The holidays are a time of tradition. But, after decking the halls with heirloom decorations, baking the cookies from old family recipes, and generally paying homage to all of the Christmases past, you can get a little sick of tradition. Thankfully, the county has you covered. You can celebrate favorite aspects of the holiday season in the well-loved, tried-and-true fashion—or opt for something completely new. Here, our suggestions.
â– Tried-and-True: A Christmas Carol
This past summer, they took on Hamlet, and, now, the members of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival are throwing their theatrical heft into another classic. The cast will do a staged reading of excerpts from A Christmas Carol at the Katonah Museum of Art on December 18. Afterwards, you can make like the Ghost of Christmas Present and enjoy a holiday feast and merry libations (914-232-9555; katonahmuseum.org).
â– Something New: Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge
We all know what happens to Ebenezer Scrooge, but what about Gladys Crachit, Bob Cratchit’s hard-drinking, harried wife? This musical parody, written by acclaimed playwright Christopher Durang, borrows elements from It’s a Wonderful Life, Oliver Twist, The Old Curiosity Shop, The Gift of the Magi, and other bits of pop culture and current events. It’ll be at the Westchester Sandbox Theatre from December 17 to December 30 (914-630-0804; westchestersandboxtheatre.com).
Photo by Sherryl Hauck
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Connecticut Ballet’s Dona Wiley and Ailey II’s Slim Mello perform at the Ridgefield Playhouse
â– Tried-and-True: The Nutcracker
If it’s sugarplum fairies you want, there are plenty of opportunities to spot them. The Nutcracker will be at the Performing Arts Center December 8 to 11 (with all-new choreography); at the Westchester County Center December 17 and 18 (performed by the Westchester Ballet Company); at the Yorktown Stage December 17 and 18 (presented by the Dance Theatre of Westchester); at The Ridgefield Playhouse December 17 and 18 (with pre-show caroling by opera and Broadway stars); and at the Stamford Center for the Arts December 17 to December 23 (performed by the Connecticut Ballet).
â– Something New: NYC: A Winter Teenage Dream
Who says holiday dance performances have to be ballet? Dancers from Sleepy Hollow Performing Artsists put together a holiday show that ditches Tchaikovsky in favor of some of the most popular songs of today, with dance moves to match. Think Glee or High School Musical set on Manhattan’s Upper East during the holidays. Performances take place December 16 to December 18 at the Irvington Town Hall Theater (914-591-6602; irvingtontheater.com).
Kevin Meany recalls Christmases past
â– Tried-and-True: The Kevin Meany Christmas Show
When it comes to the holidays, comedian Kevin Meany comes to town as reliably as Santa Claus. He brings with him humorous reminiscences of holidays he spent with his family—and, since they’re so darned funny, we don’t mind hearing them year after year. As always, he’ll be performing at the Tarrytown Music Hall, this time on December 3 (914-631-3390; tarrytownmusic hall.org).
â– Something New: A Season of Miracles
Okay, so maybe you’ve heard Kevin Meany’s holiday yarns before. But did you hear the one about the Kwanzaa Kite? The Pushcart Players present holiday tales celebrating different holidays, including Christmas (“The Gift of the Magi,” “The Nutcracker”); Kwanzaa (“The Kwanzaa Kite”); and Hannukah (“A Hannukah Miracle”, a Chelm story). It all takes place at the Westport Playhouse on December 4 and 11 (203-227-4177; westportplayhouse.org).
â– Tried-and-True: A Festival of Lessons and Carols for Christmas
It doesn’t get any more tried-and-true than Handel’s Messiah, and—hallelujah!—the Downtown Sinfonietta will join the choirs and soloists of Grace Church to perform excerpts from it, along with the music of Vaughan Williams, on December 18. Then you can join the chorus and sing your favorite holiday tunes. For more information, contact Downtown Music at Grace (914-949-0384; dtmusic.org).
Chris Isaak does a good, good thing in Tarrytown
â– Something New: The Chris Isaak Christmas Show
When you think of Chris Isaak, you probably think of “Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing” or “Wicked Games” (and its steamy, steamy music video). That’s not exactly the picture of holiday cheer. But, rest assured, when Isaak comes to the county on December 15, he won’t just perform songs from his new album, Behind the Sun. He’ll take on some holiday favorites—we’re hoping for a smoldering rendition of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” He’ll be performing at the Tarrytown Music Hall (914-631-3390; tarrytownmusichall.org).
…And a Little of Both
The musical Home for the Holidays, currently at the Westchester Broadway Theatre, features some of your favorite holiday songs, like “White Christmas,” “The Christmas Song,” and “We Need a Little Christmas”—but there will be some brand-new holiday tunes to sample, too. They’re all wrapped in a story about a family—with a daughter in college and a son in the military—hoping to be together for Christmas. Performances run through December 23 (914-592-2222; broadwaytheatre.com).