Now a beloved Chicago tradition, The Goodman Theatre ushers in the holiday season with its adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic holiday story A Christmas Carol. Audiences look forward to the "bah humbugs," the electrifying arrival of the ghosts, the jubilant musical numbers and dancing, and Scrooge's joyful rediscovery of life, love and the Christmas spirit. Goodman's Carol continues to lift heats and spirits after four decades more than a million visitors, and the timeless holiday tale promises to be merrier and more magical than ever. The Daily Herald says the play is "the crown jewel of the holiday season" -- find out for yourself or relive the magic again.
A List of Holiday Plays This 2021 Season
With the holidays near, here is a list of a few shows that may get you in the holiday spirit.
Check back soon as we continue to add more shows as the holidays get closer.
Most Popular Holiday Shows
'Twas the Night Before... is an exhilarating spin on the beloved Christmas classic as only Cirque du Soleil could imagine. This festive show about the wonders of sharing and friendship promises to spark lasting memories in the hearts of families this holiday season. Join Isabella, a curious girl who's become jaded by the hoopla surrounding Christmas, as she is whisked away to an upside-down, inside-out world where she meets characters inspired by the original timeless poem.
George Bailey, the Everyman from small town Bedford Falls whose dreams of escape and adventure were stopped by family obligation and civic duty, has fallen onto desperate times. Only a miracle can save him from despair. Filled with original music and classic holiday carols, this critically acclaimed, warm "holiday favorite makes the bell ring every time." (Chicago Tribune) For 20 years, American Blues has treated audiences to a live retelling of the Frank Capra classic in a 1940s radio broadcast tradition, making It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! the second longest-running holiday play in Chicago!
Christopher Wheeldon's reimagined classic returns for the holidays. Follow young Marie and the Nutcracker Prince on a Christmas Eve journey through the 1893 World's Fair, a dazzling spectacle of sights, sounds, and enchantment. This annual holiday tradition celebrates the magic of the season and the rich cultural heritage of Chicago.
Other Holiday Shows
Emmy nominee Angela Ingersoll captures the festive sounds of a dozen divas. Ingersoll is known for her outstanding Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow (Los Angeles, Chicago) and Get Happy Angela Ingersoll Sings Judy Garland on PBS. "The actress with the astonishing voice" (Chicago Sun-Times) joyfully shares her holiday bag of tricks with a haunting Judy Garland, a rockin' Brenda Lee, a purr-fect Eartha Kitt, a proper Julie Andrews, a soulful Edith Piaf, a sultry Marilyn Monroe, and plenty of surprises! Holiday favorites include "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Santa Baby," and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree."
Set in 1920's America, A&A BALLET's The Art Deco Nutcracker, featuring Tchaikovsky's beloved score, is a fresh, yet traditional take on the beloved holiday favorite with a sumptuous costume and set design inspired by the unique sophistication of the Art Deco era. The Art Deco Nutcracker is Alexei Kremnev's eighth full-length ballet. His work has been presented at the world-renowned Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Lincoln Center in New York, and the Opernhaus Zurich in Switzerland, among other prestigious venues across the globe. The Huffington Post describes his choreography as "encompassing the best and brilliance of what movement can be while breaking boundaries of what we know."
Now a popular annual tradition, The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party is the perfect way to kick off your family's holiday festivities. Three adorable Beatrix Potter favorite tales are unspooled in this mesmerizing, interactive trunk and puppet show, complete with live music. Then, audience members are invited on stage to pull the levers and turn the same cranks that produced such whimsical images of surprise and delight. After photos with the cast, families are whisked to a Victorian-style dining hall, which is adorned with beautiful holiday decor and open tables set with cookies and warm cocoa.
In Mark Adamo's acclaimed holiday opera, Becoming Santa Claus, a bratty elf Prince learns the meaning of family, love, and the true spirit of gift-giving. The 90-minute work performed without intermission is sung in English, with English supertitles.
The feel-good cabaret hit was an online only last year. This year will be live and in-person at Black Ensemble Theater, performed for a limited audience. Some of the favorite numbers are holidays classics, including "O Holy Night" and "Go Tell it on the Mountain." Each production on the Concert Cabaret Series will feature a potpourri of musical styles including jazz, gospel, pop, rock, soul, and blues. Each will feature a variety of music, including old school, new school and in-between. Black Ensemble Theater's Concert Cabaret Series guarantees to lift your spirits and soothe your soul.
