Ok, perhaps it's because I am in theatre, but I love holiday shows. I work with and know so many wonderful, talented people, and when they give the gift of doing what they do best, there's just nothing like it to make me feel humbled and happy and filled with holiday spirit. So here, in no particular order, is what I am thinking of this year:
The Holiday Pageant at Open Eye Figure Theatre. I've loved this show through many incarnations, in large house and small venues, with multiple casts of the finest performers in the Twin Cities. Based on the medieval Mystery Plays (see, you had me there) it's a mix of the sublime and the hilarious. If you're reading this before 4pm on Sunday, we're sponsoring a show in honor of my mother today, so come on down! But of there is one show you should not miss this year (and it's perfect for families, too), it's this one.
A Life of Serious Nonsense is a Theatre of Fools quirky take on holiday spirit. Running December 16-18, it's a warm and lovely tale of the human hart, a kind of modern day "Gift of the Magi" with a far less tragic ending.
More so than even theatre companies, dance companies often make their whole year's income on the holiday show (yes, that means they often lose money on the experimental works they present, so think of your holiday ticket as a kind of subsidy and then go back later in the year and purchase tickets for the edgier show — it's a win-win!). That's why you have your choice of Nutcrackers aplenty this time of year. You can't go wrong with the classic Loyce Holton version at MDT, but this year we're taking our little aspiring ballerina to Ballet Minnesota's version, where her friend Ella is a very talented little angel.
I sit on the board at Skewed Visions, which is kind of the antipathy of the holiday show. But in arguably the same spirit, we're raising money to send Sean to the north of Russia this winter, in a one-of-a-kind residency. Please think about contributing!
There are any number of holiday shows out there, and I confess to a love of them all, even the old chestnuts like A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie. If you see things every year, I'd love to know what you love. If you don't currently see holiday shows, think of adding it to your holiday traditions. I promise you it's worth the time and effort!