Love 'em or hate 'em, there's no avoiding the holidays, and that's true on local stages as well as the shopping malls. But even the Scroogiest of souls could find something to celebrate in the gifts of theater, dance, and music offered up this season by companies large and small throughout the region. Here are some options ranging from traditional to irreverent, classical to pop.
"A Christmas Carol": Often credited with forming our ideas of what a traditional Christmas means, stage versions of
Goodman Theatre, through Dec. 29; Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, Arlington Heights, Nov. 23-Dec. 24; Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook Terrace, Nov. 23-Dec. 22 (kids' version); Theatreworks USA (kids' version), The Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University, University Park, Nov. 30-Dec. 1 and Pfeiffer Hall, North Central College, Naperville, Dec. 2; "A Christmas Carol (Abridged)," Dream Theatre Company, Dec. 15-Jan. 6
"Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol": Tom Mula, himself a former longtime Scrooge at the Goodman Theatre, penned this re-telling of the tale from Marley's point of view. Meiley-Swallow Theatre, North Central College, Naperville; Dec. 13-15
"Scrooge the Musical": Leslie Bricusse's musical version, adapted from the 1970 film starring
"A Klingon Christmas Carol": Commedia Beauregard's Trekkie version goes to a distant galaxy — OK, it's really Edgewater. Raven Theatre; Dec. 1-30
"Charles Dickens Begrudgingly Performs 'A Christmas Carol.' Again.": Blake Montgomery reprises his solo show-within-a-show in which a disgruntled Dickens performs his greatest hit — and rediscovers its magic. The Building Stage; Nov. 29-Dec. 24
"The Cricket on the Hearth": Or you could explore another Dickens Christmas tale about domestic woes and the redemption of love, as adapted and directed by Edward Kuffert. City Lit Theater Company; Dec. 21-Jan. 6
"The Chimes": Make it a hat trick and see yet a third Dickens Christmas tale — this one adapted and performed by Remy Bumppo artistic director Nick Sandys. Greenhouse Theater Center; Dec. 15-23
"The Christmas Schooner": The Rouse Simmons sails again with its load of evergreens headed for Chicago. This year's production marks the 100th anniversary of its last voyage and includes a tribute to composer/lyricist Julie Shannon, who died this past September. Mercury Theater; Nov. 23-Dec. 30
"Joy to the World": Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre offers a matinee-only celebration of seasonal songs. No Exit Café; through Dec. 23
The Second City: Various iterations of The Second City's irreverent take on holiday themes play around the area, plus the annual "The Second City That Never Sleeps: Letters to Santa" 24-hour music and improv marathon benefiting Onward Neighborhood House.
"The Second City's Nut-Cracking Holiday Revue," UP Comedy Club, through Dec. 31; "The Second City's Holidays in the Heights," Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, Arlington Heights, Nov. 23-Jan. 4; "The Second City Dysfunctional Holiday Revue," Fox Valley Repertory, Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles, Dec. 7-21 and Copley Theatre, Aurora, Dec. 13-23; "The Second City That Never Sleeps: Letters to Santa," The Second City e.t.c.; Dec. 18-19
"It's a Wonderful Santa Land Miracle Nut Cracking Christmas Story ... Jews Welcome": Street Tempo Theatre's multimedia, family-friendly, nondenominational extravaganza. Stage 773; through Dec. 30
"Hannukatz the Musical": The rock-and-roll
"Best Musical!": Porchlight Music Theatre offers a holiday version of their completely improvised musical comedy. Stage 773; Nov. 28-Dec. 26
"The Santaland Diaries": Theater Wit's annual presentation of David Sedaris' dyspeptic tale of working as a
"A BEER Carol": Sean Benjamin and Steve Mosqueda offer a hops-inflected live radio play inspired by Dickens and featuring evil brewmeister Bud Miller. Drinking & Writing Theater at Haymarket Pub & Brewery; Nov. 24-Dec. 19
"Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer": Everyone's favorite cross-dressing caribou celebrates 15 years with Hell in a Handbag. Mary's Attic; Nov. 29-Dec. 30
