There are many things to do this month that are not related to the holidays. But we’re not talking about any of those here – with one exception that we’ll get to in a minute – because it’s December. It’s time to get into the spirit of whatever you celebrate this month whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice or Festivus.
For some of us, getting in the spirit is aided by traditions, egg nog for some, certain holiday performances like the Carolina Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” for others. Here are our five must-sees.
“The Santaland Diaries.”
You could read the David Sedaris story. You could hope NPR re-runs the production of Sedaris reading it. Or you could see Theatre in the Park’s production in which Crumpet the Elf relives his brief stint as one of Santa’s elves at Macy’s. Word of warning: The show is politically incorrect, irreverent and, well, Santa isn’t Mr. Milk and Cookies. It runs Dec. 9 through 18. Showtimes and tickets at theatreinthepark.com.
Here’s the exception. This fairy tale does not scream “Christmas,” and yet for many the holiday isn’t complete without seeing Raleigh Little Theatre’s annual production. Yes, the ball is on Christmas Eve and RLT’s cast does sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” but RLT director Charles Phaneuf agrees it’s not a traditional holiday show in the strictest sense. But then again, it’s an Americanized version of a British panto (right down to male actors playing the wicked step sisters), which are traditionally performed at Christmas time. By the way, “Cinderella” wasn’t envisioned as an annual event, Phaneuf says. But it was so popular when first produced in 1984, they saved the sets and costumes and brought it back. The show runs through Dec. 18. Go to raleighlittletheatre.org to find out more.
“A Christmas Carol.”
Some prefer staged readings of the Charles Dickens classic. Others like the no-holds barred musical comedy approach of Ira David Wood III. He’s performed it annually since 1974, and it regularly sells out. Look for Ira David Wood IV as Scrooge in the Saturday matinees. This year it’s Dec. 7-11 at Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh and Dec. 15-18 at DPAC. For show times and tickets go to theatreinthepark.com.
“White Christmas” Sing-along.
Everyone has a favorite Christmas movie. This one is ours. Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen and Dean Jagger. The scenery cries backstage lot but the music is lovely, Danny Kaye is, well, Danny Kaye and every time the guys from the 151st Division come to Pine Tree, Vt., and line up to salute their general, well, we get a bit choked up. The sing-along will be at The Cary at 2 p.m. Dec. 18. Don’t worry if you don’t know the words, you get a songbook. For ticket info: thecarytheater.com.
You have a couple of options here. The N.C. Symphony will be joined by the N.C. Master Chorale for a performance of the oratorio at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill. For tickets: ncsymphony.org. Or you can hear the musical masterpiece performed by the Concert Singers of Cary with guest artists from the N.C. Baroque Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17 at the Halle Cultural Arts Center in Apex. Get tickets at thehalle.org.