Seeing a holiday show is as much a part of the holiday season as carols and cookies, and this year’s lineup has some enchanting choices.
PATRIOT LEDGER.com – This holiday entertainment season, you can take your true love – and the kids, too – to seven “Nutcrackers,” six “Christmas Carols,” five “Holiday Pops,” four “Messiahs,” three “Divas,” two “Wonderful Life’s” and a “Black Nativity.”
Also, a trip to Christmas in outer space, any number of holiday concerts – orchestral and choral – and a visit to the Island of Misfit Toys. And if you’re still in the mood for more merriment, you can have some “naughty” fun with the “Drag Queen Christmas” tour or keep it “nice” with “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.”
All that and more is on the area’s entertainment calendar from now till New Year’s.
DECK THE BOARDS
“Christmas Extravaganza” is a song-and-dance spectacular to celebrate the season with performers from all over the South Shore and a visit from Santa Claus. Two performances at 2 and 7:30 p.m., Nov. 30 at Marilyn Rodman Performing Arts Center, Foxboro; orpheum.org
Here come the queens from the VH1 television reality show when “Drag Queen Christmas – The Naughty Tour” comes to the Shubert on Nov. 21. With back-up dancers and a full stage production, this adult-content production features Nina West (host), Shuga, Roxxxy, Latrice, Thorgy, Manila and Lady Bunny doing their thing in holiday costumes; bochcenter.org
Follow the courageous orphan “Oliver!” when New Repertory Theatre performs the cherished family musical based on Charles Dickens’ famous novel, at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal St., Watertown. This Victorian-era tale explores the contrast between the rich and poor, the struggles of the Industrial Revolution, and the results of an absent middle class and no upward mobility. Nov. 29-Dec. 29; newrep.org
The Greater Boston Stage Company presents “It’s A Wonderful Life,” a stage adaptation of Frank Capra’s classic 1946 fantasy about troubled George Bailey and his enlightening angel, Clarence, Nov. 29-Dec. 22 at Stoneham Theater, 395 Main St., Stoneham; greaterbostonstage.org
Ryan Landry and the Gold Dust Orphans head to outer space for the holidays with another wacky musical comedy show, “Christmas on Uranus.” All we know is it’ll be irreverent and it’s definitely not down to Earth. This year the troupe moves to a new venue, Lithuanian Hall Theatre in South Boston, Dec. 5-22. https://tinyurl.com/y6gykzbd
In its 49th year, Boston’s “Black Nativity” is the world’s longest-running performances of Langston Hughes’ song-play in the world. With a cast of 75, tells the story of the Nativity through singing, dancing, the Gospel of St. Luke and the Hughes’ poetry, Fridays-Sundays, Dec. 6-15 at Emerson Paramount Theater, 559 Washington St., Boston; blacknativity.org
Soaring off the screen and onto the stage is the beloved chestnut “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical.” The song-and-dance version of the classic TV special brings to life favorite characters: Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble, the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius, and, of course, Rudolph. Meet us on the Island of Misfit Toys, Dec. 6-8 at Shubert Theatre, Boston; bochcenter.org
The Reagle Music Theatre’s annual “ChristmasTime” is a musical spectacle with a full orchestra, Santa’s workshop, Victorian carolers, elves, parade of wooden soldiers and a living nativity pageant. Dec. 7-15. reaglemusictheatre.org
The Americana Theatre Company will present “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” as its holiday production. Performances will be Dec. 7-15 at the Plymouth Center for Arts; americanatheatre.org
“A Christmas Celtic Sojourn” is offering its first “sensory friendly” performance this year, on Dec. 20, with lower sounds, lights and other modifications. Now in its 17th season, the show is hosted by WGBH radio host Brian O’Donovan, and this season former Riverdance performer and Hammerstep founder Jason Ormeus and Boston native and 2004 Irish Step Dancing World Champion Ashley Smith-Wallace join the show. And it wouldn’t be a show without the steppers from the Harney Academy of Irish Dance in Walpole. Dec. 11, Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport; Dec. 13-15 and Dec. 20-22, Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston; Dec. 17, Hanover Theatre, Worcester; Dec. 18, Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Providence, R.I.; wgbh.org
