‘Tis the Season: Holiday Shows to Light Up Your Stage
Ready for some holiday cheer?
Maybe not. It’s a little early.
But as Thanksgiving rolls past, the holiday shows are all opening — so it’s time to open your calendars. This year there’s a great selection of holiday-themed shows to consider, from comedy from the Herdmans, drag queens, and nuns; to modern family escapades and mayhem; to classics featuring Scrooge, Sherlock, and Ralphie; and several variations on dances with the Rat King.
Here are shows to keep your halls decked all December.
(Note: this list will be updated as new listings are found. Listings are ordered by start date in each category. One-night shows and short runs are marked in red.)
Looking for some guidance? See NWT’s short list here.
Looking for some non-holiday shows to catch this month instead? See the list here.
Sugar & Spice
New stories for the Christmas season.
The Christmas Spirit, Burien Actors Theatre (11/29-12/22)
When Death arrives to spirit Julia Dowling to the afterlife, Julia instead wheedles him into joining her for a Christmas party with her family. Julia, who had no such party planned, scrambles to persuade her estranged family to come together on Christmas Day. Old resentments surface, new connections are made, and everyone, even Death, feels the magic of the Christmas spirit.
Christmastown: A Holiday Noir, Seattle Public Theater (11/29-12/24)
A film noir-inspired holiday thriller by Wayne Rawley. Hard-boiled detective Nick Holiday investigates some un-holiday-like shenanigans taking place in Christmastown that sends him on a search for the truth about Big Red, featuring a glamorous elf, a used-Christmas-tree salesman, a muckraking reporter, and a quick-thinking cab driver.
Nuncrackers, Renton Civic Theatre (12/6-12/21)
The Nunsense Christmas Musical is presented as the first TV special taped in the Cable Access Studio built by Reverend Mother in the convent basement, filled with typical Nunsense humor, some of favorite carols, and a Secret Santa.
The Flight Before Xmas, Macha Theatre Works, at West of Lenin (12/6-12/28)
With all the stress of the holidays, spending Christmas Eve stranded in an airport with a bunch of strangers is the last thing anyone needs. With endless delays, kids shuttling between stepfamilies, a rogue cat on the loose, an important business deal at stake, and missing your grandson’s first Christmas morning, the holiday spirit can disappear quicker than your lost luggage. But sometimes, all you need is to be a little late in order to truly appreciate what you’re rushing toward. A modern holiday show by local playwright Maggie Lee about finding your way home and the family we discover for ourselves.
Black Santa, Copious, at various locations (12/9-12/11)
This staged reading of a new play by Aaron Mays follows the characters as they navigate trauma, racism, microaggressions, and bullying all because a young girl spoke her truth in class: “Santa is a Black man from Detroit.” Readings at Solo Bar (12/9) and Copious (12/11).
SnowGlobed, Copious (12/13)
Now in its ninth year, at SnowGlobed each year writers and artists are invited to create pieces that are “holiday inspired,” resulting in a unique range of artistic creations. Over its lifetime, SnowGlobed has brought together over 100+ artists from across Seattle. This year features new short plays by Corinne Magin, Dylan Thomas Elwood, and Anthea Carns & Lauren Freman, plus a collection of holiday inspired artistic antics curated by Wiley Basho Gorn. A holiday-inspired after-party follows.
Naughty & Nice
Drag queens, burlesque, mayhem, and more.
A Very Die Hard Christmas, The Habit, at Seattle Public Theater (11/29-12/28)
A new comedy-musical that parodies the film and asks: How on earth did this over-the-top action movie become a holiday tradition?
NWT Notes: These are wildly popular and tend to sell out early.
The Dina Martina Christmas Show, ACT Theatre (12/5-12/24)
Drag artist Dina Martina and accompanist Chris Jeffries bring a signature blend of humor, questionable song, unnecessary dance, overburdened costumes, side-splitting video, and an endless supply of gifts. The show returns to the ACTLab stage after starting out at Re-Bar over 20 years ago.
