My colleague Jerald Raymond Pierce has already written about the stubborn recurrence of A Christmas Carol at U.S. theatres, even amid the constraints of the pandemic. Indeed, as he wrote, there’s something about a beloved tradition of gathering, and ostensibly reflecting on what matters most in our lives, that feels warming at a very bleak time for the world—a dark winter, as more than one public health official has called it—even if the “gathering” is mostly or exclusively virtual. Someday soon we all will be together, if the fates allow.
So this week I’ve added another category, a holiday bonus, if you will, alongside the usual live-vs.-asynchronous demarcation. This week’s holiday offerings—Hanukkah kicks off next Thursday—are a mix of watch-or-you-miss-them appointment viewing and recorded streams on demand. All three sections are organized more or less by date and time.
Without further ado…
Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery is streaming a virtual one-woman production of A Christmas Carol starring Greta Lambert. Transporting audiences back to a magical evening in Victorian England, this on-demand performance is streaming now through Sun., Dec. 27. Tickets are $15 per household.
Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre Company is currently streaming Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of The Steadfast Tin Soldier. This adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of a toy soldier who never gives up, this recorded full staging streams through Sun., Dec. 27. Online access to the production is $25.
San Diego’s Old Globe is offering its 23rd annual production of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas as a free audio-only production this year. Directed by James Vásquez, it has music by Mel Marvin and book and lyrics by Timothy Mason. The production, presented by KPBS Radio in San Diego, will be broadcast on KPBS 89.5 FM and streamed live on the KPBS website and app Sat., Dec. 5 at 12 p.m. PT, Sun., Dec. 20 at 12 p.m. PT, and Thurs., Dec. 24 at 6 p.m. PT. More information on the production is available on the Old Globe website.
As highlights of the Dec. 4-30 run of its audio play version of A Christmas Carol: On Air, directed by Peter J. Kuo, San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater will offer two virtual community listening parties. On Fri., Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. PT and on Wed., Dec. 23 at 6 p.m. PT, ACT will host special nights giving families around the world the opportunity to gather and listen together. Both performances will include a unique virtual lobby that includes pre- and post-show interactions with the cast, and fun interactive activities.
Philadelphia’s Lantern Theater Company is offering its annual presentation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, an original adaptation by Anthony Lawton created in collaboration with Christopher Colucci and Thom Weaver, reimagined this year in a combination of literature, theatre, and film. It streams on demand, Fri., Dec. 4-Sun., Dec. 27. All tickets are $20.
Chicago’s Porchlight Music Theatre will screen a recorded capture of its 2019 performance of the Ruffians’ Burning Bluebeard, which employs music, clowning, tumbling, acrobatics, and dance to retell the true story of Chicago’s former Iroquois Theatre and the unforgettable events that resulted in tragedy for 600 theatregoers at Christmastime in 1903. It’s up online Fri., Dec. .4-Sun., Jan. 3, 2021. Tickets are $15-$50.
Chicago’s Hell in a Handbag Productions presents the world premiere of The Rip Nelson Holiday Quarantine Special, written by artistic director David Cerda, directed and choreographed by Stevie Love, with music and lyrics by Cerda and Scott Lamberty. America’s favorite funnyman Rip Nelson is joined by a star-studded lineup, from Lucille Ball to Bing Crosby to Bernadette Peters. Performances stream at various times Fri., Dec. 4-Sat., Jan. 9, 2021. Tickets are $25.
Chicago’s Strawdog Theatre Company brings back its holiday hit Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, reimagined in an all-new virtual production, which tells the story of a humble man who must outsmart the goblins who haunt an old synagogue. Based on the award-winning book by Eric Kimmel, with book and adaptation by Michael Dailey, music and lyrics by Jacob Combs, direction by Spencer Ryan Diedrick and music direction by Celia Villacres, Hershel will be offered live Sat. & Sun. at 1 & 4 p.m. CT, Dec. 5-20. Tickets are $25-$30.
Chicago’s PlayMakers Laboratory rings in the holidays with all new performances of its popular online revue That’s Weird, Grandma: House Par-Tay, a creative series of stories written by elementary school students and adapted and performed by PML’s professional actors. Performances stream Mondays at 8 p.m. CT, Dec. 7-28, via Patreon, with a completely new show released each week. Tickets are $2-4.
