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Musicals, comedy, drama, opera — holiday theater abounds in Chicago

Looking for something outside the seasonal realm, too? We’ve got some suggestions to keep everyone entertained in the weeks ahead.

The cast of the national touring production of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas — The Musical” at the Cadillac Palace Theatre.
The cast of the national touring production of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas — The Musical” at the Cadillac Palace Theatre.
Jeremy Daniel Photography, 2017

If it’s holiday spirit you’re looking for, these stage productions have got you covered. But there’s also plenty of theater — that’s not of the holiday kind — to keep everyone entertained in the weeks ahead.

Here are highlights of what’s playing on Chicago-area stages:

John Gregorio (from left), Kasey Foster and Anthony Irons in “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” at Lookingglass Theatre. | Liz Lauren
John Gregorio (from left), Kasey Foster and Anthony Irons in “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” at Lookingglass Theatre.
Liz Lauren

“The Steadfast Tin Soldier”: Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s story, director Mary Zimmerman concocts a spectacle about the unlikely adventures of a little tin soldier. To Jan. 26, 2020. Lookingglass Theatre, Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan, $35-$85; lookingglasstheatre.org

“The Other Cinderella”: Jackie Taylor’s African-American rendition of the classic fairy tale; directed by Taylor. To Jan. 26. Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark, $55, $65; blackensembletheater.org

“Oliver”: The musical version of Charles Dickens classic tale of a young orphan trying to rise up in the world. To Dec. 29. Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire, $50-$60; marriotttheatre.com

Beau O’Reilly in the Prop Thtr production “A Packet of Holiness and Joy Will Come to You? (A Fable).”
Beau O’Reilly in the Prop Thtr production “A Packet of Holiness and Joy Will Come to You? (A Fable).”
Jeffrey Bivens Photo

“A Packet of Holiness and Joy Will Come to You? (A Fable)”: The citizens of a major city move in and out of love as the city sits on the edge of collapse. Through Dec. 1. Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston, $15 or pay-what-you-can; propthtr.org

“Romeo and Juliet”: Shakespeare’s tragedy of young lovers in a society torn apart by hate; directed by Barbara Gaines. To Dec. 22. Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand, $49-$90; chicagoshakes.com

“The Niceties”: Eleanor Burgess’ provocative drama examines what happens when theoretical arguments suddenly turn personal in the ivory tower of an elite university. To Dec. 15. Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor, Glencoe, $$30-$89; writerstheatre.org

“Rutherford and Son”: Githa Sowerby’s rarely produced family drama, set in the industrial north of England in 1912, offers a twist on a woman’s “place” in a male dominated society; directed by Michele Moe. To Jan. 12. Timeline Theatre, 615 W. Wellington, $42-$57; timelinetheatre.com

“Oedipus Rex”: Nicholas Rudall’s translation of Sophocles Greek tragedy that tells of Oedipus who seeks to cure his city of a mysterious plague by discovering the murderer of the former king; directed by Charles Newell. To Dec. 8. Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis, $37.50-$84; courttheatre.org

“Lindiwe”: Backed by the live music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Eric Simonson’s love story challenges us to define the boundaries between this world and the next; co-directed by Simonson and Jonathan Berry. To Jan. 5. Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted, $20-$109; steppenwolf.org

“The Wickhams — Christmas at Pemberley”: World premiere of Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon’s new play set during the holidays as the Bennets and Darcys celebrate upstairs and the servants below stairs find themselves in the midst of a holiday scandal; directed by Jessica Thebus. To Dec. 15. Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, $30-$89; northlight.org

Jennifer Lattimore stars as Lydia Wickham in “The Wickhams — Christmas at Pemberley” at Northlight Theatre.
Jennifer Lattimore stars as Lydia Wickham in “The Wickhams — Christmas at Pemberley at Northlight Theatre.
Charles Osgood

“Beauty and the Beast”: Alan Menkin, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Linda Woolverton’s musical adapted from the popular Disney film; directed by Amber Mak. To Jan. 19. Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena, Aurora, $36-$74; paramountaurora.com

“Irving Berlin’s White Christmas — The Musical”: A stage adaptation of the classic film filled with Berlin’s classic songs; directed by Linda Fortunato. Nov. 14-Dec. 22. Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge, Munster, Ind., $42-$46; theatreatthecenter.com

