Holiday things to do in Chicago: Theater

Everything from the works of Charles Dickens, Irving Berlin and Frank Capra to a new tale of Santa’s son and holiday-themed improv are among the area offerings this season.

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“The Steadfast Tin Soldier” returns to Lookingglass Theatre this holiday season.

“The Steadfast Tin Soldier” returns to Lookingglass Theatre this holiday season.

Liz Lauren

Holiday cheer and more can be found on stage this season at theaters across the area.

Offerings include annual favorites (from Charles Dickens, Irving Berlin and Frank Capra), a visit with a grown-up friend of the Grinch, a new tale of Santa’s son, stories about elves and tin soldiers, holiday-themed improv, plenty of new and classic treats from Broadway in Chicago (“The Twenty-Sided Tavern,” “The Lion King”), and some not-so-holiday-themed productions (“The Sound of Music,” “Little Women”).


“A Christmas Carol”

Larry Yando returns as Ebenezer Scrooge in the annual staging of Charles Dickens classic holiday story; directed by Jessica Thebus. Nov. 19-Dec. 31. Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, $25+;

“A Christmas Carol in the Dark”: Theater in the Dark’s audio play tells the classic story through voice, music, recorded sound and foley effects; directed by Mack Gordon. Streams to Jan. 1, $15;

A one-hour version of Charles Dickens’ classic story suitable for the entire family. Nov. 25-Dec. 30. Drury Lane Theatre for Young Audiences, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, $26+;

William J. Norris’ 70-minute adaptation of Dickens holiday classic features a cast of 50 local actors and children. Nov. 25-27. McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell, Glen Ellyn, $14, $16;

“Manual Cinema’s Christmas Carol”: The performance collective’s imaginative adaptation updates the holiday tale as Aunt Trudy, an avowed holiday skeptic, is recruited to channel her late husband’s famous Christmas cheer. Nov. 29-Dec. 24. Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor, Glencoe, $35-$90;

Krista Scott’s adaptation of Dickens’ classic holiday story; directed by Robin M. Hughes. Dec. 1-24 at Metropolis Performing Arts Center, 111 W. Campbell, $35;

Also On Stage

“Measure for Measure”: Shakespeare’s searing examination of political corruption and social injustice is set against the turbulence of 1959 Cuba as Fidel Castro seizes power.; directed by Henry Godinez. To Nov. 27. Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 E. Grand, $49-$92;

“Blue Heaven”: Four blues legends — Big Momma Thornton, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Stevie Ray Vaughan — reminisce about the ups and downs of their careers while waiting for the “new guy” — B.B. King — to show up; written and directed by Daryl Brooks. To Nov. 27. Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark, $55;

Frank Ferrante as the clown Forte, welcomes all to an evening of music, acrobatics and dining at “Cabaret ZaZou presents Luminaire.” 

Frank Ferrante as the clown Forte, welcomes all to an evening of music, acrobatics and dining at “Cabaret ZaZou presents Luminaire.”


“Luminaire” Cabaret ZaZou presents a new, immersive variety dinner show filled with cirque acts, interactive comedy and vocalists. Ongoing. Cabaret ZaZou, Cambria Hotel, 32 W. Randolph, $75 show only, $125+ dinner and show;

“Rent”: Jonathan Larson’s classic musical about a group of friends struggling to survive and create in Manhattan’s East Village under the shadow of HIV/AIDS. To Nov. 27. Porchlight Music Theatre at Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn, $25+;

“The Island”: Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Nthsona’s drama about two South African political prisoners who toil by day in a prison quarry and secretly spend their evenings rehearsing a two-man version of “Antigone”; directed by Gabrielle Randle-Bent. To Dec. 4. Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis, $40.50-$82;

“Jeeves Intervenes”: Margaret Raether’s adaptation of the P.G. Wodehouse story finds the marriage-averse Bertie desperately trying to avoid his ferocious Aunt Agatha with the help of his highly competent valet Jeeves; directed by Michael Goldberg. To Dec. 4. First Folio Theatre at Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 31st, Oak Brook, $49, $59;

