Yuletide Cheer: Nutcrackers, Scrooges, Musicals and More Music
The Christmas Spirit
Black Nativity, Theater Alliance—The great African American poet Langston Hughes’ Christmas classic “Black Nativity” comes to life, directed by Eric Ruffin, with music director e’Marcus Harper-Short and Choreographer Princess Moon at Bowie State University. Runs from Nov. 29 to Dec. 7 at the Theater Alliance and Dec. 11 to Jan. 4 at the Anacostia Playhouse.
Megan Hilty’s "A Kennedy Center Christmas"—The sassy, classy and classic Broadway star brings in the season with holiday music and songs from the American Songbook on Dec. 13 at the Terrace Theater.
NPR’s "A Jazz Piano Christmas"—Top jazz pianists (Harold Mabern, Kris Davis, Lynne Arnale and Cyrus Chestnut) perform holiday favorites Dec. 12 in the Terrace Theater at the Kennedy Center.
The Temptations and the Four Tops at the Music Center at Strathmore—Motown favorites mingle with holiday classics in a soulful celebration with the Temptations and the Four Tops on Dec. 12. And on Dec. 13, "It’s a Mannheim Streamroller Christmas" at the Strathmore, with shows at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Musicals, Musicals, Musicals
"Fiddler on the Roof"—It has been 50 years since this American Musical Classic first became a smash hit on Broadway, with the late, great, iconic and original Zero Mostel starring as Tevye, the much-put-upon Jewish Shetl milkman with his five daughters, his daily conversations with the man above, living and surviving in Tsarist Russia, where the threat of eviction and pogroms loomed daily. This new in-the-round production in the Fichandler space remains remarkably faithful to the core, heart and soul of the musical. Jonathan Hadary heads an exceptional cast, which, in this setting, becomes an intimate and musically rousing experience. Playing through January 4.
"Five Guys Named Moe"—It’s the music and lyrics of Louis Jordan, one of the great feel-good composers of song, that make you jump. Known as the King of the Jukebox, Jordan brings an original and soul-and-blues flavored musical to Arena Stage’s Kreeger Theater through Dec. 28. Who are the Five Guys Named Moe? Big Moe, Four-Eyed Moe, Eat Moe, No Moe and Little Moe.
"Diner"—This world premiere musical, based on a book by Barry Levinson and music by Sheryl Crow runs at the Signature Theatre Dec. 9 through Jan. 25. Pop-rock chanteuse Crow and famed Baltimore film director Levinson provide the sound and feel of a new musical at Signature Theater, based on Levinson’s classic cult film about growing up in Baltimore.
“Pippin”—an all-new production of Roger O. Hirsin and Stephen Schwartz’s classic directed by Diane Paulus, with choreography by Chet Walker in the style of Bob Fosse. It stars Kyle Dean Massey in the title role and John Rubinstein (the original "Pippin" in 1972) as his father. Lucie Arnaz also stars. “Pippin” got its start with a pre-Broadway tryout at the Kennedy Center in 1972. It returns to the National Theater from Dec.16 to Jan. 4.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat—Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber’s classic groundbreaking rock musical with American Idol husband-and-wife team of Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young in the starring roles comes to the Kennedy Center Opera House from Dec. 16 through Jan. 4.
For the Family
Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol—Playing through Jan. 1 at Adventure Theater. Prolific Washington playwright Ken Ludwig has adapted Dicken’s classic tale with Jack Ludwig focusing the story through the eyes of Tiny Tim. Directed by Jerry Whiddon.
The Gift of Nothing—This world premiere comes to the Kennedy Center Family Theater on Dec. 28. Showcasing the tale of Mooch, a curious cat who wants something special for his friend, Earl, a puppy. The story is based on the comic strip, “Mutts,” conceived, and written by Patrick McDonnell, Aaron Posner and Erin Weaver. The show features music and lyrics by Andy Mitton and is directed by Posner.
The Little Prince—Washington National Opera Holiday Family Opera, Dec. 19, 20 and 21 in the Terrace Theater. Based on the sometimes mystical, magical book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, in English, with a remarkable score by Oscar-winning composer Rachel Portman, originally staged by WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello.
The Little Mermaid—The Disney Broadway hit comes to life at the Olney Theatre Center, based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale and the Disney Film. The show was produced by Howard Ashman and John Musker, and written and directed by John Musker and Ron Clements. Runs through Dec. 28.
