You probably haven’t had your first heap of turkey-gravy-stuffing yet, but the A&E holiday scene already has begun with the Christmas City of the North Parade, Santa parachuting into Bentleyville and Mannheim Steamroller playing a show complete with modernized, light-blasting takes on the classics.
Here are a few more ways to get in a festive mood, starting with pianist Lorie Line’s annual holiday show and ending with a New Year’s Eve party that includes music from an Earth Harp at Amsoil Arena. There also is holiday-themed sketch comedy, two takes on the “The Nutcracker” and a community sing-along of Handel’s “Messiah.”
The site: Manhattan in the early 1900s. Circumstances: A holiday party filled with dance and pranks and young Clara’s new wooden nutcracker doll. See what happens when the partygoers have gone home and the Nutcracker comes alive.
The Minnesota Ballet presents its annual take on “The Nutcracker,” choreographed by Allen Fields and featuring six new company members. “The Nutcracker” is at 7 p.m. Dec. 7-8 and 3 p.m. Dec. 9 at Symphony Hall at the DECC. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster outlets, including ticketmaster.com and the DECC box office, or by calling (218) 529-3742.
Miscellaneous The Depot Winter Arts Festival includes free entry to all its museums, free hot cocoa, a reading of “The Polar Express” and live performances by Tribal Alchemie, Youth Theatre, Dream Dance Academy and more. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Depot, and Santa will visit from noon to 4 p.m. English professor Joseph Maiolo used to give an annual reading of “A Christmas Memory” by Truman Capote. These days, Maiolo reads Maiolo. The writer, who has gotten props from Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Olen Butler, will read his story “Saint Matthew in Appalachia” at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at Weber Music Hall at UMD. The story is the same, but the delivery changes with the University of Minnesota Duluth’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.”
The show is inspired by the classic film and includes a live original score. KUMD-FM 103.3 also will be broadcasting the production.
The show runs at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 and Dec. 5-8 and 2 p.m.
Dec. 2 at UMD’s Mainstage Theatre. Call (218) 726-8561 or go to tickets.umn.edu for tickets.
Music It’s Lorie Line’s busy season. The Minneapolis-based prolific pianist is in the midst of her hardcore “Immanuel,” which has almost-daily stops in dozens of towns in the Midwest.
Lorie Line & Her Fab Five play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mitchell Auditorium at the College of St. Scholastica. For tickets, call (218) 723-7000 “An Appalachian Christmas” is a mix of stories and songs by Rachel Nelson. Expect to hear fiddle, banjo, guitar, dulcimer and washtub bass as Nelson tells holiday tales — including one about a visit to the fictional town of Wonder, N.C.
“An Appalachian Christmas” is at 3 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Two Harbors Community Center. Katie McMahon, a former soprano with “Riverdance,” returns for the 11th year of performing her Celtic Christmas Show. McMahon sings carols from Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Sweden, Holland, Scotland, England and Ireland.
The Celtic Christmas Show is at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at Mitchell Auditorium at the College of St. Scholastica. For tickets, call (218) 723-7000. Sacred Heart Music Center gets a ton of action during the holiday season, with a handful of seasonal concerts scheduled for the space. It starts with Keri Noble, whose latest album is the winter-themed “More Than Santa.” Noble plays at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8. Lyric Opera of the North is bringing back its popular production of “Amahl & the Night Visitor,” which they premiered in 2010 — and which was billed as being “near perfection” by News Tribune reviewer Sam Black.
“Amahl” originally was a made-for-TV opera that aired regularly between the 1950s and into the 1970s. It’s the story of a kid with a bum leg who meets three kings en route toward the most famous manger.
“Amahl & the Night Visitors” is at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14-16 and the Masonic Temple Theatre. Shelley Gruskin, and hopefully his famous brown sweater, returns for the annual community sing-along of Handel’s “Messiah.” The Center for Early Music Orchestra provides accompaniment. Regulars say this sing-along makes the holiday season complete. It’s at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 18 at Mitchell Auditorium. SimpleGifts, featuring Billy McLaughlin, is a mix of original compositions and traditional tunes. Don’t be surprised to hear an Irish whistle. SimpleGifts perform at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19. The Rose Ensemble return for a new Christmas production including the sounds of Chile, Bolivia, Mexico and more. The concert is at 7 p.m. Dec. 20. The finale is “A Scandinavian Christmas” featuring Andrea Hoag, Loretta Kelley and Charlie Pilzer playing traditional Scandinavian tunes. Concert is at 7 p.m. Dec. 22.
Tickets to shows at Sacred Heart are available at sacredheartmusic.org. The Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra again is throwing the biggest party in the city for New Year’s Eve. Mass Ensemble, which played a DSSO fundraiser a few years ago, returns with the 25-foot Earth Harp that once was featured on “America’s Got Talent.”
The concert is at 7 p.m. Dec. 31 at Amsoil Arena. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster outlets including the DECC box office or by calling (218) 623-3789.
Theater “Singing in the Rain” isn’t a musical that is known as especially holiday-holiday, but typically the Duluth Playhouse leans more toward family friendly musicals than jolly old St. Nick in December. The production does include rain, though, which is a sibling of snow.
The show, directed by Tom Woldt, runs Nov. 29-Dec. 16 and plays at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays and 2 p.m. Dec. 8 and Dec. 15. Tickets are available by calling (218) 733-7555 or at duluthplayhouse.org. The County Seat Theater presents a sitcom-style play set in the South and starring the Futrelle sisters who are described as “the fertile, the flirt and the felon.” Honey Ray (the flirt) recently has taken over as the head of the annual Christmas program at the Tabernacle of the Lamb Church. There are bound to be some hiccups getting the show to the stage.
“Christmas Belles” plays at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30 to Dec. 1 and Dec. 6-8 and 2 p.m. Dec. 2 and Dec. 9 at the Encore Performing Arts Center in Cloquet. Reserve tickets by calling (218) 878-0071 or at countyseattheater.com. Wise Fool Shakespeare and North Central Productions have teamed up for “Fezziwig’s Feast,” a theatrical production that centers on a big party and Scrooge’s night visitors and includes a three-course meal.
Shows are at 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday, running Nov. 30 to Dec. 23 at the Holiday Inn Great Lakes Ballroom (no performances Dec. 9 or Dec. 14; tickets available at northcentralproductions.com). Rubber Chicken Theater presents its annual holiday revue, again taking its cues from local current events. “A Flood of Christmas Cheer, or, What Seal is This?” Expect to hear the comedy team riffing on: ugly Christmas sweaters, the Mayan apocalypse, naked theater and the Thompson Hill Rest Area.
“A Flood of Christmas Cheer” plays at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays from Dec. 7-29, with a special 7 p.m. show on Dec. 31 at the Spirit of the North Theater at the Fitger’s Brewery Complex. Renegade Theater Company’s production of “The Nutcracker” probably has a few thematic similarities to the show the Minnesota Ballet’s annual production — minus the ballet and plus an Iraq war veteran. This version comes from the makers of “The Sparrow,” which played during Renegade’s 2010 season.
“The Nutcracker” is at 8 p.m. Dec. 6-8, 13-15 and 20-22. Call (218) 336-1414 or go to zeitgeistarts.com for tickets.
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