After traveling the world, for its 49th year Christmas Revels returns home for the holidays to tell the story of Robert Johnson who went to the crossroads to sell his soul to the devil so he could sing the blues. Bluegrass, gospel, Shaker melodies, brass bands, hymns and the blues, take us from Appalachia to the Georgia Sea Islands in this toe-tapping celebration performed by the Revels Chorus and guest artists. Dec. 13-29 at Harvard University’s Sanders Theater, Cambridge; revels.org
Dream of snow and feel the holiday spirit at the song-and-dance spectacular “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” at the Wang Theatre in Boston, Dec. 17-29. Inspired by the 1954 film, the musical features all the classic songs like “Blue Skies,” “I Love A Piano,” “How Deep is the Ocean” and, of course, “White Christmas,” bochcenter.org
“Thumbelina: A Little Musical,” returns to the American Repertory Theater for the holidays, in a new musical adaptation of the “beloved story of a girl who forges her path, embraces her differences, and finds her place.” We assume she dances and sings, too, but there’s no mention of size. Dec. 20-31, Loeb Drama Center; americanrepertorytheater.org
What’s Christmas without Charles Dickens’ seasonal favorite, “A Christmas Carol”? Shed your inner Scrooge and see the classic story of greed and redemption performed by a handful of regional troupes.
Like the ghosts of Christmases past, the Dickens classic is a timeless tale that never loses its meaning, especially in the hands of the talented Trinity Repertory Company, who’ve been inhabiting Scrooge and Marley for 42 years. The show runs through Dec. 29, 201 Washington St., Providence, trinityrep.com
“A Christmas Carol,” by Underground Railway Theater and Nora Theatre Company takes us along with Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge, and this time the tale is accompanied by puppetry, storytelling, live music and dancing. Nov. 29-Dec. 29 Produced by Underground Railway Theater & The Nora Theatre Company. At Central Square Theater, Cambridge; centralsquaretheater.org
Three spirits haunt Scrooge on the South Shore when Norwell’s Company Theater performs Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol” Nov. 29 – Dec. 22. 30 Accord Park Drive, Norwell; companytheatre.com
Dickens meets Dolly in the world premiere of “Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol.“The classic London-set ghost story is reset in the Great Smoky Mountains of Eastern Tennessee at the height of the Great Depression, where Ebenezer Scrooge is recast as the callous owner of a mining company town. The production features new music by Parton, book by David H. Bell. Quincy’s Ray O’Hare plays the parts of Mudge, Wyatt and the ensemble. The show runs Dec. 3-29 at Emerson Colonial Theatre, Boston; emersoncolonialtheatre.com
There’s a good reason to drive to Beverly: the 30th annual production of “A Christmas Carol” at the North Shore Music Theatre. The troupe has found the perfect balance of music, special effects and good old-fashioned storytelling. David Coffee returns yet again as Scrooge in a production that’s become a true, enduring holiday tradition. Dec. 6-22; nsmt.org
Quincy resident and Broadway vet Leslie Woodies co-directs the Cambridge Youth Dance Program in its 10th annual “What the Dickens!” – an urban contemporary dance twist on the classic holiday tale, mixing classical ballet with tap, hip-hop and more surprises. Boston Ballet alum Clyde Nantais returns as Ebenezer Scrooge. Dec. 14-23, at John Hancock Hall, 180 Berkeley St., Boston, cydp.org
VISIONS OF SUGARPLUMS
Set to Tchaikovsky’s romantic score, the “Nutcracker” ballet is a whimsical Christmas fantasy that tells the story of a little girl, Clara, who flies off to a magical land when her nutcracker doll comes to life. With such a fairy-tale story line, it’s no wonder “The Nutcracker” has become a holiday tradition, not to mention one of the few ballets to enjoy mainstream popularity. You can get your fill of sugar plum fairies and magical princes with several productions of “The Nutcracker.”
