Seasons greetings: Chicago and suburban theaters resume in-person holiday shows
Last year, with most Chicago-area theaters suspending productions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pickings were slim when it came to seasonal shows. What a difference a year makes. With some exceptions, many theaters have resumed in-person performances of "A Christmas Carol," "The Nutcracker," and other shows including Second City sendups and family-friendly fare.
Listed below are some city and suburban offerings. Keep in mind COVID-19 precautions -- including proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test and masking -- will likely be in effect.
Goodman Theatre: After co-adapting and directing the theater's 2020 streaming version of "A Christmas Carol," Jessica Thebus returns to stage its 44th annual production of Charles Dickens' holiday classic. Larry Yando returns for his 14th season playing Ebenezer Scrooge.
Runs through Dec. 31 at 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. (312) 443-3800 or goodmantheatre.org/carol.
Manual Cinema streams its distinctive, multidisciplinary adaptation of "A Christmas Carol," which premiered last year. Each streamed performance concludes with a post-show "puppet time" video in which Manual Cinema artists reveal how they created the production.
Online Friday, Nov. 26, through Jan. 3 at manualcinema.com.
Metropolis Performing Arts Centre: Steve Connell reprises his role as Ebenezer Scrooge in Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's play-with-music version of "A Christmas Carol."
It runs Dec. 2-24 at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater: "Q Brothers Christmas Carol," the Q Brothers Collective's hip-hop adaptation of the beloved tale, returns to the theater this year.
It runs Dec. 7-23 at Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. (312) 595-5600 or chicagoshakes.com.
Theatre Above the Law premieres "Eb and Belle," playwright Ryan Stevens' version of young Ebenezer Scrooge and his first love, Belle.
Runs through Dec. 19 at The Jarvis Square Theater, 1439 W. Jarvis St., Chicago. See theatreatl.org.
'It's a Wonderful Life'
American Blues Theater resumes in-person performances with its 20th annual production of "It's A Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago," the company's 1940s radio-play with music adaptation of Frank Capra's 1946 classic about an Everyman who learns how important he is to the people around him.
It runs Friday, Nov. 26, through Dec. 31 at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. (773) 871-3000 or americanbluestheater.com.
Oil Lamp Theater reopens its doors for in-person performances with its radio-play production of "It's a Wonderful Life" adapted by Joe Landry from the film starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.
It runs Friday, Nov. 26, through Dec. 30 at 1723 Glenview Road, Glenview. (847) 834-0738 or oillamptheater.org.
Improv Playhouse: After a two-year hiatus, the troupe resumes its annual radio theater production of "It's a Wonderful Life," with direction by founding producer David Brian Stuart who also plays George Bailey.
It runs Dec. 10-19 at 735 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville. (847) 968-4529 or improvplayhouse.com.
New this year
Northlight Theatre premieres "Mr. Dickens' Hat," Michael Hollinger's holiday play with music about a young girl who attempts to prevent a pair of thieves from stealing Charles Dickens' hat from the Victorian shop where it resides.
It runs Friday, Nov. 26, through Jan. 2 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. (847) 673-6300 or northlight.org.
Theatre Wit: From her mobile home in Chicago's Lakeview, a grown-up Cindy Lou Who smokes cigarettes and guzzles booze while recalling the fateful night she met the Grinch in "Who's Holiday." The Chicago-area premiere of this adults-only play stars Itasca resident Veronica Garza as the 40-something Cindy Lou.
It runs Friday, Nov. 26, through Dec. 26 at 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. (773) 975-8150 or theaterwit.org.
Anais Bueno and Dylan Gutierrez perform in The Joffrey Ballet's Chicago-set version of "The Nutcracker."
- Courtesy of Cheryl Mann
Sugar plum dreams
The Joffrey Ballet stages choreographer Christopher Wheeldon's re-imagined version of the "The Nutcracker" -- set during the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago -- at the Civic Opera House for the first time. As in 2020, scenes from the production will be digitally displayed on the river facade of The Merchandise Mart, visible from the Chicago Riverwalk on Wacker Drive between Wells and Franklin streets.
It runs Dec. 4-26 at 20 N. Upper Wacker Drive, Chicago. (312) 386-8905 or joffrey.org.
The A & A Ballet presents "The Art Deco Nutcracker," choreographer Alexei Kremnev's version of Tchaikovsky's ballet set during the 1920s and inspired by Art Deco design.
Dec. 4 at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. (312) 545-2142 or aacenterfordance.org.
Ballet Chicago's production of "The Nutcracker" incorporates George Balanchine's choreography for the pas de deux for the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier.
It runs Dec. 10-19 at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. (773) 935-6875 or balletchicago.org.
Members of The Second City touring company perform various holiday-themed shows.
"The Second City's Best of the Holidays" runs Monday, Nov. 22, through Jan. 1 at UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave., Chicago. (312) 337-3992 or secondcity.com.
"Deck the Hallmark: A Greeting Card Channel Original" runs now through Jan. 2 at UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave., Chicago. (312) 337-3992 or secondcity.com.
"The Second City's Holiday Revue: It's a Wild, Wacky, Wonderful Life" runs Friday, Nov. 26, through Dec. 23 at the Copley Theatre, 8 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora. (630) 896-6666 or paramountaurora.com.
"The Second City's Holiday Revue: It's a Wild, Wacky, Wonderful Life" runs Dec. 18-31 at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.
The House Theatre of Chicago debuts its new production of "The Snow Queen."
