Don your gay apparel and get ready to “ho, ho, ho.” The holiday season is fast upon us – and with it comes a wealth of theatrical fare designed to make your yuletide gayer than ever. Local theatrical companies are doing their best to put you in the holiday spirit and, God bless them everyone, the entertainment is as rich as the holiday meals that you’ll vow to work off in January.
Here’s a sample of what lies under your entertainment tree over the next month.
Nothing says the holidays quite like the mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer and an army of mice facing an animated wooden soldier who cracks nuts for a living. “The Nutcracker Ballet” is Tchaikovsky’s ode to holiday magic – performed en pointe. No matter where you live, there’s a production coming to your area.
* The Central Wisconsin School of Ballet offers its version of “The Nutcracker” for three performances Dec. 3–4 at the Grand Theater on Arts Block in Wausau (www.cwschoolofballet.com/nutcracker).
* The Markoff Youth Ballet presents its version Dec. 8–9 at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton (www.foxcitiespac.org).
* The Milwaukee Ballet mounts “Michael Pink’s The Nutcracker” Dec. 8–26 at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts (www.milwaukeeballet.org).
* The Madison Ballet offers its performance Dec. 15–24 at Overture Center for the Arts (www.madisonballet.org).
* Mainstage Academy of Dance is putting on three performances Dec. 14–16 at the Oconomowoc Arts Center (www.wedancemainstage.com).
* The Dance Factory presents its take on the Tchaikovsky classic for two performances at the UW-Whitewater’s Young Auditorium (www.uww.edu/youngauditorium/season).
* The Jean Wolfmeyer Dance Company presents “The Nutcracker” for three performances Dec. 21–23 at the Capitol Civic Center in Manitowoc (www.cccshows.org).
* Madison’s Dance Wisconsin offers a different take on the classic ballet with the “Nutcracker Fantasy” Dec. 7–9 at the Mitby Theater on the Madison College (formerly MATC) campus.
* And finally, the Paine Art Center in Oshkosh is offering “Nutcracker in the Castle,” a performance interpretation of different scenes from the ballet in the art center’s various rooms now through Jan. 7 (www.thepaine.org).
If any holiday production is as ubiquitous as “The Nutcracker,” it’s “A Christmas Carol.” Charles Dickens’ treacly tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim and a panoply of holiday spirits can bring a tear to the eye, joy to the heart, or “Bah! Humbug” to the lips, depending on your viewpoint. Here are some options for those who want to indulge.
* The grandfather of all productions is the Milwaukee Rep’s month-long Scrooge-a-thon at the Pabst Theater, which opens Nov. 29 and runs through Dec. 24 (www.milwaukeerep.com/season/carol).
* The Patio Players will once again offer a musical version of the show Dec. 1-2 at the Menomonee Falls Middle School Auditorium (www.fallspatioplayers.com).
* The West Bend Masonic Lodge presents its production Dec. 6–16 (www.westbendchristmascarol.com).
* Children’s Theater of Madison mounts its version Dec. 14–23 at Overture Center for the Arts (www.overturecenter.com/production/a-christmas-carol).
* The Wausau Community Theatre serves up Dickens Dec. 14–16 at its theater in Schofield (www.wausaucommunitytheatre.org).
* Old World Wisconsin offers a themed dinner coupled with author Mark Brown’s “The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge” Nov. 30–Dec. 16 on its historic grounds in Eagle (www.oldworldwisconin.wisconhistory.org).
* The Fireside Theater in Fort Atkinson is performing “Scrooge The Musical” through Dec. 23 (www.firesidetheatre.com).
* And finally, Lewis Station Winery in Lake Mills offers the “Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ by David McGillivay and Walter Zerlin Jr.” The production promises laughs, songs, audience participation and perhaps a visit from attorneys representing the Charles Dickens Estate. The show runs at various times Dec. 8–15. We’re not sure about this one, but at least there will be wine (www.wiswine.com/christmas-carol).
Had enough of the old-fashioned holiday fare? Too many dancing mice and sonorous spirits? Here are some other options to consider.
* Milwaukee’s In Tandem Theatre Co. once again is offering “A Cudahy Carolers Christmas” Nov. 30–Jan. 5. Join Stasch and the gang as they warble their way through “O, Bowling Night,” “We Three Guys from Cudahy Are” and other, ahem, seasonal favorites at the Tenth Street Theater (www.intandemtheatre.org).
* Milwaukee’s Marcus Center for the Performing Arts presents Second City’s Dysfunctional Holiday Revue Dec. 6–16. It’s the perfect antidote for eggnog overload (www.marcuscenter.com).
* Milwaukee’s Turner Hall Ballroom hosts a variety of unusual holiday performances. El Vez, considered the gay “Mexican Elvis,” will present “MEX-mas” on Dec. 10, a show of holiday cheer and eye-popping showmanship done to a Latin beat.
* On Dec. 13 rocker Sufjohn Stevens performs “The Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-A-Long Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant On Ice.” Fortunately or unfortunately, that show is already sold out.
featuring American Idol finalists Kimberley Locke, Adam Brock and Naima Adedapo to The Pabst (http://www.pabsttheater.org).
* The Fox Cities Performing Arts Center hosts a musical version of “Miracle on 34th Street,” with a script and score by Meredith (“The Music Man”) Wilson Dec. 11 (www.foxcitiespac.org).
* Out Milwaukee actor John McGivern reprises his role as Earline Hoople in “A Kodachrome Christmas” at Next Act Theatre. The show runs Dec. 12–31 (www.johnmcgivern.com). Next Act also presents “It’s a Wonderful Life Live Radio Show,” a staged “radio performance” of the Frank Capra holiday tearjerker now through Dec. 9 (www.netxact.org).
* American Players Theatre brings back “The Gift of the Magi,” O. Henry’s charming holiday tale of a young couple in early 20th century America who had nothing but gave each other everything for Christmas. James DeVita’s musical adaptation runs through Dec. 22 on APT’s Spring Green campus (www.americanplayers.org).
* Ever want to be one of Santa’s helpers? David Sedaris’ wickedly funny “The Santaland Diaries,” about the author’s experiences as an elf at Macy’s, graces the Alley Stage in Mineral Point for four performances Nov. 28–29 and Dec. 1. The performances coincide with the town’s annual candlelight shopping event (www.shakeragalley.com/alley-stage).
* Madison’s Stage Q once again welcomes the ladies of the North American Lady Organists Guild to the Bartell Theatre for “The Holiday Stops,” a sassy drag production that celebrates the season, or something like it (www.stageq.com).
* Modern dance and classical music mix in acclaimed dancer Li Chiao-Ping’s “The Knotcracker,” a liberal spin on the old tale that features a variety of composers’ music, Russian hats, swim fins and some amazing moves by UW-Madison’s dance professors’ troupe. The show runs for four performances Nov. 30–Dec. 2 at The Playhouse in Madison’s Overture Center for the Arts (www.overturecenter.com).
* “Who Killed Santa?,” the hit Milwaukee holiday puppet musical, returns to Carte Blanche Studios Dec. 14–30. Call 702-539-8987.
Had enough? Never fear, 2013 is just around the corner.