New York City’s National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene is offering the world premiere of a star-studded virtual Folksbiene Chanukah Spectacular. Directed and produced by Adam B. Shapiro, this event will offer a global evening of music and community, featuring more than 50 performers from around the world, to benefit the Folksbiene company. The spectacular will premiere Tues., Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. ET, and will available for viewing online for 96 hours after. Tickets are free but donations are recommended and reservations are required.
North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach, Calif., presents a filmed production of A Christmas Carol by Zander Michaelson, in which virtuoso actor James Newcomb assays the entire story from one man’s perspective. It will stream on demand on Showtix4U Wed., Dec. 9-Thurs., Dec. 31. Tickets are $35.
New York City’s Untitled Theater Company No. 61 is presenting a virtual, one-on-one storytelling experience via Skype for Hanukkah: How to Play Dreidel with Judah Maccabee, written by playwright and children’s book author Edward Einhorn. This 15- to 20-minute story about a kid who travels back in time to meet his hero, Judah Maccabee, is delivered to each audience individually by actors Yael Haskal, Alyssa Simon, or Maxwell Zener. Performance slots are available every night of Hanukkah at 6-9 p.m. ET, Thurs., Dec. 10-Thurs., Dec. 17, with additional slots Sat.-Sun., Dec. 12-13, 2-4 p.m. ET. Tickets are $20.
Palo Alto-based TheatreWorks Silicon Valley is offering Simple Gifts, a joyful, multicultural celebration of beloved holiday songs and traditions from many diverse backgrounds. This virtual world premiere features a bounty of Bay Area theatre veterans sharing beautiful music and meaningful memories in a journey through a variety of winter celebrations, including Kwanzaa, Christmas, Hanukkah, Noche Buena, Diwali, Las Posadas, and more. Performances stream live at various times Thurs., Dec. 10-Sun., Dec. 27; on-demand streaming will be available Dec. 28-Jan. 1, 2021). A donation of $10 or more is requested with a reservation.
Central Florida’s Orlando Shakes presents the holiday comedy The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge by Mark Brown. Each performer films their performance safely from home, with footage combined by a creative team using green screen technology, animated environments, and special editing effects, as Scrooge puts the Ghosts of Christmas on trial for his mistreatment. This video on demand performance will be available to stream Thurs., Dec. 10-Sun., Dec. 20. Tickets are $15.
Houston company Stages is offering a world premiere of the radio-style musical, Holiday at the Hope’s: A Christmas Mixtape, written and performed by husband-and-wife duo, Ben Hope and Katie Barton Hope. This family-friendly show is inspired by the couple’s real-life experience as first-time homebuyers, who are celebrating the holidays in their signature style. It’s now available on demand through Sun., Dec. 13. Tickets are $25.
San Francisco Playhouse is streaming their production of The Jewelry Box, written and performed by Brian Copeland. The comedic and heartfelt holiday play, a prequel to Copeland’s hit show Not a Genuine Black Man, tells the story of six-year-old Brian and his journey to earn $11.97 to buy his mother a Christmas present. Filmed onstage at San Francisco Playhouse, the play is available on demand through Dec. 25 at midnight. Tickets are $15-100.
Arkansas’s TheatreSquared is offering the world premiere of Amy Herzberg and Bob Ford’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol. This innovative two-person adaptation of the classic story sets the action among the stacks of a Victorian library during a snowstorm. Recorded performances stream online Dec. 8-27. Showtimes are on-demand with one 24-hour streaming window per day. Tickets are $25-$35. Tickets at Theatre2.org
New York Live Arts will present a virtual screening with its 2019-20 Randjelović/Stryker Resident Commissioned Artist (RCA), Raja Feather Kelly, on Dec. 4 at 6:30 ET, when Kelly will host to a watch party of his in-process documentary, Any Given Wednesday, which follows Kelley and feath3r theory company members as they search for the true motivations and outcomes behind the infamous Brooklyn bank robbery portrayed in the iconic film Dog Day Afternoon. It’s free with an RSVP.
