Celebrate the season in New York City this year with a wide array of Christmas-themed shows that offers something to delight everyone. From time-honored traditions and classic works to eye-popping spectacles and cabaret concerts, these ten selections (arranged by genre, not ranked in order of preference) are sure to brighten up the New York stage and guaranteed to put you in a festive holiday spirit!
1. A Christmas Carol – London’s acclaimed Old Vic production of Charles Dickens’ haunting Victorian tale of transformation and redemption has come to Broadway for a strictly limited eight-week engagement. The new adaptation by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) features immersive staging, twelve old-time favorite Christmas carols, and star performances by Campbell Scott, Andrea Martin, and LaChanze, for a dazzling, magical, heartwarming experience that will appeal to all ages.
2. The Gospel of John – Broadway’s Ken Jennings brings the word of the Evangelist to life in an intimate solo performance of the New Testament book by Christ’s “Beloved Disciple.” Though Jennings made some cuts in consideration of a manageable running time and a fluid theatrical presentation (in consultation with four Christian ecclesiastics), the Drama Desk Award-winning actor retains the soaring poetic language, eyewitness details, and theological essence of the saint’s Biblical account, in his portrayal of John and the other historical figures he chronicled.
3. George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker – New York City Ballet’s sumptuous production of the annual favorite returns to Lincoln Center, with its unforgettable combination of Tchaikovsky’s iconic score and Balanchine’s legendary choreography. As the imaginative story shifts from genteel period-style realism to breathtaking fantasy at the stroke of midnight, the elaborate staging and artistry encompass battling nutcrackers and mice, dancing sugar plum fairies and snowflakes, and a one-ton Christmas tree that grows from twelve feet high to a towering 41 feet. Everything about it is astonishing and designed to bring out the childlike wonderment in all of us.
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker plays November 29, 2019-January 5, 2020, at the New York City Ballet, performing at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center – 20 Lincoln Center Plaza, NYC. For tickets, call (212) 837-7400, or purchase them online.
4. Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring the Rockettes – An annual staple in New York City since 1933, 36 of the 80 internationally renowned Rockettes take to the stage in the world’s largest indoor theater at Radio City Music Hall, transformed into a winter wonderland for their famous holiday revue of music and dance. Filled with the company’s signature high-kicks and flawless synchronicity, Christmas carols and a “Living Nativity” that includes real sheep and camels, the evolving show now also features live aerialists and high-tech visuals that engulf the entire house and audience in 3D projections and 100 twinkling mini-drones flying overhead to create the illusion of stars in the winter sky.
Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring the Rockettes plays through January 5, 2020, at Radio City Music Hall – 1260 Avenue of the Americas, NYC. For tickets, call (866) 858-0007, or purchase them online.
5. Twas the Night Before . . . – Cirque du Soleil’s first-ever Christmas show puts a new spin on the original 19th-century poem, with the troupe’s thrilling display of acrobatics and circus arts. As the young Isabella and her father enjoy their traditional bedtime reading of the defining verse on Christmas Eve, she is mesmerized by the beauty and excitement of the Land of the Poem that opens up before her eyes. Then Santa arrives, opens his sack, and kicks off a light-and-confetti-filled party, signaling that Christmas has come. It promises to be a whole lot of amazing, colorful, family-friendly fun.
6. Slava’s Snowshow – World-famous Russian clown and mime Slava Polunin brings his unique theatrical creation (which has played internationally since its debut in Moscow in 1993) back to Broadway a decade after its New York premiere in 2009. Joined by a posse of fellow clown characters that he invented, he roams through a wintry landscape with a fusion of drama and laughter, to find the joy in believing that anything is possible. The fully immersive tragicomic performance is filled with fantastic sets and colorful lighting, so let your imagination run wild and release your inner child with this arresting and heartfelt event for the whole family.
7. Christmas Carol Cocktails – Back for its fifth year, The Imbible’s distinctive blend of mixology, history, a cappella harmonies, zany comedy, and audience participation warms up the winter with its high-spirited take-off on Dickens’ vision of Christmas past, present, and future, as seen through the lens of a cocktail glass! The brainchild of master mixologist Anthony Caporale, the holiday installment (as with the entire series of his imbibing-themed shows) includes three sample drinks of the eras, mixed up fresh on stage in the context of the narrative, then distributed throughout the house by the amiable cast. VIP tickets are also available, to get you seated right on stage with the actors and their intoxicating creations.
Christmas Carol Cocktails plays November 22-December 28, 2019, at The Producers Club Theaters, Royal Theater – 358 West 44th Street, 2nd floor, NYC. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online.
8. The 12th Annual Joe Iconis Christmas Extravaganza – After a phenomenal season in 2019, with shows on and off Broadway, at regional theaters and special events, Joe Iconis returns to his home-away-from-home at Feinstein’s/54 Below for his yearly yuletide blow-out with a roster of long-time friends, family, and collaborators performing a set list of new songs and old holiday favorites. Written by Iconis, the ever-popular cabaret is expected to be a wild and merry celebration by an all-star cast that is part theater, part rock-and-roll, part wacky “whiskey-fueled” theme-park attraction come to life, and fully entertaining.
9. The Boy Band Brunch Holiday Edition – A recurrent favorite at The Green Room 42, The Boy Band Project never fails to make Sunday brunch the best meal of the week, when the super-hot foursome delivers spot-on covers of the biggest guy-group hits since the ‘90s, with smooth harmonies, sexy solos, and sizzling choreography. Back for three dates in December with a spanking new Christmas show, the set list will include some old Christmas favorites, a selection of holiday songs by *NSYNC, New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, and 98˚, along with the debut of the BBP’s Christmas single “Jingle My Bells.” So put on your red and green scrunchie and get ready to be a screamy fan-kid, whatever your age.
10. Paige Turner: Jingle All the Way! – Drag sensation Paige Turner gives new meaning to the lyrics “don we now our gay apparel” with an all-new holiday special of over-the-top parodies, outrageous videos, and blockbuster performances of Christmas hits by Bing Crosby, Barbra Streisand, Mariah Carey, and more. Co-starring the hilarious comic and actor Remy Germinario (a regular on the New York stand-up circuit) and James Mills in his annual appearance as Carol Channing, the “holly jolly” evening considers the true spirit of Christmas in true Paige Turner style – and that means lots of shopping, lots of presents, and getting your stocking stuffed!
With such a fabulous selection of shows, this truly is “the most wonderful time of the year” for theater-lovers in New York! Get your tickets early, because some of the limited runs have already begun and all are likely to sell out fast.