Headliners: Christmas cheer: ‘The Snow Maiden’; ‘A Celtic Nutcracker’; ‘A John Waters Christmas’

  • Dan DeNicola—

Published: 12/16/2016 10:28:06 AM

Holiday capers

Not to be confused with the Snow Queen of “Frozen” fame, “The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)” is a work by the 19th-century Russian playwright Alexander Ostrovsky who, departing from his trademark realist style, based the play on a fairy tale about the daughter of Father Frost. Growing up in the Kingdom of Ice and Snow, Snegurochka spends her time in the forest playing with her animal friends before falling in love with — and literally melting in the arms of — a young man from the local village. Tchaikovsky wrote incidental music for the play’s premiere in 1873, and it’s this score that the members of Amherst Ballet will perform to in their dance adaptation of the story Friday at the Academy of Music.

7 p.m. $20 general; $1- ages 4-17. 584-9032, aomtheatre.com

Meanwhile, the Greenfield-based Celtic Heels Performance Company returns with its signature production, “A Celtic Nutcracker” (pictured), a Hibernian take on the original that blends the classic Tchaikovsky score with Celtic music and choreography and puts a spin on the narrative, transposing the heroine (amended from Clara to Claire) to a cottage in an Irish village and replacing her second-act visit to the Land of Sweets with a dream journey to Tir Na Nog, a mythical island off the Irish coast where everyone remains eternally young.

Saturday at 7 p.m., also at the Academy of Music. $14, $18 general; $12, $18 seniors; $8, $12 children. aomtheatre.com

Holiday horror show

“Christmas is coming, right? You can’t ignore it — it’s like a steamroller. I love it and hate it,” says John Waters, who describes his annual stand-up show, “A John Waters Christmas,” as “like a self-help session. I talk about everything: what you should give for Christmas, what you should get — and how to deal with the trauma of it, if your family’s crazy, if you’re crazy ... how to get through it.”

Famous for such transgressive classics as “Pink Flamingoes,” “Female Trouble” and “A Dirty Shame” (as well as the more mainstream “Hairspray”), the pencil-mustachioed, Baltimore-born filmmaker (aka “The Pope of Trash” and “Prince of Puke) seems an unlikely person to spread holiday cheer. Except it’s the sort of cheer that includes a peculiar preference for real-life holiday horror stories, a questionable affection for the annual December warning list of “Unsafe Toys To Give Your Child,” an unhealthy fixation on Santa Claus and a disproportionate hatred for email Christmas cards and fruit gift baskets. Among the pressing holiday quandaries Waters attempts to resolve: “Should you infiltrate living crèche celebrations in your neighborhood this year and cause religious mayhem?”

This show contains “adult-appropriate humor” and is labeled as suitable “for open-minded and slightly left-of-center audiences.”

Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy of Music in Northampton. Tickets are $25, $35, $45 or $100, the latter including a post-show meet & greet. 584-9032, aomtheatre.com

— Dan DeNicola

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