Holiday Season Delights Are on Stages throughout the State
The holiday theatrical and musical mice are scurrying all over Connecticut to bring us wonderful gifts of performances that will delight children of all ages as well as those who prefer a little cynicism or humor in their holiday diets.
Hartford Stage’s classic production of A Christmas Carol-A Ghost Story of Christmas makes its 18th annual appearance through Sunday, Dec. 27. The production, which was brought by former artistic director Michael Wilson from Texas when he came to Hartford, has become a Connecticut tradition. The production is completing a three-year refurbishing project with new costumes, more flying, and a larger cast among other enhancements. Once again Bill Raymond returns as Scrooge as well as local area children, acting students from the Hartt School at the University of Hartford, and a slew of professional actors, many of whom have played their roles for multiple years. In addition, the ghosts soar through the air. This production may not be appropriate for younger children. For tickets, visit hartfordstage.org/christmas-carol or call 860-527-5151.
Goodspeed is still running the musical version of one of the classic holiday films, It’s a Wonderful Life. This story of a honorable man who despairs, but learns how much he has contributed and meant to everyone in his small town, seems to embody so much of what the holiday means. The production, which has music and lyrics by Joe Reposo and Sheldon Harnick, runs through Sunday, Dec. 6. There are two performances on Wednesday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec. 5. I love the gentle holiday song, “Christmas Gifts.” This is a show that will make you feel hopeful. For tickets, visit goodspeed.org or call 860-873-8668.
Each holiday season the Ivoryton Playhouse and its executive director Jacqui Hubbard put together an original holiday production. This year, it’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, which runs from Thursday, Dec. 10 to Sunday, Dec. 20. It is described as a “holiday potpourri of songs and carols and Christmas fun.” It’s centered on the Evans family as it prepares for the holiday season and needs to find time to remember the meaning of the season while doing the multiple tasks that seem to be required. It’s billed as family friendly. For tickets, call 860-767-7318 or visit ivorytonplayhouse.org.
Shakespeare wrote one play whose title, Twelfth Night, refers to the elaborate Elizabethan celebrations that occurred between Christmas and Epiphany. The Connecticut Repertory Theatre, which performs at the Nafe Katter Theatre on the UConn campus in Storrs, has decided to infuse its production of the comedy with holiday seasoning. They promise carols and mistletoe in the comedy that as the press materials says “is a paean to the restorative power of love and the uproarious joy of the holidays. The plot revolves around a shipwrecked young woman who pretends to be a man working for a handsome nobleman who is in love with the Lady Olivia who scorns him. Both the nobleman and the Lady find the young page very attractive.” It runs Thursday, Dec. 3 to Sunday, Dec. 13. This is a good show to introduce teens to Shakespeare. For tickets, call 860-486-2113 or visit crt.uconn.edu.
For the Music-Minded
The New Haven Symphony performs two different holiday programs in locations throughout the area. Holiday Extravaganza features the entire symphony under the direction of Chelsea Tipton, who conducts the Pops concerts. The program includes classics from The Nutcracker, The Messiah, and excerpts from classical favorites as well as such popular hits as “Sleigh Ride,” “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas,” and others. Joshua Jeremiah is the baritone soloist. The concerts are on Saturday, Dec. 12 at Hamden Middle School; Sunday, Dec. 13 at Shelton Intermediate School; Thursday, Dec. 17 at Woolsey Hall in New Haven; and Sunday, Dec. 20 at Middletown High School.
The symphony’s Brass Quintet is combining with organ for its holiday concerts of favorites. The concerts are Saturday, Dec. 5 at Elim Park in Cheshire; Friday, Dec. 18 at Sacred Heart University; and Saturday, Dec. 19 at the First Congregational Church, Madison. For tickets, visit newhavensymphony.org or call 203-865-0831 x20.
Ho- Ho- Holiday Entertainment
For those who appreciate humor or cynicism as part of their holiday festivities, Connecticut theaters are offering some excellent choices.
The Palace in Waterbury is presenting ‘Twas a Girls Night Before Christmas: The Musical on Thursday, Dec. 10. It is about five women gathering for a night of laughs, tears, and gossip during the holiday season complete with both traditional and contemporary holiday songs. For tickets, visit palacetheaterct.org or call 203-346-2000.
TheaterWorks is bringing backs its popular Christmas on the Rocks, which features a parade of now-adult characters who were kids in popular holiday books, films, and TV shows. Among the characters we get to see in a rundown local bar on Christmas Eve are Charlie Brown, Cindy Lou Who, Tiny Tim, and others. Each skit is written by a different popular playwright. There are laughs and more; it runs through Wednesday, Dec. 23. This is best for older teens who will appreciate the twisted tales. For tickets, call 860-527-7838; for information, visit theaterworkshartford.org.
If you’ve ever wondered what it is like to be an elf in a Santaland, David Sedaris’s The Santaland Diaries lets you in on the experience of one such elf, an aspiring writer working at the Macy’s Santaland in New York City. MTC (Music Theater of Connecticut) presents the one person show from Friday, Dec. 11 to Sunday, Dec. 20. For tickets, visit musictheatreofct.com or call 203-454-3883. Again this is great for teens who will appreciate the humor.
Long Wharf is bringing back Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold, on Stage II from Tuesday, Dec. 8 through Sunday, Dec. 20. As the press materials says, “In this holiday mystery extravaganza, Sister takes on the mystery that has intrigued historians throughout the ages—whatever happened to the Magi’s gold? Employing her own scientific tools and assisted by local choirs as well as a gaggle of audience members, Sister creates a living nativity unlike any ever seen.” For tickets, visit longwharf.org or call 203-787-4282.
Looking for something for younger children? The Bushnell is hosting a return visit of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical, which is faithful to the classic animated TV show that runs every year. All the characters from the show—Hermey the elf, Yukon Cornelius, and the Abominable Snow Monster are on stage. It runs Friday, Dec. 11 to Monday, Dec 14 for five performances. For tickets, visit bushnell.org or call 860-987-5900.
And winding up the holiday shows is Westport Country Playhouse’s Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas for two performances on Sunday, Dec. 20. This is geared to very young audiences, ages 2 to 7. For tickets or information, visit westportplayhouse.org or call 203-227-4177.
So this holiday season, take some time away from the chores to enjoy a theatrical or musical experience with family and friends.