Brush up on your Yuletide trivia, watch as audience members play for actual prizes in this uniquely interactive show. Laugh as the show tackles the wackiest myths and most outrageous facts about Christmas, including jolly old St. Nick's origins and where candy canes come from. There’s also a hilarious quiz pitting boys against girls on stage to see who knows the most about the holiday season! Watch and laugh from the comfort of your own home!
This retelling of the Charles Dickens classic is filled with warmth, humor, music and holiday cheer. Wealthy miser Ebenezer Scrooge greets every Christmas with a "Bah, Humbug". That all changes when he is visited by three holiday spirits who reveal to him his misguided past, reclusive present and tragic future, helping him to realize the errors of his ways and to embrace the kindness and generosity in his heart.
Joan Crawford (David Cerda*) returns in Handbag's very own version of A Christmas Carol. It's 1953 and Joan is desperate to reignite her career with the new film, Oh, Mary!, a big splashy musical adaption of the life of the Virgin Mary. Everything has to be perfect, but the stress of surviving in Hollywood has turned Joan into a tyrant! Even Carol Ann (Ed Jones*), Joan's faithful personal assistant is at her wits' end. What Joan needs is a miracle, and that's exactly what she gets when she's visited by three ghosts who try to show Joan the error of her ways and the true meaning of the holidays.
Karol, a jaded cafe owner and former social worker must face the night she dreads the most: the Annual Christmas Carol concert at her cafe. As she prepares, she talks to the audience and welcomes carolers from around the city. By the end of the night the audience gets to know her real issue.
The Christmas Schooner is a show that has a loyal Chicago-area following. Our story is rooted in the famed history of the Christmas tree ships that would traverse the treacherous waters of Lake Michigan to bring Christmas trees to the immigrant families in Chicago.
Dean Z, star of the hit internationally touring production Elvis Lives is bringing his high-energy Elvis tribute show to the Rosemont Theatre. This marks the first time his incredible show packs up from its home in Branson to come to the Chicagoland area. Dean Z - The Ultimate Elvis is a musical journey spanning the 20-year career of the "King of Rock 'n' Roll," from his rise to fame in the 1950s, to his infamous Las Vegas performances of the 1970s. Dean Z - The Ultimate Elvis Christmas Show will also feature some of your favorite Christmas songs! Dean is backed by a powerful live band, horn section and immersive video content for a truly unforgettable concert experience.
Deck the Hallmark: A Greeting Card Channel Original returns to UP Comedy Club after the play's smash run in 2019. Directed by Carisa Barreca, this festive two-act holiday movie parody scorches the cliches, tropes, and so-bad-they're-good romances that keep viewers hooked and former child stars employed. The show features actors Tina Arafee, Mitchell J. Fain, Sarah Lo, Karla Serrato, TJ Thomas, and Morgan Van Dyne with musical direction by Lisa McQueen and stage manager Shannon Golden-Starr. New material for 2021 was written by Barreca, Edgar Blackmon and Marla Caceres.
This toe-tapping tale tells the story of one particularly impressive Scout Elf who must help his new, human family remember the importance of Christmas cheer. Can this tiny elf, along with a host of North Pole pals, make Christmas joyous for his family once again? Featuring an original story and score, dazzling sets and costumes, and heartfelt moments that will bring the family together, this joyous and uplifting celebration will leave audiences captivated by the splendor of the season.
Students grades 4-8 perform in HAPPY HOLIDAYS: Seasonal Favorites, an original cabaret written by Metropolis Voice Faculty Tiffany Gates and Nathan W. Brown. Students will be featured in solos and ensembles along with faculty as they sing and dance on the Metropolis stage to music celebrating the holiday season. This cabaret includes seasonal favorites, including songs like "Happy Holidays", "Let it Snow", "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", "Underneath the Tree", "White Christmas", and more. A great learning experience for students to perform with professionals in the performing arts!
A traveling troupe of actors comes to town to find no one celebrating Hanukkah. They must put on a show to save the holiday! Will they bring back the spirit of Hanukkah to the town? Will Hershel of Ostropol outsmart the goblins who haunt the old synagogue? In this adaptation of the Caldecott Honor-winning book, the story comes to life with music, puppets and a little bit of magic for families of all ages to enjoy.
