The forecast may look a bit frightful but live theater always has a way of warming the soul. Check below for a few of the editors’ seasonal picks.
“A Melodious Christmas with Robert Robinson“
Robert Robinson, known as “The Pavarotti of Gospel,” will share the stage with Mary Beth Carlson & 29:11 from Cape Town South Africa, to sing festive and reflective songs of the season.
Sprinkle in humor, personal stories, and beautiful seasonal videos choreographed to accompany several of the program selections, and you have all the makings of a wonderful kickoff to the holidays.
“A Melodious Christmas with Robert Robinson” takes place on Dec. 16 at 7 pm at The Dakota, located at 1100 Nicollet Mall in Mpls. Tickets are $30-35. For more info, visit www.dakotacooks.com.
“Let It Swing — JazzMN Plays the Holidays”
JazzMN returns to Chanhassen Dinner Theatres’ Main Stage to spread joyful tidings with celebrated guest vocalist, Yolande Bruce, of the vocal group “Moore By Four.”
Enjoy holiday favorites such as “Winter Wonderland” and “The Little Drummer Boy” gift-wrapped in the popular arrangements performed by legendary performers as Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Kenton, Claude Thornhill and Eartha Kitt.
“Let It Swing — JazzMN Plays the Holiday” takes place on Dec. 16, 7:30 pm, at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, located at 501 W. 78th St. in Chanhassen. Tickets are $38 for the concert; dinner can be purchased $15 prior to the show. For more info, visit tickets.chanhassendt.com.
Alexander O’Neal’s Holiday Concert
Alexander O’Neal returns to Minneapolis to grace The Dakota stage with soulful, holiday cheer. Featuring “Remember Why” and “My Gift to You” from his Christmas album, O’Neal, reputedly one of the best pure R&B and soul singer to come from the ’80s, is bound to help music lovers embrace the beauty of the season.
Alexander O’Neal’s Holiday Concert takes place Dec 18-19 at 7 & 9 pm at The Dakota, located at 1100 Nicollet Mall in Mpls. Tickets are $40-50. For more info, visit www.dakotacooks.com
“The Night Before Christmas – A Musical Fantasy”
From rappin’ reindeers to dancing chitterlings, all the familiar favorites return for this delightful romp featuring the three-time Grammy Award-winning Sounds of Blackness.
The play is a hip and contemporary adaptation of the beloved poem “A Visit from St Nicholas,” that features gospel, R&B, jazz, and even blues, as it asks the audience to examine the true meaning of Christmas.
Bring the whole family out to witness Santa, Mrs. Claus and the crew partake in hilarious song and dance numbers while featuring show-stopping singers and a roof-raising band.
“Sounds of Blackness – The Night Before Christmas” takes place Dec. 19 at the Pantages Theatre, located at 710 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis. The show start at 7:30 pm. Tickets range from $28.50-$58.50. For more info, visit hennepintheatretrust.org/events.
“A Christmas Celebration with The Steeles”
Ignite your holiday passion by spending an evening with the legendary musical family The Steeles. Consisting of J.D., Fred, Jearlyn, Jevetta, and Billy, The Steeles are back to weave their thrilling, signature harmonies around Christmas songs that are sure to delight audiences.
The two-night stand at the Fitzgerald, presented by MPR, includes the songs you know and love—from sacred to secular. Bring your family and loved ones out to enjoy the splendor of the season with The Steele family.
‘A Christmas with The Steeles’ runs from Dec. 20–21 at the Fitzgerald Theater, located at 10 East Exchange in St. Paul. Tickets are $40.50. The show starts at 7 pm. For more info, visit thefitzgeraldtheater.com/events or call 651-370-2953.
What better way to ring in the holiday season than to take in Penumbra Theatre’s timeless musical, “Black Nativity”?
Written by world-renowned poet and playwright Langston Hughes, this joyous rendering of the Nativity story is bound to stir the soul and usher in Christmas merriment.
The play is directed by Lou Bellamy and features returning artists Jennifer Whitlock, Greta Oglesby, Yolande Bruce, Dennis Spears and the sounds of the Kingdom Life Church Choir. Also joining the production are choreographer Alanna Morris-Van Tassel and musical artist PaviElle French, who will be featured in limited performances.
“Black Nativity” runs until Dec. 22 at Penumbra Theatre, located at 270 N. Kent St. in St Paul. Tickets are $15-40. For more info, visit penumbratheatre.org or call 651-224-3180.
“A Christmas Carol”
This Charles Dickens classic continues to lure audiences of all ages to rejoice in the season, while reminding them to live their best lives.
As the familiar tales goes, a miserly and miserable man, Ebenezer Scrooge, greets each Christmas with joyless scorn until he is visited one Christmas Eve by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future.
Through a restless night, the spirits show him happy memories from his past, cruel realities from the present and a grim future should he continue his cantankerous ways.
The standouts in the talented cast are Ansa Akyea, who brightens up the stage with his soulful and humorous rendering of the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Nathaniel Fuller, who deftly handles both the stubborn and miserable Scrooge, as well as his joyous redemption in the end.
The Guthrie’s production warms the heart, ensuring audience members won’t leave the aisles saying, “Bah! Humbug!”
“A Christmas Carol” runs until Dec. 29 at the Guthrie Theater’s Wurtele Thrust Stage, located at 818 S. 2nd St. in Minneapolis. Tickets range from $29 to $134. For more info, visit www.guthrietheater.org or call 612-377-2224.
If you want a break from the holiday-fare but are still looking for a high-energy fun, consider Chanhassen Dinner Theatres’ “Mamma Mia.” With its Maury Povich-esque refrain of “Who’s the daddy?” this smash-hit musical has kept audiences clapping along to the infectious disco tunes of ’80s pop group ABBA since it opened in March of 2019.
Set on a Greek Island paradise, a daughter gearing up for her wedding attempts to uncover the mystery of her father’s identity. Unbeknownst to her mother, she invites three of her mom’s former suiters to the island for the wedding and, as they say, hijinks ensue.
Just when you think the energy couldn’t get much higher after the sing-along anthem “Dancing Queen,” along comes the absolute show-stopper “The Winner Takes It All.” Bring your appetite and dancing shoes and make a night of it.
“Mamma Mia” runs until Feb. 22 at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, located at 501 W. 78th St. in Chanhassen. For more info, visit tickets.chanhassendt.com.