Boston Ballet’s “Nutcracker” with its enchanted characters, amazing magical sets, the athleticism of the dancers and the yards of sparkling, twirling tulle never ceases to amaze no matter how many times we’ve seen the dreamlike story of Clara and her doll on Christmas eve. Mia Steedle of Weston is cast in the prestigious role of Clara this year, along with Emily Kneussle from Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Emma Blake of Belvidere, N.J., who will rotate in the role. The gifted musicians of the Boston Ballet Orchestra perform Tchaikovsky’s timeless score. At the Citizens Bank Opera House Nov. 29-Dec. 29; bostonballet.org
The story of young Clara’s dream journey guided by the mysterious and charming Nutcracker Prince, is pared to its essentials in Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker.” Mateo puts the emphasis squarely on the dancing, yet tells the magical story with flair and humor. Now in its 34th season, the show features more than 200 local children in the cast. The ballet runs Nov. 30-Dec. 8 at the Cutler Majestic Theatre, , Boston and Dec. 13-22 at the Strand Theatre, Dorchester; ballettheatre.org
Worcester gets its own “Nutcracker” at the beautifully restored Hanover Theatre Nov. 29-Dec. 1. With dazzling costumes and music performed by the Hanover Theatre Nutcracker Orchestra, this two-act will be a real treat; thehanovertheatre.org
Journey with Masha and her Prince through the Snow Forest when Moscow Ballet dances to Tchaikovsky’s score in the “Great Russian Nutcracker,” a dazzling show with sweet dreams, towering puppets, and rich details in a tapestry of bejeweled, sumptuous costumes. Dec. 6 at the Boch Center Wang Theater, 270 Tremont St., Boston, bochcenter.org
The backdrop for Anthony Williams’ “Urban Nutcracker” is modern-day Boston, and the show blends the classic swells of Tchaikovsky with the rat-a-tat-tat of Duke Ellington. Set to music performed by a small live orchestra, “Urban Nutcracker” is anchored by classical ballet and performed with more than 150 child and professional dancers from the Tony Williams Dance Center in Jamaica Plain as well from a national casting call and guest artists. Norwell native Juliet Brown dances the lead role of Ruby, on pointe. Combining tap and hip-hop in an urban-inspired mash-up, Williams, a former Boston Ballet dancer, tweaks the story and the characters each year. Dec. 19-28 at the Boch Center Shubert Theater, Boston; bochcenter.org
A contemporary dance spectacle, “The Hip Hop Nutcracker” dances into Worcester Dec. 29 with its modern moves, cast of a dozen all-star dancers, a DJ, a violinist and MC Kurtis Blow, one of hip-hop’s founding fathers, who opens the show with a short set; thehanovertheatre.org
JINGLE ALL THE WAY
It’s an evening of holiday favorites when the Quincy Symphony Orchestra presents its annual “’Tis the Season,” featuring performances by the John Adams Orchestra and the Quincy High School Combined Choral Group, Dec. 4 at Quincy High School, Lloyd Hill Performing Arts Center; quincysymphonyorchestra.org
Hear selections from Bizet, Tchaikovsky, Enescu, Vaughan Williams, Adam, Anderson Mascagni and a sing-along of favorite Christmas carols when the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra performs its holiday concert “Joyful Noise.” Jin Kim conducts. Dec. 7 at Thayer Academy Center for the Arts, Braintree; atlanticsymphony.org
With Kid Matinees, a Sensory Friendly Concert, as well as performances with Bugs Bunny, the 2019 Holiday Pops season, a tradition since 1973, is definitely family-centric. For adults, a swinging New Year’s Eve performance with the Hot Sardines heats up the season. Conductor Keith Lockhart gets in the holiday spirit and Symphony Hall is decorated in festive finery. A different guest each night narrates “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” and everyone joins a sing-along at the finale. Dec. 7-Dec. 31, Symphony Hall, Boston; bso.org
