Metro Detroit has holiday shows both silly and sublime
With only a week to go before Christmas, the reindeer are revving up, the UPS guys are making their final rounds and you may be thinking “Where did all this time go?”
One antidote to the fast-paced turning of the calendar pages: Taking a break for a festive live performance that will become one of your landmark 2014 holiday memories. And fortunately, there still are a number of seasonal stage plays in production — from the silly to the sublime — if you act quickly in the next few days.
If straitlaced isn’t your style, for example, how about a rural adaptation of Dickens’ famous tale of redemption? Take a jaunt down I-94 to Cornwell’s Turkeyville, the kitschy restaurant and dinner theater in Marshall that has its roots in a 1940s family poultry farm.
Today, the live birds are raised elsewhere, but turkey dinners are served daily along with a helping of holiday cheer and good humor at Cornwell’s dinner theater, which this year is serving up the original production “A Cornwell Christmas Carol” eight times a week through Dec. 20.
The show features revamped characters like Billy-Bob Cratchit, Tim-Bob Cratchit “and a whole lot of camo, John Deere and duct tape,” said producer Dennis McKean, who’s been writing, directing and staging shows at Cornwell’s for 14 years. “It’s about a redneck family that gathers for Christmas and ... well, I don’t want to ruin the surprise.”
Suffice to say special effects in keeping with the “redneck” theme surround the appearances of Jacob “Cooter” Marley and the three spirits that he invokes. McKean, who greets audiences before nearly every rise of the curtain, says the show provokes a lot of laughter and is a lot of fun for the cast and Cornwell staffers, too. “I can’t tell you how much I love what we do here,” he said.
General Manager Amy Mayne says about 150 people attend each family-friendly show; the basic ticket price of $43.50 includes a buffet meal (the full turkey dinner with fixings), show, tax and tip. Different rates are available for larger parties. Matinee seating is noon for lunch with a 2 p.m. show (Tues.-Sat.) and 6 p.m. for the dinner ticket and an 8 p.m. show (Friday and Saturday). For full details, visit turkeyville.com or call (269) 781-4293. And of course, Turkeyville’s restaurant also is open to nontheater-goers from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Other last-minute seasonal fare in southeast Michigan includes:
Christmas Caroled at Dexter’s Encore Theater. Through Dec. 21, the original production melds the traditional Dickens story with the vibe of a 1960s TV variety special to create “a glittering evening of musical theatre” featuring popular holiday tunes. For information, visit TheEncoreTheater.org or call (734) 268-6200.
HashTag the Holidays at Ferndale’s Go Comedy! Improv Theater. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 28, the revue “skewers all things festive.” Visit GoComedy.net or call (248) 327-0575 for information.
Home for the Holidays in Pinckney’s Dio dinner theater. Through Dec. 31, this original musical is a play-within-a-play featuring seasonal songs; tickets include meal and nonalcoholic beverages. Seating at 6:30 p.m. with 12:30 matinee on Sunday. For reservations, visit DioTheatre.com or call (517) 672-6009.
A Christmas Carol at Rochester’s Meadowbrook Theater. Through Dec. 21, this traditional production — one of Metro Detroit’s holiday traditions — is in its 33rd year. Shows are 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For information visit MBTheatre.com or call (248) 377-3300.
Melissa Preddy is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.