Reviews are by Donald Munro; NR = not reviewed. For performance information, see calendar listings on Pages 18-19.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: Tulare Encore Theatre opens the holiday favorite. (Opens Friday, Dec. 4)
The Elves & the Shoemaker: Visalia’s Enchanted Playhouse presents the children’s play. (Opens Friday, Dec. 4)
The Hobbit: Porterville’s Barn Theater presents a play based on the J.R.R. Tolkien book. (Opens Friday, Dec. 4)
Mary Poppins: The new musical based on the Walt Disney movie and book by P.L. Travers is presented by Children’s Musical Theaterworks at Fresno Memorial Auditorium. (Opens Friday, Dec. 4)
Over the River and Through the Woods: Visalia Players opens the play about an Italian American grandson wanting to move across the country. (Opens Friday, Dec. 4)
Plaid Tidings: Reedley’s River City Theatre Company presents another installment in the “Forever Plaid” franchise. (Opens Friday, Dec. 4)
Really Really: Fresno State opens Paul Downs Colaizzo’s startling generational comedy-drama about a group of college students in the aftermath of a wild party. (Opens Friday, Dec. 4)
The Cemetery Club: Hanford’s Kings Players presents the Ivan Menchell play. Through Dec. 6. (NR)
A Christmas Story: You won’t shoot your eye out with Good Company Players’ warm and invigorating musical version of the cult-classic movie. But you might hurt yourself laughing, especially if you’re a fan of the film. The nostalgic story of a plucky Midwestern boy who wants a new BB gun for Christmas is directed with emotional and logistical finesse by Emily Pessano and Robert Sanchez, who find clever ways to stage such iconic moments as the tongue-on-the-flagpole scene and sitting on Santa’s lap. The songs, by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, are sweet, and while the choreography on opening night was a little ragged, the show should settle into a crowd-pleasing run. Through Jan. 10.
Fiddler on the Roof: Oakhurst’s Golden Chain Theatre presents the classic musical. Through Nov. 29. (NR)
Meet Me in St. Louis: This gently nostalgic Good Company Players production at the 2nd Space Theatre wants to be a witty romp, but the acting and direction too often are bland. As the Smith family gets wrapped up in humor and consternation on the eve of the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, a sudden job promotion threatens to move the family to New York, irking four daughters. There are some fun supporting performances (including a winning Joy Smith in the double-cast show), but Christopher Sergel’s weak script contributes to the production’s flat feeling. Through Dec. 20.
Mary Poppins: The musical version is based on the Disney film and the original book by P.L. Travers. Presented by Playhouse Merced. Through Dec. 13 (NR)
NEXT WEEK’S OPENINGS
The Amish Project: The New Ensemble’s production about an Amish community that forgives a mass killer returns for an encore performance at the Mennonite Community Church. (Plays Dec. 13 only.)