Capsule Stage Reviews: A Fertle Holiday, Panto Pinocchio, Santaland Diaries

A Fertle Holiday In the mood for a big wedge of Mildred's butter pie? A Fertle Holiday is Radio Music Theatre's penultimate show before its final farewell begins in January. If you've never tasted this talented trio of inspired lunatics, it's time. Holiday never stales. It's the epitome of Christmas spirit, since it's all about dysfunctional families, and no family's more messed up — and hilarious — than the Fertles of Dumpster, Texas. Author Steve Farrell keeps his universe craftily insane. Farrell, Vicki Farrell and Rich Mills play all the characters, and always astonish and amuse. Through January 15. Radio Music Theatre, 2623 Colquitt, 713-522-7722. — DLG

Panto Pinocchio, Stages Repertory Theatre's third holiday "panto," is its weakest, with lame book, uninspired music and unsurprising performances, save for Ryan Schabach's, whose jovial and infectious stage presence soars. The 360-degree set of cogwheels and gears by Jodi Brobrovsky and the prodigiously designed costumes by Tiffani Fuller supply needed wit and charm. The musical has a smooth premise: a computer-geeky retelling of Pinocchio, but there's little joy and a great deal of worn-out burlesque. A few barbs land squarely, but the show is glum. Without an edge, we and the kids slide right off. Through January 9. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway, 713-527-0123. — DLG

Santaland Diaries Nothing is sacred to monologist/essayist David Sedaris as he gives Christmas a solid kick in the ass, memorializing his temp days as Crumpet the Elf at Macy's department store in Santaland Diaries. Toyland is hell, parents are worse and children should be killed. Nothing is as funny as Todd Waite in his degrading, ersatz velvet costume, unless it's Paul Hope in his. To be peed on by rotten little monsters is humiliating, but to be chewed up and spit out by rampant consumerism in the name of Christ while wearing pointed shoes is downright hilarious. Through December 31. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas, 713-228-8421. — DLG

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