‘Tis the Season | Holiday Theater in Chicago

Christmas Carol

For two years running now, I’ve made it my own little holiday tradition to see American Blues Theater’s annual production of It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago. The show is an absolute treat, a word-for-word performance of the film script…except as an old-timey radio play. Each year, the actors are wonderful, the spirit is festive and I shed more than a few tears as George Bailey realizes he’s already the richest man in the world.

When the opportunity came up to see it again this year for Third Coast Review, I snapped it up…along with about a half dozen other holiday season productions around town. Before I knew it, I’d signed up to check out no fewer than seven shows in three short weeks.

After It’s a Wonderful Life, I’ll be heading downtown to catch opening night of the Goodman Theatre’s A Christmas Carol. Another holiday standard, I haven’t seen this one yet, so I’m looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about. And just a few days after seeing classic Dickens, I’ll head out to Navy Pier to see Q Brothers Christmas Carol at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Described as a “holiday treat with a bangin’ beat” (yes, really), the show should prove to be an interesting alternative to the more traditional production, to say the least. 

The next show in this three-week run actually takes me out of the city. I  head towards home for a community production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, presented as a fundraiser for the Gil Morrison Scholarship Fund. I haven’t seen a show at the Sandwich Opera House in ages, so I’m excited to not only support dear friends and a great cause, but revisit a place that meant a lot to me for a time back in the day and still holds many fond memories.

Image courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago

Back in the city, I’ll be brushing off my holiday best to see three rather posh shows in a row. I head to the opera on a Saturday evening to see Cinderella, a production of the classic fairy tale (not the Disney version, I’m sure) in French. I’ve loved going to the opera more and more this year, and I’m excited to sneak in one more show that’s sure to be a lush, gorgeous affair. And then I’ll keep it classy to see the Joffrey Ballet’s Chicago-centric version of The Nutcracker. I’ve actually seen this one before, too; last year, I one the ticket lottery and got a chance to see the show on its last night. This year, I’ll be there when it opens. 

And lastly, I return to Chicago Shakes in mid-December for a personal favorite: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Second only to Much Ado About Nothing in my book, Shakespeare’s whimsical comedy about mistaken identity, forest fairies and true love is always a winner. And given the Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s track record for stellar productions, I have high expectations for another great show from them.

I love going to the theater, and I’m so grateful I have this opportunity to see so many wonderful shows during a busy season in the city. I’m sure these seven festive shows will more than do the trick to put me in the holiday spirit, but even I’ll likely be theatered-out by the time I get through them all. Which is just fine by me, a happy exhaustion just in time to settle in for Christmas and the New Year with the ones I love most.

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