One of the pandemic’s early virtual theatre hits was Helder Guimarães’s magic memoir for L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse, The Present. Now he’s back with The Future, again directed by Frank Marshall, with a choose-your-own-adventure angle on his usual close-up card tricks and storytelling. Performances are offered at various showtimes Fri., Dec. 4-Sun., Jan. 31, 2021. Tickets (the relatively few that are available) are $95.
Los Angeles-based Bahr None, Outside In Theatre & _Outpost_13 present the streaming premiere of Iris Bahr’s Dai 2.0. Originally scheduled to be presented live at the 14th Street Y last April, the solo show has been reimagined for streaming, using filmed and live elements, to return to the aftermath of a suicide bombing in a Tel Aviv cafe 15 years later, as a reporter ho survived the original bombing interviews a wide range of family members of the victims. Directed by Jessica Hanna, it streams on Sat., Dec. 5 at 3 p.m. PT. Tickets are $15.
Cleveland Public Theatre is offering additional performances of the Zoom premiere of Dream Rust Workshop (a hypothesis project), written and directed by CPT artistic director Raymond Bobgan, with contributions from community ensembles. Billed as “a surreal theatrical experiment follows a network of dream lines” among a group of dreamers as they “look to the past, present, and future for meaningfulness and purpose.” It will perform live via Zoom on Sat., Dec. 5-Sun., Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. ET, and on Mon., Dec. 7 & Wed., Dec. 9 at 8 pm. ET. Tickets are on a sliding scale starting at $1. There will also be a special presentation of the show, hosted by D.C.’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, on Mon., Dec. 7 at 4 p.m. ET. Stream link here.
Norristown, Pa.’s Theatre Horizon presents the first show in their Art Houses program, pairing professional theatre artists with community members to create original works of theater. The first offering is an original work by Rebecca “Becky” Bradbeer, a Chester County, Pa., woman with cerebral palsy and a well-recognized arts advocate, who will present an original show exploring ideas of independence, caregiving, and performativity. The show airs Sat., Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Tickets are pay-what-you-decide.
María Irene Fornés’s contemporary classic Fefu and Her Friends will get a staging by Season of Concern and Chicago theatre artist Mary Beth Fisher, directed by Stacy Stoltz and starring Charin Alvarez, Sandra Delgado, Ora Jones, Delia Kropp, Sadieh Rifai, Lisa Tejero, Janet Ulrich Brooks, and Penelope Walker. Told in three parts, the play is set on one day in the spring of 1935 in a New England country home, where Fefu and seven female friends are rehearsing a presentation for their charity benefiting arts education. The 80-minute production premieres online Sat. Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. CT, followed by a live talkback. (The performance will then be available for on-demand viewing through Wed., Dec. 9). Tickets are $5-$10, with proceeds benefiting Season of Concern, the emergency fund for Chicago’s theatre community.
Metropolitan Playhouse of New York City is live-streaming The Widow’s Veil, a 1920 comedy by Alice Rostetter set during the 1918 flu pandemic, about a woman preparing for her husband’s death with a bit too much eagerness. The reading will be followed by a talkback discussion with Cheryl Black, Ph.D., author of The Women of Provincetown. Directed by Laura Livingston, it airs Sat., Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. ET (it will be available for viewing through Dec. 9.) It’s free but donations are encouraged.
New York City’s Moonlight Theatre Company has debuted Crossroads: Six Short Plays about love, pain, passion, and joy by Israela Margalit. Remaining performances include Sun., Dec. 6 at 2:30 p.m. ET, with an encore presentation Dec. 24-31. Tickets are free, with any donations made benefiting Frigid New York.
UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance (CAP UCLA) presents A Thousand Ways (Part One): A Phone Call, a new piece by 600 Highwaymen, in which two audience members—nameless strangers to one another—follow a carefully crafted set of directives, revealing things about themselves and their lives. CAP UCLA plans to stage the two other parts of a planned trilogy in 2021. Part One is offered on Sundays Dec. 6 & 13, and Sun., Jan. 24, 2021, at various times PT. Tickets are $25 per person and available for purchase in advance.
PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill, N.C., is offering a star-studded virtual benefit reading of Delia Ephron and Nora Ephron’s Love, Loss and What I Wore, based on the book by Ilene Beckerman, on Sun., Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Featuring Debra Messing, Marin Hinkle, and Camryn Manheim alongside members of PlayMakers’ resident acting company, this intimate collection of funny and poignant stories is directed by producing artistic director Vivienne Benesch. Tickets start at $25.
New York City’s Faux-Real Theatre is offering Zoom Bacchae on Vimeo on Mon., Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. ET, in celebration of Aaron Poochigian’s new translation of Euripides’s 5th-century tragedy for W. W. Norton. Directed by Faux-Real artistic director Mark Greenfield, with masks by Lynda White and musical direction by Tony Naumovski, this staged reading promises a virtual trip into the past that will bring actor and audience together in these quarantined times. It’s free but you should register in advance.
New York City’s Working Theater is offering a virtual benefit reading of Lisa Ramirez’s To the Bone, a play about our broken immigration system, to support Sullivan County migrant farm workers on Mon., Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. ET. Director Lisa Peterson returns to direct the reading as part of an evening co-hosted by Tony-winning playwright and activist V (formerly Eve Ensler), and Maria Hinojosa, founder and president of Futuro Media Group and anchor and executive producer of the Peabody-winning Latino USA. Tickets are available on a “sliding scale.”
Ego Actus Theatre Company of NYC presents a one-night streaming of 4 Short Plays by Joan Lipkin as part of their “Survival Is Insufficient” Virtual Play Reading Series. Directed by Alisa Matlovsky, the short plays by Lipkin include Crab Cakes, Are You Married?, as well as the international premiere of Afternoon Zoom with Zack and the timely Ferguson. The plays will stream Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. ET. It’s free but registration is required.
National theatre podcast Playing on Air is hosting Danny DeVito and his daughter Lucy DeVito for a holiday benefit performance of Mallory Jane Weiss’s short comedy I think it’s worth pointing out that I’ve been very serious throughout this entire discussion or, Dave and Julia are stuck in a tree, directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel, on Tues., Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. ET. Hosts include Steven Boyer, William Jackson Harper, Hamish Linklater, April Matthis, and Amy Ryan, plus additional surprise guests. Tickets begin at $50.
Rehabilitation Through The Arts (RTA), a nonprofit program of Prison Communities International Inc., will be hosting a virtual performance of Lulu, I Hear You…Messages From the Inside During Covid-19. Based on poetry, stories, and letters received from incarcerated participants from six New York state prisons over the past six months, the show features a cast of RTA Alumni (previously incarcerated RTA participants) and teaching artists. The event takes place on Wed., Dec. 9, 6 p.m. ET. EST. Registration is free and donations are welcome.
Even in the most un-ordinary of times, we can still find joy, friendship and unexpected happiness in the everyday. That’s the message of Ordinary Days, presented as part of the Point Park University’s Pittsburgh Playhouse virtual fall season. With music and lyrics by Adam Gwon, direction by Dave Solomon, and a multimedia hybrid production created by Solomon and Emmy-winning designer Jason Ardizzone-West, Ordinary Days is airing at various times Wed., Dec. 9-Sun., Dec. 13, with tickets on sale for $5.
Baltimore’s Everyman Theatre Company has teamed with a company from Ireland, cheekily named Irishtown Productions, to present live audio broadcasts of The Second City Trilogy by Cónal Creedon. We missed the first play, The Cure, which was offered on Dec. 3, but you can still catch When I Was God on Thurs., Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. GMT, and After Luke on Thurs., Dec. 17 at 8 p.m. GMT. Tickets are €12 (approximately $16).
Seattle Rep’s Public Works family of community and professional actors will come together virtually to share a presentation of selections from Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub’s musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Thurs., Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. PT. It’s free but donations are gratefully accepted.
Gulfshore Playhouse in Naples, Fla., is offering Little Women: The Musical, based on Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel about sisters in Civil War-era Massachusetts. Written by Alan Knee, with music by Jason Howland and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, it will be performed by STAR Academy students ages 13 to 18 and directed by Steven Calakos, the theatre’s director of education. It will bow Thurs.-Fri., Dec. 10-11 at 7:30 p.m. ET, and continue Sat.-Sun., Dec. 12-13 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20.
Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company in St. Paul is offering the return of Operation: Immigration, the second play in its 2020-21 season, Theatre Six Feet Apart! In this play, written and performed by Avi Aharoni, a young Minnesotan searches for clues about his late father, an Iranian Jew, and begins to find himself along the way. Directed by Robert Dorfman, this special filmed performance will have five virtual showtimes: Thurs., Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. CT; Sat., Dec. 12 at 8 p.m. CT; and Sun., Dec. 13 at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. & 7 p.m. CT. Tickets are $15.
When Oregon Shakespeare Festival announced its Play On project to translate Shakespeare into contemporary English, it launched a season of controversy that we got in on, and we’ve covered its progress over the years. Now O!, Oregon Shakes’s streaming platform, is giving us a chance to hear these plays in translation with its ongoing First Reads series. Next up is Kenneth Cavander’s take on The Tempest, will stream on demand Tues., Dec. 8-Fri., Jan. 8, 2021. The director is Nic Avila.
Solana Beach, Calif.’s North Coast Repertory Theatre is presenting presents a filmed production of An Iliad by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, a dynamic tour-de-force adaptation of Homer’s classic poem about the Trojan War, with actor Richard Baird vividly bringing to life the nobility, savagery, and valor of the battles and warriors, while exploring the human costs of war through the centuries. It will stream on demand on showtix4U Wed., Dec. 9-Sun., Jan. 3, 2021. Tickets are $35.
In addition to a holiday offering, San Francisco Playhouse is streaming their production of Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World, directed by Bill English, with music direction by Dave Dobrusky. Featuring a cast of award-winning Bay Area actors, including John Paul Gonzalez, Cate Hayman, Rodney Earl Jackson Jr., and Katrina Lauren McGraw, Songs for a New World transports audiences from the deck of a 1492 sailing ship to a ledge 57 stories above Fifth Avenue to meet a powerful collection of characters. It’s available on demand Sat., Dec. 12-Thurs., Dec. 31. Tickets are $15-100.
Arkansas-based TheatreSquared is offering a production of Lauren Gunderson’s newly revised The Half-Life of Marie Curie, in only the play’s second production since its acclaimed 2019 New York debut. It follows a demoralized Curie, beset by a personal scandal that threatens to obscure her great achievement, as she joins a friend and scientific colleague at a seaside retreat on the British coast. Dawn Monique Williams directs this stage-to-film version, now streaming on demand through Jan. 17.Showtimes are on demand, with one 24-hour streaming window per day. Tickets are $25-$35.
Portland Center Stage in Oregon has a few on demand offerings streaming now. The first is Earth Without Borders/Tierra Sin Fronteras, a filmed musical journey featuring the Portland band Sávila that celebrates the plant and animal life along the Mexico/U.S. border. It’s available on demand now, and tickets are pay what you will, starting at $5. The theatre is also presenting a staged reading of Love in the Time of Piñatas by writer and comedian Baruch Porras Hernandez, a raunchy comedy in which Porras Hernandez shares stories of his journey as a queer Latino boy immigrating to the United States. Tickets are pay what you will, starting at $5.
The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) in Winston-Salem is offering Shakespeare’s Henry V as a modern day radio play, with School of Drama faculty member Sara Becker directing a cast of third- and fourth-year actors, with an original soundtrack by a team of students in the School of Design & Production’s sound design program. The play is available on-demand for free on major podcast platforms like Spotify and Apple and at uncsa.edu/ondemand.
Odd-o-Ts Entertainment of Central Florida is offering a new interactive theatrical experience called The Secret Library. This adventure takes participants on an adventure to open an ethereal library housing all of humankind’s knowledge while learning about a cast of kooky characters along the way. Part theatre, part puzzle game, and part immersive improv, this experience is good for the whole family. Household tickets are $35, with two options: An Origins experience, available every Saturday, and a new Christmas adventure, Krampus Claus, on Wednesdays and Saturdays in December. www.secretlibrary.io.
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