- Courtesy of Michael Brosilow
The House Theatre of Chicago debuts its re-imagined version of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen" in which the titular queen shares her magical mirror with cousins Kai and Quin in an attempt to undo the chaos she inflicted.
Runs through Jan. 2 at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St., Chicago. See thehousetheatre.com.
Strawdog Theatre Company: For the fourth consecutive year, the company stages "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins," adapted from Eric Kimmel's children's book about Hershel of Ostropol's attempts to rid the local synagogue from the goblins who've taken up residence there.
Runs through Dec. 12 at Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge Ave., Chicago. See strawdog.org.
Otherworld Theatre hosts the immersive "Winter in the Wildwood," an immersive holiday show that transports visitors to a faerie realm where they meet a magical faun and attempt to restore magic to the forest
Dec. 9-Jan. 9 at 3914 N. Clark St., Chicago. See otherworldtheatre.org.
Drury Lane Theatre presents the stage adaptation of the 1942 film "Holiday Inn" featuring music by Irving Berlin. Director/choreographer Matt Crowle's revival marks the return of Chicago and Broadway veteran Adrian Aguilar after a four-year absence from the stage.
Runs through Jan. 9 at 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace. (630) 530-0111 or drurylanetheatre.com.
"Twas the Night Before," Cirque du Soleil's version of Clement Clarke Moore's poem "A Visit From Saint Nicholas," plays a limited run at The Chicago Theatre.
It runs Friday, Nov. 26, through Dec. 5 at 175 N. State St., Chicago. (212) 465-6000 or chicagotheatre.com.
BrightSide Theatre opens its 10th anniversary season with "Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Musical Radio Play," adapted from the original 1947 Lux Radio broadcast that told the story of a substitute department store Santa who claims to be the real Kriss Kringle.
It runs Dec. 10-19 at the Theatre at Meiley-Swallow Hall, North Central College, 31 S. Ellsworth St., Naperville. (630) 447-8497 or brightsidetheatre.com.
PlayMakers Laboratory welcomes back in-person audiences with "That's Weird, Grandma: Comes Home for the Holidays," the seasonal version of its long-running show featuring sketches adapted from stories by Chicago schoolchildren.
It runs Dec. 10-19 at the Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago. (773) 506-7140 or playmakerslab.org.
Chicago Opera Theater presents the Chicago premiere of "Becoming Santa Claus," Mark Adamo's 2015 opera about the bratty Prince Claus, who learns the meaning of love, family and giving.
Dec. 11, 17 and 19 at the Studebaker Theater, 410 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. See chicagooperatheater.org.
Rosemont Theatre presents "The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Musical," a family-friendly tuner about one of Santa's elves who helps make Christmas joyous for his human family.
It runs Dec. 19 at the Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River Road, Rosemont. (847) 671-5400 or rosemont.com/theatre.
"The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party" is Chicago Children's Theatre's seasonal puppet show for toddlers adapted from Potter's stories and featuring characters such as Peter Rabbit, Jeremy Fisher, Simpkin the Cat and Tom Kitten.
Runs through Dec. 24 at 100 S. Racine Ave., Chicago. (312) 374-8835 or chicagochildrenstheatre.org.
Inspired by the 2003 rom-com that inspired it, "Love, Actually The Unauthorized Musical Parody" traces the romantic relationships of nine couples from cute meetings to grand gestures to breakups.
Runs through Jan. 2 at the Apollo Theatre, 2550 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. (773) 935-6100 or loveactuallyparody.com.
Hell in a Handbag Productions revives its holiday sendup "Christmas Dearest" in which Joan Crawford (played by writer/lyricist David Cerda) learns the true meaning of Christmas from three visiting ghosts.
It runs Saturday, Nov. 27, through Dec. 31 at Ebenezer Lutheran Church, 1650 W. Foster Ave., Chicago. See handbagproductions.org.
Former nun and current bingo caller Mrs. Mary Margaret O'Brien recounts the origins of holiday traditions in "Christmas Bingo: It's a Ho-Ho-Holy Night" featuring Vicki Quade, Nancy Greco and Kathleen Puls Andrade who alternate playing the role of Mary Margaret.
It runs Sunday, Nov. 28, through Jan. 2 at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. (773) 404-7336 or nuns4fun.com.
The show also runs Dec. 20 at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.
Angela Ingersoll channels a dozen divas -- including Judy Garland, Julie Andrews and Janis Joplin -- in the "12 Dames of Christmas," her cabaret show that she'll perform at Marriott Theatre as part of Artists Lounge Live.
It runs Dec. 6-7 at 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire. (847) 634-0200 or artistsloungelive.com.
After Karol decides to cancel her annual holiday party, her friends try to get her to reconsider in PrideArts seasonal show "Christmas Karol: A Holiday Intervention Cabaret."
It runs Dec. 9-19 at 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago. (773) 857-0222 or pridearts.org.
Black Ensemble Theater presents its "Black Ensemble Holiday Spectacular" featuring BET favorites Rhonda Preston, Vincent Jordan, Colleen Perry, Dwight Neal and Robin DaSilva with music direction by band leader and percussionist Robert Reddrick.
It runs Dec. 11-12 and 18-19 at 4450 N. Clark St., Chicago. (773) 769-4451 or blackensembletheater.org.
Artists Lounge Live presents Chicago-area favorite Heidi Kettenring performing her show "Merry Christmas, Darling: Heidi Kettenring Sings Karen Carpenter" at Marriott Theatre.
It runs Dec. 13-14 at 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire. (847) 634-0200 or artistsloungelive.com.