Holiday Arts Preview: Performing Arts


The granddaddy of all Scrooges remains “A Christmas Carol” at Ford’s Theatre, with acclaimed actor Craig Wallace inhabiting the part on America’s classic stage (Nov. 21 to Jan. 1). “An Irish Carol,” in which Scrooge becomes a Scrooge-ish Dublin pub owner, is returning to the Keegan Theatre, directed by founder and Producing Artistic Director Mark Rhea (Dec. 12 to 31).

Annapolis Shakespeare Company has its version of “A Christmas Carol” with Dexter Hamlett in the title role (Nov. 29 to Dec. 29). The company is also presenting its festive “A Broadway Holiday” by Artistic Director Sally Boyett (Dec. 12 to 28). Likewise in Maryland, there’s Paul Morella’s one-man version of the Dickens tale at the Olney Theatre Center (Nov. 29 to Dec. 29).

Finally, “Hard Times,” originally a novel by Charles Dickens (of Scrooge fame), has been adapted by Stephen Jeffreys as a play in which Dickens characters strive to make their way through the Industrial Revolution. It is being presented by Washington Stage Guild at Mount Vernon Place Methodist Church (through Dec. 8).

As for Nutcrackers, there are quite a few. Locally and foremost and most enduring and familiar is “The Nutcracker” as staged by The Washington Ballet under Artistic Director Julie Kent, creating again Tchaikovsky’s world of sugarplum fairies, princes and princesses, in the world framed by the likes of George Washington, King George III and Georgetown, at the Warner Theatre (through Dec. 29; Nov. 23 and 24 at THEARC).

More to choose from: the Atlanta Ballet production of “The Nutcracker” at the Kennedy Center Opera House (Nov. 27 to Dec. 1) and, at Strathmore, Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker” (Dec. 15 and 16) and “The Hip Hop Nutcracker” (Dec. 17 to 19).


Washington Concert Opera will present Ambrose Thomas’s “Hamlet” — with soprano Lisette Oropesa as Ophelia, baritone Jacques Imbrailo as Hamlet, mezzo-soprano Eve Gigliotti as Gertrude and tenor Jonas Hacker as Laertes — in George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium (Nov. 24).

The Berlioz oratorio “L’Enfance du Christ” will be presented by the In Series at Foundry United Methodist Church (Dec. 7, 8 and 14). The Washington Revels — a very Washington tradition — brings us “Celestial Fools,” a large-cast celebration of the season in Lisner Auditorium (Dec. 7, 8, 13, 14 and 15).

For the holidays at Washington National Cathedral: Handel’s “Messiah” (Dec. 6, 7 and 8); “Christmas at the Cathedral (Dec. 15); and the Cathedral Choral Society’s “Joy of Christmas” concert and sing-along (Dec. 21 and 22). Sir Andrew Davis will conduct a performance of Handel’s “Messiah” by the National Symphony Orchestra and the Washington Chorus in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall (Dec. 19 to 22).

Also in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, the Choral Arts Society of Washington will present “Songs of the Season: Christmas with Choral Arts,” featuring mezzo-soprano Kristina Lewis (Dec. 16, 21 and 24), and “A Family Christmas” (Dec. 24).

More singing: British vocal ensemble Voces8 will give a holiday candlelight concert at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Georgetown (Dec. 5). Vocal Arts DC will present the Washington debut recital of soprano Michelle Bradley in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater (Dec. 11). The following evening, the Russian Chamber Art Society will offer a tribute to Tchaikovsky at the French Embassy, with tenor Fanyong Du singing a dozen art songs and a performance of the composer’s Trio in A Minor, Op. 50.


Leonard Slatkin will conduct the National Symphony Orchestra in a program of Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 3 and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with soloist Olga Kern in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall (Dec. 5 and 7). A few days later, the NSO will give a casual “Ugly Sweater Holiday Concert” at the Anthem (Dec. 11).

Folger Consort will bring us a baroque “Gloria!” at St. Mark’s Church on Capitol Hill (Dec. 13 to 28). Adventurous chamber orchestra the Knights will pay homage to Bach at Dumbarton Oaks (Dec. 1 and 2). Also in Georgetown, as part of the Dumbarton Concerts season, Irish ensemble Danú will perform Celtic music at “An Emerald Isle Christmas” at Dumbarton United Methodist Church (Dec. 7).


“A Charlie Brown Christmas” at The Hamilton Live? Why not? The Eric Byrd Trio will do the honors (Dec. 1). Three top jazz pianists will give holiday-themed performances at Blues Alley in December: Freddy Cole’s “For the Holidays” (Dec. 12 to 15), Marcus Johnson’s “Holiday Jam” (Dec. 19 to 22) and, right up to New Year’s Eve, Cyrus Chestnut (Dec. 26 to 31).

