'Tis the season to be jolly. As glad tidings and good will toward men reverberate through this December month, theatre turns once again to classic favorites that feature miracles, magic and a sugar-plum fairy.
The Nutcracker After performing The Nutcracker annually since 1949, the San Francisco Ballet deviates from tradition and presents two versions of the fable this year. Forced from their usual performance space while the War Memorial Opera House undergoes renovation, the ballet splits its Nutracker run between the full-length ballet (shown above right) at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium (Dec. 12-Dec. 24) and an interactive version at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco (Nov. 29-Dec. 8).
The Company, who were the first to premiere The Nutcracker in the U.S. in 1944, created the interactive piece, Nutcracker Family Holiday Festival, in order to perform a San Francisco version of The Nutcracker despite a smaller venue. The first act transforms the theatre's lobby, decorated with a 20-foot Christmas tree, into a holiday party. Refreshments are served as children draw on a giant wall-sized coloring book, and a dancing doll and bear perform excerpts from the ballet. The second act moves into the theatre as the Company performs the remainder of the ballet. Call the Palace of Fine Arts 415-865-2000; Pasadena 213-480-3232.
After performing The Nutcracker 1,515 times since 1954, the New York City Ballet's version returns from Nov. 29-Jan. 5. Their annual show features a one-ton Christmas tree that grows from 12 feet to 40 feet and a grand finale that uses a quarter of a million watts of lighting the most used in any NYCB production. For information, call 212-870-5570.
A Christmas Carol New Jersey's McCarter Theatre celebrates the holiday season with a presentation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol from Dec. 12-Dec. 29. Stephen Temperley of Broadway's Crazy for You plays Scrooge; call 609-683-8000.
Over the past 22 years The Guthrie Theater's (Minneapolis, MN) Christmas Carol (pictured bottom left) has seen nine directors, ten different Scrooges and over 500 actors in various roles and this year will see new sets and costumes in a brand-new adaptation of the classic story. Call 609-377-2224 (within MN) or 1-800-848-4912.
It's A Wonderful Life Open throughout the winter for the first time in its 46-year history, New York's Gateway Playhouse performs another holiday favorite, It's A Wonderful Life. The production, which adheres closely to Frank Capra's film runs from Dec. 13-31. Call 516-286-1133.
Holiday Traveling Delta Dream Vacations offer packages to New York City and San Francisco starting at $489 and $219 for three day and two night stays. Call 1-800-221-6666 for more information.
-- By Sandra Mardenfeld