The outlook turns tinselly, with holiday shows dominating the calendar. We highly recommend Aurora Theatre’s “Christmas Canteen” and Theatrical Outfit’s “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley.” If you’re not yet ready for ugly Christmas sweaters, check out the world premiere of “Knead,” running through Dec. 9 at the Alliance Theatre. Pictured: Amelia Fischer as Mary Bennet. Photo by David Woolf.

Top picks

Kristin Markiton (center) backed by Briana Young (from left), Chani Maisonet and Galen Crawley. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Christmas Canteen. THROUGH DEC. 23. Aurora Theatre joyously stages its 23rd original holiday revue. It sells quickly, so if you’re interested, don’t delay. Performances are already selling out. A singing, dancing cast of eight channels the golden days of TV Christmas specials (think Bing Crosby and Andy Williams) and mixes in a few contemporary moves to create a show that will have you glowing with the magic of the season. Ricardo Aponte and Anthony P. Rodriguez co-direct. Aponte also choreographs, with musical direction by Ann-Carol Pence, who also performs. This year’s merrymakers are Galen Crawley, Jimi Kocina, Christian Magby, Kristin Markiton, Chani Maisonet, Kenny Tran, Cecil Washington Jr. and Briana Young. $30 and up; $20 and up for Tuesday matinees. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 10 a.m. matinees Nov. 27, Dec. 11 + Dec. 18. Limited Thanksgiving week performances, so please check ahead. Aurora offers free, covered, attached parking in a city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222.

Mary Lynn Owen. Photo: Greg Mooney

Knead. THROUGH DEC. 9. An Alliance Theatre world premiere. In the wee hours, a woman attempts to bake bread from her mother’s incomprehensible recipe. But the ingredients of time and memory keep interfering, and the bread-baking process — the kneading, rising, shaping and baking, all in real time — becomes a journey into unpredictability. Bread will be baked and, perhaps, shared. Two-time Suzi Bass Award-winning actor Mary Lynn Owen wrote the one-person script, her first, and is the lone cast member. Knead was developed in the Alliance’s Reiser Atlanta Artists Lab and was a semifinalist for the prestigious O’Neill National Playwrights Conference in Connecticut. David de Vries (who takes the Alliance stage as Ebenezer Scrooge next month) directs. Recommended for age 14 and up. $45; $10 teens. 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Sunday. No show Thanksgiving Day. Hertz Stage, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000. Discount tickets at



Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. BEGINS NOV. 21. Theatrical Outfit reprises its 2017 holiday hit with a script by Decatur-born, San Francisco-based playwright Lauren Gunderson and colleague Margot Melcon. This romantic and witty sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice focuses on socially awkward sister Mary and a potential romantic entanglement. Well-known Atlanta theater artist Carolyn Cook directs. Amelia Fischer and Jonathan Horne return as Mary Bennet and Arthur De Bourgh, along with Devon Hales and Juan Carlos Unzueta. New to the cast are Stephanie Friedman, Jeanette Illidge, Jasmine Thomas and Justin Walker. $18-$51 plus fees. Through Dec. 23. Previews at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 21 + 24 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 23. Opens at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 24. Regularly at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 11 a.m. Nov. 29, Dec. 13 + Dec. 20. No show Thanksgiving Day. The Outfit performs at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500. Discount tickets at

New holiday shows

Curious Holiday Encounters. DEC. 6-9. This festival of interactive performances takes place throughout 7 Stages’ entire building. Expect an offbeat brand of holiday cheer as you stroll and check out offerings from the Little Five Points Rockstar Orchestra, Arís Theatre, the Weird Sisters Theatre Project, Atlanta theater artist Rebekah Suellau and others. Artistic director Heidi S. Howard curates. $15-$25. 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday (last entry at 9 p.m.); 5 p.m. Sunday (last entry at 7 p.m.). 1105 Euclid Ave. NE in the Little Five Points neighborhood. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.523.7647.