“It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!”: A live 1940s radio broadcast staging of the holiday classic; directed by Gwendolyn Whiteside. Nov. 14-Jan. 4. American Blues Theater at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont, $19-$69; americanbluestheater.com

“Don Giovanni”: Robert Falls’ staging of Mozart’s darkly comedic opera about a libertine who lives only for his own pleasure. Nov. 14-Dec. 8. Lyric Opera of Chicago, 20 N. Wacker, $39-$299; lyricopera.org

“Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them”: Christopher Durang’s political satire about America’s growing homeland “insecurity”; directed by Steve Scott. Nov. 14-Dec. 15. Eclipse Theatre at Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, $30; eclipsetheatre.com

“Waiting for Godot”: Samuel Beckett’s tragicomedy follows Vladimir and Estragon who meet near a tree and wait for the mysterious Godot; directed by Dennis Zacek. Nov. 14-Dec. 15. Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln, $20-$40; victorygardens.org

Larry Russo as Pozzo (left) and Michael Saad as Estragon_in “Waiting for Godot” at Victory Gardens Theater.
Larry Russo as Pozzo (left) and Michael Saad as Estragon_in “Waiting for Godot” at Victory Gardens Theater.
Charles Osgood

“Mary Poppins”: The musical, based on P.L. Travers stories and the Walt Disney film, about everyone’s favorite nanny; directed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge. Nov. 15-Jan. 19. Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, $60-$75; drurylanetheatre.com

A scene from Emerald City Theatre’s “Corduroy,” now playing at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place.
A scene from Emerald City Theatre’s “Corduroy,” now playing at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place.
Austin D. Oie

“Corduroy”: Barry Kornhauser’s adaptation of Don Freeman’s classic children’s book about a small department store bear who befriends a young girl; directed by Jamal Howard. Nov. 15-Jan. 5. Emerald City Theatre at Broadway Playhouse, Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut, $17.50-$25; broadwayinchicago.com

“Kathleen Turner — Finding My Voice”: The actress performs her deeply personal show filled with humor, music and her one-of-a-kind insights; directed by Andy Gale. Nov. 15-16. Broadway Playhouse, Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut, $50-$81.50; broadwayinchicago.com

“The First Deep Breath”: Lee Edward Colston II’s drama tells the story of a pastor who is planning a special service to honor his late daughter just as the family is forced to face long-buried secrets; directed by Malika Oyetimein. Nov. 15-Dec. 22. Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln; $31-$65; victorygardens.org

“Always…Patsy Cline”: Ted Swindley’s musical play based on the true story of the country music legend’s friendship with fan Louise Seger; directed by Brigitte Ditmars. Nov. 16-Dec. 15. Firebrand Theatre at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee, $40, $50; firebrandtheatre.org

Christina Hall and Harmony France star in “Always...Patsy Cline” by Firebrand Theatre.
Christina Hall and Harmony France star in “Always...Patsy Cline” by Firebrand Theatre.
Joe Mazza/Brave Lux

“Everest” & “Aleko”: Joby Talbot and Gene Scheer’s opera inspired by the 1996 Mount Everest expedition in which the climbers were trapped by a sudden storm; Sergei Rachmaninoff and Vladimir Nemirovech Danchenko’s opera about a man who abandons Russian society to join a free-spirited camp of Romani travelers. Nov. 16-17. Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph, $45-$150; chicagooperatheater.org

“The Simon & Garfunkel Story”: The journey of the folk-rock duo is chronicled via video projection photos and film footage and a live band performing the duo’s classic hits. Nov. 19-Dec. 8. Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut, $35-$85; broadwayinchicago.com

“Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish — The Musical”: A new family-friendly musical, based on the book by Denise McGowan Tracy, about a rag doll who lives in the magical world of the North Pole. Nov. 16-Dec. 29. Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln, $29.50, family package (4 tickets) $100; eleanorswish.com

Samantha Bonzi as Eleanor and Scott Gryder as Sprinkle in “Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish.”
Samantha Bonzi as Eleanor and Scott Gryder as Sprinkle in “Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish.”
Matt Ferguson/ExecPIX.com

