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Our top picks: Jazz trumpeter Byron Stripling (pictured) salutes Louis Armstrong with the ASO; Create ATL for families at the Woodruff Arts Center. Plus new holiday offerings: The one-man “A Christmas Carol” and the many-peopled version at Aurora and the Alliance, respectively.

** Indicates an Encore Atlanta fall season best bet

Recommended

CreateLogo-300x75Create ATL. SUNDAY ONLY. This free holiday-themed festival features family-oriented fun from the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and High Museum of Art. See exclusive performances of ASO music and Atlanta Ballet Youth Ensemble’s Nutcracker, learn about multicultural holiday traditions through art-making and storytelling, and meet Santa’s reindeer. Note: Some free-event tickets will sell out, so advance registration is recommended. 1-4 p.m. Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Register HERE. Details HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Stripling
Stripling

A Tribute to Louis Armstrong. FRIDAY-SATURDAY. Jazz trumpeter Byron Stripling, an Atlanta native, brings his show to Symphony Hall for the first time. You’ll hear such classics as “What a Wonderful World,” “Ragtime Blues,” “All That Jazz” and a few holiday tunes. Principal pops conductor Michael Krajewski holds the baton and is joined by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. $21-$65. 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details HERE or at 404.733.5000. Tickets online via Ticketmaster HERE.

This weekend only

FamilyHoliday_evlg2ASO: A Family Holiday Special. SUNDAY ONLY. John Lemley of WMLB-AM Radio narrates and conductor Joseph Young is on the podium for an Atlanta Symphony Orchestra program that features excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, a sing-along and Georgia Ballet dancers. Also scheduled: Prokofiev’s “Troika” from Lt. Kije, Opus 60; Holcombe’s Twas the Night Before Christmas; and Bizet’s Farandole. $20. 3:30 p.m. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

New this week

de Vries. Photo: Greg Mooney
de Vries. Photo: Greg Mooney

A Christmas Carol. OPENS SATURDAY | THROUGH DEC. 24. Last chance to see this staging on this stage. The Alliance Theatre’s annual show — David H. Bell’s multicultural, carol-filled celebration — will be done off-site in 2017 as the Alliance is renovated. Bell will write a new version for the new mainstage, opening in 2018 in time for the company’s 50th anniversary season. David de Vries returns as Scrooge, Chris Kayser is Jacob Marley and Marc Schittone debuts as Tiny Tim. $20 and up. Tuesday-Sunday, but times vary. Details HERE. Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

[CATCH UP WITH 8 TINY TIMS FROM CHRISTMASES PAST]

Rodriguez. Photo: Chris Bartelski
Rodriguez. Photo: Chris Bartelski

A Christmas CarolOPENS SATURDAY | THROUGH DEC. 23. At Aurora TheatreArtistic director Anthony P. Rodriguez returns as Ebenezer Scrooge — and many other characters — for the 10th time, in his annual one-man telling of the Christmas classic. Much like Dickens himself did, Rodriguez focuses on the art of storytelling. $20-$30. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in repertory with The 12 Dates of Christmas. Harvel Lab, 128 E. Pike St., Lawrenceville. Free, covered, attached parking in city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222

ChristmasStory270x200A Christmas Story. OPENS TUESDAY | THROUGH DEC. 4. The latest national tour of this holiday movie-turned-stage musical visits the Fox Theatre for a third time, telling the story of 9-year-old Ralphie, who wants nothing more than an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle for Christmas. The setting is middle-class Indiana at the end of the Great Depression. $30-$110. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 1 +6:30 p.m. Sunday. 660 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499.