The Ethel Merman Disco Christmas Spectacular. DEC. 6-22. Out Front Theatre Company imagines what the great Ethel Merman’s unaired 1979 Christmas TV special would look like. It takes place onstage at the iconic Studio 54, the same year the Queen of Broadway released her infamous disco record. The show shimmers with classic Christmas songs set to a dance-floor beat and visited by a cavalcade of celebrities, including Andy Warhol, Donna Summer and Truman Capote. The world premiere is written and directed by artistic director Paul Conroy. $15-$25. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday. Also at 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17. 999 Brady Ave. NW in West Midtown. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.448.2755

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. NOV. 27-DEC. 1. National tour. The stage version of the classic Christmas movie visits the Fox Theatre with all the familiar songs and a few others from the Berlin songbook. The 17-tune lineup includes “Sisters,” “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing,” “Happy Holiday,” “Snow,” “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep,” “I Love a Piano,” “Let Me Sing and I’m Happy” and “What Can You Do With a General?” You might recognize Karen Ziemba (a Tony Award winner for Contact) as Martha Watson and Conrad John Schuck (a longtime Daddy Warbucks) as General Waverly. Presented by Broadway in Atlanta. $31-$116. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. Sunday. 660 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499.



The Nutcracker. DEC. 8-24. Atlanta Ballet debuts its first new Nutcracker in 23 seasons, a $3.7 million staging choreographed by Russian-born dancer Yuri Possokhov, an old friend and colleague of artistic director Gennadi Nedvigin. This telling returns to the original source material: German author E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1816 fantasy story “Nutcracker and Mouse King.” It sets the opening Christmas Eve party in a small German village, and features new scenic, costume and lighting designs as well as projections to help tell the story of a little girl named Marie and her come-to-life Nutcracker Prince. The production features some 40 dancers. $35-$140. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 + 7 p.m. Sunday. Also at 1 p.m. Dec. 24. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.892.3303.

Jeremy Aggers. Photo illustration: Chris Bartelski

This Wonderful Life. OPENS NOV. 24. This one-man version of the Jimmy Stewart film classic is new to Aurora Theatre’s holiday lineup. It features Jeremy Aggers (Singles in Architecture, Hands on a Hardbody) as, well, everybody — George Bailey, Clarence, Mr. Potter, Uncle Billy, Mary, Mr. Gower and even Zuzu. The script is by playwright Steve Murray (a name you might know from his days as an Atlanta Journal-Constitution critic). In repertory with the company’s one-man Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (featuring producing artistic director Anthony P. Rodriguez). Associate artistic director Justin Anderson directs. $20. Performances at 8 p.m. Nov. 24 and Dec. 1, 5, 13, 15, 18, 20 + 22; 2:30 p.m. Nov. 25 and Dec. 1, 8, 16 + 23. Aurora offers free, covered, attached parking in a city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222. Discount tickets at

Marguerite Hannah (front) and (back, from left) Maria Rodriguez-Sager, playwright Larry Larson and Markell Williams.

Waffle Palace Christmas. THROUGH DEC. 30. New. Horizon Theatre has retired The Santaland Diaries in favor of this world premiere, a sequel of sorts to its Waffle Palace, the Larry LarsonEddie Levi Lee comedy it developed and staged thrice. The vintage, once-endangered Waffle Palace is now thriving as part of a modern multi-use complex. As the holiday season arrives, the staff is adjusting to new roles, an inexperienced employee and quirky regulars. Four cast members return: Lala CochranAllan EdwardsMarguerite Hannah and Maria Rodriguez-Sager. The newcomers are Jennifer Alice AckerRob ClevelandBarry Stolze and Markell Williams. Co-artistic director Lisa Adler directs. Tickets begin at $30 on weeknights, $35 on weekends plus fees and are subject to change based on demand. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. Additional shows at 8 p.m. Dec. 4, 11 + 18. Matinees at 11 a.m. Dec. 6, 13 + 19. Free parking. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450.