Soprano Kristen Watson joins the Plymouth Philharmonic’s holiday festivities in holiday classics including “Rejoice Greatly” from Handel’s “Messiah” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” The Plymouth Community Intermediate School 6th Grade Chorus lends their voices. Conductor Steven Karidoyanes conducts. Dec. 14-15, at Memorial Hall, 83 Court St., Plymouth; plymouthphil.org
Conductor Emilian Badea leads the Brockton Symphony Orchestra in joyous music from around the world at “Holiday Pops,” Dec. 15 at Oliver Ames High School, Easton; brocktonsymphony.org
Quincy Choral Society teams up with Eastern Nazarene College for a performance of Handel’s “The Messiah,” under the direction of Joshua W. Rohde on Nov. 24 at Wollaston Church of the Nazarene, Quincy; quincychoral.org
If you’ve never seen Handel and Haydn Society perform live, then Christmas is the time to do so. The performance of Handel’s “Messiah” is a 166-year-old tradition, running Nov.29-30 and Dec. 1 at Symphony Hall, Boston. Masaaki Suzuki takes the podium. Featured artists Elizabeth Watts, soprano, Reginald Mobley, countertenor, Nicholas Phan, tenor, and Dashon Burton, bass-baritone. The society journeys through Christmas past with “A Baroque Christmas,” with the jubilant sounds of Vivaldi, Torelli, Biber, Charpentier, Albinoni and Telemann, Dec. 19 and Dec. 22, at Jordan Hall, Boston; handelandhaydn.org
Boston Baroque will ring in the Christmas Season once again with Handel’s beloved “Messiah.” Soprano Layla Claire, countertenor Eric Jurenas, and tenor Norman Shankle make their Boston Baroque debuts. They are joined by bass-baritone Nathan Stark, alongside the Grammy-nominated Boston Baroque Orchestra and Chorus. Martin Pearlman conducts. This year’s concert will be Dec. 8 and Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough St., Boston; bostonbaroque.org
Pilgrim Festival Chorus will present its ninth annual “Celebrate! – Messiah and Carol Sing-along,” Dec. 20 at First Congregational Church, Middleboro. Music director William B. Richter will lead the audience in carols and the familiar choruses from Part I of Handel’s Messiah, concluding with the Hallelujah Chorus; pilgrimfestivalchorus.org
SOUNDS OF THE SEASON
Do you hear what I hear? It’s a stocking full of holiday songs. Whether it’s a rousing rendition of “Jingle Bells,” a quieter “Silent Night,” or the sexy “Santa Baby,” music is as much a part of the season as mistletoe, fruitcake and candy canes.
It wouldn’t be the Christmas season without a visit by Il Divo to perform a selection of holiday songs, Nov. 17 at the Orpheum Theatre, Boston; crossroadspresents.com
South Shore Conservatory vocalist Holly Jennings, Donald Zook, flute and Sarah Troxler, piano. showcase music that brings to mind past holiday seasons. The repertoire includes “Keep Christmas with You,” “Silent Night,” and songs from The Nutcracker Suite, plus a fun holiday sing-along. 11 a.m., Nov. 26 at Laura’s Center for the Arts, Hanover, free; sscmusic.org
If you like your Christmas filled with sass and class, then check out the all-female band Happy Holidays with the Divas, Dec. 3 at the Marilyn Rodman Performing Arts Center, Foxboro, Dec. 10 at the Company Theatre, Norwell, Dec. 10 and Dec. 20 at the Spire Center in Plymouth; spirecenter.org
Celebrate three ways with New England Conservatory this season with “Holiday Pops at Mechanics Hall” on Dec. 4 in Worcester; “An Evening of Lessons and Carols” on Dec. 6 at Church of the Covenant in Boston; and “Into the Holidays” on Dec. 9 at Jordan Hall in Boston. All the concerts are free, but concertgoers must reserve a spot for the Jordan Hall concert; necmusic.edu/events
Chart-toppers Halsey, Niall Horan, Charlie Puth, and Lizzo, among others, do their fa la la’s at KISS-108′s Jingle Ball, Dec. 6 at the TD Garden, 100 Legends Way, Boston; tdgarden.com
The Tedeschi-Trucks Band, featuring the most famous Norwell Clipper, Susan Tedeschi, and her husband, Derek Trucks, and their dozen-piece band, takes over Boston’s Orpheum Theatre, for three nights, Dec. 5-7; crossroadspresents.com
