Can you call yourself a theatre buff if you haven't seen a play by Václav Havel?

Prolific theatre pioneer Charles Ludlum wrote some 30 plays; taught; founded an acclaimed theatre company; and acted on stage, film, and TV. His most popular work was 1984's penny dreadful The Mystery of Irma Vep, in which he and his partner Everett Quinton played all the characters, with full costume changes for each entrance. Ludlum's life was cut short by AIDS in 1987. Quinton, who revived the show off-Broadway in 1998, died this past January. And the Black Box Theatre's current production may be seen as a fond tribute to these inspired men.

With its brisk pace, lean hour-and-10-minute duration, lack of intermission, and lively, accomplished cast, this show is so tasty you won't even think about food.

This All Shook Up mixes Elvis' two endeavors as part parody, part tribute, and director Max Moline, music director Trent Teske, choreographer Robyn Messerly, and all involved made it a 24-karat gold-record blast – the most, daddy-o!

Even though saying that the venerable, ubiquitous Barefoot in the Park really holds up today is cliché, I'm saying it. And this production as a whole is fresh in every aspect – thus, unlike me, staying far away from the formulaic.

I'm often impressed upon my first glance at the set when I enter the Black Box Theatre: the opulent, creepy one of The Turn of the Screw; the enigmatic jumble of portraits and ripped flags for Assassins; the varying, multiple-locale settings for Little Women: The Musical. (This venue's crews find the most wonderful furniture and set dressing, too.) However, the set for playwright Lauren Gunderson's Natural Shocks, the Black Box's current production, blows them all away. I think I actually froze in astonishment.

Writer Peter Rothstein conceived All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 as a radio piece, and first presented it as a concert with nine singers and three actors in a church auditorium in 2007. Rothstein used the soldiers' own words, and Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach arranged the 30-or-so songs, including traditional carols, popular tunes of the day, and songs which had emerged from the war itself. The show takes only an hour, but there is much to absorb and appreciate.

While the holiday decor was gorgeous, and festive songs abounded during dinner, I honestly wasn't ready for anything holly-jolly. We weren't past Turkey Day, or even Veterans' Day yet. Nonetheless, director and choreographer Ashley Becher, music director Ron May, and the cast, crew, and staff put on a show that could warm even the Grinch's shriveled heart.

Haus of Ruckus – the theatrical team headed by artistic directors T Green and Calvin Vo – is making some welcome noise onstage again.

In its five years in existence, the Black Box Theatre has gained a reputation for eclectic script choices and high production values with stellar performers. Its current offering, Motherhood: The Musical, is a fine continuation of that tradition.