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Holiday Arts Guide 2018: Naughty and Nice Offerings on Cleveland’s Stages

November 23, 2018

Holiday Arts Guide 2018: Naughty and Nice Offerings on Cleveland’s Stages

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The holiday-themed theater on Northeast Ohio’s stages this season is eclectic as ever.

You can catch Ralphie, Rudolph and Ebenezer Scrooge cavorting with the Trailer Park Boys in Playhouse Square; join an audience of demented diners for a meal of mayhem at Cleveland Public Theatre’s Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant and more.

Below is a guide to gifting yourself with tickets, with descriptions based on information provided by area theaters and your critics’ own naughty and nice notebook:

A Christmas Cabaret

What: The Musical Theater Project’s annual holiday showcase features gems you aren’t likely to hear anywhere else, such as Irving Berlin’s “Santa Claus” from 1916 (“You’d better be good like a good baby should, or he will fly right by to another neighborhood!”), as well as tunes featuring Frosty, Rudolph and the Grinch. (And don’t forget to bone up on your “White Christmas” for the sing along to close out the show.)

When: Sunday and Monday, Dec. 16 and 17. Performances at 7 p.m.

Where: Nighttown, 12387 Cedar Road, Cleveland Heights.

Tickets: $30-$35, with membership discounts available; musicaltheaterproject.org or 1-800-838-3006.

Additional performances: Dec. 14 and 15 at Stocker Arts Center, Cirigliano Studio Theatre, 1005 N. Abbe Road, Elyria. Tickets: $10-$20; stockerartscenter.com or 440-366-4040.

A Christmas Carol

What: The Charles Dickens classic – adapted and directed by Gerald Freedman, staged by Victoria Bussert and seen by more than 750,000 adults and students throughout the region since its debut in 1989 – celebrates its 30th anniversary production.

In honor of the milestone, Great Lakes Theater launched a capital campaign this summer to augment its annual $25,000 production maintenance budget and is aiming to raise an additional $60,000 to go towards the refurbishment of the well-loved (and well-used) set, costume and prop pieces. While the company is close to its goal, it has created a GoFundMe page for audience members who’d like to contribute: gofundme.com/a-christmas-carol-30th-anniversary

Among the many elements to be restored, reconstructed or replaced are a collection of 18th-century bonnets, furniture in the office of Ebenezer Scrooge and the home of Bob Cratchit and the ever important array of fog machines – necessities for setting the show’s memorable, ghostly mood.

When: Friday, Nov. 30-Sunday, Dec. 23. Opens 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30. Cast members from productions past will be on hand for a meet and greet at an opening night party after the show that ticketholders are invited to attend. For dates and performance times throughout the run, visit the website below.

Where: Ohio Theatre, Playhouse Square, Cleveland.

Tickets: $28-$75, and students sit in any seat for $26; greatlakestheater.org or 216-241-6000.

A Christmas Story

What: The Cleveland Play House signature holiday show returns to the Allen Theatre for the sixth consecutive year, headed up by Ralphie, a boy with a powerful Christmas wish, his nemesis, that rotten Scut Farkus, those hungry Bumpus hounds and one gloriously glowing leg lamp. (And let’s not forget Ralphie’s turkey-loving, profanity spouting Old Man.)

When: Friday, Nov. 30 -Sunday, Dec. 23. In previews Friday, Nov. 23-Thursday, Nov. 29. Opens 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30. For dates and performance times, visit the website below.

Where: Allen Theatre, Playhouse Square, Cleveland.

Tickets: $25-$97; clevelandplayhouse.com or 216-241-6000.

Special holiday pricing: In an effort to make the 2018 production accessible to more Cleveland families, Ohio Direction Card holders – folks who qualify for a monthly stipend to help them buy food, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – can buy up to eight tickets at the reduced rate of $5 a ticket. Tickets are available in person at the Playhouse Square box office; by calling 216-241-6000; or by visiting clevelandplayhouse.com and using promo code ODC.

A Magical Cirque Christmas

What: If you’ve seen a Cirque show, you know what to expect: jaw-dropping magic, surreal costumes and breathtaking circus acts. What was missing from the mesmerizing mix? “Angelic voices singing your favorite Christmas carols.”

When: Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Where: KeyBank State Theatre, Playhouse Square, Cleveland.

Tickets: $10 - $85; $125 VIP seating includes on-stage seating just steps away from the performers. Visit playhousesquare.org or 216-241-6000.

Black Nativity

What: The famed retelling of the Nativity Story by Karamu Theatre alum Langston Hughes – performed in foot-stomping, hand-clapping, gospel style and featuring popular Christmas carols – is back at Karamu after a three year hiatus. Better still, the holiday classic will be performed on the newly renovated Jelliffe Theatre stage.

When: Friday, Nov. 30 – Sunday, Dec. 30. In previews Thursday, Nov. 29; opens 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30. For dates and performance times throughout the run, visit the website below.

Where: Karamu’s Jelliffe Theatre, 2355 East 89th St., Cleveland.

Tickets: $20-$40; karamuhouse.org or (216) 795-7077.

Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant: A Snowball’s Chance

What: The deranged dinner theater favorite returns to Cleveland Public Theatre. Audiences tuck in their napkins and join an unhinged crew of cooks, kooks and cabaret performers for an evening of song, dance, game show competition, violence and a truly tasty five-course meal.

When: Friday, Nov. 30 – Saturday, Dec. 22. In previews Thursday, Nov. 29; opens 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for hors d’oeuvres and preshow entertainment. Performances are 7 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the run.

Where: Gordon Square Theatre, 6415 Detroit Ave, Cleveland.

Tickets: Preview $35. Wednesday and Sunday $50. Thursday, Friday and Saturday $75. Tickets include five-course meal and table wine; cptonline.org or 216.631.2727 ext. 501.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical

What: Can’t get enough of the 1964, stop-motion TV classic? See the timeless characters come to life onstage, including Hermey, the elf who’d rather be drilling cavities than hammering toys, Rudolph’s fearless gal pal Clarice, prospector Yukon Cornelius and the indomitable, Abominable Snow Monster.

When: Friday, Dec. 7 – Sunday, Dec. 9. Opens 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7 with performances at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Connor Palace, Playhouse Square, Cleveland.

Tickets: $10-$65; playhousesquare.org or call 216-241-6000.

Trailer Park Boys: A Sunnyvale Christmas featuring Ricky, Julian, Bubbles and Randy

What: The Netflix stars known for pulling scams from their Nova Scotia trailer park take their booze-filled exploits on the road for the holidays. Bubbles is determined to put on a good old-fashioned Christmas concert despite Julian’s relentless attempts to monetize the festive spirit of the audience, and Ricky and Randy’s all-out war to prove who really understands the true meaning of the season.

When: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 8 p.m.

Where: KeyBank State Theatre, Playhouse Square, Cleveland.

Tickets: $45.50 - $55.50; playhousesquare.org or call 216-241-6000.

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