Nutcrackers and Scrooges
Outside of the story of the Nativity itself, there are probably few works of invention that see more performances during the Christmas than “The Nutcracker,” and plays based on Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol.” At the Washington Ballet, it’s the tenth anniversary of artistic director Septime Webre’s production of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.” Special surprises are in the offing for long-time fans of the ballet. It’s set in 1882 Georgetown, no less, and features George Washington as the heroic Nutcracker. This Nutracker can be seen at the Warner Theater through December 28.
“The Nutcracker,” a new version and area premiere created by Tommy Rapley, Jake Minton, Phillip Klapperich and Kevin O’Donnell, weaves together spellbinding spectacle, riveting dialogue, astonishing puppetry and an original score. “The Nutcracker” plays at the Round House Theatre in Bethesda through Dec. 28.
The Olney Theater will present Mary Day’s “The Nutcracker,” directed by Patricia Berrend, with choregraphy by Mary Day (the founder of the Washington Ballet), performed by students and dancers from Washington area ballet schools. This “Nutcracker” runs Dec. 12 through Dec. 24.
At Ford’s Theater, “A Christmas Carol,” the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, the three ghosts, Marley, Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchitt and humbug has been a traditional mainstay. And for the last five years, Edward Gero, one of the Washington Area’s most brilliant actors, has taken on the role of the misbegotten miser who must learn the spirit of Christmas. Gero, it should be noted, will take on the role of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia this spring at Arena Stage. The Ford’s “A Christmas Carol” is adapted by Michael Wilson, and directed by Michael Baron and will run through Jan. 1.
At the Olney Theater, actor Paul Morella is also establishing something of a tradition with his one-man version of “A Christmas Carol, A Ghost Story of Christmas,” (through Dec. 28) done very much in the tradition of Dickens himself, who often hit the stage with this story and other renderings of his work.
Music, Music, Music
The Cathedral Choral Society—The Cathedral Choral Society will bring “Joy of Christmas” to the Washington National Cathedral, joined by the Washington Symphonic Brass and the C.D. Hylton High School Troubadours, in a program that includes the procession of the Advent wreath and carol sing-a-longs on Dec. 13.
The Folger Consort—“A Renaissance Christmas,” complete with music of Flanders and Italy circa 1500, will include expressive seasonal works by composers Obrecht, Compere and Josqin (“Ave Maria”) will be performed by the Folger Consort with winds, violins, lutes and a quintet of voices. The show runs from Dec. 16 to Dec. 23 at the Folger Theater.
The Embassy Series—A holiday special at the Embassy of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg commemorates the heroic spirit of the Battle of the Bulge during the cold winter of 1944, during which American and allied forces fought to fend off a German breakthrough in the Ardennes in Belgium and near Luxembourg. The evening will include festive, seasonal music, the sounds of cabaret star Karen Kohler, with songs from the times, tenor Joshua Glassman and pianist George Peachey, emceed by Robin Phillips, followed by a world class buffet. Plays on Dec. 12, with the Thomas Circle Singers, who will also appear on Dec. 13.
The King Singers—It’s “Christmas with the King’s Singers” at the National Cathedral on Dec. 21, as the renowned sextet bringing traditional and modern Christmas carols from Renaissance masters composers Orlandus Lassus and William Byrd, a cantata from Francis Poulenc among other offerings.
A Celtic Christmas—The Barnes and Hampton Celtic Consort present an annual Georgetown tradition, “A Celtic Christmas,” at the Historic Dumbarton Church on Saturday, Dec. 13 at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 14 at 4 p.m.
A Klingon Christmas Carol—Avant Bard’s Theater celebrates 25 years on the edge with this one night only theatrical event, a staged concert reading of Charles Dickens’ classic, retold in Klingon, the language of Captain Kirk’s nemesis and Captain Picard’s shipmate. Linguist Marc Okrand stars as SQuja’!, which we presume is Klingon for Scrooge. By all means, beam up to Theater J at the D.C. Jewish Community Center at 1529 16th St. NW, December 15 at 8 p.m. Make it so!
National Symphony Orchestra—In a Kennedy Center tradition, the NSO will perform Handel’s “Messiah” from Dec. 18 to 21.