“Deck the Hallmark — A Greeting Card Channel Original”: The Second City’s new holiday parody lampoons all the things we know and love about made-for-TV holiday movies; directed by Annelise Toft. Nov. 19-Dec. 11. UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North, $31-$46; secondcity.com

The Annoyance Christmas Pageant: Featuring a family-friendly retelling of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Nov. 23-Dec. 28. The Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont, $14, $24; theannoyance.com

Citadel Theatre’s production of “Annie” includes  Kayla Norris (at the table, from left), John B. Boss, and Sophie Kaegi, and Chamaya Moody (standing). Norris and Kaegi will be alternating the title role.
Citadel Theatre’s production of “Annie” includes Kayla Norris (at the table, from left), John B. Boss, and Sophie Kaegi, and Chamaya Moody (standing). Norris and Kaegi will be alternating the title role.
Daniel Kullman, Bitter Jester Studios

“Annie”: The musical based on the classic comic strip Little Orphan Annie; directed by Robert D. Estrin. Nov. 20-Dec. 22. Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan, Lake Forest, $40, $45; citadeltheatre.org

“Call Me Madam”: Irving Berlin’s musical comedy about an ill-informed socialite who is appointed United States ambassador to a fictional European country; directed by Christopher Pazdernik. Nov. 20-21. Porchlight Music Theatre at Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn, $45; porchlightmusictheatre.org

“The Land of Forgotten Toys”: Dylan MarcAurele, Jaclyn Enchin and Jennifer Enchin’s new family-friendly holiday musical about a young woman and her quest to save Christmas; directed by Nicholas Reinhart. Nov. 27-Dec. 29. Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln, $45; greenhousetheater.org

Mary-Margaret Roberts and Quinn Kelch in “The Land of Forgotten Toys.”
Mary-Margaret Roberts and Quinn Kelch in “The Land of Forgotten Toys.”
Cody Jolly Photography

“The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes - The Holiday Edition, Vol. 2”: David Cerda’s latest episode celebrates the season in sunny Miami as Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia return for brand new holiday episodes. Nov. 27-Dec. 28. Hell in a Handbag Productions at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark, $27, $31; handbagproductions.org

“America’s Best Outcast Toy”: Larry Todd Cousineau and Cindy O’Connor’s musical about what happens to the toys after they are rescued by a certain reindeer; directed by Donterrio Johnson. Nov. 29-Jan. 12. Pride Arts Center, The Broadway, 4139 N. Broadway, $30, $40; pridefilmsandplays.com

“The Santaland Diaries”: Steven Strafford stars in David Sedaris’ hilarious take on the holidays; directed by Steve Scott. Nov. 29-Dec. 29. Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, $15-$50; goodmantheatre.org

“Twas the Night Before…”: A Cirque du Soleil production, an acrobatic spectacle, which takes a new spin on the holiday classic. Nov. 29-Dec. 8. Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State, tickets start at $30; chicagotheatre.com

“Cold Town/Hotline — A Chicago Holiday Story”: Eli Newell’s comedy about five volunteers answering calls at a hotline created to help Chicagoans cope with the holiday blues; directed by Newell. Nov. 30-Dec. 22. Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark, $30; raventheatre.com

“Grace and the Hanukkah Miracle”:An immersive holiday show celebrating home, family and the traditions that bring us together; directed by Jacqueline Stone. Dec. 1-Jan. 5. Grace Lutheran Church, 1430 South Blvd., Evanston, $25; chicagoimmersive.com

“The Tall Boy”: In Simon Bent’s drama, the American matron of an orphanage in Germany after World War II tells the story of three boys desperate to get to America; directed by David Hammond and starring Tandy Cronyn. Dec. 5-Dec. 15. Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont, $35-$39; stage773.com

Chad Bay and Jackie Seijo in “Twelfth Night” presented by Midsommer Flight at the Lincoln Park Conservatory. (Photo by Zack Whittington)
Chad Bay and Jackie Seijo in “Twelfth Night” presented by Midsommer Flight at the Lincoln Park Conservatory.
Zack Whittington

