Happy Holidays from Playbill! As another year winds to an end, we have been revisiting some of the holiday movies put out by tv movie giant Hallmark, many of which feature Broadway talent. Established in 2001, the channel produces family friendly romance films year round. Their output gets into high gear come December, with 31 new holiday films released every single year.
Hallmark employs a wide range of Broadway performers throughout the year, and particularly favors our favorite stars for their holiday films, when their singing and dancing skills can be shown off. Filmed in quick, two-week bursts, Broadway stars can easily complete a film between theatre contracts, making the network the perfect tv home for stars like Nathan Lane, Bernadette Peters, and Anika Noni Rose (who has done multiple period dramas for the network, including one about 1963 Birmingham Alabama). For the holidays, Hallmark has hired stage favorites Kristin Chenoweth, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Jeremy Jordan (who plays a Jewish deli owner and a hunky contractor in two separate films), and more.
Grab a cup of hot chocolate, curl up with someone you love, and turn on the TV as we rank 15 Hallmark Holiday movies from the most to the least theatrical, with plenty of Broadway faces along the way!
1. A Holiday Spectacular
In 1958, heiress Maggie (Ginna Claire Mason) finds herself caught between two worlds, as she sneaks away from her high society wedding to pursue her dream of becoming a Radio City Rockette. Supported by Derek Klena and the legendary Ann-Margret, the reason for the season comes into focus as Maggie finds her own happily ever after. Featuring the real Radio City Rockettes, this is definitely the most theatre-y Hallmark Holiday offering.
2. The Christmas Pageant
Vera Parks (Melissa Gilbert) is a demanding Broadway director who gets fired from yet another high profile job. Disgraced, she is forced to take a holiday gig directing a Christmas pageant for a small upstate New York town. Will love stay in the wings, or will time away from the big city change Vera's ways?
3. Christmas Encore
When aspiring actress Charlotte (Maggie Lawson) lands a career-saving role in A Christmas Carol, everything finally seems to be looking up. That is, until the historic theatre loses its lease, and the show is forced to close. Can Charlotte find a Christmas miracle to save the show, and her career? Or are her dreams the ghosts of Christmases past?
4. 'Tis The Season For Love
Out-of-work actress Beth (Sarah Lancaster) finds herself alone in New York City on Christmas, so she is forced to return to the hometown she fled 10 years prior. As she lets go of her dreams, and lets a hometown boy into her heart, a call comes that could make the last decade of struggle worth the wait—but only if she lets go of Christmas one final time.
5. A Christmas Love Story
Kristin Chenoweth plays a youth choir director, who falls in love with the widowed father of her star tenor. Unfortunately, the new romance leads her lose track of the annual Christmas Eve show, and the new song she was supposed to write for the celebration. Come for the love story, stay for the original song performed (and cowritten) by Chenoweth.
6. Hannukah on Rye
When Brooklyn deli owner Jacob (Jeremy Jordan) is set up by a matchmaker with his rival (and intimidating neighbor) Molly, the traditional matchmaker forbides the pair from communicating via text, email, or phone calls. Instead they have to communicate via letters. Based on the oft adapted play Parfumerie, the Hannukah film calls upon its fellow adaptees You've Got Mail, The Shop Around The Corner, She Loves Me, and In The Good Old Summertime for a good old fashioned enemies-to-lovers romance.
7. Christmas Song
True to its wholesome image, the Hallmark Channel loves to make its lead characters teachers. In Christmas Song, when two competitive high schools merge into one, choir directors (Gabe Hogan and Natasha Henstridge) must learn to overcome their rivalry in a televised Christmas music competition. There's only one catch: the choir director with the best performance gets to keep their job in the new year. No pressure, right?
8. Christmas In My Heart
In the second film on this list featuring country songs, country music star Sean (Luke Macfarlane) falls in love with concert violinist Beth (Heather Hemmens). Sparks fly, at the risk of burning out of control. Can church choir leader Ruthie (Sheryl Lee Ralph) help to focus the flame, or are these two musicians from two different backgrounds destined to fizzle out?
9. Holly and Ivy
Nina (Marisol Nichols) is terminally ill, and her friend Melody (Janel Parrish) steps up to the plate and promises to take care of Nina's two children. There's only one small catch: she can't adopt the pair without renovating her fixer upper home with the help of the hunky new contractor, Adam (Jeremy Jordan, again). Perhaps a happy family can be found in time for the holidays after all!
10. Love on Iceland
When Chloe (Kaitlin Doubleday) pulls together a reunion of her college travel group in search of New Years inspiration, the last thing she expects to see is her ex-boyfriend Charlie (Colin Donnell), who shows up uninvited. Her best friend Isabella (Patti Murin) does her best to keep the peace as the pair reopen old wounds under the northern lights one last time.
11. Christmas in Conway
Suzy (Mary-Louise Parker) comes home to hospice care just in time for the holidays. Her husband Duncan (Andy Garcia) is determined to bring her a large memento of their epic romance for Christmas: a ride on a Ferris wheel in their backyard to replicate his proposal so many years before. There's just one problem: Where does one find a 45 foot tall Ferris wheel, and how do you sneak it into your backyard without alerting the nosy neighbor?
12. A Christmas For The Books
Lifestyle guru Joanna (Chelsea Kane) is forced to work during the holidays when she is called upon to host a prestigious holiday gala while juggling a love triangle between Ted (Drew Seeley) and Del (Chad Connell). Can she make it through the event of a lifetime with her heart intact?
13. A Christmas Treasure
When writer Lou (Jordin Sparks) meets chef Kyle (Michael Xavier) shortly before moving to New York, the timing couldn't be more troublesome. Mix in a 100-year-old time capsule and a few meddling friends, and you have a bonafide holiday headache as Lou tries to balance her hopes and her home.
14. A Heavenly Christmas
Workaholic Eve (Kristin Davis) passes away unexpectedly, with the spirit of Christmas far from her heart. In the afterlife, she is recruited by angel Pearl (Shirley MacLaine) to support the down-on-his-luck Max (Eric McCormack) through the holiday season. The big question: How do you navigate cross dimensional love?
15. The Music Teacher
After devastating budget cuts, music teacher Alyson (Annie Potts) struggles to come to terms with the loss of the music program that got her through the tragic deaths of her husband and son. When her first class gets wind of the end of the program, they descend upon the town en masse to remind her why music can be the best medicine of all.