Last Call For Art: Two Christmas Shows Already Ending

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We're not even into December yet, and two holiday productions are already ending their runs. Not to worry, there's lots, and lots, and -- we're not kidding -- lots of other Christmas-themed entertainment on the schedule, some going on until after the new year. Still, these two shows are well worth notice and you have just the weekend to see them.

The Masquerade Theatre brings the final curtain down on its singing Scrooge on Sunday. This production of the musical version of A Christmas Carol marked its Houston premiere, and, according to Houston Press arts writer D. L. Groover, it's quite a show. He wrote, "The musical is ... expertly adapted by Mike Ockrent and lyricist Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime, Seussical), with just enough Dickens to capture the right tone. The masterful Masquerade Theatre snuggles right into the enlivening spirit, buoying up the material with high-kicking routines by choreographers Laura Gray, Michelle Macicek and William Martin, and all the company members blend their superb voices during the anthems and feel-good moments ... The main voice, of course, in any fine Carol is the Scrooge, and veteran Masquerader Luke Wrobel is devilishly delicious, thundering out his characteristic "Bah, Humbug" or squeaking a droll burp of surprise when menaced by the pesky ghosts." 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. The Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit www.masqueradetheatre.com. $30 to $60.

Another Christmas classic, The Nutcracker by Houston Dance Theatre, also takes its final bow on Sunday. Director Angela Jackson told our arts writer Dusti Rhodes, "We do the cannon fires and the big battle scene...we have a lot of pyrotechnics. Parents tell me a lot, 'I knew my daughter would love it, but my son was on the edge of his seat.'"

That's no surprise to us -- canons, battle scenes and the chance to make nut-cracking jokes all night -- what boy wouldn't be happy? Russians-turned-Texans Olga Pavlova and Yevgeni Anfinogenov will star as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. Local dancer Raffles Durbin, from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, will perform the role of the Nutcracker. 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Geiger Performing Arts Center, 16713 Ella. For information, call 281-444-9698 or visit www.houstondancetheatre.org. $18.

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