It's (holiday) show time: Suburban, city theaters rebound from the pandemic with a plethora of seasonal offerings

  • Larry Yando, seen here in Goodman Theatre's 2021 production of "A Christmas Carol," reprises his role as Ebenezer Scrooge for the 15th time.

    Larry Yando, seen here in Goodman Theatre's 2021 production of "A Christmas Carol," reprises his role as Ebenezer Scrooge for the 15th time. Courtesy of Liz Lauren

 
 
Updated 11/24/2022 9:18 AM

If Christmas 2021 saw Chicago-area theaters beginning to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, Christmas 2022 suggests it's about complete, with many companies producing as many holiday shows as they did pre-pandemic. Maybe more.

Moreover, for the first time in recent memory, Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, Citadel, Drury Lane, First Folio, Marriott, Metropolis, Music Theater Works, Northlight, Paramount, Steel Beam and Writers theaters are all staging holiday-related shows including farces, film-to-stage adaptations, world premieres, classic tales and seasonal sendups.

 

Listed below is a partial list of city and suburban offerings. Note that COVID-19 protocols, including proof of vaccination and mask requirements, remain in place at some theaters.

'A Christmas Carol'

Charles Dickens' beloved tale gets multiple tellings, among them Goodman's lavish staging, Drury Lane Theatre's 60-minute version, and Manual Cinema's cinematic adaptation incorporating puppetry and additional material.

• Goodman Theatre's "A Christmas Carol," now through Dec. 31 at 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. (312) 443-3800 or goodmantheatre.org.

• Metropolis Performing Arts Center's "A Christmas Carol" runs Dec. 1-24 at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.

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• Drury Lane Theatre for Young Audiences' "A Christmas Carol" runs Friday, Nov. 25, through Dec. 30 at 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace. (630) 530-8300 or drurylanetheatre.com.

The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Ebenezer Scrooge all that he's missing in "Manual Cinema's A Christmas Carol" beginning Nov. 29 at Writers Theatre.
The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Ebenezer Scrooge all that he's missing in "Manual Cinema's A Christmas Carol" beginning Nov. 29 at Writers Theatre. - Courtesy of Manual Cinema

• "Manual Cinema's A Christmas Carol" runs Nov. 29 through Dec. 24 at Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe. (847) 242-6000 or writerstheatre.org.

• "A Christmas Carol in the Dark" streams through Jan. 1 at A Theater in the Dark. See atheaterinthedark.com.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

'It's a Wonderful Life'

Twenty-one years ago, American Blues Theater debuted its radio-play adaptation of Frank Capra's classic film. Its version remains the gold standard for all that follow.

Manny Buckley, left, Brandon Dahlquist and Yuchi Chiu perform in American Blues Theater's annual production of "It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!"
Manny Buckley, left, Brandon Dahlquist and Yuchi Chiu perform in American Blues Theater's annual production of "It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!" - Courtesy of Michael Brosilow

• "It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago" from American Blues Theater runs Wednesday, Nov. 23, through Dec. 23 at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St., Chicago. (872) 205-9681 or americanbluestheater.com.

• "It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" runs Friday, Nov. 25, through Dec. 30 at Oil Lamp Theater, 1723 Glenview Road, Glenview. (847) 834- 0738 or oillamptheater.org.

• "It's a Wonderful Life," a radio drama, runs Dec. 9-18 at 735 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville. (847) 968-4529 or improvplayhouse.com.

Family-friendly

City and suburban theaters offer holiday fun for everyone.

Kavon Newman, right, plays Ralphie and Levi Merlo plays his younger brother Randy in Marriott Theatre's "A Christmas Story, The Musical."
Kavon Newman, right, plays Ralphie and Levi Merlo plays his younger brother Randy in Marriott Theatre's "A Christmas Story, The Musical." - Courtesy of Liz Lauren

• "A Christmas Story, The Musical" runs through Jan. 1 at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire. (847) 634-0200 or marriotttheatre.com.

• "Elf, the Musical" runs through Jan. 8 at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace. (630) 530-8300 or drurylanetheatre.com.

Lookingglass Theatre remounts its family-friendly production of "The Steadfast Tin Soldier."
Lookingglass Theatre remounts its family-friendly production of "The Steadfast Tin Soldier." - Courtesy of Liz Lauren

• "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" is on stage through Jan. 8 at Lookingglass Theatre, Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago. (312) 337-0665 or lookingglasstheatre.org.

• "The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party" runs through Dec. 24 at Chicago Children's Theatre, 100 S. Racine Ave., Chicago. (312) 374-8835 or chicagochildrenstheatre.org.

• "Georgianna & Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley" takes the stage Friday, Nov. 25, through Dec. 30 at Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. (847) 673-6300 or northlight.org.

• "Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Radio Show" starts Friday, Nov. 25, and runs through Dec. 18 at Steel Beam Theatre, 111 W. Main St., St. Charles. (630) 587-8521 or steelbeamtheatre.com.