Based on the classic film, Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn follows retired song-and-dance man Jim's efforts to bring entertainment to his small Connecticut town. With the help of talented schoolteacher Linda, he turns his farmhouse into an inn and puts on spectacular shows celebrating all holidays. This joyous, family-friendly musical features thrilling dance numbers, laugh-out-loud comedy, and a parade of Irving Berlin's hit songs, including the Academy Award-winning "White Christmas."
Oil Lamp Theater reopens its doors with our annual production of It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. This play has become a holiday tradition for many Oil Lamp patrons and their families, and in this year we know those traditions that bring us joy mean more than ever before. Embrace the season with us and watch everyone's favorite classic performed live on our stage. Only seven actors bring the entire town of Bedford Falls to life in a 1946 radio play - complete with sound effects - to tell the story of George Bailey, whose troubles lead him to wish he had never been born. He is visited by the angel Clarence who comes to Earth on Christmas Eve to help George realize how many lives he has touched and just how blessed he has been and how different the world would be had he never been there.
Leslie Odom, Jr. is a multifaceted, award-winning vocalist, songwriter, author, and actor. With a career that spans all performance genres, he has received recognition with Tony and Grammy Awards as well as Emmy and, most recently, two Academy Award nominations for his excellence and achievements in Broadway, television, film, and music. Odom currently stars and performs the songs of legendary singer Sam Cooke in the critically acclaimed Amazon film adaptation of the Olivier Award-nominated play, One Night in Miami, directed by Regina King. His portrayal of the soul icon has been met with widespread praise and critical acclaim, earning him nominations for an Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Critics' Choice Award, Golden Globe Awards, and Screen Actors Guild Awards, among others. King also enlisted Odom to write, compose, and perform the film's original song, "Speak Now," for which he was nominated for an Oscar and has since earned him a Critics' Choice Award for Best Song as well as several other award nominations.
Love Actually? The Unauthorized Musical Parody is a hilarious new musical follows nine quirky, questionable couples looking for love across the pond, and even 16 years after the movie premiere, we still ask ourselves these questions every Christmas - Is love... Falling for your secretary when you are Prime Minster? Falling for your secretary when you are married to Emma Thompson? Falling for the maid after your wife cheats on you? Falling for your best friend's wife and showing up with poster boards? Whether you love Love Actually or love to hate Love Actually or have never seen Love Actually, you will actually love this musical! Get ready for awkward meet cutes, over-the-top grand gestures, and lots and lots of love, actually.
Do you remember the first time you heard the Christmas sounds of Mannheim Steamroller? You can again celebrate the holiday magic of Mannheim Steamroller in 2021 when they bring their annual holiday tour to fans throughout the country. While 2020 was the first year the group was unable to tour in 35 years, 2021 will reunite the No. 1 Christmas music artist in history with its legion of long-time fans. Experience the music that has become the hallmark of the holidays and a tradition for multi-generational families: Mannheim Steamroller Christmas live in concert in 2021!
Manual Cinema, the Chicago-based interdisciplinary performance collective, will take on the most famous holiday tale of all time with Manual Cinema's Christmas Carol, a world premiere, live streaming adaption of Charles Dickens's holiday classic created specifically for the 2020 holiday season.
Award-winner Kettenring's many memorable star turns include Broadway in Chicago's Wicked; The King and I, Funny Girl, and Oliver!. A storyteller sure to stir the heart, Kettenring tenderly chronicles Carpenter's troubles and triumphs with a familiar angelic radiance. Around the Town Chicago calls the show "Glorious... An elegant, tear jerking, sing-along concert event." Songs include "Close To You," "Merry Christmas Darling," "For All We Know," and "The Christmas Song."
Get into the holiday spirit with this classic story of the last-minute replacement Santa for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade who claims to be the real Kris Kringle. Be part of the studio audience for this live musical radio play adapted from the original 1947 Lux Radio Broadcast. This beloved holiday classic melts the most cynical of hearts and is destined to become a highlight of the holiday season!
In a cozy Victorian shop sits the hat of Charles Dickens, who once used it to carry water to the victims of a train wreck (that's true!). When a pair of bumbling thieves plots to steal it (that's imaginary!), young Kit sets out to foil their plan, save the hat, and free her father from debtors' prison. Filled with a host of colorful characters, constables, and carolers, this warm winter's tale with original music brings to life the universal lesson: "Beneath our hats, we are all the same."