Returning holiday shows of note

David de Vries

A Christmas Carol. DEC. 12-24. The Alliance Theatre takes its musical, multicultural telling, penned by David H. Bell, back to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre for a second season. David de Vries returns as Ebenezer Scrooge. Joining him again are Neal A. Ghant (Bob Cratchit); Bart Hansard (Fezziwig, Ghost of Christmas Yet to Be); and Courtney Patterson (Ghost of Christmas Past), among many others. Rosemary Newcott once again directs. The caroling is gorgeous, and irresistible. Family-friendly. Note: Metal detectors are in place for every performance, so allow extra time to enter the venue. $14-$115. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 7 p.m. Dec. 23. 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000. Discount tickets at

Connie Sue Day

Ho, Ho, Home for the Holidays and a Connie Sue Day Christmas. DEC. 14-23Singer and funny lady Libby Whittemore returns to Actor’s Express with her 10th edition of this joyful holiday songfest. It dates back even further, to her entrepreneurial days as the headliner at the late, great Libby’s, A Cabaret in Buckhead. She’s joined, as always, by Connie Sue Day, the 31st Lady of Country Music. Expect holiday classics old and new, novelty tunes and perhaps a verse or two penned by Connie Sue Day herself. You’ll hear plenty at the two-hour show and go home happy. Beware the Dynel wig. $40. 7:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday.  Actor’s Express is in the King Plow Arts Center, 887 W. Marietta St. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469.

A Year With Frog and Toad. DEC. 7-30. The family favorite about a year in the lives of two best friends returns to Synchronicity Theatre. The Tony-nominated musical follows the cheerful, popular Frog (Matt Baum) and the rather grumpy Toad (Greg Maurice Hunter) through four, fun-filled seasons. It’s part vaudeville and part make-believe as well as funny and moving. Also in the cast: Taryn Carmona, Elliott Folds and Lyndsay Ricketson. Jenna Tamisea, artistic director of GLOW Lyric Theatre in Greenville, S.C., directs. The 2006 telling won Suzi Bass awards for outstanding musical, direction and costume design. The show is based on the Newbery and Caldecott Medal-winning books by Arnold Lobel. $16-$31 (under age 2 free). 7 p.m. Friday; 1 + 4:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 + 5:30 p.m. Sunday. School matinees available. Every Friday is PJs and Play. Kids in PJs get free milk and fresh-baked cookies. Synchronicity Theatre is in the Peachtree Pointe Complex, 1545 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.484.8636.

Also for the holidays

CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL, a one-man telling with actor/artistic director Anthony P. Rodriguez, returns. Nov. 23-Dec. 22 at Aurora Theatre’s Harvel Lab.

A CHRISTMAS MEMORY, a one-man telling of the Truman Capote story about an Alabama boy and his elderly, eccentric cousin with actor/artistic director Tom Key. Dec. 17 only at Theatrical Outfit.

ELF THE MUSICAL, a stage version of the 2003 Will Ferrell movie comedy. Dec. 7-16 at City Springs Theatre Company. Discount tickets at

Hermey the Elf and Rudolph.

INVASION CHRISTMAS CAROL, another season of an improvised version of the Dickens classic with surprise special guests. Even cast members don’t know who will show up, or when. Nov. 30-Dec. 20 at Dad’s Garage. Discount tickets at

A NICE FAMILY CHRISTMAS, a 2017 script about the goings-on at one dysfunctional family’s Christmas reunion. Nov. 30-Dec. 16 at Stage Door Players

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER, based on the timeless Rankin/Bass stop-motion animated TV special from 1964. Through Dec. 30 at the Center for Puppetry Arts.

THE SNOW QUEEN, a traveling show done outdoors and based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale. Nov. 28-Jan. 6 at Serenbe Playhouse.

About Kathy Janich

Kathy Janich 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