[SEE HOW THIS 1983 FEATURE FILM BECAME A HOLIDAY RITUAL]

Next week

Collins
Collins

Courtenay’s Cabaret: Home for the Holidays. IN PREVIEWS DEC. 2 | OPENS DEC. 7. At the Alliance Theatre, where the Hertz Stage becomes a living room with twinkly lights and cocktails. Expect music, stories, surprises, cookies, crafts, Atlanta singer/actor Courtenay Collins’ good humor and a special guest artist each night. Collins won’t share details, but we’ve heard the names Tom Key, TV newswoman Brenda Wood, the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus and Collins’ Juilliard pal Laura Linney bandied about. Collins is backed by a three-piece combo. Through Dec. 24. Some dates are already sold out. $20-$42. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 23. Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000. Meet Collins in this ENCORE FEATURE.

[HEAR SNIPPETS FROM COLLINS’ A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS CD]

Holiday shows

Renita James. Photo: Chris Bartelski
James. Photo: Chris Bartelski

The 12 Dates of Christmas. THROUGH DEC. 23. At Aurora TheatreRenita James plays Mary, the unlucky woman who sees her fiancé kiss someone else while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, then suffers, surfs and bumbles her way back into the dating pool. $20-$30. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday in repertory with Anthony P. Rodriguez’s one-man A Christmas Carol. Harvel Lab, 128 E. Pike St., Lawrenceville. Free, covered, attached parking in city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222.

canteen cropChristmas Canteen. THROUGH DEC. 23. Back for its 21st year at Aurora Theatre. This original variety show changes annually but always includes physical comedy, holiday favorites, novelty numbers and a few surprises. Performers Lindsay Ricketson Brown, Jen MacQueen, Brandon O’Dell (who wrote the script) and Diany Rodriguez return, joined by newcomers Christian Magby and Cecil Washington Jr. If you want to go, act fast: The Canteen always sells out. $30-$65. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 10 a.m. Dec. 7, 14 + 21 ($20 + up). No shows on Thanksgiving eve or Thanksgiving Day. 128 E. Pike St., Lawrenceville. Free, covered and attached parking in city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. THROUGH DEC. 31. Rudolph, Clarice, Hermey, the Misfit Toys and Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster all return to the Center for Puppetry Arts. The Jon Ludwig script is based on the 1964 stop-motion animated TV special from Rankin/Bass. Told with rod, black light and body puppets. For ages 4 and up. $20.50. 10 + 11:45 a.m. Tuesday-Friday; noon + 2 p.m. Saturday; 1 + 3 p.m. Sunday. No shows Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day. 1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3089.

The Santaland Diaries. THROUGH DEC. 31. Harold M. Leaver returns as Crumpet in this Horizon Theatre tradition, recounting the sad-but-true tales of an unemployed writer’s stint as a Macy’s Department Store elf. The script is by David Sedaris. Expect snark and satire. (Not recommended for children. Take them to Madeline’s Christmas here instead.) $25-$40. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 8:30 p.m. Saturday; 6 p.m. Sunday. 1083 Austin Ave. NE (at Euclid Avenue). Details, tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450.

Next week

SDP_-_Let_nothing_you_dismay-150x150Let Nothing You Dismay. DEC. 2-18. At Stage Door Players. The Gordons, the Sapersteins and all the other crazy folks in Kevin and Allie’s life are back to meddle in the arrival of the couple’s first child. Last season’s run of this holiday comedy by Atlanta playwright Topher Payne sold out. The original eight-person cast returns, playing 22 characters in this celebration of family and all that goes with it. $15-$30. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Details HERE. Tickets via the box office at 770.396.1726.

