best december theater
The most wonderful time of the year ... for holiday shows is upon us. Along with The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, Panto, and Austen Christmas November highlights, December brings a plethora of new holiday performing arts delights.
From a flying nanny to an immersive Potter party, from a Tejana Scrooge to amazing aerial circus acts, Houston performing arts has the ticket for a night filled with live music, comedy, dance and drama. Here are the best bets for this holiday season.
What-A-Christmas at Alley Theatre (now through December 24)
Along with their new adaptation of the original Christmas Carol, the Alley gives Scrooge a decidedly 21st-century, Tejana new look in this one-woman show from playwright Isaac Gómez. Working the Christmas Eve night shift at Texas’ most iconic fast food joint, Margot is about to find out the usual grumpy drive-thru customers and an equally grumpy robotic Santa is the least of her worries, as her dead friend Jackie Marley stops by with a gaggle of ghostly customers.
A Beatles Holiday Cabaret at Music Box Theater (now through December 28)
As the year-round place for cabaret style shows in Houston, Music Box Theater, started a unique holiday mashup tradition a few years ago mixing classic and contemporary holiday songs with Beatles standards. In a double (triple?) mixture, the fantastic five, tend to intermix these numbers with comedy routines and sketches, making for a fun holiday happening.
Harry Potter: A Yule Ball Celebration (now through January 20, 2023)
We can’t argue that Potter lore has theatrical possibility. After all, a Hogwarts, next-generation new adventure play has already made it to Broadway. But this Houston Yule Ball is a very different, live way to experience the wizard world (as we noted in our full story here).
Part immersive theater, part themed holiday gala and part Potter cosplay event, this Yule Ball gives Potter fans the ultimate party with themed food and drinks, a stunning ballroom, and multiple yule-decorated spaces to explore. A team of performers playing Ball hosts and Hogwarts House (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin) leaders get everyone in the Yule Ball spirit with special themed dances and displays of magic.
With a fashion parade, Goblet of Fire drawing and magical indoor snow fall, Potter fans of all ages can immerse themselves in this ultimate party play.
Houston Symphony holiday concerts (now through December 18)
The symphony has a concert for almost every music lover’s taste this month. For the traditionalist there’s the glorious Handel’s Messiah (December 9-11) performed by the Houston Symphony, the full chorus, and guest soloists. For a rockin’ holidays Broadway star, N’Kenge, joins the Symphony and Chorus for a Very Merry Pops (December 15-18) concert brimming with traditional carols, festive favorites, and plenty of yuletide cheer.
For kids and kids at heart, the Ho-Ho-Holiday! Polar Express, Frozen & More singalong concert urges everyone to raise their voices to holiday favorite songs. We’ve heard there might even be a visit from the big guy in red.
Mary Poppins! from Theatre Under the Stars (December 6-24)
TUTS gifts us a spoon full of musical sugar for our holidays with the family favorite based on the Disney film and book by P.L. Travers. Forget Marvel, this physics-defying, flying singing nanny was Disney’s first real superhero. See her live as she sets her powers to give new life to the Banks family.
Their holiday show is usually TUTS’s biggest of the year and features a cast of Broadway vets, Houston favorites and students from TUTS theater schools, so get set for a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocioius time.
El Milagro del Recuerdo (The Miracle of Remembering) from Houston Grand Opera (December 8-18)
HGO brings back this holiday prequel to the famed first Mariachi opera Cruzar, El Milagro del Recuerdo that HGO debuted more than a decade ago, this opera revisits some of Cruzar’s characters earlier in their lives. Cruzar’s librettist and director Leonard Foglia returns and partners with Mexican composer Javier Martínez continuing the legacy of mariachi opera established by his late father, José “Pepe” Martínez.
Much of the original cast returns for this revival production, including mezzo-soprano Cecilia Duarte as Renata and the members of virtuoso mariachi group Trio Chapultepec. Acclaimed bass-baritone Federico De Michelis makes his role debut as Laurentino.
Christmas with the King at A.D. Players (December 12 and 13)
As part of the Artist Lounge Live series, A.D. Players will present this holiday concert-styled show with a very different king: Elvis. Touring star Brandon Bennett (Chicago's Million Dollar Quartet) will rock December with some of Presley’s most beloved holiday hit-making renditions, including including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Blue Christmas,” “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” and “Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me.”
Bennett is the winner of Graceland's prestigious "Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist" competition, with his concert retrospective featuring humor, heartfelt storytelling, and unforgettable hits
Cirque Dreams Holidaze from Performing Arts Houston (December 23 and 24)
Circus arts meets Broadway during these Christmas Eve (and Christmas Eve eve) magical performances. The production features an ensemble of aerial circus acts, sleight-of-hand jugglers, fun-loving skippers, thrilling acrobatics and clowning.
Set to an original music score including new twists on seasonal favorites such as “Deck the Halls,” “Winter Wonderland,” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” the family-friendly show will likely live audiences in a dreamy, holiday daze.