The Santaland Diaries’ opens this weekend

Each year, the holiday season in Atlanta seems to grow longer and longer. The first week of November, for instance, saw the debut of “White Christmas,” the kind of production normally reserved for December. The long season, however, means there’s no shortage of holiday fare in local theaters, from the familiar to the edgy.

Of course, no holiday season would be complete without Horizon’s annual “The Santaland Diaries,” based on gay writer David Sedaris’ “Holidays on Ice.” This is the 12th year for the show, which stars Harold Leaver as the often grumpy, openly gay Crumpet, forced to serve as a department store elf one holiday season. Back is sidekick Enoch King, the usual doses of snideness and “plenty of fresh jokes and references,” promises Leaver.

“The Holiday Ice Spectacular” will feature laughs as well as skating. It stars a cast of 16, including some recognizable skating names. Among the cast is openly gay skater Michael Stack, who promises fun for all kinds of audiences, gay and straight.

Openly gay comic Leslie Jordan will return to Atlanta for a new special titled “Deck the Halls, Y’all.” Jordan, who shot to fame with “Sordid Lives” and later with “Will and Grace,” is a frequent performer in the ATL, where his Southern humor is particularly embraced.

The new Fabrefaction Theater Company tackles Jonathan Larson’s Tony-winning musical “Rent” this season. The musical about a group of twentysomethings in New York may have aged a little but it’s still a potent piece with one of the great modern day scores. Many of its characters are gay and are dealing with HIV/AIDS. Another show dealing with AIDS is “You Passed Me By” at the 14th Playhouse, examining the role of HIV/AIDS information in church.

Besides a lesbian director – Cathe Hall Payne – Onstage Atlanta’s “Hallelujah Girls” has a gay actor and a cast of “strong women.” Payne calls the play, set in a beauty parlor, a comedy about “Southern women hitting their stride and becoming the wonderful, powerful friends they can be together.”

Always a popular production, the Alliance Theatre’s version of “A Christmas Carol” offers its usual grandiose take on the classic, while Georgia Shakespeare serves up a new stage version of the film “A Christmas Story,” about young Ralphie’s desire for a BB gun.

Also diving into holiday fare this year is Actor’s Express, whose “Every Christmas Story Ever Told” is directed by openly gay Clint Thornton and promises some droll storytelling by its three performers.

Other productions to look for include gay actor Bryan Mercer in Theatre of the Square’s “Tuna Christmas;” Theatrical Outfit’s “A Christmas Memory,” based on the short story by Truman Capote; Atlanta Lyric Theatre’s “42nd Street;” and “Cirque Dreams Holidaze” at the Cobb Energy Centre.

Holiday theater calendar

‘A Tuna Christmas’
Through January 2 at Theatre in the Square

‘The Hallelujah Girls’
Nov. 26 – Dec. 18 at Onstage Atlanta

‘Invasion: Christmas Carol’
Nov. 26 – Dec. 23, Dad’s Garage

‘A Christmas Carol’
Nov. 26 – Dec. 24 at Alliance Theatre

‘The Santaland Diaries’
Nov. 26 – Jan. 2 at Horizon Theatre

‘Black Nativity’
Nov. 27 – Dec. 30 at Southwest Arts Center

‘Cirque Dreams Holidaze’
Nov. 30 – Dec. 5 at Cobb Energy Centre

‘Every Christmas Story Ever Told’
Dec. 2 – 23 at Actor’s Express

‘A Christmas Survival Guide’
Dec. 3 – 19 at Stage Door Players

Dec. 3 – 22 at Fabrefaction Theatre Company

‘You Passed Me By’
Dec. 4 at 14th Street Playhouse

‘A Christmas Story’
Dec. 7 – 26 at Conant Performing Arts Center

‘Deck Them Halls Y’all’
Dec. 10-11 at the Buckhead Theatre

‘A Christmas Memory’
Dec. 15 – 23 at Balzer Theatre

‘Holiday Ice Spectacular’
Dec. 16-24 at Cobb Energy Centre


Top photo: ‘The Santaland Diaries.’ based on gay writer David Sedaris’ ‘Holidays on Ice,’ stars Harold Leaver as the often grumpy, openly gay Crumpet. (courtesy Horizon Theatre)