SP-SNOW-122116-0800-2TThe Snow Queen. DEC. 1-23. Serenbe Playhouse takes the Hans Christian Andersen tale into the woods for a third time, emphasizing the wintry nature of the tale, as young Gerda fights her fears on a journey to save her brother, Kai, from the Snow Queen’s enchantment. Performed in the Natural Playground at Serenbe in a staging that travels (with no seating). Chairs available by request through the box office (770.463.1110). $15-$20. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 6 + 8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday (some shows already sold out). 10950 Hutchesons Ferry Road, Chattahoochee Hills. Directions, parking info HERE. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.463.1110. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

Coming up

bigfishlogoBig Fish. PREVIEWS DEC. 1-2 |OPENS DEC. 3. At Theatrical Outfit. Meet Edward Bloom, a traveling salesman whose biggest hope is to live life to its fullest. His tall tales thrill everyone but son Will, who’s about to be a father himself. Will demands to know the truth behind Dad’s epic stories of giants, fortune-telling witches and mermaids. Inspired by the Daniel Wallace novel and Tim Burton’s 2003 movie. The score is from Andrew Lippa (The Addams Family, off-Broadway’s The Wild Party). The musical drama had a 12-week Broadway run in 2013. Through Dec. 18. Previews $20-$35; opening night $23-$50; regularly $22-$46. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The Balzer Theatre at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com.

aso xmasChristmas With the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. DEC. 9-10. An Atlanta tradition that began decades ago with music director Robert Shaw. Again this year, the Morehouse College Glee Club and Gwinnett Young Singers join the ASO and Chorus for carols and hymns. Norman Mackenzie, director of choruses, conducts. Three performances only. $22-$70. 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday. Details HERE or at 404.733.5000. Tickets online via Ticketmaster HERE.

Synchronicity_-_Mr_poppers_penguins-220x220Mr. Popper’s Penguins. DEC. 9-JAN. 1. Synchronicity Theatre celebrates the holidays with this family-friendly musical based on the 1938 children’s book. Mr. Popper (Brandon Partrick) is a humble house painter who gets a cool surprise when an Antarctic explorer he admires ships him a surprise gift. Six actors play more than 23 characters. There will be puppets. All Friday shows are PJs & Play, which means that kids (and kids at heart) can wear pajamas and have milk and cookies while watching the show. $20-$22; $15-$16 kids. 7 p.m. Friday; 1 + 4 p.m. Saturday; 2 + 5 p.m. Sunday. School matinees at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday-Thursday (call ahead for details and tickets). Synchronicity Theatre at Peachtree Pointe in Midtown, 1545 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.484.8636.

Moscow Ballet. DEC. 9-10. Some of Russia’s best dancers visit Georgia State’s Rialto Center for the Arts with their Great Russian Nutcracker. Look for larger-than-life props,  a Christmas tree that grows to 60 feet and more than a little magic. $31-$178. 7 p.m. Friday; 1 + 5 p.m. Saturday. The Rialto is at 80 Forsyth St. NW in downtown Atlanta. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.413.9849.

moscow nut use this one
Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker.”

AEbug** Threshold New Play Festival. DEC. 2-4. At Actor’s Express. Four Georgia-bred productions get an early look in the second year of AE’s new-play festival. The Flower Room by Daryl Lisa Fazio (8 p.m. Dec. 2) follows an uptight academic who loses her job teaching primitive sexual behavior, and then explores a new career writing erotica. Southern Haunt, a Southern Gothic thriller by Kathryn Walat (2 p.m. Dec. 3), details the secrets (and ghosts) unearthed when a Savannah dive-bar bartender and an out-of-towner have a one-night stand. What’s Past, a musical by Jessica De Maria and Chase Peacock (8 p.m. Dec. 3), follows two extraordinary siblings on a journey through time and memory to unravel family mysteries. Coyote Hour by Margaret Baldwin (3 p.m. Dec. 4) is about an Atlanta woman determined to get to the truth of reports of coyotes in her neighborhood. All readings are free but reservations are highly recommended HERE. King Plow Arts Center, 887 W. Marietta St. NW. 404.607.7469.

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About Kathy Janich

Kathy Janich, Encore Atlanta’s editor, is a longtime arts journalist who has been seeing, working in or writing about the performing arts for most of her life. She's a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, Americans for the Arts and the National Arts Marketing Project. Full disclosure: She’s also an artistic associate at Synchronicity Theatre.

View all posts by Kathy Janich