Through its inspiring story, beautiful music and charming choreography, The Nutcracker is a celebration of the joyous holiday season. The Nutcracker takes us on an unforgettable journey with young Marie as she travels from her home on Christmas Eve to the Kingdom of Snow and the Land of the Sweets, featuring George Balanchine's Sugar Plum Fairy Pas De Deux. For adults, it is a time to relive cherished memories of childhood. For children who wait with breathless anticipation for the holidays to arrive, it is the opportunity to create new memories. For everyone, it is a time for sharing and giving among family and friends.
Chicago hip hop sensations, the Q Brothers Collective, heat up the holiday season with a wildly entertaining ad-rap-tation of Charles Dickens' classic. The crew mashes up hip hop with contemporary musical styles, ranging from reggae to dancehall music, dubstep, and epic rock ballads-all underscored with beats spun live by a DJ. Brighten your festivities with some cheeky spirit and a whole lot of heart. Fully decked out in the holiday spirit, The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare is strewn with more than two miles of twinkling lights as the ghosts of hip hop Past, Present, and Future lead Scrooge on a journey of rhythm, rhyme, and redemption.
Accompanied by orchestra and a choir, Sarah decks the halls with show-stopping renditions of classics from the Christmas canon, along with personal holiday favorites and her greatest hits. A Christmas Symphony is sure to be an unforgettable Christmas spectacle during the most wonderful time of the year!
WT Productions presents "Seasonal Tags," a new collection of six short plays by Debbi Dennison and Carl Zeitler that takes Christmas and the winter holidays and looks at them from different perspectives. Each play tells a different story, and elements of the first five are connected in the finale. "Seasonal Tags" blends light comedy, dark comedy, and drama to provide a unique spin on this traditional time of year.
We guarantee yule laugh a whole latke as The Second City unwraps the most wonderful time of the year in our nut-cracking-est, jingle-bell-ing-est revue ever! Celebrate over sixty years of sketches, songs, and comedic conviviality as the next generation of comedy superstars perform our greatest holiday hits. Plus, The Second City's famous improvisation means every show is like a snowflake: no two are alike--or are impervious to climate change.
Have a holly jolly holiday season with Chicago's famed improv and sketch comedy theater. The annual end of year tradition continues: Second City is coming to the newly renovated Copley Theatre, where you will never be more than 70 feet away from the side-splitting, song filled holiday spectacular. Whether you are on the nice list or the naughty list, this show will have you laughing so hard you shoot eggnog out your nose. Skip the long lines and shipping delays, and give the gift of laughter to everyone you meet this holiday season.
It's the most wonderfully wacky time of the year! Fa-la-laugh along with The Second City as comedy's best and brightest roast the season in this wintry mix of sketch comedy, improv, and merriment. All of the jollies! All of the follies! None of the holiday blahs.
The House introduces a new wintertime tradition with a reimagination of Hans Christian Anderson's beloved fable. Lanise Antoine Shelley's new adaptation focuses on the Snow Queen, her seasonal relationships with the earth, and the power she is learning to wield. When she shares her magical mirror with cousins Kai and Quin, her world is thrown into chaos, triggering a race against time to undo the ravaging of the earth. In this heartfelt adventure, the Snow Queen must confront mankind's heartache and undo the pain that she herself has woven, in a story infused with The House's hallmarks of magic, puppetry, and music. The Snow Queen is a tale of redemption and hope -- and ultimately -- a celebration of all seasons.
PlayMakers Laboratory is pleased to welcome back live audiences this winter with That's Weird, Grandma: Comes Home for the Holidays, directed by Artistic Director Brandon Cloyd
Midsommer Flight's perennial holiday production of TWELFTH NIGHT will return in December, in a new immersive "choose-your-own-path" concept to be directed by Kristina McCloskey and associate directed by Stephanie Mattos. Audiences will follow performers promenade-style from scene to scene over the entirety of the Conservatory, often having to choose which characters to follow or plot points to see.
In Winter In The Wildwood, audiences will be transported to a Fae-Realm filled with holiday trees, lights, and magic as they meet a magical Faun and uncover the truth behind the fading Wildwood lights, embarking on a quest to restore magic to the forest. Along the way, audiences will enjoy fairytale stories, magicians, puppetry, and one-of-a-kind photo opportunities. Each performance is unique and tailored to the audience, whether families or adults.