The coming four weeks are going to be full of Christmas-themed entertainment, from countless updated versions of “The Nutcracker” and “A Christmas Carol” to bands and singers touring the country with their Christmas concerts.
You may be the most-ardent holiday lover who ever lived, but you’re unlikely to have the time and budget to see them all.
Here’s a selective and subjective look at some of the best bets for the Christmas season 2017.
Even if you’re one of those people who tends to be averse to Christmas fare, everything here should be edifying enough to soothe your inner Scrooge.
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▪ “John Ringling’s Christmas Nutcracker.” Most versions of “The Nutcracker” are well worth avoiding. Ballet connoisseurs generally do not care for the work, and it’s seldom performed outside the United States and Canada. Besides, a lot of bad companies stage versions of “The Nutcracker” to pander to undiscriminating audiences in search of an annual dose of “culture.”
The Sarasota Ballet’s “Nutcracker” is an exception. The clever interpolation of the story of John Ringling refreshes the familiar ballet and allows for distinctive, colorful visuals. The dancing and choreography are impeccable and a live orchestra performs Tchaikovsky’s glorious music. Dec. 15-16, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. 941-359-0099, sarasotaballet.org.
▪ “A Motown Christmas.” Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s musical revues are enthralling, and this one, with the company’s performers re-creating the wealth of holiday songs recorded by the greatest artists of Motown’s heyday, is right up WBTT’s alley. Nov. 29-Dec. 23. 941-396-1505, westcoastblacktheatre.org.
▪ “Cirque Dreams Holidaze.” Awkward title aside, this seasonal extravaganza is a delight to behold. The company, Cirque Dreams, owes its inspiration to Cirque du Soleil — it has the same elegant circus sensibility — but its flavors are distinctive. It will appeal to kids and adults, and it should appeal especially to the many circus gourmets in the Bradenton-Sarasota area. Dec. 21, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. 941-953-3368, vanwezel.org.
The company, Cirque Dreams, obviously owes its inspiration to Cirque du Soleil — it has the same elegant circus sensibility — but its flavors are distinctive.
▪ “Annie.” Not technically a Christmas show, but its optimistic sentiments are right for the season, and it ends with a Christmas party (and with the title character, Franklin D. Roosevelt and others singing “A New Deal for Christmas.” It’s a fun show, despite the horrible song “Tomorrow,” and Manatee Players should have the young talent to make it sparkle. Nov. 30-Dec. 17, Manatee Performing Arts Center. 941-748-5875, manateeperformingartscenter.com.
▪ “The Book of Mormon.” OK, this isn’t a Christmas show. At all. It’s not family-friendly. Even a lot of adults will find it offensive. It’s blasphemous. But it’s unbelievably funny and it’s packed with great songs. (Two of its writers co-wrote “South Park” and the third co-wrote “Frozen” and “Avenue Q”.) It’s even ultimately positive with a nice little moral to it. And at some point in December you’re probably going to want to forget about Christmas for a couple hours. Dec. 5-10, Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 813-229-7827, strazcenter.org.
Marty Clear: 941-708-7919, @martinclear