the holiday season — squabbling tots, shopping, separated military families — are depicted in skit and song. Some segments work better than others, but you can't beat the musical's infectious zip or the actors' sheer will to entertain, especially Andrew Jackson and Melanie Finley. Through December 28. 3535 Main, 713-520-0055. — DLG

Capsule reviews by D.L.Groover, Marene Gustin and Lee Williams

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