"El Stories: Holiday Train": The Waltzing Mechanics' ongoing series of playlets inspired by true-life tales adds a holiday twist. Greenhouse Theater Center; Nov. 24-Jan. 5
"Mother Superior's Ho-Ho-Holy Night": The holiday spin-off of "Late Nite Catechism" returns, with Sister looking for ideas for the best Nativity pageant ever. Royal George Theatre; Nov. 23-Dec. 27
"A Dirty '30s Christmas": Farrell Walsh's Dustbowl-era show features gangsters, dames, and a prison break in rural Kansas. Chemically Imbalanced Comedy; Dec. 7-29
"Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Goose": Raven Theatre gives a radio-style staging and a holiday twist to Arthur Conan Doyle. Raven Theatre; Dec. 14-30
"Sleeping Indoors": A mysterious homeless man joins a wealthy family at the holidays in James Holt's play. Gorilla Tango Theatre, Skokie; Nov. 24-Dec. 15
"The Kiss Kiss Cabaret Holiday Spectacular!": The burlesque performers shake their sugar-plums in this holiday edition of the long-running late-night hit. Greenhouse Theater Center; Nov. 30-Dec. 21
"Everything is Terrible! The Cataclysmic Transformation": The local found-footage performance art maestros return with an out-of-this-world holiday special pieced together from bizarre video, presented with puppets, sing-a-longs, and tacky decorations galore. Lincoln Hall; Dec. 21
"The Family Fruitcake": A typical American family sits down for a holiday dinner in Rebecca Frohling's comedy — which can only mean that chaos ensues. Albright Theatre, Batavia; Dec. 7-16
"Vienna Boys Choir": Angelic voices kick off the holiday season. Symphony Center; Nov. 24
"The Moscow Boys Choir": More cherubic sounds with an Eastern European twist. James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts, College of Lake County,
"A Chanticleer Christmas": From boys to men — one of the most celebrated all-male choirs in the world makes their annual downtown appearance. Symphony Center; Dec. 4-5
"Make the Yuletide Gay": The Chicago Gay Men's Chorus tours with some of the greatest holiday hits from their first 30 years. Francis W. Parker School, Dec. 7-8;
"Welcome Yule!": The
"Do-It-Yourself Messiah": Handel's oratorio lets everyone make a joyful noise. Harris Theater, Dec. 17-18; Raue Center for the Arts, Crystal Lake, Dec. 9
"Amahl and the Night Visitors": Chamber Opera Chicago's annual presentation of Gian Carlo Menotti's tale of a crippled shepherd boy who meets three kings is, as usual, directed by Menotti's son, Francis.
"Duke It Out": Tchaikovsky and
"Home for the Holidays with the Bourne Family": Often praised as the contemporary version of the Von Trapp Family Singers, mother Lisa and her eight kids offer a selection of traditional carols and international
"Kol Zimrah Choir: Hanukkah and More": Songs in celebration of the Jewish Festival of Lights.
"Tidings of Tap!": Chicago Tap Theatre sets holiday classics — including "Carol of the Bells," "Hava Nagila," and "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" — to a footloose beat. UIC Theatre, Dec. 14-16
"Mannheim Steamroller": If you like your Yule with a New Age flavor, roll out to Rosemont. Akoo Theatre, Rosemont; Dec. 1
"His Way for the Holidays": Ron Hawking brings his holiday homage to Sinatra, Bing,
"A Very Dino Christmas": Peter Oprisko channels
"Blind Boys of Alabama — Go Tell It On the Mountain": The living legends of gospel perform their 2003 Christmas album in its entirety. City Winery Chicago; Dec. 8
"Happy Holidays Broadway Style": Some of Chicago's top musical actors join together for one night in a mix of holiday staples and Broadway hits.
"Celtic Woman: A Christmas Celebration": The Irish songstresses, backed by a full symphony, present traditional Celtic carols with a contemporary twist. Pfeiffer Hall, North Central College, Naperville; Dec. 8-9
"Cherish the Ladies Celtic Christmas:" More seasonal songs from Gaelic gals.
"The Most Wonderful Time of the Year": Chicago cabaret favorites Laura Freeman, Beckie Menzie, and Marianne Murphy-Orland cover the holiday songbook from traditional to modern. Metropolis Performing Arts Centre,
"BETTY, the Holiday Show": The quirky pop-rock female trio from New York delivers holiday classics with surprises. City Winery Chicago; Dec. 19