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Thursday, December 01, 2005 | Upcoming theater and visual arts events:

THEATER

Naughty and nice. Although December is a favorite month to trade the chill and bustle for a warm seat in the theater, the excesses of the holiday season are also ripe for social commentary. Family battles that lie dormant all year long are unleashed by Uncle Larry’s spiked eggnog and wrapping paper makes for missiles when little Suzie gets a coloring book instead of Yuletide Romance Barbie. Atheists go to church, paupers visit the mall and rich people moved by the holiday spirit buy poor people things they don’t need. And what is it about the season that leads normally tasteful people to don matching reindeer sweaters, wax nostalgic over crocheted snowflakes and display unseemly blinking lawn decorations with pride? From dirty Santa jokes to bitter Macy’s elves, San Diego explores the best and worst of the season on stage.

– Peasants join forces with archangels to banish evil spirits in “La Pastorela Noel,” a musical that humorously blends the myths of the season with political satire and aspects of Mexican culture. Runs at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays and 2 p.m. Saturdays, Dec. 6-23 at the Cassius Carter Centre Stage in Balboa Park. Info: (619) 234-5623 or www.theoldglobe.org.

– David Sedaris’ semi-autobiographical “Santaland Diaries” is the perfect anecdote to an overdose of sugary holiday cheer. A department store elf named Crumpet has no reverence for Christmastime, and a particular hatred of holiday shoppers and their greedy tots. Runs at 8 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, Dec. 5-23, with extra weekend performances throughout the month, at the Cygnet Theatre, 6663 El Cajon Blvd., Suite N., College Area. Info: (619) 337-1525 or www.cygnettheatre.com.

– A child’s fantasy and a parent’s nightmare, “Babes in Toyland” features armies of toys coming to life to march, sing and dance. Plays at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3 (with an outdoor tree lighting at 6:30 p.m.) at the California Center for the Arts, 340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido. Info: (800) 988-4253 or www.artcenter.org.

– Lyrics and music by Langston Hughes breathe Southern gospel spirit into a retelling of the birth, life and death of Christ in “Black Nativity.” Plays at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sundays, Dec.1-18, at the Lyceum Theatre, Horton Plaza, downtown. Info: (619) 544-1000.

– Not Santa, but three unrepentant convicts appear on a local shopkeeper’s roof one offbeat Christmas Eve in the comedy, “My Three Angels.” Runs at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays, now through Dec. 8, at the Coronado Playhouse, 1335 First St., Coronado. Info: (619) 435-4856 or www.coronadoplayhouse.com.

– Everybody’s favorite holiday grump will be spreading his seasonal gloom at the Old Globe’s production of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” Runs at 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sundays, now through Dec. 31, at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. Info: (619) 234-5623 or www.theoldglobe.org.

– Red-nosed reindeer aside, a stage full of live sheep and goats hearkens the more humble “Traditions of Christmas.” This pageant-style production is put on by Christian Community Theatre youth. Dates and times vary. Runs Dec. 9-22 at the East County Performing Arts Center, 210 E. Main St., El Cajon. Info: (619) 588-0206 or www.cyt.org.

– Scrooge runs a speakeasy to the tune of swing, ragtime and be-bop in this ’20s-era American re-make of Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol.” Runs at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, at 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and at 7 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 3-24, at the Lyceum Theatre in Horton Plaza, downtown. Info: (619) 544-1000 or www.sandiegorep.com.

– To celebrate or not, is the theme of this year’s “Festival of Christmas,” a long-held tradition of the Lamb’s Players Theatre that features an original, locally-written play every December. Runs at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 8 pm. Fridays, 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays, now through Dec. 28, at the Lamb’s Players Theatre, 1142 Orange Ave., Coronado. Info: (619) 437-6050 or www.lambsplayers.org. (JH)

VISUAL ARTS and FILM

– Performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña blends spoken word, humor, hybrid personas and multilingualism to explore issues ranging from immigration to censorship and globalization to the digital divide. Sushi Performance and Visual Art presents “Guillermo Gómez-Peña: Mextermintator vs. the Global Predator” 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec. 3 at Saint Cecilia’s Playhouse, 1620 6th Ave., downtown. With opening performance by spoken-word artist and Voz Alta founder Adrian Arancibia. Info: (619) 555-5555 or www.sushiart.org. (Read Voice tomorrow for an in-depth feature on Gómez-Peña and his art.)

– Unleash your inner MC with some rap karaoke Thursday, Dec. 1 at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s monthly “Thursday Night Thing” event. If rapping isn’t your thing, brace yourself for the bustling gift-giving season by participating in a gift-wrapping workshop in the museum’s lobby. When you need a break, you can always stroll through the galleries to ponder the latest contemporary artworks. TNT happens 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. every first Thursday of the month at the, 1001 Kettner Blvd., downtown. Info: (619) 234-1001 or www.mcasd.org.

– Do you long for the days of Ziggy Stardust and all the glam-tastic glory of rock ‘n’ roll in the ’70s? Relive the magic through dozens of black-and-white and color photographs by legendary rock photographer Mick Rock at the Morrison Hotel Gallery, 1230 Prospect St., La Jolla. “Through the Lens of Mick Rock” runs through Dec. 11. Info: (858) 551-0835 or www.morrisonhotelgallery.com.

– The young and talented staff at downtown’s Voice 1156 Gallery will deck the walls with their own personal art at the exhibition “Statement 2,” which opens 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2. The show features an array of works by nearly two dozen artists in the “Voice 1156 family,” as well as two artists representing the Institute for Restorative Justice. The show runs through Dec. 20. For a complete list of artists and bios, visit www.voice1156.com.

– Before you plunk down $10 at the multiplex to see Peter Jackson’s special effects-laden remake of “King Kong,” save a few dollars and see the 1933 original on the big screen 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7 inside Sherwood Auditorium at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s La Jolla location, 700 Prospect St. General admission, $7; members, students and seniors, $5. Info: (858) 454-3541 or

– VOICE STAFF

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