By Alicia Dziak
‘Tis the season to be giving, excited, and yes— perhaps a little stressed. Why not take a break this hectic holiday season and enjoy a show? From funny to family-friendly to festive, Western New York has something for everyone.
Stay local and check out the The Santaland Diaries, at the Springville Center for the Arts, Dec. 9-11. Based on David Sedaris’ hit NPR essay, The Santaland Diaries chronicles the journey of one man’s employment as a mall elf during Christmastime. At first humiliated and later, slightly more than bitter, Crumpet the Elf singes our sentimental love for modern Christmas traditions. Rated PG-13 for adult language and themes. For tickets, visit springvillearts.org.
Dec. 8 – 18, Christmas is Coming to Uptown can be seen at Shea’s 710 Theater, 710 Main Street, Buffalo. The show can be described as a musical filled with several soul stirring songs based loosely on the Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. All those Dickensian characters dancing, jiving and swinging to a Harlem beat? Right on! Scrooge is a Harlem slumlord about to foreclose an apartment house, a recreation center and a church when his late partner and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future take him on their rounds. He comes upon his own grave after watching tiny Tim’s burial procession and he’s reformed. There’s one addition to the classic tale – a rousing gospel number in a Baptist church. Audience talk-backs with the cast will be after each Sunday matinee performance (Dec. 11 & Dec. 18). For tickets, visit www.sheas.org.
On Dec. 10, enjoy Holidays Under the Dome at 1 p.m. This is a free concert of holiday music by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) in the beautiful, historic setting of M&T Bank’s gold-domed downtown branch.
The BPO performs Classical Christmas on Dec. 10 at Kleinhans Music Hall, 8 p.m. Stefan Sanders leads the BPO and Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus in this festive celebration of timeless musical treasures, including Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Handel’s Messiah. For tickets, visit www.bpo.org.
Join the BPO’s Jingle Bell Jam on Dec. 11, at Kleinhans Music Hall at 2:30 p.m. Mix your favorite holiday music with the excitement of the season and you have a wonderful family tradition. Meet Santa and Mrs. Claus after the concert for milk and cookies. Come at 1:30 for a variety of fun activities. The BlueCross BlueShield Healthy Zone Cruiser will be on hand to help you “get the wiggles out” before the concert starts. Enjoy stories, games and other crafts with the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, Monkey See, Monkey Do…Children’s Bookstore, and Tutor Doctor. Spread some holiday cheer by making cards for our friends in the military, and by bringing a new, unwrapped toy to give to Toys for Tots. For tickets, visit www.bpo.org.
Nuncrackers- The Nunsense Christmas Musical is coming to the Lancaster Opera House, at 21 Central Avenue in Lancaster, through Dec. 11. Nuncrackers is the first “TV Special” taped by the sisters in their convent basement studio for Cable Access. It stars the nuns you love plus Father Virgil and some of Mt. Saint Helen’s most talented students. This show is filled with “Nunsense” humor, some of your favorite carols, a “Secret Santa,” and an uproarious take on Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet. Nuncrackers will make you laugh and maybe tug at your heartstrings. It’s the perfect way to ensure your holiday season is merry and bright. For tickets, visit www.lancopera.org.
Dec. 13-18, check out A Christmas Story, The Musical at Shea’s Performing Arts Center, 646 Main Street, Buffalo. Part of the M&T Bank Broadway Series, this classic show chronicles young and bespectacled Ralphie Parker as he schemes his way toward the holiday gift of his dreams, an official Red Ryder® Carbine-Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. An infamous leg lamp, outrageous pink bunny pajamas, a maniacal department store Santa, and a triple-dog-dare to lick a freezing flagpole are just a few of the distractions that stand between Ralphie and his Christmas wish. Following its smash hit Broadway run and chock-full of delightful songs and splashy production numbers, A Christmas Story, Then Musical brings the beloved classic movie to life on stage and travels to eight cities across the U.S this upcoming holiday season. For tickets, visit www.sheas.org.
Through Dec. 18, check out Junie B. Jones In Jingle Bells Batman Smells at The Theater of Youth, at 203 Allen Street in Buffalo. It’s the worstest day EVER in Room One for everybody’s favorite first grader-Junie B. Jones! Tattletale May keeps picking on Junie B. and it’s not fair. But, things get worse when Junie B. draws May’s name for the Secret Santa gift exchange. Junie B. concocts a plan to give May a lump of coal, while getting an awesome Squeeze-a-Burp for herself. Will Junie B. have a last-minute change of heart and demonstrate her true holiday spirit? Based on beloved author Barbara Park and her Junie B. Jones series. Recommended for ages 6 and up. For info, visit www.theatreofyouth.org.
On Dec. 15, the Pat Shea Holiday Concert is coming to the Lancaster Opera House. Pat Shea came to the attention of fans across the United States and Canada when he triumphed over nearly 200 other competitors, week after week on the nationally televised “Star” talent search. Emerging as the champion and grand prize winner, Shea went on to appear numerous times as a guest on the popular television show “Nashville Now.” Join Pat on as he returns to present a concert of all your holiday favorites. For tickets, visit www.lancopera.org.
The following days, Dec. 16-18, The Night Before Christmas will be at the Lancaster Opera House. Continuing the LOH tradition of interactive family holiday shows, we present this heartwarming hit. Set in Christmastown on a very special Christmas Eve, The Night Before Christmas tells the story of a brother and sister who get caught up in a fun-filled adventure with a colorful cast of Christmas characters. The audience joins in to help overcome a Frost Giant, foil the unfeeling Toymaster, play reindeer games, sing, and dance to help save Christmas. Goodies from Mrs. Claus’ kitchen are available, too! For tickets, visit www.lancopera.org. School time matinées available; call (716) 683-1776 ext. 0 for details.
Check out John Morris Russell’s Holiday Pops, Dec. 16-18. Don’t miss Mr. Christmas as the BPO’s Principal Pops Conductor brings his signature style to Western New York’s No. 1 Holiday tradition. Ring in the holidays with hand bells, jingle bells, Silver Bells, Carol of the Bells, Sleigh Ride, The Polar Express and so much more. The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus joins this annual extravaganza complete with an audience sing-along. Come at 9 a.m. for complimentary coffee and donuts. For tickets, visit www.bpo.org.
On Dec. 22, check out Gap Mangione and His Big Band Holiday Concert. The Yelling Goat Restaurant pairs with the Opera House to present national recording artist and Rochester native Gap Mangione and his Big Band. Take a break from the holiday madness to enjoy hits from the season and popular songs recorded by Gap and his brother Chuck. The Yelling Goat will host a cash bar at the event, featuring craft beers, domestic and imported wine, and mulled cider. For tickets, visit www.lancopera.org.
Make the season a little merrier and support the local performing arts scene!