Chicago's Holiday Theatre Guide: A Roundup of Theatre, Dance and Music for the Holidays

Chicago's Holiday Theatre Guide: A Roundup of Theatre, Dance and Music for the Holidays
Story time with Ebenezer Scrooge from Goodman Theatre’s A Christmas Carol, photo courtesy of Chicago Loop Alliance

Here’s your Chicago Holiday Theatre Guide for the 2013 season featuring theatre, dance and music for the Holiday Season. If your idea of holiday entertainment is The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol, you are off to a good start but that is only a start. In Chicago there is more holiday programming than there are holidays.

Interior of Chicago's historic Oriental Theatre

Interior of Chicago’s historic Oriental Theatre

Take your pick from traditional, new, irreverent, outside the box, show stopping big productions to storefront theatre.

On a budget, what’s better than free at Quest Theatre Ensemble’s The People’s A Christmas Wish. Of course if you’re looking to splurge…no worries. With Chicago’s 250 plus venues from the 2,253 seat Rapp and Rapp designed Oriental theater, that’s been magnificently restored to its original glory, in Chicago’s Theatre District to the tiny black box and storefront theaters throughout downtown, the neighborhoods and the suburbs you’re sure to find a fit.

Here’s a look at what’s coming to town…whether you’re looking for naughty or nice.

A Christmas Carol

If A Christmas Carol is a must see for you, there are many from which to choose. Here are three:

  • The Goodman Theatre presents the beloved Chicago tradition, Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol, November 16 through December 29.
  • Celebrate the holidays with A Christmas Carol: The Musical at Theatre at the Center  opening November 14 and running through December 22.  Theatre at the Center’s production will be directed by Artistic Director William Pullinsi and stars five time Jeff-Award nominee Larry Adams as “Scrooge.” Individual ticket prices range from $38  to $42.   To purchase individual tickets call the Box Office at 219 836 3255. 40 Ridge Road, Munster, IN.
  • Drury Lane Theatre’s A Christmas Carol will be presented from November 21 through December 21 at Drury Lane Theatre.  Recently enhanced with traditional carols, the timeless story is directed by Scott Calcagno (Legally Blonde at The Civic Theatre, Grease at The Long Lake Theatre as well as the annual production of A Christmas Carol at Drury Lane Theatre). Performance only tickets are available for $15 and a group rate of $12 per person is available for parties of 20 or more. For reservations, call 630 530 0111.

The Motown Sound

  • The Holiday Season gets a taste of the Motown Sound as “Mary Wilson’s Holiday Spectacular Featuring Special Guests The Four Tops” blows into the Windy City December 23 through January 5, 2014 at the Harris Theater at 205 E. Randolph St.

Radio on Stage

  • Capra’s holiday staple gets the 1940’s radio treatment with American Theatre Company’s It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play, now in its twelfth year, running November 23 through December 29 at 1909 W Byron.

Chicago’s Nutcrackers

Fritz and Clara are back with the magic of The Nutcracker in many Chicago productions of The Nutcracker. Here are just a few.

  • The House Theatre presents its special version of The Nutcracker at the Chopin Theatre through weaving dance, text, and songs showcasing a story of magic and mystery, November 8 through December 29.
  • The Joffrey Ballet’s classic The Nutcracker returns to the Auditorium Theatre, December 6 through December 28.
  • The musical twist on the classic tale of The Nutcracker comes to life for children of all ages from November 8 through December 28 at the Marriott Theatre in suburban Lincolnshire.  This classic holiday musical will be directed and choreographed by Matt Raftery. Single ticket prices are $15 per person. Groups of 20 or more receive a discount by calling 847 634 5909. To reserve tickets, call the Marriott Theatre Box Office at 847 634 0200 or click here.
  • Hyde Park School of Dance (HPSD) concludes its 20th anniversary season with Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, featuring a record 170 dancers—from four-year-olds to grandparents—supported by more than 100 volunteers. Performances are December 14 and 15 at Mandel Hall on the University of Chicago campus, 1131 E. 57th Street.

Where’s the Nutcracker when you need him?

In a world where dolls come to life and little children dream of sugar plum fairies, a new evil has emerged from the toy box. Now it’s up to one young girl, a rag doll, a toy soldier and a ballerina mouse to prevent the total destruction of Christmas at Strangeloop Theatre’s “The Nutracker Nightmare” — A tale of Christmas joy & horror at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N Clark St. (above Hamburger Mary’s) on December 15 or December 16. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door or in advance at Brown Paper Tickets.

Chicago Tap Theatre covers the season

Only in Chicago, the CTT taps into the season with their annual holiday celebration Tidings of Tap that features warm and witty pieces recognizing Christmas, Chanukah and the Winter Season from December 13 through December 15 at UIC Theater, 1044 W. Harrison.