• "A Christmas Story, The Musical" begins Friday, Nov. 25, and runs through Dec. 10 at Jedlicka Performing Arts Center, Morton College, 3801 S. Central Ave., Cicero. (708) 656-8000, ext. 2230, or jpac.online.

• "A Magical Cirque Christmas" runs Dec. 6-11 at the CIBC Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St., Chicago. (800) 775-2000 or broadwayinchicago.com.

• "The Christmas Schooner" is on stage Dec. 8-11 at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., Chicago. See thebeverlyartscenter.com/.

• "Jackie Taylor's Joy to the World: A Holiday, Celebration" takes the stage Dec. 10-11 and 17-18 at Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark St., Chicago. (773) 769-4451 or blackensembletheater.org.

Admission is free to Strawdog Theatre's Company's hit show "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins" returning for its fifth year.
Admission is free to Strawdog Theatre's Company's hit show "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins" returning for its fifth year. - Courtesy of Jenn Udoni -- Franco Images, 2021

• "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins" runs Dec. 11-Jan. 1 at Strawdog Theatre at The Edge Off-Broadway Theater, 1133 W. Catalpa Ave., Chicago. See strawdog.org.

• "Little Women" runs Dec. 14-Jan. 15 at First Folio Theatre at Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st St., Oak Brook. (630) 986-8067 or firstfolio.org.

• "Irving Berlin's White Christmas" is on stage Dec. 15- Jan. 1 at Music Theater Works, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. See musictheaterworks.com.

• "Cirque Dreamz Holidaze" is here for three days -- Dec. 22-24 -- at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Drive, Chicago. (312) 341-2342 or auditoriumtheatre.org.

Chuckles & carols

While Buffalo and Citadel theater companies serve up farce, theater artists Angela Ingersoll and Heidi Kettenring sing carols and Jane Lynch and friends provide some swing.

• "It Runs in the Family" runs now through Dec. 18 at Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan Road, Lake Forest. (847) 735-8554, ext. 1, or citadeltheatre.org.

Buffalo Theatre Ensemble celebrates the season with the holiday farce "Season's Greetings" featuring Katelyn McKeon and Robert Jordan Bailey
Buffalo Theatre Ensemble celebrates the season with the holiday farce "Season's Greetings" featuring Katelyn McKeon and Robert Jordan Bailey - Courtesy of Rex Howard Photography

• "Seasons Greetings" is on stage now through Dec. 18 at Buffalo Theatre Ensemble at the McAninch Arts Center, College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn. (630) 942-4000 or atthemac.org.

• "Merry Christmas Darling, Heidi Kettenring Sings Karen Carpenter" is on stage Friday through Sunday, Nov. 25-27, at the Venus Cabaret Theatre, Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. (773) 360-7365 or mercurytheaterchicago.com/.

• "Johnny Mathis Christmas Tribute," featuring David Robbins, takes the stage Dec. 7 at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.

• "A Swingin' Little Christmas with Jane Lynch, Kate Flannery, Tim Davis and the Tony Guerrero Quintet" will be on stage Dec. 10-11 at the Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake. (815) 356-9212 or rauecenter.org/.

• "Someday at Christmas: John-Mark McGaha Sings Stevie Wonder" runs Dec. 12-13 at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire. (847) 634-0200 or marriotttheatre.com.

Joseph Jefferson Award-winner Angela Ingersoll brings her holiday show "The 12 Dames of Christmas" to the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre.
Joseph Jefferson Award-winner Angela Ingersoll brings her holiday show "The 12 Dames of Christmas" to the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre. - Courtesy of Artists Lounge Live

• "The 12 Dames of Christmas with Angela Ingersoll" takes the stage Dec. 13 at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.

• "Sam Fazio Sings the Christmas Crooners" comes to the stage Dec. 14 at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.

Sketch comedy & improv

Looking for a few laughs? You'll find them at these shows that sendup holiday traditions.

• The Second City's "What the Elf?" runs through Jan. 1 at 230 W. North Ave., Chicago. (312) 337-3992 or secondcity.com.

• Laugh Out Loud Theater's "Holidazed" is on stage Friday and Saturday, Nov. 25-26, at 601 N. Martingale Road, Schaumburg. (847) 240-0386 or laughoutloudtheater.com/Schaumburg.

• The Annoyance Theatre's "It's Christmas (expletive)" runs Saturdays through Dec. 17 at 851 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. (773) 697-9693 or theannoyance.com.

• The Second City's "The Best of the Second City Holidays" runs Monday, Nov. 21, through Dec. 31 at 230 W. North Ave., Chicago. (312) 337-3992 or secondcity.com.