Wonderland, Can Can Culinary Cabaret (12/5-1/5/2020)
‘Tis the season to eat, drink, and be merry in a wintry Wonderland where theatre and cabaret meet. The Can Can’s intimate theatre is transformed into a whimsical winter chalet, with food, wine, and spirit menus carefully crafted with local market-fresh winter ingredients. Performers swing from the chandeliers in a glittering parade of nostalgia, exploding with dance, laughter, and cheer of yesteryear.
Jingle All the Gay, Oddfellows (12/6-12/29)
A deliciously queer and delectably extravagant holiday confection, cooked up to make even the most stubborn yuletides gay. Jingle All the Gay invites you to join its chosen family of fabulous fruitcakes in a joyful and triumphant celebration of song, dance, striptease, and holiday hilarity.
The Christmas Killings at Corgi Cliffs, Café Nordo (12/6-12/29)
Nothing says Holiday Cheer like murder! Nordo’s annual Scot Augustson “Dragatha Christie” offering sees the return of drag artist Butch Alice as Becky June Beasley-Jones, a small town girl who can’t seem to stop solving crimes. Served alongside a festive four-course meal.
Wonderland Family Friendly Brunch, Can Can Culinary Cabaret (12/7-12/21)
The kid-friendly version of the Can Can’s winter show, in a wintry Wonderland where brunch is served and theatre and cabaret meet.
Sugar Plum Gary, 18th & Union (12/13-12/24)
In what has become a Christmas tradition for the brave, somewhat beloved and sometimes celebrated comedian and storyteller Emmett Montgomery returns to 18th and Union to put on red footie pajamas with Santa Claus faces for feet and become Sugarplum Gary, a “Santanist” who used to not believe in Christmas until one magical Christmas Eve when Santa came to visit and he was the only survivor. Haunted by the visions that now dance in his head, Gary answers questions from the audience about the festive fun and cosmic horror of the holidays, a magic that is real and ancient and as deep as the space between the stars, in an effort to educate and entertain and ensure that everyone survives the night.
Taylor Mac: Holiday Sauce, touring show, at The Moore Theatre (12/19-20)
Christmas as calamity – 2017 MacArthur Fellow and Pulitzer Prize finalist Taylor Mac takes on the holidays to celebrate the season in all of its dysfunction. For this new production, Taylor Mac is joined by longtime collaborators, designer Machine Dazzle, Music Director Matt Ray, and a merry band to reframe the songs you love and the holidays you hate.
Scrooge in Rouge, Red Curtain (Marysville) (12/19-12/22)
The Royal Music Hall Twenty-Member Variety Players are beset with a widespread case of food poisoning, leaving only three able-bodied members to carry on with the planned production of the Dickens classic. The undaunted trio gamely face missed cues, ill-fitting costumes, and having no one to play Tiny Tim. Scrooge in Rouge abounds in bad puns, naughty double-entendres, and witty songs. A raucous holiday treat … and a palate-cleanser for all those suffering from too much holiday saccharine.
Takes on the Classics
Modern stagings of the standbys, with some twists.
Sherlock Holmes & the Case of the Christmas Carol, Harlequin Theatre (Olympia) (thru 12/31)
Presumed dead for three years, a hardened Sherlock Holmes resurfaces, turning his back on the people who need him most. After an ominous warning from his nemesis Professor Moriarty, three unexpected callers arrive on Christmas Eve uncovering clues from the detective’s past, present and future. Can they save Holmes and his world from a dire end? A holiday mystery from local playwright John Longenbaugh.
The Bishop’s Wife: A Live Radio Play, Taproot Theatre (thru 12/28)
A classic holiday film comes to life as a live radio broadcast with viewers as the studio audience. Dudley is an angel and the answer to Bishop Brougham’s prayer to build a new cathedral. But when the angel turns his attention to the bishop’s friends and family, Dudley’s minor miracles require divine intervention. A story of love, family, and blessings in disguise.
