When December hits, the county becomes an Advent calendar of seasonal cultural events: Every day, there’s a new holiday celebration (or, most likely, several different celebrations). Here, our best advice for making the most of
HHV Jonathan Kruk with Wreath by Andrea Sadler
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Get into the Spirit of Christmases Past
A Christmas Carol âžŠ
Through December 16, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (various locations)
Through December 22, Old Dutch Church, Sleepy Hollow
Whether played by Reginald Owen, Alastair Sim, Bill Murray, Mr. Magoo, or Scrooge McDuck, Ebenezer Scrooge is the best reminder of why we should push aside all the hassles of the holidays. If you’ve been in a “humbug” mood, get in touch with the spirit of Dickens with a live performance of A Christmas Carol. Master storyteller Jonathan Kruk relates the tale at the Old Dutch Church, while members of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival travel to perform it at the Katonah Museum of Art, the Hudson River Museum, Boscobel House and Gardens, and West Point.
See the Nutcracker Cracked Open
December 1, Emelin Theatre, Mamaroneck
You know the Tchaikovsky score. You’ve seen the Sugar Plum Fairy’s pas de deux with Prince Coqueluche. It’s time to shake things up a little. The Bang Group’s Nut/Cracked combines the traditional story of The Nutcracker with tap-dancing, singing, and music by Duke Ellington and Glen Miller.
Demand More Duke
Hol’ De Light: An American Holiday Celebration
December 2, Copland House at Merestead, Mount Kisco
If Nut/Cracked didn’t have enough Duke Ellington for you, there’s plenty more where that came from. Copland House at Merestead hosts its first-ever holiday program, but with that Copland House twist, focusing on African American spirituals, hymns, and art songs by Ellington, Scott Joplin, Henry T. Burleigh, and William Grant. Baritone James Martin supplies the vocals.
Belt It Out
John Treacy Egan’s Big Broadway Christmas
December 14, Emelin Theatre, Mamaroneck
Clay Aiken’s Joyful Noise âžŒ
December 6, Stamford Center for the Arts, Stamford, CT
When you’re in the mood for holiday music, you want a big, booming, jolly voice delivering it to you. This year, you have options. Mamaroneck’s John Treacy Egan, seen most recently in Sister Act on Broadway, grabs some of his friends from the Great White Way for a holiday-themed hometown performance. If you’re looking for something a little poppier, Clay Aiken, American Idol’s most famous runner-up, performs holiday songs at the Stamford Center for the Arts while backed by a 20-piece orchestra.
Tone It Down
Matisyahu’s Festival of Light
December 16, The Capitol Theatre, Port Chester
If 20-piece orchestras and Broadway-style numbers are just too much for you, opt for something more low-key. As part of his annual Hanukkah celebration, White Plains native Matisyahu brings his “Festival of Light” tour to Port Chester. There, the reggae-rapper will give a stripped-down acoustic performance—guaranteed to be more intimate than the full-band version he’ll do at the cavernous Terminal 5 in New York City earlier in the week.
Occupy the Kids
Laurie Berkner Band Holiday Celebration Concert âž
December 1, Tarrytown Music Hall, Tarrytown
Laurie Berkner is considered a godsend by parents for being one of a handful of children’s musicians who writes songs that all members of the family can enjoy in equal measure. If your kids are climbing the walls waiting for Santa to arrive and think they’ll burst before December 25, have them let off some steam seeing Berkner in concert, where she will perform songs from A Laurie Berkner Christmas.
John Waters by Richard Louderback
A John Waters Christmas âžŽ
December 3, Tarrytown Music Hall, Tarrytown
Nobody straddles the naughty/nice divide quite as masterfully as John Waters. When the filmmaker heads to the Tarrytown Music Hall, he’ll deliver a few holiday memories, discuss his career, and then open things up to a Q&A. Just don’t ask him if you’re going to get coal in your stocking this year—that’s entirely up to you.
Find more seasonal events—including Paul Anka’s holiday performance, a couple of Celtic Christmases, traditional versions of The Nutcracker, classic Israeli holiday music, and a Solstice sacred circle dance—in “What, Where, and When,” starting on page 148.