The holidays are here, and theater companies all over Colorado are offering a variety of holiday-themed productions. As usual, there are a handful of old classics (God bless us) along with unique offerings that just might crack open a few new themes in old traditions this holiday season. See below for descriptions of classic, sorta classic, and more off-the-wall holiday offerings (full of links to local productions).
Our first December in Colorado, I think we saw four productions of A Christmas Carol in two weeks. Although not everyone is in the mood for Scrooge and Tiny Tim this time of year, there is a reason that this production remains a holiday classic. The story is engaging, for the most part fast-paced, and crafted to touch even the grumpiest souls — this season you can find this classic at the Aurora Fox, Backstage offers a new reinvention of the piece, and CU Boulder offers a Broadway-studded version. Irving Berlin’s White Christmas might be the musical equivalent of a holiday favorite, with fewer ghosts and more production numbers. The Denver Center’s production is sure to be merry and bright. If you’re looking for something a little wackier, The Eight: Reindeer Monologues are a comedy staple of the holiday season.
Lesser done Classics
In recent years, stage productions of classic Christmas movies have become increasingly popular. A Christmas Story, which tells the near-infamous tale of Ralphie and his quest for a Red Rider beebee gun, is being produced at CSU and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center this year. Miracle on 34th Street is another familiar story that isn’t quite worn out in terms of stage productions, and is presented in musical form by the Arvada Center this season. It’s a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play is also offered by the brand new Goodness Gracious! Productions. If you’ve never seen a production of the Santaland Diaries, it’s usually worth a look.
Fresh as Newly Fallen Snow
Spark Theater‘s world premiere production of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcraker explores the behind-the-snow story of the composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. In addition, the holidays are a perfect time to experience the delightful reader’s theater program by Stories on Stage. Their holiday piece is called Making Merry, and their carefully selected short stories read by incomparable actors is sure to stick with you for quite some time. There are also several familiar local shows that are unique repeats, including Santa’s Big Red Sack (The Avenue), BALLS! A Holiday Spectacular (at Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret) and Home for the Holidays (Starkey Productions).
Non-holiday shows during the holidays
If you think your family gets enough candle-lighting or mistletoe at home, nothing is more refreshing than giving the gift of wonderful theater – that isn’t holiday-centric! Town Hall Arts Center’s production of The Sound of Music is sure to be a classic crowd-pleaser and family friendly for the holidays. We also can’t think of any reason to skip out on Dixie Longate’s Tuppperware Party, which is a guaranteed laugh anytime of year (although you might snort your adult beverage through your official Tupperware sippy cup). And if you’re looking for a trip to the theater as a conversation-starter with your family, you can look forward to either You Can’t Take it With You at Theatreworks or Next to Normal at Ignite Theater to see how your family measures up.