A Christmas Carol, ACT Theatre (11/29-12/28)
ACT’s 44th year of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, adapted by Gregory A. Falls, is directed by Kelly Kitchens this year. The festive adaptation follows the original Dickens tale taking audiences along on Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformational journey through time. Three ghostly visitors help Scrooge get into the holiday spirit, leading him on a trip through Christmases past, present, and future.
NWT Notes: backstage tours are available before certain matinee performances. An interesting look behind the theatre magic for kids and grown-ups alike.
A Christmas Story: The Musical, Edmonds Driftwood Players (11/29-12/22)
“You’ll shoot your eye out!” It’s all 9-year-old Ralphie Parker hears anytime he mentions the holiday gift of his dreams – an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. Tired of hearing the same thing over and over, Ralphie devises a plot to win the coveted holy grail of Christmas gifts. Based on the classic film, this musical adaptation features music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Lakewood Playhouse (11/29-12/28)
In the stage adaptation of the classic children’s book, a couple struggling to put on a church Christmas pageant is faced with casting the Herdman kids — probably the most inventively awful kids in history. You won’t believe the mayhem — and the fun — when the Herdmans collide with the Christmas story head on. A comedy for the whole family.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical, Red Curtain (Marysville) (11/29-12/15)
The Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world –so when they crash Sunday school and demand parts in the Christmas pageant, the whole town panics. There’s not supposed to be biting or cigar-smoking in Bethlehem, and while these kids have never even heard the Christmas story, they definitely have rewrites! Soon everyone is calling for reluctant director Grace Bradley to cancel the whole thing. It’s up to Bradley and the Reverend to help their community see the Christmas story and the Herdman kids through new eyes in this musical adaptation of Barbara Robinson’s holiday classic children’s book.
Inspecting Carol, Phoenix Theatre (Edmonds) (11/29-12/22)
Behind the scenes of a struggling theatre’s annual clumsy production of A Christmas Carol, this spoof is anything but show business as usual. The theatre learns they’ll be inspected in order to receive a grant and, as more and more things go wrong, the company tries to deal with each other while getting through the show.
Robin Hood: A Holiday Panto, CenterStage Theatre (Federal Way) (11/30-12/28)
A new holiday pantomine that tells the classic tale of the dashing thief who “steals from the rich to give to the poor,” time and again outwitting his nemesis the Sherriff of Nottingham. But when Robin gets in over his head, he’ll need his band of Merry People and the totally-out-of-his-league Maid Marion to help him save the day.
A Christmas Carol, SecondStory Repertory Theatre (Redmond) (12/6-12/23)
In its seventh year of production, this original adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is rich with traditional carols, alive with color and movement, and created to tell this enduring tale in a fashion that will appeal to people of all ages. Join the SSR family and celebrate this timeless seasonal classic right here in Redmond.
A Christmas Story: The Musical, Village Theatre Kidstage (Issaquah) (12/6-22)
“You’ll shoot your eye out!” It’s all 9-year-old Ralphie Parker hears anytime he mentions the holiday gift of his dreams – an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. Tired of hearing the same thing over and over, Ralphie devises a plot to win the coveted holy grail of Christmas gifts. Based on the classic film, this musical adaptation features music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Performed by teenage actors in Village’s Kidstage drama program.
Holiday Inn, ManeStage Theatre, at Liberty Theatre (Puyallup) (12/6-12/22)
Based on the 1942 award-winning timeless film, Holiday Inn is a fresh take on a joyous classic. This holiday romance features dance numbers, comedy and a parade of hit Irving Berlin songs, including “Blue Skies,” “Easter Parade,” “Steppin’ Out With My Baby,” “Heat Wave,” “White Christmas” and more.
Holmes for the Holidays, Tacoma Little Theatre (12/6-12/29)
It’s December 1936 and Broadway star William Gillette, admired the world over for his leading role in the play Sherlock Holmes, has invited his fellow cast members to his Connecticut castle for a weekend of revelry. But when one of the guests is stabbed to death, the festivities in this isolated house of tricks and mirrors quickly turn dangerous. It is then up to Gillette himself, as he assumes the persona of his beloved Holmes, to track down the killer before the next victim appears. A comedy murder-mystery.