Holiday-themed musicals include:

  • Broadway in Chicago presents the beloved classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Join Rudolph and his friends fleeing from the rudolphAbominable Snow Monster to save Christmas in this large-scale, spectacle-filled musical at the Broadway Playhouse! November 14 through December 29.
  • Mercury Theater brings back the classic Chicago musical The Christmas Schooner, November 27 through December 29. Directed by L. Walter Stearns.
  • It’s a jolly holiday with Mary Poppins when she flies into The Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. Broadway’s Supercalifragilistic, award-winning hit that is receiving raves for this production is already playing and will run through January 5, 2014.  The production is directed by nine-time Jeff Award-winner Gary Griffin with Choreography by Alex Sanchez and Musical Direction by Jeff Award-winner Michael Mahler.  For tickets call the Marriott Theatre Box Office at 847 634 0200. 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire.
  • Say hello to Dolly at the Drury Lane Theatre when the whimsical turn-of-the-century tale Hello Dolly takes the stage. Dolly Gallagher Levi, a New York City matchmaker-extraordinaire hired to help a pompous Yonkers merchant in his pursuit of a wife. When Dolly unexpectedly falls in love with him, she stops at nothing to win his favor. The production is directed by Rachel Rockwell, is open now and runs through January 5, 2014 at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane. For reservations, call 630 530 0111 or click here.
  • Join Buddy the Elf in his adventures to New York City in attempt to find his father and remind everyone of the true meaning of elfChristmas. Broadway in Chicago presents this modern day Christmas classic, Elf the Musical, at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. November 26 through December 15.

Hanukah Musical

National Pastime Theater brings back the only rock and roll Hanukah musical in existence with Hannukatz, the Musical at the Preston Bradley Theater at 941 W. Lawrence. November 29 through December 30.

Hip Hop

Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Chicago hip-hop sensation the Q Brothers turn up the volume on Charles Dickens’ classic story in A Q BROTHER’S CHRISTMAS CAROL, November 30 through December 22.

Outside the box

  • David Sedaris’ classic comedy Santaland Diaries returns to Theater Wit for the 10th year, November 21 through December 29.
  • ‘Tis the season for original comedic one-acts showcasing the crazy, zany, dysfunctional chaos the holidays tend to bring to us all in HOLIDAZE, presented by Step Up Productions at Anthenaeum Theatre. November 29 through December 22.
  • Piccolo Theatre’s 13th annual Panto sheds new light on an old tale by Hans Christian Andersen in THE SNOW QUEEN, OR WHEN CHRISTMAS FREEZES OVER by Jessica Puller, Music & lyrics by Rich Maisel, at the Evanston Arts Depot. November 8 through December 21.
  • Hell in a Handbag Productions is producing a brand new holiday show, Christmas Dearest by David Cerda. At Mary’s Attic, November 29 through December 28.
  • Miracle on Wells Street is The Second City’s new holiday sketch comedy show, performed by The Second City Touring Company. The show features a mix of material pulled from The Second City archives, as well as original material, November 20 through December 31 at UP Comedy Club.

And There’s More…

  • Redmoon Theater’s annual WINTER PAGEANT returns December 13 through December 28.
  • Help Gerda find her beloved companion, Kai, who is snatched away by the wicked Snow Queen in Theatre of Western Springs’ The Snow Queen. A play with music, books and lyrics by Adrian Mitchell from the story by Hans Christian Andersen. December 6 through  December 15.
  • Chicago a cappella presents HOLIDAYS A CAPPELLA with music direction by Anne Heider featuring a surprising mix of holiday music at the Fourth Presbyterian Church, December 1 – December 14.
  • The return of of the seasonal favorite Hellcab opens in previews at Profiles Theatre on North Broadway November 8. The show portrays the story of a cab driver in for the longest night of his life as he transports a bizarre and mysterious array of customers through the gritty streets of Chicago on Christmas Eve, at Profiles Theatre, November 8 through January 12, 2014.
  • Provision Theater presents another favorite with their A Christmas Memory and The Thanksgiving Visitor based on the best selling books by Truman Capote, adapted by Timothy Gregory. November 20 through December 29.
  • The Gift Theatre announces its annual Christmas production, titled Merry Christmas! (Stranger Things Have Happened). The sketch comedy revue is written and performed by Natural Gas, the house improv team of The Gift Theatre, and directed by Ensemble member Jim Kozyra and runs December 5  through the 14 at the Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee Avenue, with performances Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. Single tickets, $5, are available by calling the box office at 773 283 7071 or online.

Classic Music Festival

The Music Box Christmas Show is a nine-day extravaganza that seems to grow increasingly popular every year. Friends, families and film lovers from across the Midwest have made this event part of their holiday tradition. The 30th annual Music Box Christmas Show featuring White Christmas and/or It’s a Wonderful Life and a guest appearance by Santa will take place December 13 through December 24 at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Avenue.


Quest Theatre Ensemble celebrates the season of giving with free admission (donations accepted) to their holiday show The People’s A Christmas Wish, directed by Andrew Park. The show opens November 22 at The Blue Theater, (On the campus of St. Gregory the Great Church). The People’s A Christmas Wish features Quest’s signature large-scale puppetry, a rockin’ musical score and plenty of holiday cheer for the whole family. 1609 West Gregory (Gregory and Ashland).  312 458 0895.

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