Dec. 14 2011 12:01 PM

Our top three picks of San Diego events this week

A scene from Emilia's Sugarplum Nightmare

Santa on the stand

Trying desperately to stay awake one night as she researches the history of Christmas, 15-year-old Emilia fails and descends into a dream: The three wise men—one of whom happens to be a woman—come to her for help in putting Santa Claus on trial for commercializing the holiday and losing sight of its true meaning.

Such is the plot of Emilia’s Sugarplum Nightmare, a holiday musical comedy written more than a decade ago by George Weinberg- Harter and Gail Lee West and performed between 1999 and 2001 around San Diego County. The play’s been updated and will be staged by Talent to aMuse Theatre Company at Liberty Hall Theatre at Paradise Village Plaza, 2700 E. Fourth St. in National City. It opened last weekend and runs through Dec. 22. Tickets are $15 to $18.

The play was written with adults in mind, but director O.P. Hadlock says it’ll appeal to audiences of all ages, what with its vaudevillian, slapstick humor and varied musical styles, including an anti-Santa rap performed by the three wise guys.

“The show’s main objective is fun. It’s meant to entertain first and foremost,” Hadlock says. “It’s somewhat educational; if you don’t know about the origins of Christmas and how it came about, you will when you leave the show.”

Despite the play’s somewhat serious comment on materialism run amok, as well as an exploration of the conflicts between religion and science, it finishes on a high note, as most family-friendly holiday shows do. As the story begins, Emilia hasn’t bought a single present, but “what she wants to do at the end of the show,” Hadlock says, “is go out and share whatever she can—she knows they’ll be good presents because they come from the heart.” Aw. 

Nice pair

If it really does take two to make a thing go right, then the Mingei international Museum is on top of its game with the opening of two new exhibitions on Saturday, Dec. 17. The first is A Fantastic Voyage: The Art of Ynez Johnston, which showcases six decades’ worth of the artist’s wood and bronze sculptures, paintings, prints and ceramics, all boasting a heavy Asian influence. The second is New Jewelry in a New Medium: The Art of Polymer Clay, which explores cool jewelry and beading that can be created using polymer. A reception won’t be held until January, but this is a good chance to get a sneak peek at the goods. Admission is $5 to $8. The Mingei is at 1439 El Prado in Balboa Park.

Shaken, stirred, flavored

James Bond knew how he liked his martinis, but not all of us are lucky enough to have it all figured out. Good thing there’s Hillcrest Taste ’N’ Tinis, during which 13 shops in Hillcrest will be shaking and stirring samples of different types of holiday-inspired martinis. That includes flavors like creamy eggnog, peppermint and something called a “Scroogedriver.” Along with tasty drinks, patrons will get sweet discounts on products and free gift wrapping at each location. If your martini buzz is getting the best of you, 35 restaurants will also offer food samples ranging from sushi to sweets. It all goes down from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 day-of.