“Twelfth Night”: Shakespeare’s comedy performed alley style amid the flowers of the Lincoln Park Conservatory’s Show House Room; directed by Dylan S. Roberts. Dec. 5-Dec. 22. Midsommer Flight at Lincoln Park Conservatory, 2392 Stockton, pay-what-you-can, reservations recommended; midsommerflight.com

“Working”: Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso’s musical adaptation of Studs Terkel’s book that paints a portrait of American working men and women; directed by Christopher Chase Carter. Dec. 6-Jan. 26. Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, 721 Howard, Evanston, $42-$57; theo-u.com

Caitlin Jackson stars as Bette Midler in Hell in a Handbag’s “Bette, Live at the Continental Baths.”
Caitlin Jackson stars as Bette Midler in Hell in a Handbag’s “Bette, Live at the Continental Baths.”
Rick Aguilar Studios

“Bette — Xmas at the Continental Baths”: A holiday edition of the cabaret show that’s a recreation of the beginnings of Bette Midler’s career; co-directed by Caitlin Jackson and Marc Lewallen. Dec. 6-Dec. 31. Hell in a Handbag Productions at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark, $25, $30; bettelive.bpt.me

“Wonderful Crazy Night! The New Elton John Tribute Concert”: Colte Julian’s tribute to the iconic performer features a live band, colorful costumes and hit songs. Dec. 6-7. Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln, $34-$54; ticketmaster.com

“Xmas Time at Lost Pines”: Matt Rieger’s anti-Christmas one-act about three strangers who meet by chance at a tree farm that may or may not be on fire. Dec. 6-Dec. 14. Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston, $15 or pay-what-you-can; propthtr.org

“This Is Not a Christmas Cabaret”: Artists, singers and storytellers perform short works on solstice, holiday and anti-holiday themes. Dec. 6-Dec. 14. Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston, $15 or pay-what-you-can; propthtr.org

“Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins”: Michael Dailey’s adaptation of the classic children’s holiday book by Eric Kimmel; directed by Lauren Katz. Dec. 7-Dec. 29. Strawdog Theatre, 1802 W. Berenice, $15-$25; strawdog.com

“The Good, the Bad & the Ugly Sweater”: The Second City roasts all the things we love to loathe about the holidays. Nov. 29-Dec. 22. Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena, $37; paramountaurora.com. Dec. 7 at McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell, Glen Ellyn, $45-$65; atthemac.org. Dec. 21-31. Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell, Arlington Heights, $30, $35; metropolisarts.com

“The Christmas Foundling”: Norman Allen’s story of an orphan boy raised by Gold Rush miners in the Sierra Mountains during the 1850s. Dec. 7-Jan. 5. Pride Arts Center, The Buena, 4147 N. Broadway, $25-$40; pridefilmsandplays.com

“Parcel from America”: A family-friendly holiday musical set in an Irish town where townsfolk eagerly await the delivery of packages from emigrated families living in America; directed by JR Sullivan. Dec. 7-8 at Irish Theatre of Chicago at Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox, $10-$25; irishtheatreofchicago.org

DrekFest: A festival of bad holiday-themed, 10-minute plays by good writers. Dec. 9. Stage Left Theatre at The ComedySportz Theatre Chicago, 929 W. Belmont, $10, $12; stagelefttheatre.com

The cast of the national touring production of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas — The Musical” at the Cadillac Palace Theatre.
The cast of the national touring production of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas — The Musical” at the Cadillac Palace Theatre.
Jeremy Daniel

“White Christmas — The Musical”: The songs of Irving Berlin fill this musical based on the popular movie. Dec. 10-Dec. 15. Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph, $14.50-$85; broadwayinchicago.com

“Mrs. Claus! A Holiday Musical”: The story of Mrs. Claus and the new Elf Class of 2019 on their first day of work in Santa’s workshop. For ages 2-10. Dec. 11-22 at Pheasant Run Resort, 4051 E. Main, St. Charles, $14-$18; pheasantrun.com.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer — The Musical: The beloved TV classic comes to the stage. Dec. 11. Rialto Square Theatre, 102 N. Chicago, Joliet, $33.50; rialtosquare.com

Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner in“Potted Potter — The Unauthorized Harry Potter Experience.”
Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner in“Potted Potter — The Unauthorized Harry Potter Experience.”
Courtesy of the artists