Theater Anonymous: It’s a Wonderful Life, The 14/48 Projects, at Cornish Playhouse (12/7)
A one-night-only event where no one knows the cast — not even the cast. An exciting evening of theatre celebrating Seattle’s theatre community.
NWT Notes: This show is already sold out. You can check for a wait list or possible last-minute availability.
Christmas Carol Junior, SecondStory Repertory Theatre (Redmond) (12/8-12/22)
It’s story time at the North Pole, as Mrs. Claus and the elves bring the story of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge to life in this original adaptation of the Dickens classic. Meet all of the favorite characters on a journey through time, discovering the true meaning of Christmas. Afraid of ghosts? No problem. The ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future are all portrayed by the zaniest elves in Santa’s workshop.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Tacoma Little Theatre (12/14-12/28)
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, creatures were stirring, including a mouse. When Santa’s Naughty or Nice list has gone missing, it’s up to a pair of dancing mice, a spunky girl, and an Elf-B-I agent to solve the mystery before Santa boards his sleigh. A family-friendly comic take on the classic poem.
Fairies & Dancing Rodents
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Balanchine’s eternal Christmas ballet, with Tchaikovsky’s addictive score, abounds around the area. Here are some places to see The Nutcracker and its many variations.
The Nutcracker, Pacific Northwest Ballet (11/29-12/28)
PNB’s best-selling holiday classic, The Nutcracker is a fantastical combination of Ian Falconer’s unique design, Tchaikovsky’s beloved score, and the entire Company of dancers.
The Hard Nut, Mark Morris Dance Group touring show, at The Paramount Theatre (12/6-12/15)
Celebrating its 28th anniversary, The Hard Nut is a lavish, gender-bent love letter to the classic The Nutcracker. Based on E.T.A Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, Mark Morris’ version takes it from the straight-laced 1890s to the swinging ’70s, with raucous parties, dancing G.I. Joes, whimsical costumes, and a Waltz of the Snowflakes like no other.
The Harlem Nutcracker, Donald Byrd, at On the Boards (12/12-12/15)
More than 20 years since its debut, Byrd’s reimagination of The Nutcracker gets an update, in this workshop production ahead of its 2021 premiere. The story centers around an African American family in Harlem at Christmas, highlighting the centrality and significance of the grandmother in African-American culture, the resilience of Black American families, and Harlem as a center of the African Diaspora.
Buttcracker, Erickson Theatre (12/13-12/22)
The modern-dance variety show returns in a haze of sweat, glitter, and hairspray, saluting the glory of ’80s hair metal with a festive mix of modern dance and holiday satire.
Don We Now Our Gay Apparel
Holiday concerts from the local GALA choruses.
‘Tis the Season, Seattle Men’s Chorus with The Supertonics, at various locations (11/30-12/22)
Kick off the holidays with the merry voices of SMC, a-caroling with a rocking and rolling celebration for the jolliest time of year. Shows at Benaroya Hall (Seattle), Rialto Theater (Tacoma), and Everett Civic Auditorium (Everett).
Feast, Puget Soundworks, at various locations (12/7-12/8)
Celebrate the inclusive chorus’ second season with a feast of winter holiday carols old and new, featuring songs of water bears and angels, pumpkin pie and figgy pudding, abundance and want. With a dash of Stevie Wonder’s “Someday at Christmas,” a sprinkling of Artistic Director Eric Lane Barnes’ “Hanukkah Rhapsody” and a smidge of “Kuumba” — creativity, the sixth principle of Kwanzaa — the table is set for everyone. Performances in Seattle (12/7) and Bellevue (12/8).
NWT Notes: Relative newcomer Puget Soundworks, which features many past members of the well-known Seattle Men’s and Women’s Choruses, puts on an exuberant show, with great voices, hilarious tunes, and tender stories. Read NWT’s review of a prior show here.
Chase D. Anderson is Editor & Producer of NWTheatre.org.