By Quinton Skinner
Part of enjoying the holidays in the Twin Cities is choosing from an assortment of onstage treats—whether a longstanding tradition or something entirely new. Here are some shows guaranteed to be the best of the season:
Black Nativity—Hear Again the Christmas Story!
Telling the story of a widow wrapped in sadness whose family arrives to remind her that there is still much to live for, Penumbra’s holiday musical classic delivers a blend of jazz, gospel, and dance that stirs the heart and evokes all the seasons of life with power, depth, and a genuine spirit of joy.
November 28-December 28; penumbratheatre.org
Black Nativity, Photo by Ann Marsden
All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914
The dramatic retelling with vocal music tells the story of the brief interlude during the holidays on the Western Front in World War I when soldiers on either sides of the trenches laid down their weapons in a temporary truce. This work of extraordinary beauty and hope has in recent years become a new Twin Cities holiday tradition.
December 19-22; theaterlatteda.com
ALL IS CALM: THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914. PHOTO BY GEORGE BRYON GRIFFITH
A Christmas Carol
The Guthrie’s holiday telling of Charles Dickens has seen welcome updates in recent years, with a new script, set, and costumes. But the theater has also wisely left the core intact: a story about a man who seals himself off from connection and kindness, and who learns the error of his ways in time for the holidays—it’s uplifting and filled with a sense of renewal and optimism in welcome measures.
November 14-December 29; guthrietheater.org
A CHRISTMAS CAROL AT THE GUTHRIE THEATER
I Saw Daddy Marry Santa Claus
The Brave New Workshop delivers topical and satiric gems throughout the year, and skewers the holidays with irreverence and did-they-just-say-that hilarity. An ensemble cast keeps the proceedings fast-paced and, frankly, more naughty than nice: their take on “The 12 Days of Christmas” through the lens of cranky and irate parents is an acerbic and blush-worthy classic.
Opens November 15; bravenewworkshop.com
I Saw Daddy Marry Santa Claus. Photo courtesy of Brave New Workshop
Handel’s Messiah Sing-A-Long
St. Olaf’s Church fills up with the sounds of Handel’s famous oratorio, with all welcome to sing along with members of the Minnesota Chorale or simply to listen to sounds of transcendence and beauty.
December 15; stolaf.org
For young people during the holidays, the Children’s Theatre offers the evergreen story of the would-be princess and her decidedly unpleasant stepsisters (played by male company members to great comedic effect)—the results are as entertaining for those a generation or two removed from childhood as well.
Through January 5; childrenstheatre.org
Cinderella, Photo via Children’s Theater Company