Holiday Theater Chicago 2015: something old, something new and something beautiful

Holiday Theater Chicago 2015: something old, something new and something beautiful

Every year about this time, Chicago Theater starts rolling out their holiday shows. Many have become traditions returning every year like Goodman’s A Christmas Carol, (Nov. 14-Dec. 27) and Joffrey’s The Nutcracker (Dec. 4-27).

Others shows you can expect to see somewhere during the season include the classics including It’s a Wonderful Life by American Blues Theater (Nov. 20-Dec. 27) and White Christmas—already up and running in a very good production at Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace through January 3, 2016.

Of course, each year brings new attempts at classics–some good some not so much. Then there’s some twists on the holidays along with some “adult rated” shows.

Holiday Theater is a broad category that doesn’t have to be just about Sugar Plum Fairies, Scrooge and Santa Claus–it can also be any show that makes for an enjoyable theater experience. With this in mind, here are some shows on our radar for the 2015 holiday season.

Traditional favorites


A Christmas Carol, a traditional favorite at Goodman Theatre for generations, is back again for 2015 with Larry Yando as Scrooge whose “Bah-humbug’s” never gets old.

For those who don’t want to make the trip into downtown Chicago,The Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights will stage the traditional A Christmas Carol November 28 – December 24. 111 W Campbell St, Arlington Heights.

(from left) Cody Bolithon is Sammy, Ricky Falbo (beret) is Grover Dill, Matthew. Photo credit: Thomas J. King

(from left) Cody Bolithon is Sammy, Ricky Falbo (beret) is Grover Dill, Matthew. Photo credit: Thomas J. King

Director Nick Bowling will make his Paramount debut with the crowd-pleasing A Christmas Story – The Musical, (November 25-January 3,2016) filled with timeless comedy about little Ralphie and his quest for a Red Ryder BB gun. Paramount has gained much praise and many awards for their outstanding musicals, one would expect their holiday show to continue in that tradition.  Paramount Theatre 23 E Galena Blvd, Aurora.

Those in Indiana or on the south side of town can catch the holiday classic, A Christmas Story, at the Theatre at the Center in Munster, Indiana from November 19 through December 27. 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, Indiana.

The Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker (December 4-27) is another hot ticket for the holidays for children and grown-ups. This year marks the 28th and final year for Robert Joffrey’s version, choreographed in 1987, when he replaced the traditional European setting with a 19th century American home, populating it with toys from his own childhood. A newly imagined “Nutcracker” by Christopher Wheeldon is on tap for 2016.

The House Theatre of Chicago presents its own take on The Nutcracker returning for its sixth year. The popular show tells the story of The Nutcracker, sans the ballet, making for family-friendly holiday fare at the intimate Chopin Upstairs Theatre, 1543 W. Division, now through December 31.

Drury Lane Theatre presents White Christmas: The Musical, a merry and bright stage production based on the classic silver screen romantic comedy. Oakbrook Terrace. Now through January 3, 2016.

Capra’s holiday staple gets the 1940’s radio treatment with It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago presented by American Blues Theater at the Greenhouse Theater Center, November 20 – December 27.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s only Sherlock Holmes mystery set around the holidays, Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Goose (Dec. 9 -Jan. 3, 2016), follows Holmes’ investigation into the disappearance of a precious gem owned by a countess and its reappearance in the cooked holiday goose of an ordinary Londoner. If you are a Sherlock fan, this ones for you. The show returns to the Raven Theatre for its 4th year this December. 6157 N. Clark St.

Musical Blockbusters

The Lion King at Cadillac Palace, always an awesome spectacle features the music of Elton John and Tim Rice from “The Lion King” animated film along with three new songs by John and Rice and Julie Taymor’s magnificent costumes. December 2 – January 17, 2016.

Gotta Dance, not strictly a holiday show, but a feel good big time production that show be good entertainment and expected to have all the bells and whistles in its pre-Broadway run at the Bank of America Theatre.  The new musical is based on the documentary about a hip-hop dance team composed of especially agile senior citizens. December 13 through January 10, 2016.

Abby Mueller (Carole) BEAUTIFUL - THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL Photo Credit: Nathan Johnson

Abby Mueller (Carole) BEAUTIFUL – THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL Photo Credit: Nathan Johnson

Beautiful, again not a holiday show, per se, but a highly anticipated and perhaps the hottest and most talked about show of the 2015-2016 season is Beautiful–The Carole King Musical. The show about the early life and career of the legendary and groundbreaking singer/songwriter King has been taking Broadway by storm, originally with Chicago favorite Jessie Mueller in the lead role. In Chicago, Jessie’s younger sister Abby Mueller will play Carole King. Dec. 1-February 21, 2016.

ELF, one of Broadway’s newest holiday comedies based on the hit 2003 film starring Will Ferrell is up and running at the Marriott Theater in Lincolnshire. 10 Marriott Drive. Through December 30.

Only in Chicago

The following shows have a special place in Chicago because they are “Chicago stories.”

The Hypocrites are bringing back The Ruffians’ beautiful telling of Chicago’s tragic 1903 Iroquois Theatre fire in their holiday production of Burning Bluebeard (November 19 through January 10, 2016). The show takes place on the Den Theatre’s Heath Main Stage, 1329 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood.

Some may not realize by the title that Hellcab is “holiday” fare. Not only is it holiday theater, it is also a Chicago story. The Profiles Theatre production tells the story of a cabdriver in for the longest night of his life as he transports a bizarre and mysterious collection of customers through the gritty streets of Chicago on an alternately frightening, hilarious and poignant journey. Now through January 10, 2016.

The Christmas Schooner is another one of those stories that will get under your skin at the Mercury Theater’s annual production of “The Christmas Schooner,” plus it’s a Chicago story which makes it even more endearing. Wednesday Nov 25, – Sunday Dec 27.



The Santaland Diaries, (Nov. 20-Nov. 30) is sure to deliver an evening of laughs in its 12th year of holiday hilarity. The Wit Theatre production is based on a David Sedaris’s  tale about one of Santa’s elves at Macy’s.

Twist Your Dickens (Dec. 4-Dec. 27) Second City’s irreverent and interactive seasonal satire–a fun fueled parody of Dickens will fill the Goodman’s Owen Theatre with laughs for a second holiday season.

A Q Brothers Christmas Carol, a hip-hop holiday treat set to a bangin’ beat returns to Chicago Shakespeare Theater. November 28 – January 3, 2016.

secondcityholidazedThe Second City’s Holidazed and Confused offers a laugh break from what can sometimes be a stress-filled time at UP Comedy Club. Thursdays at 8pm; Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and 11pm; Sundays at 7pm (November 15- December 31).

Kid Stuff

A Snowy Day with Beatrix Potter & Friends comes to Chicago Children’s Theatre.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical comes to the Rosemont Theatre (5400 North River Rd., Rosemont) for four performances December 18 and 19.

Seussical, a celebration of friendship, compassion, bravery, and the power of imagination featuring elements from Dr. Seuss classics comes to The Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences November 11 and runs through December 30. 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire.


Everybody’s favorite holiday bitch is back and she’s meaner then ever in the return of CHRISTMAS DEAREST, Hell in a Handbag Productions’ of the Joan Crawford-infused parody of A Christmas Carol will play November 28 through January 2, 2016 at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark St.


A KOKANDY CHRISTMAS premieres at Theater Wit, featuring new musical arrangements of favorites old and new performed by five of Chicago’s brightest musical theater talents. Runs December 3 – 23.

For more fall/winter theater, click here.

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