Lots of 'nice' -- and a few 'naughty' -- holiday theater shows to see in Chicago, suburbs

  • Thomas Mansour plays Tiny Tim and Stan Austin plays Ebenezer Scrooge in BrightSide Theatre's production of "A Christmas Carol the Musical."

    Thomas Mansour plays Tiny Tim and Stan Austin plays Ebenezer Scrooge in BrightSide Theatre's production of "A Christmas Carol the Musical." Courtesy of Elizabeth King

 
 
Updated 11/27/2019 10:50 AM

Glad tidings, theatergoers.

When it comes to holiday offerings, family-friendly fare dominates on Chicago and suburban stages. But there are a few alternatives for those who favor more mature shows. Check out our list of a few "naughty" -- and lots of "nice" -- holiday theater options.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Come a 'Carol'-ing

• Chicago-area favorite Larry Yando returns for the 12th time as Ebenezer Scrooge in Goodman Theatre's "A Christmas Carol." Joining Yando in her third consecutive production is Yorkville's Paris Strickland as Tiny Tim. Performances run through Dec. 29 at 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. (312) 443-3800 or goodmantheatre.org.

• BrightSide Theatre opens its ninth season with "A Christmas Carol The Musical" with music by Alan Menken ("Beauty and the Beast," "The Little Mermaid") and Lynn Ahrens ("Ragtime," "Seussical"). It runs Nov. 29 through Dec. 15 at the Theatre at Meiley-Swallow Hall, North Central College, 31 S. Ellsworth St., Naperville. (630) 447-8497 or brightsidetheatre.com.

• Steel Beam Theatre premieres John David Westby's "The Ballad of CC Scrooge #christmasmakeover" about high-powered businesswoman CC Scrooge who discards family and friends to pursue professional success. It runs Nov. 29 through Dec. 29 at 111 W. Main St., St. Charles. (630) 587-8521 or steelbeamtheatre.com.

• Drury Lane Theatre presents a 60-minute adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" for young audiences, who, on select dates, may dine with Santa. The production runs Nov. 29 through Dec. 23 at 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace. (630) 530-0111 or drurylanetheatre.com.

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• 16th Street Theater premieres "Xmas Cuento Remix," Maya Malan-Gonzalez's modern take on Dickens' tale in which charity-averse pub owner Dolores turns her back on a struggling family member until three sassy spirits intervene. Performances run Nov. 29 through Dec. 29 at the North Berwyn Park District, 6420 16th St., Berwyn. (708) 795-6704 or 16thstreettheater.org.

• GQ, JQ, Jax and Pos, known as the Q Brothers Collective, return to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater with the roof-raising "ad-rap-tation" "Q Brothers Christmas Carol." Performances run Nov. 29 through Dec. 23 at Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. (312) 595-5600 or chicagoshakes.com.

• After 10 years, Metropolis Performing Arts Centre stages Krista Scott's adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" featuring Crystal Lake's Steve Connell as Ebenezer Scrooge. It runs Dec. 1-24 at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.

Dara Cameron and Michael Mahler perform in American Blues Theater's 18th anniversary production of "It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!"
Dara Cameron and Michael Mahler perform in American Blues Theater's 18th anniversary production of "It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!" - Courtesy of Michael Brosilow
'Wonderful Life'

• American Blues Theater marks the 18th anniversary of its audience favorite "It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!" The 1940s-style radio play adaptation of Frank Capra's classic film includes Foley sound effects, carols and an original score. Audiences are invited to join the cast for post-show cookies and milk. It runs through Jan. 4 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. (773) 654-3103 or americanbluestheater.com.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

• Improv Playhouse Theater's radio-style production of "It's a Wonderful Life" runs Dec. 7 and 8, 13-15 and 20-21, at 735 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville. (847) 968-4529 or improvplayhouse.com.

• Oil Lamp Theater's "It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play," adapted by Joe Landry, runs Nov. 29 through Dec. 29, at 1723 Glenview Road, Glenview. (847) 834-0738 or oillamptheater.org.