Some of the most popular Christmas songs were written by Jewish composers and Rob Kapilow’s “Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas” concert tells the story of how immigrant outsiders who rejected their parents’ European pasts, embraced Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, and Hollywood, and began to write the soundtrack to America’s dreams Concert is Dec. 8 at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall; celebrityseries.com
Grammy Award-winning a cappella artists Pentatonix will return to Boston for two performances of holiday songs, Dec. 10-11 at Agganis Arena, 925 Commonwealth Ave., Boston; ticketmaster.com
Quincy’s JM Productions presents “What Christmas Means to Me,” a revue of holiday songs and monologues, at the Common Market Restaurant, Quincy, Dec. 11-13; brownpapertickets.com
“Staff Songbirds Sing Holiday Favorites” features instructors from South Shore Conservatory singing fun and raucous carols such as “The 12 days of Christmas,” 11 a.m. Dec. 10, Ellison Center for the Arts, Duxbury, free, sscmusic.org
It’s a country music Christmas at the Country 102.5 Holiday Jam with the two headliners being kept secret, Dec. 12 at the House of Blues, 15 Lansdowne St., Boston, houseofblues.com/boston
Grammy Award-winning singer Mariah Carey brings her “All I Want For Christmas Is You” tour to Boston for a performance on Dec. 13 at the Boch Center Wang Theater, Boston, bochcenter.org
A CHORAL CHRISTMAS
Broad Cove Choral/Unicorn Singers will perform their 40th holiday concert titled “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” Dec. 4 at the House of Prayer, Hingham. A second performance is scheduled for Dec. 15 at First Parish Church, Cohasset. A benefit for the Wellspring Multi-Service Center, the concert will evoke an old-fashioned Christmas featuring fireside gatherings, snowfall and a sing-along of seasonal favorites; bcc-us.org
Maybe it’s partly because the holidays belong to kids that the Vienna Boys Choir is such a perfect match with this time of year. The choir, which has been charming audiences with its angelic voices since 1948, brings some Olde World charm to the season, performing Dec. 6 at Plymouth Memorial Hall in Plymouth; memorialhall.com
Pilgrim Festival Chorus will present its holiday season concert, “Wintersong” Dec. 7-8 at St. Bonaventure Parish, Plymouth. Music director William B. Richter will lead the chorus in favorite carols and seasonal music, highlighted by a performance of the medieval carol, “Personent Hodie”; pilgrimfestivalchorus.org
A brass ensemble, the Back Bay Ringers handbell choir, performs Dec. 7 at First Parish Church in Bedford, Dec. 8 at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Hanover, Dec. 13 at First Church in Boston and two performances on Dec. 15 at Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport; backbayringers.org
“Northern Lights” is the title of the Choral Art Society of the South Shore’s holiday show, Dec. 8 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Scituate. Danica A. Buckley conducts the ensemble in selections from Scandinavia, Hungary and Great Britain; choralartsociety.org
South Shore Community Voices Too!, the South Shore Conservatory’s chorus for adults with developmental delays, sings its winter concert Dec. 11 at Laura’s Center for the Arts, Hanover, sscmusic.org
A joyous concert of seasonal songs by the South Shore Conservatory’s Community Voices adult choir is at 7 p.m. Dec. 11 at Ellison Center for the Arts, Duxbury, free, sscmusic.org
The Snug Harbor Community Chorus’ holiday concerts are Dec. 14 at the Performing Arts Center, Duxbury and Dec. 15 at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Hanover. The concerts will feature more than 60 singers from across the region and will feature seasonal favorites, including an audience sing-along; snugharborcc.org