“The Mark of Kane”: In Mark Pracht’s drama, it’s 1939 and two friends huddle in a Bronx apartment to create a legendary comic-book hero — Batman; directed by Terry McCabe. To Dec. 4. City Lit Theater, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr, $34;

“Our Dear Dead Drug Lord”: In Alexis Scheer’s play, four teenage girls navigating adolescence gather in an abandoned treehouse armed with a Ouija board and call to order a meeting of the Dead Leaders Club; directed by Sophiyaa Nayer. To Dec. 10. Steep Theatre, 1044 W. Berwyn, $30, $40;

Caitlin Jackson and Kevin Webb in Kokandy Productions’ revival of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Chopin Theatre. Photo by Evan Hanover

Caitlin Jackson and Kevin Webb star in Kokandy Productions’ revival of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” at Chopin Theatre.

Evan Hanover

“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”: Stephen Sondheim’s macabre masterpiece about an unjustly exiled barber who returns to 19th century London seeking revenge. Directed by Derek Van Barham. Nine performances added Dec. 2-18. Kokandy Productions at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, $40;

“Malapert Love”: Siah Berlatsky’s gender-bending romantic comedy follows a group of people who have all fallen in love with the wrong person; directed by Julian Hester. To Dec. 11. The Artistic Home at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee, $35;

“A Mile in the Dark”: Interrobang Theatre and Rivendell Theatre present Emily Schwend’s drama about a daughter searching for answers after her mother’s death; directed by Georgette Verdin. To Dec. 11. Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge, $35;

“Dooby Dooby Moo”: James R. Grote’s adaptation of Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin’s children’s book about a group of farm animals who join a talent contest with hopes of winning a trampoline; directed by Heather Currie. To Dec. 11. Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood, $20;

“Mosque4Mosque”: Omer Abbas Salem’s new comedy about a queer Arab American Muslim man navigating his first real relationship while his immigrant mother tries to find the perfect man for him to marry; directed by Sophiyaa Nayar. To Dec. 17. The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee, pay-what-you-can $5-$35;

“Trouble in Mind”: Alice Childress’ drama about a group of actors in the mid-1950s gathered to rehearse a new anti-lynching Southern drama; directed by Ron OJ Parson. To Dec. 18. TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington, $42-$57;

“Season’s Greetings”: Buffalo Theatre Ensemble presents Alan Ayckbourn’s comedy about the anxiety and high jinks of an average family during the holidays; directed by Connie Canaday Howard. To Dec. 18. McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell, Glen Ellyn, $42;


Alice Kaori stars as Maria in “The Sound of Music” at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora.

Amy Nelson

“It Runs in the Family”: Ray Cooney’s farce is set in a hospital three days before Christmas as a doctor tries to fend off an ex-wife, a punkish son and various other lunatics; directed by Pat Murphy. To Dec. 18. Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan, $40, $45;

“A Christmas Story, the Musical”: The musical adaptation of the beloved movie about Ralphie Parker and his quest to get his dream Christmas gift; directed by Scott Weinstein. To Jan. 1. Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire, $59-$64;

“Elf, the Musical”: The adaptation of the movie about Buddy, a human raised as an elf, who journeys from the North Pole to New York City in search of his birth father; directed by Lynne Kurdziel-Formato. To Jan. 8. Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, $69-$84;

“The Steadfast Tin Soldier”: Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale about a little soldier who never gives up; directed by Zimmerman. To Jan. 8, 2023. Lookingglass Theatre, Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan, $50+;

“The Lion King”: Julie Taymor’s groundbreaking adaptation of the classic Disney movie. To Jan. 14, 2023. Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph, $33+;

“The Sound of Music”: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical about a governess and the family she falls in love with; directed by Amber Mak. To Jan. 15. Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena, Aurora, $28-$79;

Darian Sanders as Simba in “The Lion King.” The musical runs Nov. 17-Jan. 14 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. 

Darian Sanders as Simba in “The Lion King.” The musical is now playing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre.