The Second City brings its holiday revue "I Saw Mommy Kissing The Second City" to Aurora's Copley Theatre beginning Nov. 25.
The Second City brings its holiday revue "I Saw Mommy Kissing The Second City" to Aurora's Copley Theatre beginning Nov. 25. - Courtesy of The Second City

• The Second City's "I Saw Mommy Kissing the Second City" is on stage Friday, Nov. 25, through Dec. 23 at the Copley Theatre, 8 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora. (630) 896-6666 or paramountaurora.com.

• "Christmas Bingo: It's A Ho-Ho-Holy Night" runs Saturday, Nov. 26, through Dec. 31 at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. (773) 404-7336 or greenhousetheater.org.

• "The Second City's Holiday Improv Brunch" is on stage Nov. 27 through Jan. 1 at 230 W. North Ave., Chicago. (312) 337-3992 or secondcity.com.

• The Second City's "Jingle Bell Ruckus" is on stage Dec. 10 at the McAninch Arts Center, College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn, (630) 942-4000, atthemac.org, and Dec. 19-31 at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights, (847) 577-2121, metropolisarts.com.

• ComedySportz's "Trapped in a Holiday Musical" continues through Dec. 31 at Piper's Alley, 230 W. North Ave., Chicago. (312) 337-3992 or cszchicago.com.

• Practical Theatre Company's "Vic & Paul & Dana's Post-Pandemic Revue," a New Year's sketch-comedy show, takes the stage Dec. 29 through Jan. 7 at Studio 5, 1934 Dempster St., Evanston. (847) 328-6683 or studio5.dance.

'The Nutcracker'

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's famous ballet gets multiple stagings this time of year.

• Salt Creek Ballet's "The Nutcracker" is Dec. 2-3 at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. (847) 673-6300 or northshorecenter.org, and Dec. 17-18 at The McAninch Arts Center, College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn. (630) 942-4000 or atthemac.org.

The Joffrey Ballet presents its annual production of "The Nutcracker."
The Joffrey Ballet presents its annual production of "The Nutcracker." - Courtesy of Todd Rosenberg Photography, 2021

• Joffrey Ballet's "The Nutcracker" runs Dec. 3-28 at the Joffrey Ballet at the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Upper Wacker Drive, Chicago. (312) 386-8905 or joffrey.org.

• A & A Ballet's "The Art Deco Nutcracker" is Dec. 3 at the Athenaeum Theater, 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. (312) 545-2142 or aacenterfordance.org.

• "Ruth Page's The Nutcracker" is Dec. 3-4 at Northeastern Illinois University Auditorium, Steinberg Fine Arts Center, 3701 N. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago, and Dec. 17 at the College of Lake County, James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts, 19351 W. Washington St., Grayslake. See ruthpage.org.

• Ballet Chicago's "The Nutcracker" runs Dec. 9-18 at the Athenaeum Center for Thought and Culture, 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. (312) 820-6250 or athenaeumcenter.org.

Engage Dance Theater brings its production of "The Nutcracker" to the Raue Center in Crystal Lake.
Engage Dance Theater brings its production of "The Nutcracker" to the Raue Center in Crystal Lake. - Courtesy of The Raue Center

• Engage Dance Theatre's "The Nutcracker" is Dec. 17-18 at The Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake. (815) 356-9212 or rauecenter.org.

For adults

These holiday treats are definitely not for kids.

Veronica Garza plays a 40-something Cindy Lou Who, who recalls her fateful Christmas Eve meeting with The Grinch, in Theater Wit's remount of the adult comedy "Who's Holiday!"
Veronica Garza plays a 40-something Cindy Lou Who, who recalls her fateful Christmas Eve meeting with The Grinch, in Theater Wit's remount of the adult comedy "Who's Holiday!" - Courtesy of Charles Osgood

• "Who's Holiday!" runs Friday, Nov. 25, through Dec. 30 at Theater Wit. 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. (773) 975-8150 or theaterwit.org.

• "The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, The Obligatory Holiday Special" is on stage Saturday, Nov. 26, through Dec. 30 at Hell in a Handbag Productions, at Center on Halsted Hoover-Leppen Theatre, 3656 N. Halsted St., Chicago. See handbagproductions.org.

• "The Hanukkah Comedy Show" runs Sundays, Nov. 27-Dec. 18, at The Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. (773) 697-9693 or theannoyance.com.

• "Jack Off the Beanstalk" is on stage Nov. 28 through Dec. 18 at Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago. (773) 857-0222 or pridearts.org.

• "The Buttcracker: A Burlesque Christmas" runs Dec. 1-31 at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. See thebuttcrackerburlesque.com.

• "Realm of the Nutcracker King: An Immersive Holiday Fairy Tale" is on stage Dec. 16 through Jan. 8 at Otherworld Theatre Company, 3914 N. Clark St., Chicago. Also at Otherworld, "'Twas the Night Before Ameltide: A One-Shot Immersive LARP" from Dec. 9 through Jan. 29 and "Feast of Fools: A Renaissance Faire New Year's Eve Celebration" on Dec. 31. See otherworldtheatre.org.

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