By Nancy Ford
A Christmas Carol. A ghost story of Christmas returns this year with a re-telling of Charles Dickens’ classic story that follows Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey with the three ghosts that visit him on Christmas Eve. A Christmas Carol instills a powerful message about redemption and the spirit of the holiday season. Tickets start at $38. Hubbard Stage, Alley Theatre, 615 Texas Ave. Info: www.alleytheatre.org or 713/220-5700.
A Christmas Story. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the classic film, this holiday cult-classic returns for its third season on the Texas Rep stage, recalling nine-year-old Ralphie Parker’s undying quest to get a Red Ryder BB gun under the Christmas tree. $35; seniors/military personnel receive 10 percent discount; students w/I.D. receive 50 percent discount. The Texas Repertory Theatre Co., Northwood Plaza, 14243 Stuebner Airline. Info: www.texreptheatre.org or 281/583-7573.
The Nutcracker is the holiday classic in a dazzling spectacle of holiday glitter with dancing dolls, flying cooks, giant rats, and living snowflakes. Plan now to see this magical show by the Houston Ballet. Tickets start at $25. Brown Theater at Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas at Smith. Info: www.houstonballet.org or 713/227-2787.
White Christmas—The Musical. TUTS presents a brand-new old-fashioned family musical as rare as Texas snow. Borrowing liberally from the 1954 movie everyone loves and sprinkled with Irving Berlin’s best songs, including “White Christmas,” “Blue Skies,” and “Count Your Blessings,” this heartwarming show about two war veterans-turned-vaudeville hoofers, the songbird sisters they can’t help but fall for, and the retired general whose upstate farm they all invade at Yuletide is truly a spectacle not to be missed. Tickets start at $32. Theatre Under The Stars, Sarofim Hall, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby, Suite 200. Info: www.tuts.com or 713/558-TUTS (8887).
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. It’s time for the school Christmas pageant. When the organizer breaks her leg, Grace Bradley cheerfully steps in as director, but she is challenged by the notorious Herdman children. Known for their bullying, biting, and just plain awful behavior around the schoolyard, Grace struggles to contain the chaos they cause as she hopes for a true Christmas miracle. $12–$20. The Country Playhouse, 12802 Queensbury Ln. Info: www.countryplayhouse.org or 713/467-4497.
The Santaland Diaries. Based on the outlandish, and true, chronicles of David Sedaris’ experience as Crumpet the Elf in Macy’s SantaLand display, this hilarious cult classic features comic encounters during the height of the holiday crunch. NPR humorist and best-selling openly gay author of When You Are Engulfed in Flames, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, Sedaris has become one of America’s pre-eminent humor writers. Featuring company member Todd Waite. Mature audiences. Tickets start at $30. Neuhaus Stage, The Alley Theatre, 615 Texas Ave. Info: www.alleytheatre.org or 713/220-5700.
Christmas by Candlelight at Galveston’s Michel B. Menard House. The dining room of Galveston’s oldest home will be ornamentally set for a special caroling party as might have been held there in 1850. Enjoy one-hour tours by costumed guides, seasonal music and holiday refreshments. $10. Reservations required. 1838 Menard House, 1605 33rd St., Galveston. Info: www.galvestonhistory.com/Dickens_Special_Events.asp.
6 & 7
Dickens on the Strand. Galveston’s annual holiday event celebrates Charles Dickens’ Victorian London with food, festivities, parades, period-dressed characters and so much more! $6 and $12 (age 6 or under free). Visitors in Victorian-era costumes: half-price admission. Info: www.dickensonthestrand.org or 409/765-7834.
6 & 13
A Little House Christmas is based on the classic book Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Ingalls family hosts their neighbors for an early Christmas dinner to thank them for welcoming them to the area. They awaken on Christmas Day to find themselves stranded by bad weather, and it seems all is lost for any hope of Santa’s arrival. Join Mary and Laura in this holiday classic as they learn the true meaning of friendship and the Christmas spirit. This family favorite is best enjoyed by children aged five and older. $8–$12. Main Street Theater Chelsea Market, 4617 Montrose Blvd. Info: www.mainstreettheater.com or 713/524-6706.
Sounds of the Season: Handel’s Messiah. An enduring classic with its powerful music, uplifting refrains, and timeless majesty, George Frideric Handel’s The Messiah tells the story of Jesus Christ’s life and works. Ars Lyrica, Houston’s premiere early music ensemble, in collaboration with the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music Concert Chorale, ushers in the holiday season with this most memorable work. $10 & $15. 3 p.m. Moores Opera House, 120 School of Music Building. (Use UH Entrance 16, off Cullen.) Info: www.arslyricahouston.org, 713/743-3388, or 713/315-2525.