Second City sendups

"The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Sweater," runs Nov. 29 through Dec. 22 at the Copley Theatre, 8 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora. (630) 896-6666 or paramountaurora.com.

• Another "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Sweater" runs Dec. 21-31 at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.

"Deck the Hallmark: A Greeting Card Channel Original," a parody of made-for-TV holiday movies, runs through Dec. 31 at Up Comedy Club, Piper's Alley, 230 W. North Ave., Chicago. (312) 337-3992 or secondcity.com.

Something for everyone

• Northlight Theatre's "The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley" marks Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon's second holiday sequel to Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" in which the unwelcome return of scoundrel George Wickham, husband to Lizzie's sister Lydia, upends holiday plans. It runs through Dec. 22 at 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. (847) 673-6300 or northlight.org.

Clara (Amaris Sanchez) bids farewell to her brother Fritz (Dwayne Everett) in The House Theatre of Chicago's annual production of its dance-free adaptation of "The Nutcracker."
Clara (Amaris Sanchez) bids farewell to her brother Fritz (Dwayne Everett) in The House Theatre of Chicago's annual production of its dance-free adaptation of "The Nutcracker." - Courtesy of Michael Brosilow

• The House Theatre of Chicago's original, ballet-free version of E.T.A. Hoffman's "The Nutcracker," about a grieving family, boasts new puppets, revised sets and a family that includes a same-sex couple. The 10th anniversary production runs through Dec. 29 at The Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St., Chicago. (773) 769-3832 or thehousetheatre.com.

• Lookingglass Theatre remounts "The Steadfast Tin Soldier: A Christmas Pantomime," director Mary Zimmerman's adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's tale of a toy soldier in love with a paper ballerina. It runs through Jan. 26 at Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago. (312) 337-0665 or lookingglasstheatre.org.

Alex Stein stars in Lookingglass Theatre's remount of "The Steadfast Tin Soldier: A Christmas Pantomime," director Mary Zimmerman's adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's tale.
Alex Stein stars in Lookingglass Theatre's remount of "The Steadfast Tin Soldier: A Christmas Pantomime," director Mary Zimmerman's adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's tale. - Courtesy of Liz Lauren

• A rag doll named Eleanor longs for a best friend and a new home in the new tuner "Eleanor's Very Merry Christmas Wish -- The Musical" based on the children's book by Chicago's Denise McGowan Tracy. It runs through Dec. 29 at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. (773) 404-7336 or eleanorswish.com.

• A toy store cashier is transported to a strange land where she and a ragtag group of playthings try to rescue the kidnapped Santa in the new holiday musical "The Land of Forgotten Toys." Performances run through Dec. 29 at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. (773) 404-7336, greenhousetheater.org or landofforgottentoysthemusical.com.

• The Annoyance Theatre's annual Christmas pageant pairing stage adaptations of animated favorites "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" runs through Dec. 28 at 851 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. (773) 697-9693 or theannoyance.com.

• Cirque du Soleil premieres its new production "'Twas the Night Before ..." about a young girl who recaptures her holiday spirit after an encounter with Clement Clarke Moore's characters. It runs Nov. 29 through Dec. 9 at The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., Chicago. (800) 745-3000 or chicagotheatre.com/cirque.

• A record-breaking cold snap strands volunteers at a holiday depression hotline in Raven Theatre's premiere of "Cold Town/Hotline: A Chicago Holiday Story." Performances run Nov. 30 through Dec. 22 at 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago. (773) 338-2177 or raventheatre.com.

• Chicago Immersive marks its debut with "Grace and the Hanukkah Miracle," an interfaith showcase of one family's traditions from the creative team responsible for Strawdog Theatre's "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins." It runs Dec. 1 through Jan. 5 at Grace Lutheran Church, 1430 South Blvd., Evanston. (773) 236-2172 or chicagoimmersive.com.