Songs such as “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” “Ding Dong! Merrily on High,” “I Saw Three Ships,” “He Is Born” and “Angels We Have Heard on High will be performed when the Southeastern Mass Festival Choir presents its 26th annual Christmas concert “Ring Out the Bells,” Dec. 14 at Taunton High School Auditorium,and Dec. 15 at St. Mary’s Church, Taunton; smfconline.org
The Boston Gay Men’s Chorus celebrates the season with traditional favorites and disco delights in its annual holiday recital, “A Super Gay Christmas,” Dec. 15 and Dec. 20-22, at Jordan Hall, Boston; bgmc.org
Celebrate Christmas in 15th century Germany with the Blue Heron Choir, Dec. 20-21 at First Church, Cambridge; blueheron.org
Kick off the holiday season where it all started in Plymouth at America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Celebration with a parade Nov. 23. The parade steps off at 10:30 a.m. from 179 Court St., usathanksgiving.com
Holiday lights will be shining brightly at the Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate, a 90-acre property off Route 128 in Canton for “Winterlights.” From Nov. 22 to Dec. 29, guests can stroll an illuminated woodland trail and view shimmering light displays and installations throughout the formal Italianate lattice-walled garden, rhododendron walk and kitchen garden. The first floor of the Georgian-style mansion will also be decorated for the season; thetrustees.org/winterlights.
A drive-through holiday light show with 1 million light bulbs and displays as tall as three stories will be on view at the Marshfield Fairgrounds from Nov. 22 to Dec. 29, marshfieldlightshow.com.
Quincy’s Christmas Celebration is a longtime South Shore tradition. Tree lighting is at 5 p.m., Nov. 29, at the Hancock Adams Common between the Church of Presidents and Old City Hall. Santa Claus and his elves parachute into Pageant Field Nov. 30. The annual parade steps off at 12:30 p.m. Dec. 1. This year’s theme is “Christmas Around the World.”
You know the holiday season is here when the Enchanted Village opens on Nov. 23. It’s a vintage collection of New England and Christmas scenes that Jordan’s Furniture saved (and then refurbished) when it was auctioned nine years ago. At Jordan’s Furniture, 100 Stockwell Drive, Avon.
The night shines at La Salette Shrine, 947 Park St., Attleboro, where displays of 300,000 lights spread over 10 acres tell the story of Christmas. The free illuminations are open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily Nov. 28 to Jan. 5.
The historical King Caesar House on Powder Point in Duxbury will be dressed to impress for its 48th annual Christmas tours, Dec. 14-15 for public tours and Dec. 16-18 for private group tours. This year’s theme is “Seasonal Stories,” duxburyhistory.org.
Duxbury’s annual Holly Days event is Dec. 1, with trolley rides, a visit from Santa, tree lighting, hay rides, refreshments, a puppet show and plenty of holiday shopping and sweets; facebook.com/DuxburyHollyDays/
A stroll through the magical Gardens Aglow at the Heritage Museum & Gardens in Sandwich will add some extra twinkle and sparkle to your holidays. Opens Nov. 29 and runs each Friday, Saturday and Sunday 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. through Dec. 29, heritagemuseumsandgardens.org
Edaville USA opens its Christmas Festival of Lights Nov. 15. More than 17 million lights will illuminate the park’s attractions, 5 Pine St., Carver; edaville.com.
On Nov. 30, Quincy will host its first Fair Saturday, a global celebration of arts and culture. Quincy is among 180 cities worldwide that will collectively host more than 1,200 public events. A grand finale performance at 8 p.m. at the Church of the Presidents features Tony Award-winning Lillias White and Emmy-nominee Seth Rudetsky in a performance with local high school and college students. jmproductionspresents.com
By Dana Barbuto
Metrowest Daily News Editor Nancy Olesin contributed to this report