By Seth Reines, December 2017 Issue.
In a season filled with so many entertainment options, there’s a holiday performance to suit every taste from classical to contemporary and humorous to heartfelt. What better way to share in the theatrical tidings and musical musings of the season than a night on the town with tickets to the most festive local productions.
Ballets Etudes: The Nutcracker
Nov. 24-Dec. 3
Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler
Now celebrating three decades of bringing The Nutcracker’s magic to the Valley, this ballet school company has entertained Arizona ballet fans since 1986. Accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s elegant score and a multitude of beautiful costumes, Ballet Etudes’ tale of Clara and her enchanting adventure with a certain Nutcracker Prince has become a local holiday tradition for all ages.
A Bloody Mary Christmas
Nov. 24-Dec. 30
Space 55, 636 E. Pierce St., Phoenix.
For the eighth consecutive year, Space 55 presents an r-rated holiday musical for people who hate the holidays and musicals. Sun City retirees Blanche, Bertha and Mabel sing, dance and drink themselves silly as they battle a heartless homeowner’s association that tries to evict them from their condo on Christmas Eve.
A Christmas Carol
Nov. 30-Dec. 23
Hale Centre Theatre, 50 W. Page Ave., Gilbert
Hale Theatre’s 14th annual A Christmas Carol takes place in an intimate theater-in-the-round Victorian village featuring special effects, lavish costuming, and traditional Christmas carols. Two casts perform 50 performances with Valley favorite Mark Kleinman and Fox 10 weatherman Cory McClowsky alternating as Ebenezer Scrooge.
Black Theatre Troupe, 1333 E. Washington St., Phoenix
Last season’s sold-out holiday event by Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes returns in a new production. Based on the Gospel of St. Luke combined with Hughes’ poetry, Black Nativity is a celebration in scripture, verse, music and dance with a joyous company of singers, actors, dancers and musicians that delivers a powerful message of hope, victory and liberation.
A Christmas Carol With Katie Mcfadzen
Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe
Herberger Center, 222 E. Monroe St., Phoenix
Katie McFadzen, one of the Valley’s most celebrated comedic actresses, brings A Christmas Carol to life – solo! Using Dickens’ immortal words, this one-woman tour-de-force presents the heartwarming story like you’ve never seen or heard it before. Adapted for the stage by Katie McFadzen and Matthew Wiener.
Frances Smith Cohen’s Snow Queen
Herberger Theatre Center‘s Stage West, 222 E. Monroe St., Phoenix,
Center Dance Ensemble’s annual production retells Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale set to the music of Sergei Prokofiev. Entering the mystical world of sprites, gypsies and ice maidens, young Gerda seeks to rescue Kai from the wicked Snow Queen’s Crystal Palace. Center Dance’s principal dancers are joined by over 150 children from across the Valley to create this magical holiday fairytale.
Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold starring Patti Hannon
Scottsdale Center for The Arts, 7380 E. Second St., Scottsdale
Sister, the tart-tongued, ruler-wielding nun, teaches her students the story of the Nativity and asks for their help in solving the greatest Christmas caper ever: Who swiped the gold that those three wise men gave to Baby Jesus? Using the latest forensic technology and her uncanny ability to detect guilt, this one-woman comedy creates an unforgettable living Nativity.
Phoenix Symphony Hall, 75 N. Second St., Phoenix
With brilliant choreography by Ib Andersen and the sumptuous score of Peter Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker fills the Phoenix Symphony Hall stage with more than 150 performers, hundreds of costumes, the beauty and athleticism of Ballet Arizona’s nationally recognized dancers and the Phoenix Symphony. “Ballet Arizona’s Nutcracker is one of the three finest productions of the nearly-20 I’ve seen across America.”–Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times.
’Twas A Girls Night Before Christmas: The Musical
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 E. Second St., Scottsdale
Five women gather for a night on the town to laugh, cry, gossip and just let their hair down during the craziest of times – the holidays! From visits with in-laws to the overcrowded malls, ’Twas a Girls Night Before Christmas features classic Christmas songs and contemporary hits that will have everyone singing and dancing in the aisles.
Christmas Carol: The Musical
Herberger Theater Center’s Center Stage, 222 E. Monroe St., Phoenix
This rousing musical version with score by Alan Menken (Beauty And The Beast, Little Mermaid, Aladdin) sold out annually at New York City’s Madison Square Garden from 1994 to 2003. Arizona Broadway Theatre’s version delighted Herberger audiences last season and will, hopefully, become a downtown holiday tradition!