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Holiday Happenings

By Aaron Drake

We've got just what you need to get in the holiday spirit. Frontiers contributor Mike Ciriaco highlights the best holiday happenings around SoCal.

While Southern California's nearly constant sunshine and warm temperatures are welcomed most of the year, it's a major buzzkill during the winter holidays. Fortunately, there's a slew of holiday-themed events to perk up your winter season.

This Tchaikovsky classic is a perfect family-friendly destination. The little ones can revel in the enchantment while you can enjoy the fact that the ballet was composed by a musical genius who was most probably gay. This year, SoCal offers three very different versions of the winter staple.

Bob Baker’s Nutcracker, Bob Baker Marionette Theatre, Nov. 10-Jan. 27
First staged in 1969, this marionette version of the classic ballet utilizes every style of puppetry from marionettes to shadow puppets. New York Times' Jennifer Steinhauer has described Baker’s shows as “a staple of a Los Angeleno childhood. It is the cultural equivalent of the annual march by the nation’s third graders to the neighborhood firehouse.” March your own little soldiers to this production for a memorable winter.

Long Beach Ballet's 30th Anniversary of The Nutcracker, Terrace Theatre, Dec 15-23
Celebrating its third decade of enchantment, this production pulls out all the stops. So You Think You Can Dance's Melissa Sandvig performs against a fantastical set crafted by Disney designers Elliot Hessayon and Scott Schaffer. Mix in a flying sleigh with a live horse, pyrotechnics and a cast of over 200, and you have a night of Christmas magic.

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker, The Wiltern, Dec 14
A cast of 40 Russian dancers bring all the joy of this traditional holiday story—but with a Russian flair. Effects include a Christmas tree that grows several stories tall, falling snow and a Russian-styled Troika sleigh, as well as towering handmade silk puppets, 200 all-new, lavish costumes and nine hand-painted backdrops—all set to Pytor Tchaikovsky’s complete Nutcracker Suite.

Holiday Shows
If ballet fairy tales aren't your speed, there are still options. Southern California hosts a variety of Christmas-themed plays and revues to help transport you into a winter wonderland frame of mind. Ranging from kid-friendly to mature humor with gradations in-between, theres a little Christmas cheer for everybody.

The Santaland Diaries, Stella Adler Theatre, Nov. 16-Dec. 16
This stage adaptation of the David Sedaris short story has become an annual tradition for the Blank Theatre Company. This year, Logo alum Paolo Aldino stars as the unemployed writer who takes a job as Crumpet the Christmas Elf at Macy’s in New York City and ends up venting his frustrations of parent and child alike.

Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, Old Globe Theatre, Nov. 17-Dec. 29
San Diego’s favorite holiday tradition, back for its 15th incredible year, is a wonderful, whimsical production that will once again jump right off the pages of the classic Dr. Seuss book and onto the Old Globe’s stage. This year's production features Steve Blanchard as the eponymous holiday thief.

A Snow White Christmas, Pasadnea Playhouse, Dec. 13-23
While to Americans the term pantomime evokes images of silent clowns, a British 'panto' is actually a raucous, vaudevillian retelling of classic fairy tales. This Christmas panto takes Snow White and mashes in stage magic, comedy, SYTYCD alum and contemporary pop music to create a winter spectacular for the whole family.

Donny & Marie—Christmas In Los Angeles, Pantages Theatre, Dec. 4-23
For wholesome family fun this season, you can't get more squeaky clean than with these singing siblings. In the holiday tradition of the Osmond Family Christmas television specials, Donny and Marie serve up a heaping helping of holiday nostalgia.

Find even more theater, films and holiday parties here.

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