Somehow, the holiday season brings out the theater-goer in us all. Whether it’s the additional free time, the holiday spirit, or an excuse to spend time with (or get away from) the family for a few hours, people flock to the theater during the holidays to collectively share in the joy of the season and often relive and share some of their favorite holiday memories with new audiences.
Some staples of the holiday season offer a welcome familiarity for audiences with theaters across the country offering perennial favorites for their subscribers and audiences. A Christmas Carol is probably the most often performed theater production of the holidays. From a musical version starring Kelsey Grammer, Jason Alexander, Jesse L. Martin and Jane Krakowski (available on BroadwayHD) with music and lyrics by Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens or one of the one-person or non-musical versions up for offer at theaters around the country, the story of the redemption of Scrooge resonates with audiences of all ages.
Musical productions are also often featured during holiday seasons. Recently, musical versions of the movies Elf and A Christmas Story have toured across the country, but many shows included a holiday song by design. Shows like Mame (We Need a Little Christmas), She Loves Me (Twelve Days of Christmas), Catch Me if you Can (Christmas is My Favorite Time of Year), and Meet Me in St. Louis (Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas) included holiday songs to, among other reasons, boost their appeal to tourists coming into the city during this time of year.
One of the more unusual theatrical treats this time of year is the Christmas pantomime. The panto is most popular in the British Isles and developed out of the Italian tradition of Commedia dell’arte, a broad form of slapstick comedy borne out of the Renaissance. Over the subsequent centuries, The Panto has become a fun family tradition often based on well-known stories integrating contemporary pop music with rewritten lyrics. Several American theater companies also produce Pantos including Stages Repertory Theater in Houston.
There are some theatrical oddities out there for audiences who take an irreverent view of this time of year. Shows like Naked Holidays, Second City Holiday Show, and Nightmare Before Christmas: The Experiment provide a less traditional take on the Holiday Season, which can often be overwhelming.
Theaters often experience their fullest houses during this time of year, relying on heavily attended Holiday shows to support the work undertaken throughout the rest of the year. This is an important time of year for the thousands of artists employed to spread cheer, from the Christmas carolers at the shopping mall to the actors on stage at Rudolph: The Musical. Aside from having to work straight through a season that most of us spend relaxing with family and friends, the Holidays are a gift for them, providing them with enough funds to make it through leaner times during other parts of the year.
The holidays are magical for many because of the stories that come out and the memories they conjure. When passing through this time of year, take a moment to appreciate the performers out there working to make your holidays a little bit more magical.