• California gold miners rescue a baby abandoned in the California Sierras and raise him for 10 years, until the boy's aunt arrives and threatens to take him to Boston, in Norman Allen's "The Christmas Foundling." Pride Films and Plays' production runs Dec. 7 through Jan. 5 at 4147 N. Broadway, Chicago. (773) 857-0222 or pridefilmsandplays.com.

Jack Morsovillo, center holding dreidel, plays the titular character in Strawdog Theatre's "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins." The cast also includes Josh Pennington, left, Sarah Bacinich, Leo Zhu, Cohen Kraus and Brianna Joy Ford.
Jack Morsovillo, center holding dreidel, plays the titular character in Strawdog Theatre's "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins." The cast also includes Josh Pennington, left, Sarah Bacinich, Leo Zhu, Cohen Kraus and Brianna Joy Ford. - Courtesy of Jon Cole

• Strawdog Theatre remounts its original adaptation of Eric Kimmel's children's book "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins," about a young man who outsmarts goblins terrorizing the synagogue in time for Hanukkah. It runs Dec. 7-29 at 1802 W. Berenice Ave., Chicago. (773) 644-1380 or strawdog.org.

• Otherworld Theatre remounts Joseph Zettelmaier's holiday fable "The Winter Wolf," about a young girl who attempts to stop the wolf from taking the life of her beloved grandfather. Performances run Dec. 7-29 at 3914 N. Clark St., Chicago. (773) 857-2116 or otherworldtheatre.org.

• Broadway in Chicago presents "Irving Berlin's White Christmas," adapted from the 1954 film starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as a song-and-dance duo romancing singing sisters while also trying to save their former army commander's Vermont inn. Performances run Dec. 10-15 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago. (800) 775-2000 or whitechristmasthemusical.com.

For mature audiences

• Vicki Quade, co-creator of "Late Nite Catechism," returns to the Royal George Theatre with her interactive show "Christmas Bingo: It's a Ho-Ho-Holy Night." Quade, Kathleen Puls Andrade, Lisa Braatz, Liz Cloud and Cheryl Roy alternate in the role of bingo caller Mary Margaret O'Brien. Performances run through Dec. 29 at 1641 N. Halsted St., Chicago. (312) 988-9000 or theroyalgeorgetheatre.com.

• Emory Marmot's winter burrow is threatened after her squirrely sister skips town in "Emory Marmot's Hidey-Hole Christmas," a play-with-music about woodland creatures. It runs through Dec. 13 at Judy's Beat Lounge, Piper's Alley, 230 W. North Ave., Chicago. (312) 337-3992 or secondcity.com.

• Writer/actor Steven Strafford takes on the role of the acerbic elf Crumpet in Goodman Theatre's production of "The Santaland Diaries," based on David Sedaris' recollections of his stint working as a Macy's elf. It runs Nov. 29 through Dec. 29 at 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. (312) 443-3800 or goodmantheatre.org.

• The Curious Theatre Branch presents "Xmas Time at Lost Pines," an anti-Christmas one-act about three strangers who meet at a tree farm. It runs Dec. 6-14 at Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston Ave., Chicago. (773) 742-5420 or propthtr.org.

• The reality TV sendup "America's Best Outcast Toy -- An Oddball Holiday Reality Musical," involving a competition between the castaway toys Rudolph rescued, begins performances Nov. 29 at Pride Films and Plays, 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago. (773) 857-0222 or pridefilmsandplays.com.

• Porchlight Music Theatre presents "Burning Bluebeard," The Ruffians' moving meditation on the horrific fire that claimed the lives of more than 600 people at the Iroquois Theatre in 1903. In this version, six clowns emerge from the ashes to complete the play cut short by tragedy. It runs Dec. 7-29 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. (773) 777-9884 or porchlightmusictheatre.org.

• The Factory Theater tells a holiday tale in the style of "The Avengers" film series in "Xmas War II: Endgame." Performances run Dec. 13-21 at 1623 W. Howard St., Chicago. (866) 811-4111 or thefactorytheater.com.

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