It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Philadelphia, especially as classic holiday shows take to the stage, like the Walnut Street Theatre's iconic Christmas Carol. (Photo by G. Widman for GPTMC)
There’s no place like the theater for the holidays, where all of the magic of the season comes to life on stage.
From the stately Avenue of the Arts to the city’s cozy suburban playhouses, Philadelphia is presenting a ton of great holiday-themed theater this season sure to be a treat not just for theater enthusiasts, but anyone feeling like getting into the holiday spirit.
There are hilarious remakes, new renditions of the old classics, originals and even some more risque and funny plays happening around town that you don’t want to miss.
Check out our guide to holiday-themed theater, below, in chronological order:
• New Candlelight Theatre’s Christmas By Candlelight: Featuring more than 25 holiday music classics like Silent Night, Baby Its Cold Outside and I’ll Be Home for Christmas, The New Candlelight Theatre’s production of Christmas By Candlelight is sure to get you feeling the anticipation of the most wonderful time of the year, now through December 23. The play appropriately tells the tale of a small town’s Christmas show.
• A John Waters Christmas at the Trocadero Theatre: On Thursday, November 29, the Trocadero Theatre will host legendary filmmaker John Waters (responsible for Pink Flamingos, Hairspray and A Dirty Shame) for a night of bad Santa jokes that are a lot more naughty than nice. This notorious raconteur is sure to get you in the spirit of the most wonderful time of the year with his daring, critically acclaimed solo monologue.
• The Eagle Theatre’s Christmas Spectacular: Eagle Theatre will open its doors to the holiday spirit beginning on Friday, November 30. Expect the Eagle Theatre players dishing out their holiday best for this family-friendly Christmas Spectacular.
• Walnut Street Theatre’s A Christmas Carol: The iconic Walnut Street Theatre will once again host Charles Dickens’ holiday-themed classic A Christmas Carol beginning on December 1. Don’t be a Scrooge’ bring the whole family and watch Ebeneezer as he gets visits from the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future and remember what the holidays are all about this season.
• White Christmas at Mitchell Performing Arts Center: Starting December 7, The Mitchell Performing Arts Center in Bryn Athyn will be hosting its rendition of the Irving Berlin musical, White Christmas. This timeless performance will be the perfect pick-me-up for the frigid winter nights leading up to Christmas.
There’s more holiday theater, below.
• The Pennsylvania Ballet’s 25th Anniversary Performance of The Nutcracker at the Academy of Music: Performed for the first time in 1987, the whimsical and enchanting fairy tale is a timeless tradition that’s embraced by the region each year. This December, the PA Ballet’s classic production of The Nutcracker also welcomes the Philadelphia Boys choir as well as dozens of local dance students to join in on the festive celebration. December 8-30.
• MNPlayers/Spotlight Theatre’s The Santaland Diaries: Get in some holiday giggles with this hilarious David Sedaris play. MNPlayers/Spotlight Theatre presents the completely hilarious The Santaland Diaries, for free, on Saturday, December 8. Seriously. It’s hilarious. Reserve now because the event will likely fill up quickly, especially because of the fundraiser after-party with autographed Broadway memorabilia and more being auctioned off.
• The Physick House presents A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas: This notoriously haunted house in Society Hill will be getting a haunting from the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come on Sunday, December 9 at 4 p.m, when actor/writer Josh Hitchens performs his solo rendition of the classic Dickens tale. This will be a rendition of A Christmas Carol like you’ve never seen before.
• 11th Hour Theatre Company’s Winter Wonderettes: 11th Hour Theatre Company presents this sequel to the summer hit The Marvelous Wonderettes at the new Theatre Horizon in Norristown beginning Monday, December 10 at 7 p.m. and running until Sunday, December 30. Set in 1968, Winter Wonderettes is about four recent high-school grad girls who are also best friends and get together for some singing, dancing and holiday cheering at the town hardware store’s annual holiday party.
• BCKSEET productions’s EL Fuego: BCKSEET productions would like to offer you a refreshingly unique version of holiday theater, for those who’ve had enough of the same old same old. The world premiere of this comedic, modern take on a musical will happen from December 12-29 at the Skybox at the Adrienne. Let’s set the scene and see if you’re equally intrigued as we are: the play “begins in the aftermath of a horrible fire in the North Pole in which many elves perished.”
• Act II Playhouse’s Murray the Elf and the Case of the Missing Mistletoe: Mystery meets comedy in Act II Playhouse’s Murray the Elf and the Case of the Missing Mistletoe. Think Elf meets Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, live. Check the schedule and get your tickets here. It’s on stage December 14-23.
• Mrs. Tinkerton’s Christmas Toy Store at Ritz Theatre Co.: The Ritz Theatre Co. in Haddon Township presents Mrs. Tinkerton’s Christmas Toy Store, an enchanting performance perfect for the kids that has a great message, too. It’s on stage December 15-21. Let them know that it’s what’s on the inside that counts with this fun holiday play.
• A Swingin’ Christmas at the Adrienne Theatre: Featuring Brian Anthony Wilson of HBO’s The Wire and Tina Siciliano, a.k.a “The Little Girl with the Big Voice,” A Swingin’ Christmas is the holiday version of “Swingin’ the Standards,” a show that happens bi-monthly at the Adrienne Theatre. There’s just one showing on Sunday, December 16, so be sure to get your tickets now.
• Mr. Malcolm’s Musical Christmas Carol at the Broadway Theater of Pitman: From December 17-22, The Broadway Theater of Pitman in South Jersey will have screenings of Mr. Malcolm’s Musical Christmas Carol daily. This heart-warming take on the old Scrooge classic takes a new twist on the ghosts with the Ghost of Christmas Mice Past and the Christmas Bear Present, so it’ll be a great one for the kids.
• Walking Fish Theatre’s The Young Adventures of Santa, A Yuletide Burlesque: Walking Fish Theatre in Fishtown will be hosting this “adult holiday show” from December 19-31. Written and directed by Stan Heleva, it’s by no means your typical holiday performance — this Santa was abandoned as an infant and raised by a lioness and a bunch of nymphs. You can imagine what might be seen with this interesting cast of characters.