On the Kennedy Center calendar: NPR’s “A Jazz Piano Christmas” (Dec. 7), “A Holiday Pops! with Leslie Odom, Jr.” (Dec. 13 and 14), the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s 50th anniversary (Dec. 14), hip-hop crew the Roots (Dec. 29) and “A Jazz New Year’s Eve” with Branford Marsalis (Dec. 31). Washington Performing Arts will present “Holidays with the String Queens,” whose members have performed alongside Ariana Grande, Janelle Monae and Common, at the Heurich House Museum (Dec. 12).

The String Queens will perform at the Heurich House Museum on Dec. 12. Courtesy String Queens.

Other December highlights: the Brian Setzer Orchestra’s 16th Annual Christmas Rocks! Tour (Nov. 26) and Bob Dylan (Dec. 8) at the Anthem; Judy Collins (Dec. 6 and 7) at the Birchmere; Andrea Bocelli (Dec. 15) and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Dec. 23) at Capital One Arena; and Etienne Charles Creole Christmas at City Winery (Dec. 18).


“Come from Away,” a musical about what happens when 7,000 people are stranded in a small town in Newfoundland in the aftermath of 9/11, will be presented in the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater (Dec. 10 to Jan. 5), while a Lincoln Center revival of “My Fair Lady” will take up residence in the Opera House (Dec. 17 to Jan. 19).

The pleasurable musical play in praise of news and newspapers, “Newsies,” continues at Arena Stage (through Dec. 29). As for classics with a fresh touch, there’s “A Chorus Line” at Signature Theatre (through Jan. 5). For classic movie-musical fun, try “Singing in the Rain” at the Olney Theatre Center (through Jan. 5).


“White Pearl” is both very much in the here-and-now but not necessarily in season in a play by Australian Thai playwright Anchuli Felicia King on the dangers of building a modern online business — skin care, in this case — at Studio Theatre (through Dec. 8). It’s nothing like “Keep,” Daniel Kitson’s one-person play about “stuff in my house, thoughts in my head” (through Dec. 1).

New Artistic Director Simon Godwin keeps things non-Shakespearean but sort of classic at the Shakespeare Theater Company with “Peter Pan and Wendy,” directed by Alan Paul, with role doubling in J. M. Barrie’s classic tale (Dec. 1 to 12), and again with a truly ghostly story that’s been a West End hit, “The Woman in Black” (Dec. 4 to 22).

Round House Theatre, back in Bethesda, is bringing us the Victorian-sounding “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” (Nov. 20 to Dec. 22). And at Folger Theatre, Peter Shaffer’s “Amadeus” is onstage, with Mozart, played by Samuel Adams, and Salieri, played by Ian Merrill Peakes, clashing over art, genius, temperament and music (through Dec. 22).

Through Dec. 22 at Folger Theatre: “Amadeus.” Photo by C. Stanley Photography. Courtesy Folger.

Arena Stage is about to open “Dear Jack, Dear Louise.” Playwright and Broadway success Ken Ludwig (“Lend Me a Tenor”) delivers an affectionate tribute to how his parents began a romance by mail during World War II and prevailed to an enduring marriage (Nov. 21 to Dec. 29).

Edward Albee’s “Occupant,” directed by Aaron Posner and featuring an exceptional portrayal of sculptor Louise Nevelson by Susan Rome, is at Theater J (through Dec. 8). Mosaic Theater Company will present “Eureka Day,” Jonathan Spector’s comedy about a Berkeley, California, day school, directed by Serge Seiden, at the Atlas Performing Arts Center (Dec. 4 to Jan. 5).

Factions of the famed Chicago comedy troupe The Second City are finding their way to Washington. In the Kennedy Center Theater Lab, it’s “Love, Factually,” which sends up the ever-popular holiday film in satiric blasts (Dec. 3 to 29), while an all-female troupe returns to Woolly Mammoth with its roast of the patriarchy, “She the People” (Dec. 1 to Jan. 5).


Now playing at Glen Echo Park: Adventure Theatre MTC’s production of “The Velveteen Rabbit” (through Jan. 1). Now playing at Imagination Stage: “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” (through Jan. 5). In Columbia Heights, GALA Hispanic Theatre will celebrate Three Kings Day with its annual “Fiesta de los Reyes Magos” (Jan. 5).


The Kennedy Center will present “The Day,” a new work created by cellist Maya Beiser, dancer Wendy Whelan and choreographer Lucinda Childs, with music by David Lang (Dec. 6 and 7); Step Afrika! will come home to the Atlas Performing Arts Center to perform its “Magical Musical Holiday Step Show” (Dec. 12 to 15 and 19 to 22); and Dance Place will celebrate Kwanzaa under the direction of Sylvia Soumah (Dec. 14 and 15).



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