Holiday Arts Preview: Performance

Nutcrackers and Scrooges

At the Washington Ballet, it’s the 10th anniversary of Artistic Director Septime Webre’s production of “The Nutcracker” (Nov. 29-30, THE ARC, and Dec. 4-28, Warner Theatre). It’s set in 1882 Georgetown, no less, and features George Washington as the heroic Nutcracker.

Olney Theatre Center will present Mary Day’s “The Nutcracker,” directed by Patricia Berrend with choreography by Washington Ballet founder Mary Day, performed by students and dancers from Washington-area ballet schools (Dec. 12-24). Also at Olney: actor Paul Morella’s one-man version of “A Christmas Carol, A Ghost Story of Christmas,” in the tradition of Dickens himself (Nov 28-Dec. 28).
“A Christmas Carol” has been a traditional mainstay at Ford’s Theatre (Nov. 20-Jan. 1). For the last five years, in an adaptation by Michael Wilson directed by Michael Baron, Edward Gero has taken on the role of Scrooge, the misbegotten miser who must learn the meaning of Christmas. One of the Washington area’s most brilliant actors, Gero will play Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia this spring at Arena Stage.

The 21st Century Consort presents Jon Deak’s “A Christmas Carol” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum with baritone William Sharp as Scrooge (Dec. 6), along with Dylan Thomas’s “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” and George Crumb’s “Little Suite for Christmas.”

At Bethesda’s Round House Theatre,“The Nutcracker,” a new version created by Tommy Rapley, Jake Minton, Phillip Klapperich and Kevin O’Donnell weaves together “spellbinding spectacle, riveting dialogue, astonishing puppetry and an original score” (Nov. 26-Dec. 28).

At Adventure Theatre, “Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol,” adapted by prolific Washington playwright Ken Ludwig (“Lend Me a Tenor,” “Crazy About You”), adapted Dickens’s classic tale with Jack Ludwig, telling the story through the eyes of Tiny Tim. Directed by Jerry Whiddon, the show runs through Jan. 1.

More for the Family

The Gift of Nothing (Nov. 22-Dec. 28, Kennedy Center Family Theater) – A world premiere Kennedy Center commission, this musical – conceived and written by Patrick McDonnell, Aaron Posner and Erin Weaver, directed by Posner with music and lyrics by Andy Mitton – tells the tale of Mooch, a cat, who wants something special for his friend Earl, a puppy. Both are characters from the comic strip “Mutts.”

The Little Prince (Dec. 19-21, Kennedy Center Terrace Theater) – Washington National Opera’s holiday family opera is based on the magical, mystical book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Originally staged by WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, the production, with a remarkable score by Oscar-winning composer Rachel Portman, is sung in English.

Musicals, Musicals, Musicals

It has been 50 years since the American musical classic “Fiddler on the Roof” first became a smash on Broadway, with the late, great and iconic Zero Mostel starring as Tevye, the much-put-upon Jewish shtetl milkman with his five daughters, his daily conversations with the Man Above and the constant threat of eviction and pogroms. Since that time, the musical has been revived and redone and restored many times. This time, Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith continues her exploration of the American musical with a new, in-the-round production at the Fichandler (through Jan. 4). Jonathan Hadary heads an exceptional cast, which in this setting becomes an intimate, as well as a musically rousing experience.

Five Guys Named Moe (through Dec. 28, Arena Stage Kreeger Theater) – This highly original, soul-and-blues-flavored musical showcases the music and lyrics of Louis Jordan. Known as the King of the Jukebox, Jordan was one of the great composers of songs that make you jump. The Five Guys Named Moe? Count ’em: Big Moe, Four-Eyed Moe, Eat Moe, No Moe and Little Moe.

Diner (Signature Theatre, Dec. 9-Jan. 25) – Pop-rock chanteuse Sheryl Crow and film director Barry Levinson provide the sound and feel of this world-premiere musical based on Levinson’s classic film about growing up in Baltimore.

Pippin (Dec. 16-Jan. 4, National Theatre) – This all-new production of Roger O. Hirson and Stephen Schwartz’s “Pippin” was directed by Diane Paulus with choreography by Chet Walker in the style of Bob Fosse. It stars Kyle Dean Massey in the title role, John Rubinstein (the original Pippin in 1972) as his father and Lucie Arnaz as Berthe.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Dec. 16-Jan. 4, Kennedy Center Opera House) – Husband-and-wife team Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young star in the groundbreaking rock musical by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

More in the Christmas Spirit

Theater Alliance’s Black Nativity (Nov. 29-Dec. 7, Bowie State University; Dec. 11-Jan. 4, Anacostia Playhouse) – The Langston Hughes Christmas classic “Black Nativity” comes to life, directed by Eric Ruffin with music director e’Marcus Harper-Short and choreographer Princess Mhoon.

Donny & Marie: Christmas at the National (Dec. 2-7) – Still going strong, siblings Donnie and Marie Osmond mix holiday songs with music from their Osmond family days, brother-and-sister act and solo careers. There’s a good chance that “Paper Roses” and “It Takes Two” will slip in with the seasonal tunes.

Wolf Trap Holiday Sing-A-Long (Dec. 6, Filene Center) – Sing along with the United States Marine Band and D.C.-area choirs and vocal groups.

NPR’s A Jazz Piano Christmas (Dec. 12, Kennedy Center Terrace Theater) – Top jazz pianists Harold Mabern, Kris Davis, Lynne Arriale and Cyrus Chestnut perform holiday favorites.

The Embassy Series will commemorate the heroic spirit of the Battle of the Bulge with a special holiday program of songs and cabaret, “I’ll Be Seeing You,” at the Embassy of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (Dec. 12-13). The Thomas Circle Singers will appear on Dec. 13.

Megan Hilty’s A Kennedy Center Christmas (Dec. 13, Kennedy Center Terrace Theater) – The sassy, classy and classic Broadway star ushers in the season with holiday music and songs from the American songbook.

The Cathedral Choral Society’s “Joy of Christmas” (Dec. 13) brings the Washington Symphonic Brass and the C.D. Hylton High School Troubadours to the National Cathedral for a program that includes the procession of the Advent wreath and carol sing-alongs.

The Folger Consort’s “A Renaissance Christmas” at the Folger Theatre (Dec. 16-23) is a program of music of Flanders and Italy performed by winds, viol, lute and a quintet of voices.

A Kennedy Center tradition, the National Symphony Orchestra will perform Handel’s “Messiah” (Dec. 18-21).

“Christmas with the King’s Singers” (Dec. 21) is a concert of traditional and modern Christmas carols performed by the renowned English a capella sextet at the National Cathedral.

Coming up at the Music Center at Strathmore – Pianist George Winston (Nov. 30), Dave Koz and Friends (Dec. 9), Motown celebration with the Temptations and the Four Tops (Dec. 12), Mannheim Streamroller Christmas (Dec. 13).

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