Bad Santa

Also: A Radioland Christmas, A(n Improvised) Christmas Carol, Messiah, and Teedra Moses.




Working from a story by the Coen brothers, director Terry Zwigoff (Crumb) has made a film calculated to appall anyone who holds the holidays sacred. It is vile, hateful, and soulless; it also happens to be absolutely hilarious. Billy Bob Thornton (pictured) plays a self-loathing, foul-mouthed, alcoholic safecracker who annually dons white beard and red suit for his criminal MO: He and his elfin cohort (Tony Cox) loot a department store every Christmas Eve and live large for the rest of the year. Santa follows Thornton's misanthropic human wrecking ball through affluent Phoenix suburbia and simply asks us to identify with his morbid Christmas dispirit. No problem. 11 p.m. Fri., Dec. 24–Sat., Dec. 25. Call for prices. Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 206-523-3935. ANDREW BONAZELLI




Director Karen Lund taps the Rockwellian aura of old-time radio in a tender rendering of fictional KSEA Seattle, as cast and crew prepare to broadcast the annual live Christmas special in 1943. Disaster impends as small-time egos collide, the clock is ticking, and—in a moment rivaling Linus' salvaging of A Charlie Brown Christmas— a child appears to lead them. Written by Seattle playwright Lauri Evans Deason, this is family entertainment at its best: light but earnest, message-bound but untreacly. 7:30 p.m. Wed.–Thurs.; 8 p.m. Fri.–Sat.; 2 p.m. matinees Sat. Ends Thurs., Dec. 30. $17–$29. Taproot Theatre, 204 N. 85th St., 206-781-9707. RICHARD MORIN




Seven improv performers plus a narrator plus a musical director plus an audience plus Dickens equals a holiday anti-classic. The specifics, of course, vary from show to show; the framework is loose enough to accommodate the two dozen or so suggestions narrator and co-director Brian Kameoka gets from the audience. Not quite a family outing, unless your brats are especially cynical, but a nice way to get your eggnog dosed. 8 p.m. Wed.–Sat.; 7 p.m. Sun. Ends Sun., Dec. 26. $12. Market Theater, 1428 Post Alley, 206-781-9273. MICHAELANGELO MATOS




The dearth of Messiahs this season was a bit of a surprise—only the Seattle Symphony and Bellevue Philharmonic offered it, and there were no period-instrument performances. Two more presentations of this most approachable of all oratorios are you-are-the-choir versions, open to all singers. What they lack in polish they make up for in fervor and fun. Karen P. Thomas (pictured) leads one at University Unitarian Church, a tradition there since 1969; Louis Magor conducts another at Town Hall. 7 p.m. Sun., Dec. 26. $8–$10. University Unitarian Church, 6556 35th Ave. N.E., 206-525-8400. 7 p.m. Tues., Dec. 28. $9.99–$12. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 206-706-2669. GAVIN BORCHERT




When we think of New Orleans R&B, we tend to think of older music—predating hip-hop, which has been the city's great export of late (thanks, Mannie Fresh). But Moses is redressing that balance, partly because she's plenty hip-hop herself—her debut, Complex Simplicity (TVT), released this summer, features a guest spot from Jadakiss—and partly because she's an oft-brilliant songwriter and vocalist. It turns out the album's title is apt, because at first the thing sounds too easy, even derivative; give it time, though, and its unique charm seeps in deep. Moses plays between headliner Raphael Saadiq (see CD review, p. 45) and opener Lyfe. Part of Seattle Holiday Comedy and Music Festival. 7 p.m. Mon., Dec. 27. $40. Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., 206-215-4747. MICHAELANGELO MATOS

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