Christmas takes center stage

December 9, 2015
Christmas takes center stage

Holiday musical and theatrical productions

Annie Zaleski

It's no wonder that the month of December is Playhouse Square's busiest time of year: It's expected that over 110,000 people will flock to the downtown theater district to see one of the organization's nearly 120 scheduled performances. This slate of festive programming is diverse-everything from concerts and musicals to plays and a Croatian chorus and orchestra-but is 100% guaranteed to put guests in the holiday spirit.

"The holidays belong to the community, and we're the place for the community to gather and celebrate," says Gina Vernaci, Executive Producer of Playhouse Square.

To that end, visitors can expect a few perennial seasonal faves. Cleveland Play House is producing A Christmas Story at the Allen Theatre-pink bunny pajamas optional, but not discouraged-featuring 9-year-old Carter Sindelar making his CPH debut as the bespectacled Ralphie (November 27-December 23). At the adjacent Ohio Theatre, the Great Lakes Theater is producing the classic tale A Christmas Carol (November 28-December 23), in which a curmudgeonly Scrooge changes his ways thanks to some time-traveling holiday ghosts.

On the non-family-friendly tip is The Santaland Diaries, which Cleveland Public Theatre will produce in the Outcalt Theatre (November 27-December 20). Penned by humorist David Sedaris, the play is billed as "for mature elves only," perhaps because its protagonist-an unemployed actor who plays a Macy's Christmas Elf-isn't exactly a cuddly North Pole helper.

"When those shows that you're familiar with return, that is a hallmark of what the holidays are about." Vernaci says. "It's like your friends have come back again for the holidays."

Playhouse Square isn't the only place in town getting into the holiday musical spirit, however. For those looking to let loose, Cleveland Public Theatre's Gordon Square Theatre hosts a ribald song-and-libations-fueled take on A Christmas Carol called The Loush Sisters Love Dick'ns: Great Expectations (November 27-December 19). Cleveland Opera Theater, meanwhile, is presenting Gian Carlo Menotti's Amahl & The Night Visitors at Little Italy's Holy Rosary Church (December 19)-a performance that's free with a donation to the local charitable organization City Mission.

On a slightly different tip, the Cleveland Ballet and Cleveland Ballet Youth Company are co-hosting an early afternoon Nutcracker Tea at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel on Saturday, December 6. While attendees sip tea and nosh on snacks, they'll also enjoy scenes from the whimsical, delightful ballet. On December 14 and 15, the Moscow Ballet will be performing a more elaborate production of the ballet, dubbed the Great Russian Nutcracker, at the majestic Music Hall.

And for anyone looking to prolong the holiday season into 2016, Playhouse Square again has you covered. The fish-out-of-water-er, elf-out-of-North Pole-coming-of-age musical Elf is playing at Connor Palace (December 29-January 3). Many of the season's performances sell out, so be sure to snag your preferred seats in advance-perhaps while visiting the Festival Of Trees in the lobby of the Allen Theatre (November 27-December 24) or while strolling around the entertainment and shopping mecca Winterfest, taking place in the heart of Playhouse Square on November 28.

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