The Bayou City Women’s Chorus: A Wish for the World. St. Paul’s Prime Timers invites you to hear a heavenly concert focused on angels and the spiritual forces of healing and peace for the planet, featuring a mixture of traditional Christmas music and Broadway. Selections include “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Boogie Woogie Santa,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Let It Snow,” and a Broadway medley of holiday songs from shows over the years. Meet in Fondren Hall at 10:30 a.m., concert at 11 a.m.; lunch at noon. $5. RSVP by Tues., Dec. 9, to reserve lunch: [email protected] or 713/528-0527. St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 5501 Main St. Info: www.stpaulshouston.org.
A Cyrus Chestnut Christmas is presented by Da Camera of Houston. Enjoy energetic and memorable jazz versions of Christmas favorites, featuring recording artist Cyrus Chestnut, vocalist Vanessa Rubin, Eric Alexander on saxophone, and Brian Lynch playing trumpet. $30–$50. Students/senior citizens, half price w/ valid ID. 8 p.m. Cullen Theater, Wortham Theater Center, 500 Texas at Smith. Info/tickets: Da Camera Music Center, 1427 Branard or www.dacamera.com or 713/524-5050.
12 & 13
46th Annual Candlelight Tour at Sam Houston Park. The Heritage Society invites you and your family to share in the in the sights and sounds of an old-fashioned Christmas as Houston’s past comes alive by glowing candlelight. Enjoy tours and staged performances inside the historic buildings, each decorated to represent an era of Houston’s history. Carolers, storytellers, and crafters will entertain visitors, plus an array of children’s activities await in The Gingerbread House—including St. Nicholas. $5 and $10 (children 12 and under free). 6:30–9:30 p.m. The Heritage Society Museum, 1100 Bagby, Sam Houston Park. Info: www.heritagesociety.org or 713/655-1912.
Very Merry Pops. Delight in this joyous annual tradition of 200 musicians—principal Pops conductor Michael Krajewski, the Houston Symphony, the Houston Symphony Chorus, and a very special guest, Santa Claus. Enjoy the movie and live performance of the soundtrack to the magical holiday animated film, The Snowman. Also hear excerpts from The Nutcracker. Tickets start at $30. Houston Symphony, Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana St. Info: www.houstonsymphony.org or 713/224-7575.
The Christmas Revels: An Elizabethan Celebration of the Winter Solstice. Revels Houston brings a brand-new whimsical show to Houston, featuring spirited madrigals from the time period, and an enthusiastic cast of local singers, actors, and dancers. Will Kemp, Shakespeare’s famous clown, has just finished Morris dancing all the way from London to Norwich in nine days, and as the town prepares for a visit from Queen Elizabeth I, a feisty troupe of rude mechanicals put a farcical spin on the event. In a bring-down-the-house version of “Lord of the Dance,” everyone dances joyously through the aisles. The show ends with everyone singing the rousing “Sussex Mummers’ Carol.” $15–$30. Lowe Theater in the Virginia Stuller Tatham Fine Arts Center, 2401 Claremont, on the campus of St. John’s School, 2707 Buffalo Speedway (at Westheimer). Info: www.revelshouston.org, 713/668-3303, or 713/669-9528.
St. Paul’s Movable Labyrinth for Advent prayer and meditation. Found in many religious traditions in various forms around the world, the Labyrinth is an archetype of the journey of a spiritual seeker, a symbol of unity and wholeness. Set up indoors, the Labyrinth will be in the church’s activity center, which is on the second floor of the Sanctuary Building. St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 5501 Main St. Info: www.stpaulshouston.org or 713/528-0527.
Children’s Christmas Candlelight Service. Led by St. Paul’s children’s choirs, this service is especially for children and their families and includes a live nativity, the singing of carols by all, and the lighting of individual candles. People of all ages, with or without children, are invited to attend. 4:30 p.m. St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 5501 Main St. Info: www.stpaulshouston.org or 713/528-0527.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Services. Plan your holiday to attend one of four different services at St. Paul’s Sanctuary on Christmas Eve. All services will include the lighting of candles. The services earlier in the day are more appropriate for young children. Noon, Service of Holy Communion, with sermon and choir soloist; 5 p.m., Service of Lessons and Carols with the Treble Choir and an ensemble from the St. Paul’s Choir; 7 p.m., Service of Lessons and Carols with the St. Paul’s Choir; 9 p.m., Service of Holy Communion with a sermon and the St. Paul’s Choir. St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 5501 Main St. Info: www.stpaulshouston.org or 713/528-0527.