There’s a cliché that the Christmas season starts earlier every year, and that’s often the case with holiday plays, some of which premiere in early November and run through New Year’s. This review of some of the metro area’s holiday shows includes some perennial favorites as well as new productions that aspire to become yearly traditions.
‘A Christmas Carol’
By staging its 29th annual production of “A Christmas Carol,” the Alliance Theatre will be casting some young actors who weren’t alive when the tradition began. David de Vries returns in the role of miser Ebenezer Scrooge, following in the footsteps of such local actors as Tom Key and Chris Kayser. David H. Bell’s adaptation combines Dickens’ classic redemption story with stunning special effects and gospel-influenced Christmas songs.
After performing shows at Atlanta theaters across the city during its mainstage renovation, the Alliance returned to its Hertz Stage in the fall. “We are excited to be staging ‘A Christmas Carol’ at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre one more time before bringing it home to our new space, the Coca-Cola Stage at Alliance Theatre, on the campus of the Woodruff Arts Center, in 2019,” says managing director Mike Schleifer. “It’s been a wonderful season on the road, but we’re so thankful to be back home for the second half of this season.”
Dec. 12-24. $14-$115. Alliance Theatre, Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 404-733-5000, alliancetheatre.org.
After staging Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” with choreography by John McFall for 20 years, the Atlanta Ballet presents the premiere of a new production. The new creative team includes choreographer Yuri Possokhov, Tony Award-winning projection designer Finn Ross and costume designer Sandra Woodall with live music by the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra.
Dec. 8-24. $31.25-$136.25. Atlanta Ballet, Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St., Atlanta. 404-881-2100, foxtheatre.org.
‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’
Just as watching the original Rankin-Bass TV special from 1964 can be an annual ritual for families, so has the Center for Puppetry Arts’ live version become a recurring musical event for the past nine years. Tim Sweeney directs Jon Ludwig’s stage adaptation, with puppets perfectly re-creating Rudolph, Yukon Cornelius and the rest of the North Pole neighbors.
Nov. 13-Dec. 30. $25-$35. Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring St., Atlanta. 404-873-3391, puppet.org.
‘Christmas Canteen 2018’
For its 23rd year, Aurora Theatre’s “Christmas Canteen” by Brandon O’Dell offers spirited comedy as well as a nostalgic revue of classic holiday songs and hits that can draw from such genres as Motown, country and vintage rock. Jimi Kocina and Cecil Washington Jr. serve as hosts to an ensemble of 10 performers, directed by Anthony Rodriguez and choreographer Ricardo Aponte.
Nov. 15-Dec. 23. $30-$65. Aurora Theatre, 128 E. Pike St., Lawrenceville. 678-226-6222, auroratheatre.com.
‘Waffle Palace Christmas’
After staging the raunchy comedy “Santaland Diaries” for nearly 20 years, Horizon Theatre makes a change of pace with a world premiere, “Waffle Palace Christmas.” Beginning in 2012, the native Atlanta playwriting team of Larry Larson and Eddie Levi Lee parlayed tales from the Waffle House into Horizon’s hit show “The Waffle Palace.” Directed by Lisa Adler, the sequel, “Waffle Palace Christmas,” revisits the beloved restaurant chain from a Yuletide perspective and casts many of the same actors from previous productions.
Nov. 16-Dec. 30. $35-$50. Horizon Theatre, 1083 Austin Ave., Atlanta. 404-584-7450, horizontheatre.com.
‘Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley’
Theatrical Outfit remounts its 2017 holiday show, in which playwrights Margot Melcon and Atlanta native Lauren Gunderson offer a cheerful, thoughtful imagining of Jane Austen’s classic characters from “Pride and Prejudice” at Christmas. Carolyn Cook directs a cast that includes Amelia Fischer as Austen’s heroine Mary Bennet, Justin Walker as the reserved but dashing Mr. Darcy, and more. Austenites and fans of rom-coms like “Love Actually” take note.
Nov. 21-Dec. 23. $18-$51. Theatrical Outfit, 84 Luckie St., Atlanta. 678-528-1500, theatricaloutfit.org.
‘The Snow Queen’
Serenbe Playhouse revisits the same source material as the movie “Frozen” with Rachel Teagle’s adaptation of “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen. For its fifth season, the open-air show depicts a girl’s quest to save her brother from the titular character and concludes with a celebratory snowfall.
Nov. 28-Jan. 6. $25. The Natural Playground, Serenbe Playhouse, 9110 Selborne Lane, Palmetto. 770-463-1110, serenbeplayhouse.com.
With a cast of more than 20 vocalists and dancers, “Black Nativity: A Gospel Christmas Musical Experience” expands poet Langston Hughes’ take on the Nativity with African-style costumes, choreography by Dawn Axam and soaring arrangements of such Christmas carols as “What Child Is This” and “Oh Holy Night.”
Nov. 30-Dec. 9. $27-$52. Ferst Center for the Arts, 349 Ferst Drive NW, Atlanta. 404-894-9600, blacknativityatlanta.com.
‘Elf the Musical’
Having inaugurated the new Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center in September, City Springs Theatre Company presents its first holiday show, “Elf the Musical,” in December. Based on the popular Will Ferrell film, the musical stars Tony Award winner Shuler Hensley as Buddy, a human raised by elves who awkwardly returns to contemporary New York City.
“City Springs Theatre Company is ecstatic to be the first locally based professional theater to produce ‘Elf the Musical,’” says executive/artistic director Brandt Blocker. “The film has become a hysterical holiday tradition for so many families, and we are hoping it will become a City Springs Theatre tradition as well.”
Dec. 7-16. $30-$62. City Springs Theatre Company, Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. 404-477-4365, CitySpringsTheatre.com.
Libby’s at the Express
Popular Atlanta actress and singer Libby Whittemore returns for her 10th year at Actor’s Express with her seasonal cabaret “Ho, Ho, Home for the Holidays.” In the evening’s second half, “A Connie Sue Day Christmas,” Whittemore takes the stage as “the 31st Lady of Country Music” for such satirical holiday songs as “The 12 Days of a White Trash Christmas.”
Dec. 14-15, 21-23. $40. Actor’s Express, 887 W. Marietta St., Atlanta. 404-607-7469, actors-express.com.
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