Dancers Jackie Nash & Alexandre Barros.
Photo: Photo by K Kenney.
Photo: Photo by K Kenney.

The Nutcracker, Rudolph and friends: Best Atlanta shows for families

‘Tis the season to snuggle under a plaid blanket and watch classic family holiday specials, yes. But the ballets, plays and symphonies that bring the family out of the house and into the audience this time of year can be just as special.

If you're thinking it could be a struggle to get kids enthusiastic about classical performances, remember that you've got the November release of Disney's “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” working for you. A child who caught even a commercial for the lavish production will cheerily look forward to a live version.

Other holiday classics that will encourage young theatergoers include Rudolph played out in puppetry, Madeline on stage and Irving Berlin's “White Christmas” recaptured as a stage musical.

Once you're ready to get that new tradition going, here are seven merry and bright "all ages" shows to gift the kids, and yourself:

‘The Nutcracker’

Dec. 8-24. $31.25-$136.25. Atlanta Ballet, Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St., Atlanta. 404-881-2100,

The Atlanta Ballet presents the premiere of a new production of Tchaikovsky’s  classic “The Nutcracker”. The show will be choreographed by Yuri Possokhov. The creative team will also include Tony Award-winning projection designer Finn Ross and costume designer Sandra Woodall with live music by the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra.

“Irving Berlin's White Christmas The Musical” 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27-Dec. 2. Tickets starting at $34.75. Fox Theatre. 660 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta. 404-881-2100,

Glam gowns, sultry singing, classic tunes and the same plot as the timeless movie White Christmas make this a production that will thrill your Broadway-loving teen. Mom and dad should also put it on the date night wish list.

If you like the musical so much you want a refresher on the movie, numerous Atlanta theaters will screen the "TCM Big Screen Classics Presents White Christmas" Fathom Event Dec. 9 and Dec. 12.

ECMSA: Santa's Favorite Chamber Music4 p.m., Sunday Dec. 16. $25 with discount categories, free, no ticket required. Emory University, Ackerman Hall, Michael C. Carlos Museum. 571 South Kilgo Circle NE, Atlanta.

Joy to the world is not just a lyric when the Emory chamber plays holiday classics. Santa's on hand to dole out treats and join the singalong (yes, singing!). And did you notice it's free?

Atlanta Youth Ballet Inaugural Nutcracker Tea. 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturday Dec. 1. $35.

Northwest Presbyterian Church. 4300 Northside Drive NW, Atlanta.

There's no better way to introduce a newbie to the Nutcracker than at a youth ballet's inaugural event. This one includes Nutcracker storytelling, interactive performances by the Atlanta Youth Ballet dancers and a dainty, tasty tea party menu.

Misfit Toys welcome here: The Center for Puppetry Arts' Rudolph production is a live show and audience members can make their own puppets, too, as part of some package deals.
Photo: Contributed by Clay Walker/For the AJC

Center For Puppetry Arts “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer™” 10 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturdays, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Sundays, Nov. 25-Dec.8; 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday Dec. 9; 10 a.m and 12 noon Tuesday-Thursday Dec. 11-13; 10 a.m., 12 noon and 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14; 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. Saturday Dec. 15; 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16; 10 a.m. and 12 noon Tuesday-Wednesday Dec. 18-19; 10 a.m., 12 noon and 2 p.m. Thursday-Friday Dec. 20-21; 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday December 22; 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday Dec. 23; 10 a.m., 12 noon and 2 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, Dec. 26-28, 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29; 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 30. $15-$35 non-members. Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring Street NW, Atlanta. 404-873-3391,

Based on the classic television special, the puppets are enchanting and the theme is familiar, tried and true. Even the youngest family members will enjoy the show; older folks might shed a tear or two, so bring extra hankies.

“Madeline's Christmas” 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday Dec. 1-2; 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday Dec. 8; 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9; 6:30 p.m. Monday Dec. 10; 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday Dec. 15; 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Sunday Dec. 16; 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday Dec. 20-21; 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22; 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 23; 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday Dec. 24 and Wednesday-Friday Dec. 26-Dec. 28; 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday Dec. 29 and Sunday Dec. 30. $12 youth, $15 adults general admission. Horizon Theatre. 1083 Austin Ave., Atlanta. 404-584-7450,

Stage plays with a Christmas theme will strike a chord with children as young as three, and this musical adaptation of the Ludwig Bemelmans' classic has the added appeal of actor role models. Local girls ages 8 to 12 perform alongside the pros. If this year's guest wants to be up on stage next year, remember auditions are usually in August.

Charles Dickens' “A Christmas Carol” At Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1-23, except Sundays, when start time is 6:30 p.m. $20 general admission. The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. 499 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta. 404-874-5299,

The playhouse has been transporting grumps and their merry relatives to Dickensian London for 20-plus seasons now. Just a handful of actors bring Scrooge, Tiny Tim and all the angst alive. Three cheers for the three ghosts.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.