It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Philadelphia, especially as classic holiday shows take to stages all across town. (Photos clockwise from left by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia, Jeremy Daniel, G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia, B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia)
[This holiday season, let Uwishunu be your merry guide. From brilliant lights and must-see attractions to festive events and jolly good times, check out our daily updates on holiday happenings in Philadelphia right here.]
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 risqué and funny plays happening around town that you don’t want to miss.
Check out our picks for holiday-themed performing arts, below:
• No Reservations: Through December 15. Skybox @ The Adrienne Theater, 2030 Sansom Street, 3rd Floor. Philadelphia native and author of the best-selling The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook series, Josh Piven takes a turn at playwriting to bring the world premiere of his very first stage comedy to Philadelphia audiences. A modern-day retelling of The Nativity story, No Reservations takes a contemporary tongue-in-cheek look at this traditional Christmas story.
• A Christmas Carol: Through December 22. Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut Street. Watch as the miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge undergoes a miraculous change of heart after being visited by three wondrous holiday spirits. The Walnut Theatre’s touching musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol will delight children and adults alike, as will the historic atmosphere at America’s oldest theater.
• The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Holiday Performances: Through December 31 (various dates). Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Broad and Spruce streets. The Kimmel Center will be dressed to the nines for The Philadelphia Orchestra’s series of holiday concerts this December. The Christmas Kids Spectacular takes the stage on December 14, followed by the orchestra’s popular The Glorious Sounds of Christmas concert December 19-21. Then, see a performance of Handel’s Messiah on December 21, a holiday tradition since 1961. Philadelphia’s most beloved orchestra will make your holiday favorites ring out from the Verizon Center stage. Start your New Year’s celebration in style with a special 7:30 p.m. performance on December 31.
• Elf: Through January 5. Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut Street. The hit Hollywood holiday film Elf hits the stage of the Walnut Street Theatre, the oldest theater in the country, in a magical family-friendly holiday musical.
• Brian Sanders’ Snowball: December 4-15. Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut Street. Sanders’ JUNK Dance Company performs a family-friendly holiday suite of dances telling a story about a group of characters who discover that a little change in perspective can reveal big surprises, all set to 80s music.
• Twelfth Night, or What You Will: December 4-22. FringeArts, 140 N. Columbus Boulevard. Pig Iron Theatre Company performs Shakespeare’s original text with a signature Pig Iron twist — which includes an amazing gypsy-rock musical score.
• A Child’s Christmas in Wales: December 5-January 5. St. Stephen’s Theater, 10th and Ludlow streets. Performance artist Sebastienne Mundheim partners with Lantern Theater Company to recreate Dylan Thomas’ classic reminiscence about the holidays of his childhood using language and puppetry.
• PHILADANCO: Christopher Huggins Tribute: December 6-8. Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Broad and Spruce streets. The Philadelphia Dance Company — better known as PHILADANCO — pays tribute to celebrated African-American choreographer in its annual winter series at the Kimmel Center. Don’t miss this dynamic display of movement and musicality.
• Holiday Pops! Christmas Spectacular: December 6, 7, 11, 13, 14, 15, 18, 21. Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Broad and Spruce streets. A cheerful performance for the entire family, Holiday POPS! features a special mix of joyous choirs, merry sing-a-longs, and a special visitor from the North Pole.
• Nutcracker 1776: Saturday, December 7. Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad Street. The Rock School for Dance Education presents its version of the timeless holiday ballet set against the backdrop of Revolutionary-era Philadelphia. The story ballet — set to Tchaikovsky’s classic score — follows two children entrusted with a magical Nutcracker who meet such colorful characters as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and General Mouse Howe.
• George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker: December 7-29. The Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad Street. A long-lasting holiday tradition, the Pennsylvania Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker is celebrating its 44th year. Set to Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky’s iconic score and backed by the Philadelphia Boys Choir, the Pennsylvania Ballet – one of the premier ballet companies in the nation – once again prove why The Nutcracker is the perfect performance for the holidays. And don’t miss the first-ever Nutcracker Market at the Kimmel Center (December 6-8) featuring handcrafted gifts, delicious holiday treats and special appearances.
More holiday shows, below.
• Jersey Boys: December 11-January 5. Forrest Theatre, 1114 Walnut Street. The story of four Jersey-born blue-collar kids with a song and a dream returns to the Forrest Theatre this season. A perennial Philadelphia favorite, this 2006 Tony Award-winning musical runs for four weeks, so there are plenty of opportunities to take in this toe-tapping family-friendly engagement.
• A Soulful Christmas Shout For Joy!: Tuesday, December 17. Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Broad and Spruce streets. Broadway star Melba Moore and artistic and music director J. Donald Dumpson lead more than 150 local choir members for a program of spirituals, gospel and inspirational music.
• American Fairy Tales: December 18-31, Walking Fish Theatre, 2509 Frankford Avenue. A family-friendly, holiday performance of three fantasy stories by the author of The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum. This will be a fast-paced, multi-disciplinary interactive show for kids and grown-ups alike, as part of B. Someday’s Family Theatre Series.
• Peek-a-Book Revue Holiday Show: Sunday, December 15. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut Street; Friday, December 20. The Trocadero, 1003 Arch Street. The Peek-A-Boo Revue takes on the holidays with its locally loved neo-burlesque stylings. A fixture on the Philadelphia scene since 1998, the edgy troupe performs a hilarious — and definitely adults-only — medley of singing, dancing and comedy all wrapped up in a boundary-pushing burlesque show.
• Murray the Elf and the Case of the Terrifying Tinsel: December 21-28. Act II Playhouse, 56 E. Butler Avenue, Ambler. Mystery meets comedy in Act II Playhouse’s latest installment of Murray the Elf’s adventures, a holiday-themed whodunnit.