“CHRISTMAS CANTEEN” (Aurora), “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley”  (Theatrical Outfit) and the one-actor “Knead” (Alliance) still top our list of best bets. Consider, too, the national tour of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” continues at the Fox Theatre and Aurora’s one-actor “This Wonderful Life,” a riff on the holiday movie. Pictured: The “Christmas Canteen” company (from left) Briana Young, Kenny Tran, Chani Maisonet, Cecil Washington Jr., Galen Crawley, Christian Magby and Sarah Grace Valleroy. Photo by Chris Bartelski.

Top picks

Christmas Canteen. THROUGH DEC. 23. Aurora Theatre joyously stages its 23rd original holiday revue. Performances are selling out, so if you’re interested, don’t delay. 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 Dec. 11 + 18. 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 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. David de Vries (who takes the Alliance stage as Ebenezer Scrooge in December) 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. Hertz Stage, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

[MORE: HOW A PLAYWRIGHT RISES]

 

Amelia Fischer, Jonathan Horne. Photo: David Woolf

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. THROUGH DEC. 23. Theatrical Outfit reprises its 2017 holiday hit with this script by Decatur-born, San Francisco-based playwright Lauren Gunderson and colleague Margot Melcon. This witty sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice focuses on socially awkward sister Mary and a potential romantic entanglement. Miss Bennet is the fourth most-popular play in America this season, with productions at 13 theaters nationwide. At the Outfit, notable 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. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 11 a.m. Dec. 13 + 20. 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 PoshDealz.com.

This weekend only

Pianist Simon Trpčeski

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. THURSDAY + SATURDAY. British conductor Edward Gardner leads an all-Rachmaninov program featuring the Russian pianist-composer-conductor’s Isle of the Dead, Symphonic Dances and Piano Concerto No. 4, with Simon Trpčeski soloing. Experts credit Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943) with blazing a path for 20th-century Romantics, producing melodies that are tuneful, textured and visionary. Gardner grew up in Gloucester in southwest England and, since late 2015, has been chief conductor of Norway’s Bergen Philharmonic. The Chicago Tribune calls him one of the “rising stellars of his generation.” The Guardian calls Trpčeski, who’s from Macedonia, “wondrously talented.” $22-$98 (Saturday front orchestra seats sold out). 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

New holiday shows

Daniel Burns. Photo illustration: BreeAnne Clowdus

The Christmas Carol Experience. DEC. 12-30. See Charles Dickens’ Christmas classic in a new way.  The Scrooge story gets spun on its head in this immersive event. Follow Ebenezer and his otherworldly goings-on through the rooms of the historic Wren’s Nest. Expect holiday merriment, carols and lessons to remember. Atlanta-based actor Daniel Burns is Ebenezer Scrooge. The cast of five includes Rosie Gyselinck, Jordan Patrick, Lilliangina Quinones and Julie Trammel. Presented by Brian Clowdus Experiences. Clowdus directs. The Wren’s Nest, once the home of Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit creator Joel Chandler Harris (1848-1908), is now a cultural center that preserves Harris’ legacy and the heritage of African-American folklore through storytelling, tours and student publishing. $50; $45 under 18, seniors, military. 7 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. Additional shows at 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 1050 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd., Atlanta.Tickets HERE.

Curious Holiday Encounters. DEC. 6-9. This festival of interactive performances takes place throughout the 7 Stages building. Expect an offbeat brand of holiday cheer as you stroll around 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 Atlanta’s 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 features classic Christmas songs done 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 Out Front 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. THROUGH 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. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. Sunday. 660 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499.

The company of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.” Photo: Jeremy Daniel

[HOW THE CREATIVE TEAM GUARANTEES SNOWS]

 

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 tell the story of a little girl named Marie and her come-to-life Nutcracker Prince. The production features 35-plus 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.

[A NUTCRACKER FOR A NEW GENERATION]

 

Jeremy Aggers. Photo: Casey Gardner

This Wonderful Life.THROUGH DEC. 23. This one-man version of the Jimmy Stewart film classic is new to Aurora Theatre’s holiday lineup. Jeremy Aggers (Singles in Architecture, Hands on a Hardbody) plays everybody — George Bailey, Clarence, Mr. Potter, Uncle Billy, Mary, Mr. Gower, Zuzu, etc. The script is by playwright Steve Murray (whom 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. Dec. 1, 5, 13, 15, 18, 20 + 22; and 2:30 p.m. 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 PoshDealz.com.

Waffle Palace Christmas. THROUGH DEC. 30. 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 as Scrooge. Photo: Greg Mooney

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 Present); 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 PoshDealz.com.

[DIRECTOR ROSEMARY NEWCOTT GOES ‘CAROL’-ING ONE MORE TIME]

 

Ho, Ho, Home for the Holidays and a Connie Sue Day Christmas. DEC. 14-23. Singer and funny lady Libby Whittemore returns to Actor’s Express with her 10th edition of this happy holiday songfest. It dates back even further, though, 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 herself. You’ll hear plenty at the two-hour show and go home merry.  But 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. Synchronicity’s 2006 staging 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 (ongoing)

IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER:

CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Ongoing. Through Dec. 22. The one-man telling with actor/artistic director Anthony P. Rodriguez. At Aurora Theatre’s Harvel Lab. 678.226.6222.

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER. Ongoing. Through Dec. 30. Based on the timeless Rankin/Bass stop-motion animated TV special from 1964. At the Center for Puppetry Arts404.873.3391.

THE SNOW QUEEN. Ongoing. Through Jan. 6. A traveling, site-specific show done outdoors and based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale. At Serenbe Playhouse770.463.1110.

INVASION: CHRISTMAS CAROL. Nov. 30-Dec. 20. An improvised version of the Dickens classic with surprise special guests. Even cast members don’t know who will show up, or when. Dad’s Garage. Discount tickets at PoshDealz.com. 404.523.3141.

CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Nov. 30-Dec. 23. As they have for 20-plus years, a handful of actors brings the story alive at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. 404.874.5299, Ext. 0.

A NICE FAMILY CHRISTMAS. Nov. 30-Dec. 16. A 2017 script about the goings-on at one dysfunctional family’s Christmas reunion. At Stage Door Players. 770.396.1726.

ELF THE MUSICAL. Dec. 7-16. The stage version of the 2003 Will Ferrell movie comedy. Allow extra time to get through venue security. City Springs Theatre Company. 404.477.4365.

Also for the holidays (limited performances)

In chronological order:

CHRISTMAS WITH THE ATLANTA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA. Dec. 8-9 only. Four performances. Continuing a tradition started decades ago by then-music director Robert Shaw. The Gwinnett Young Singers and the Morehouse College Glee Club join the orchestra and ASO Chorus to perform carols and hymns. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

HANDEL’S MESSIAHDec. 13-14 only. Two performances. Featuring the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

A FESTIVE FAMILY HOLIDAY. Dec. 16 only. Two performances. Join the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and conductor Stephen Mulligan to hear favorite holiday tunes and … maybe … see Santa. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

A CHRISTMAS MEMORY. Dec. 17 only. A one-man telling of the Truman Capote story about an Alabama boy and his elderly, eccentric cousin with actor/artistic director Tom Key.  At Theatrical Outfit. 678.528.1500.

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