“Potted Potter — The Unauthorized Harry Potter Experience”: Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner’s play takes on the ultimate challenge of condensing all seven Harry Potter books into 70 madcap minutes. Dec. 11-Jan. 5. Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut, $39.95-$79.95; broadwayinchicago.com

“Dance Nation”: Clare Barron’s comedy about a pre-teen dance troupe navigating ambition, friendship and desire as they claw their way to Nationals; directed by Lee Sunday Evans. Dec. 12-Jan. 26. Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted, $20-$94; steppenwolf.org

Leah Urzendowski (from left), Jay Torrence, Anthony Courser and Pam Chermansky in The Ruffians’ 2014-15 production of “Burning Bluebeard.”
Leah Urzendowski (from left), Jay Torrence, Anthony Courser and Pam Chermansky in The Ruffians’ 2014-15 production of “Burning Bluebeard.”
Evan Hanover

“Burning Bluebeard”: Jay Torrence’s play inspired by the 1903 Iroquois Theatre Fire is told with music, clowning, tumbling, acrobatics and dance. Dec. 13-Dec. 29. The Ruffians at Porchlight Music Theatre, Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn, $45; porchlightmusictheatre.org

“The Xmas War II”: Scott Oken’s sequel to 2018’s “The Xmas War: A Christmas Play.” Dec. 13-Dec. 21. Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard, $25; thefactorytheater.com

“The Light in the Piazza”: Renee Fleming stars in Craig Lucas and Adam Guettel’s musical, set in 1953 Florence, where a mother and daughter must face a heart-wrenching decision; directed by Daniel Evans. Dec. 14-Dec. 29. Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker, $49-$219; lyricopera.org

“A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage”: The timeless story of Christmas in a classic telling. Dec. 14 at Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River, Rosemont, tickets begin at $25; ticketmaster.com

“The Phantom of the Opera”: Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s popular musical. Dec. 18-Jan. 5. Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph, $46-$111; broadwayinchicago.com

“The Elf on the Shelf — A Christmas Musical”: A new musical for the entire family that takes a peek into the magical lives of elves. Dec. 20. Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee, Waukegan, $39.50-$99.50; geneseetheatre.com

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical based on the Old Testament story of the youngest son of Jacob and his betrayal by his jealous brothers. Dec. 12-Dec. 31. Music Theater Works, 600 Emerson, Evanston, $17-$96; musictheaterworks.com

“Mean Girls”: Tina Fey, Jeff Richmond and Nell Benjamin’s musical adaptation of Fey’s screenplay about a teen who attempts to end the reign of a trio of frenemies; directed by Casey Nicholaw. Dec. 25-Jan. 26. Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph, $30-$120; broadwayinchicago.com

“White Plague”: Karel Capek’s drama set in a world on the brink of war where a mysterious plague is killing everyone older than 45; directed by Nicole Wiesner. Opens Dec. 5; to Jan. 11. Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland, $20, $25; trapdoortheatre.com

“All I Want for Chicago Is…”: A holiday-themed, devised work that showcases the voices and wishes of Chicago high school students; directed by Luis Crespo. Opens Dec. 7; to Dec. 15. Collaboraction, Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee, $15-$25; collaboraction.org

“That’s Weird, Grandma: Holiday Extravaganza”: Holiday sketch show written by Chicago elementary school children and brought to life by an ensemble of actors, comedians and musicians; directed by Brandon Cloyd. Previews begin Dec. 9, opens Dec. 13; to Dec. 21. PlayMakers Laboratory at Neo-Futurist Theatre, 5153 N. Ashland, $10-$20; playmakerslab.org

“Death Tax”: In Lucas Hnath’s darkly comic play, the elderly, infirm Maxine is convinced her daughter is paying the hospice nurse to nudge her into the grave; directed by Rinska Carrasco-Prestinary. Previews begin Dec. 11, opens Dec. 15; to Jan. 19. Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr, $35-$40; redtwisttheatre.org

“Deck Them Halls Y’All”: Emmy Award-winning actor Leslie Jordan looks behind-the-scenes at his childhood at Christmas as well as his long career. Dec. 20-22 at Chicago Theater Works, 1113 W. Belmont, $40, $55; chicagotheaterworks.com

Mary Houlihan is a local freelance writer.