News + Notes: Monday Dec. 9

Classic and contemp theater trade places this Christmas, Wanderlust and Ural Thomas bring back the big band, and dancers articulate crisply in FRONT newspaper.

1) Presto change-o, do-si-do! This year, the usual keepers of Christmas tradition (PCS and Artists Rep) are getting all contemporary and cynical, while frequent experimenters Portland Playhouse, Coho, and Action Adventure return to the classics. Playhouse does unironic Dickens in full Victorian flair, Coho hosts Bad Reputation’s very close approximation of animated classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and Action/Adventure’s “Holiday Thing” dusts off Bing Crosby’s old saw of lounge-singing and joke-telling between a roaring fire and a tinkling piano. Stay tuned for forthcoming reviews in our theater section.

2) Wanderlust’s White Album Christmas delivered 3 hours of circus cheer, with The Nowhere Band doing justice to the epic Beatles tunes—even the intractable “Revolution 9.” Contortionist ingenue Meg Russell was the “ringer” from the crowd, playing a little girl with mean parents who wants to join the circus, and Ringmaster Noah Mickens schooled the audience on carnie sign language. Laying a finger aside of one’s nose isn’t just for Santa; it also signifies when you’re giving someone else “the business.” Next weekend, the troupe will perform “A Circus Carol” with 3 Leg Torso.

3) FRONT, a dance newspaper with collected writings from local dance-world luminaries and critics, released its 3rd issue “Rubies” on Sunday at PICA, even giving guests a crack at the PICA resource room thanks to an ongoing residency. The paper, reportedly “huge and RED,” includes Barry Johnson’s piece on Mary Oslund.

4) Alt/Latina folk band Y La Bamba was rumored to have dissolved this past summer, but reunited last night at Rontoms for drummer Scott “DJ Cooky” Magee’s birthday, opening for (also revived) soul act Ural Thomas and the Pain. The bill drew a capacity crowd and a wraparound line who watched furtively through the windows with frozen breath. Ural Thomas: “Back in the day, when the live bands were doing their thing…then the DJ’s came and reinvented it…now the live bands are back, and we’re reinventing it again!”

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