Deen van Meer

“The Twenty-Sided Tavern”: A unique experience where tabletop roleplay games combine with live theatre to create an interactive adventure for participants; directed by Nik Whitcomb. To Jan. 15, 2023. Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut, $40-$65;

“The Best of The Second City Holidays”: More than 60 years of sketches with a holiday theme. To Dec. 31. The Second City, 230 W. North, $29+;

“What the Elf?”: An original sketch, variety and improv celebration of the season. To Jan. 1, 2023. The Second City, 230 W. North, $29+;

“Frank Ferrante’s Groucho” arrives for one show at Cabaret ZaZou on Nov. 22.

“Frank Ferrante’s Groucho” arrives for one show at Cabaret ZaZou on Nov. 22.

Mikki Schaffner

“Frank Ferrante’s Groucho”: The actor/comedian’s solo show celebrates the style and spirit of Groucho Marx through songs, stories and improvisation. Nov. 22. Cabaret ZaZou, Cambria Hotel, 32 W. Randolph, $45-$85;

“It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!”: American Blues Theater presents its annual radio-play adaptation of Frank Capra’s classic film; directed by Gwendolyn Whiteside. Nov. 23-Dec. 23. Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, $25-$65;

“Georgiana & Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley”: The world premiere of the final play in Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon’s trilogy which imagines the continued stories of characters from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”; directed by Marti Lyons. Nov. 25-Dec. 24. Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, $30-$89;

“Title X”: Artemisia Theatre presents Julie Proudfoot’s new play in which eight radically different women share stories about their fight for autonomy over their own bodies; co-directed by Proudfoot and Willow James. Nov. 25-Dec. 18. Theater Wit, 1229 E. Belmont, $25-$40;

Veronica Garza stars in “Who’s Holiday!” 

Veronica Garza stars as Cindy Lou Who in “Who’s Holiday!”

Charles Osgood

“Who’s Holiday!”: The adult only comedy stars a booze-guzzling, cigarette smoking, grown-up Cindy Lou Who as she remembers the fateful night she met The Grinch and the turn her life took after that meeting; directed by Charles Pazdernik. Nov. 25-Dec. 30. Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, $24-$50;

“I Saw Mommy Kissing The Second City”: From the comedy troupe comes a new holiday revue filled with seasonal hilarity. Nov. 25-Dec. 23. Paramount Theatre’s Copley Theatre, 8 E. Galena, $38;

“I Saw Mommy Kissing The Second City.”  

“I Saw Mommy Kissing The Second City.”

Courtesy Second City

“Merry Christmas Darling — Heidi Kettenring Sings Karen Carpenter”: Musical theater artist Kettenring performs Carpenter’s classic tunes and holiday hits. Nov. 25-27. Venus Cabaret at Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport, $70;

“Christmas Bingo — It’s a Ho-Ho-Holy Night”: Vicki Quade’s holiday show unites two of the best things about being Catholic: Christmas and bingo. Nov. 25-Dec. 31. Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln, $35-$100;

“The Golden Girls — The Lost Episodes, The Obligatory Holiday Special”: Hell in a Handbag Productions presents new episodes celebrating the holidays with Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, Sophia and their wacky friends and relatives. Nov. 26-Dec. 30. Hoover Leppen Theater at Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted, $29-$48;

“The Golden Girls — The Lost Episodes, The Obligatory Holiday Special”

David Cerda (from left), Ryan Oates, Grant Drager and Ed Jones reprise their roles as the geriatric Fab Four in Hell in a Handbag Productions’ parody “The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, The Obligatory Holiday Special.”

