Portland Center Stage Twist Your Dickens, version 2014

It’s December! And holiday time! This is my favorite time of year!

While I’m brimming with holiday spirit and cheer, F is more of a grouch. While I’m excited to see sparkling lights everywhere and decked out trees with shiny ornaments (this weekend is also the worthy Providence Festival of Trees at the Oregon Convention Center) and an excuse to wear sequins at holiday parties, he’s muttering about the crowds and the killed trees. If he could, he would stay inside at home every day. I used to get excited buying presents as a challenge of thoughtfulness and also because it’s fun to gift wrap with all that pretty paper, but with his influence we no longer exchange gifts, and we put up a fake instead of a real tree. What a Scrooge right?

In previous years I’ve spent the holiday with my family, ranging from Hawaii one year to Manhattan Beach in California if I didn’t go home to Chicago for Christmas. With all the travel I’ve done this year though, this year F and I are spending the holidays here at home in Portland. I was carefully looking for events and activities that could both fulfill my need for holiday cheer while not being too over the top for Grinchy F.

Enter the fact that earlier this week we went to Portland Center Stage‘s production of Twist Your Dickens, playing at the Armory (128 NW 11th Avenue, in the Pearl District) in the U.S. Bank Main Stage.
Portland Center Stage Twist Your Dickens poster, Art by Julia McNamara running November 22 - December 24, 2014
Art by Julia McNamara

This is a show that is a sketch comedy version of the famous Christmas Carol story by Charles Dickens, and because of that nature no single show is the same. Each cast can throw in their own spins into a production by adding new content to the general outline, and add to the fact that there is a fair amount of improv. In fact, specifically you may see your suggestion thrown into that night’s show!

Make sure you come at least 20 minutes before the show because in the lobby they are collecting written confessed misdeeds you have done (anonymous of course) in the Misdeeds Booth and may uses them in the show! There will also be calls for audience suggestions to incorporate in the show, so think of interesting year from the past, or a funny/scandalous occupation and hobby, and a holiday song for instance to fill in Mad Libs style for the cast…
Tell the Twist Your Dickens cast your misdeeds and they may end up in the Portland Center Stage show that night!

This seemed to the the perfect balance of Christmas cheer and satiric humor for a couple like us. And, I know I piqued his interest when I showed him on the PCS Facebook page how somehow, there would be a Dalek in this production (he is a big Dr. Who fan). Sold! We had a cheerful time and it was fun to hear F, who doesn’t laugh heartily often, do so during the show. I was surprised to see some really fun physical comedy in the second half of the show in addition to the verbal snarkiness that I was expecting and lots of references to pop culture.
Portland Center Stage The Second City’s A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens  L-R: Nicholas Kessler as the Ghost of Christmas Future and Craig Cackowski as Scrooge with a Dalek-inspired robot from the future.  Photo by Patrick Weishampel.
Twist Your Dickens L-R: Nicholas Kessler as the Ghost of Christmas Future and Craig Cackowski as Scrooge with a Dalek-inspired robot from the future. Photo by Patrick Weishampel.

The running time for Twist Your Dicken is about 1 hour and 50 minutes, including an intermission. The show does have some risque material and language, so recommended for ages 14 years old or older.

Performance times:

  • Tuesday – Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m ($39-$63 except Saturday evening $49-$69)
  • Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. or Thursday matinees at noon ($36-52)

There is another Christmas show at Portland Center Stage show in the Ellen Bye Studio, Santaland Diaries, which is another classic comedic look at Christmas. Use the code word “Surprise” to get $10 off any full price adult tickets to either holiday show!
December 2014 at the Portland Center Stage located at the Gerding Theater at the Armory

Also keep in mind that on the first and third Saturdays of each month (so for December that means tomorrow December 6 and also on December 20), the Gerding Theater at the Armory hosts FREE public tours at noon that last 1 hour that include a total behind the scenes look, so you might want to come see the show and then tour, or tour and then see the show. To join the tour just meet at the concierge desk inside the lobby of the building slightly before noon (I’ve taken this tour before when seeing another play).

You might also consider, as a holiday present, a Sweetness and Spotlight package they are offering! It includes a voucher that is good for two tickets for any Portland Center Stage show in the season, PLUS a dozen Cupcake Jones cupcakes (those ones with the extra stuffing inside the cupcake) as a present for $80, a value of $160 – check here for the Holiday Package.

That includes opportunities for your gift recipient to see the Broadway comedy hit Other Dessert Cities, the smaller intimate musical show The Lion (One man, six guitars, and a true story of love, loss, family loyalty, and the redemptive power of music) or Three Days of Rain (the show you may have heard stars actors from the Portland-filmed NBC television series GRIMM: Silas Weir Mitchell / Monroe and Sasha Roiz /Captain Renard) and more!

Are you seeing any holiday shows or doing any special holiday entertainment activities this month, I’m interested to find more holiday things to do!?

Disclosure: I was invited to see this production, but I will always provide my honest opinion and assessment of all products and experiences I may be given. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own.



  1. That’s such a cool show poster for Twist Your Dickens. I am contemplating getting show tickets as gifts. That holiday package sounds like a great deal!

  2. So fun! I really had a great time at Portland Center Stage when I went a few months ago. I love that they are doing something fun and out of the box like Twist Your Dickens.

  3. Oh wow, that sounds really funny!! I’d never heard of it before now!

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