Rick Aguilar Studios

“Jack Off the Beanstalk”: Tom Whalley’s very adult holiday panto inspired by the fairy tale includes songs including favorites by Kelly Clarkson and Whitney Houston; directed by Bryan McCaffrey. Nov. 28-Dec. 18. Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway, $35;

“Bald Sisters”: The world premiere of Vichet Chum’s comedy follows two sisters as they settle the affairs of their late mother while also reconciling their family’s Cambodian heritage with its complicated American present; directed by Jesca Prudencio. Dec. 1, 2022-Jan. 15, 2023. Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted, $20+;

“Twelfth Night, or What You Will”: Midsommer Flight presents its seventh annual holiday staging of Shakespeare’s comedy. Dec. 1-18. Lincoln Park Conservatory, 2391 Stockton, pay-what-you-can (suggested donation $30);

“25 Years of Students’ Stories”: PlayMakers Laboratory celebrates 25 years of arts education in Chicago schools with a showcase of short plays inspired by students’ stories. Dec. 5. Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland, $25;

“Dear Evan Hansen”: The winner of six Tony Awards, including best musical, this is Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul’s story of a teenage boy who is given the chance to be somebody else and finally fit in. Dec. 6-31. Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph, $39+;

“A Magical Cirque Christmas”: Cirque artists immerse audiences in the spirit of the season via comedy, music and magic. Dec. 6-11. CIBC Theatre, 18 W. Monroe, $20-$80;

“The Christmas Schooner”: The holiday musical about the shipping captain who brought Christmas trees to homesick German American families in turn-of-the-century Chicago; directed by David G. Zak. Dec. 8-11. Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th, $40;

“‘Twas the Night Before Ameltide”: An immersive, high fantasy experience set in a tavern beneath the snowy foothills of Heightswatch, where people wait for the Mortal King to appear. Dec. 9, 2022-Jan. 29, 2023. Otherworld Theatre, 3914 N. Clark, $65;

“Jackie Taylor’s Joy to the World — A Holiday Celebration”: A musical tribute to the holidays. Dec. 10-11, 17-18. Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark, $55;

The cast of Strawdog Theatre Company’s 2021 production of Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins. Photo by Jenn Udoni–Franco Images.

The cast of Strawdog Theatre Company’s 2021 production of “Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins.”

Jenn Udoni/Franco Images

“Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins”: A stage adaptation of Eric Kimmel’s classic children’s book about a traveling troupe of actors who put on a show to save the holiday. Dec. 10-31. Strawdog Theatre at The Edge Off-Broadway Theater, 1133 W. Catalpa, free;

“Jingle Bell Ruckus:” The Second City serves up seasonal satire in this holiday revue. Dec. 10. McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell, Glen Ellyn, $30-$48;

“Someday at Christmas — John-Mark McGaha Sings Stevie Wonder”: The musical theater performer dives into Wonder’s songbook which includes holiday tunes. Dec. 12-13. Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire, $55;

“White Christmas:” Music Theater Works presents the musical based on the holiday film with music by Irving Berlin. Dec. 15, 2022-Jan. 1, 2023. North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie, $39-$106;

“Realm of the Nutcracker King”: The immersive holiday fairytale steps into the enchanted realm of holiday magic via storytelling, character actors, puppetry and dancing. Dec. 16, 2022-Jan. 8, 2023. Otherworld Theatre, 3914 N. Clark, $45-$65;

“Little Women”: First Folio Theatre presents Heather Chrisler’s adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel of the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the March sisters; directed by Melanie Keller. Dec.17, 2022-Jan. 15, 2023. Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 31st, Oak Brook, $49, $59;

“Jingle Bell Ruckus”: Nothing is off-limits when The Second City spoofs the holidays in this revue. Dec. 19-30. Metropolis Performing Arts Center, 111 W. Campbell, $35;

“Cirque Dreams Holidaze” runs Dec. 22-24 at the Auditorium Theatre.

“Cirque Dreams Holidaze” runs Dec. 22-24 at the Auditorium Theatre.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze

“Junior Claus”: Christopher Dimond and Michael Kooman’s musical about the only son of Santa and Mrs. Claus who is reluctant to take over the family business; directed by Gregg Dennhardt. Dec. 20-30. Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan, Lake Forest, $20;

“Cirque Dreams Holidaze”: This dazzling family holiday spectacular is a musical infused with contemporary circus artistry. Dec. 22-24. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells, $45+;

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