Holiday arts scene offers music, dance, and laughter

    1 of 5 2 of 5

      Where to go classical

      Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Nutcracker
      At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre from December 8 to 11
      This sparkling, picture-perfect production puts a wintry Canadian spin on the classic, with pond hockey and the Parliament Buildings even making a cameo. Think frothy tutus and tiptoeing under falling snow.

      Festive Cantatas—J.S. Bach Magnificat
      At the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts on December 18
      Transcendent baroque beauty: Alexander Weimann leads the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and five acclaimed early-music soloists through Bach’s masterpiece. Also on the program: Georg Philipp Telemann’s Concerto for Three Trumpets in D Major and Bach’s transfixing “Cantata 140” (“Wachet auf”).

      Goh Ballet Nutcracker
      At the Centre in Vancouver from December 15 to 20
      National Ballet of Canada stars Guillaume Côté and Jurgita Dronina bring the Cavalier Prince and Sugar Plum Fairy to gorgeous life amid the Goh’s family-friendly rendition of the classic. It’s all danced to Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky’s score, performed live by members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra.

      Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
      At the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts on December 16 and 17
      Violin master Mark Fewer’s string-sizzling rendition of Antonio Vivaldi’s beloved classic has become a local tradition with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. It’s truly “seasonal” fare, but offers respite from the endless loop of carols.

      Andrew Cownden stars in A Charlie Brown Christmas, which comes complete with a live jazz trio and the infamous droopy tree.
      Tim Matheson

      Where to go nostalgic

      A Charlie Brown Christmas
      At the Waterfront Theatre from November 27 to December 31
      The 1965 television classic gets a loving reinterpretation—with a live jazz trio, a puppet Snoopy, and a pathetic, droopy tannenbaum. In this kid-friendly Carousel Theatre production, Andrew Cownden plays the bad-luck title character as he prepares for the school Christmas pageant.

      Mary Poppins
      At the Arts Club’s Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage from December 3 to January 1
      The Broadway musical lets you relive a lot of the magic of the beloved 1964 film, complete with a nanny who floats over London’s rooftops. Kayla James steps into the title role of a holiday show that last played the theatre to packed houses in 2013 and 2014.

      A Traditional Christmas
      At venues around Vancouver and the Lower Mainland from December 8 to 18
      A Yuletide concert as comforting as a crackling fireplace: Bard on the Beach’s Christopher Gaze blends classic readings with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s flawlessly executed traditional carols and other pieces—songs given voice by EnChor and the UBC Opera Ensemble. All the chestnuts you want at this time of year are here: a sing-along “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria”, the waltz from Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker—under the baton of the VSO’s smashing new assistant conductor, William Rowson.

      Vancouver TheatreSports League’s Christmas Queen 3 rips a page out of The Bachelorette.
      Rob Gilbert

      Where to get a laugh

      Christmas Queen 3: The Bachelorette Edition
      At the Improv Centre to December 23
      If you’ve never made a holiday tradition out of visiting Her Royal Meanness, this year the Vancouver TheatreSports League promises extra naughtiness: the Brit-panto-style, cross-dressing title terror has her own reality show, and the bachelors she’s lined up span seasonal favourites like the Grinch, Elf on the Shelf, and Santa himself.

      The Day Before Christmas
      At the Arts Club’s Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre from November 24 to December 24
      Alison Kelly and Stacey Kaser’s witty new script plays on the pressure we all feel to be Martha Stewart at Christmas. As perfectionist Alex tries to juggle work and an unruly family while preparing a magazine-worthy holiday feast, all hell breaks loose. The artistic team includes directing dynamo Chelsea Haberlin and Jennifer Clement as the wannabe hostess with the mostest.

      A Peter n’ Chris-tmas Carol
      At Performance Works on December 9 and 10
      The hilarious Vancouver Fringe Festival faves are back and ready to send up the story of Scrooge in their own warped way.

      Santaland Diaries
      At Presentation House Theatre from December 8 to 17
      Razor-witted humorist David Sedaris recounts his painful experience as a Macy’s department-store elf for the stage. Alan Marriott stars as Crumpet, who’s faced with bratty kids and their doting parents in a show presented by GTI Theatrical Productions Society and Famous Artists Limited.

      An East Van Panto: Little Red Riding Hood
      At the York Theatre from November 25 to December 31
      Theatre Replacement’s neighbourhood favourite packs houses for a reason: live music, outrageous locally sourced gags, and fun fairy-tale action.

      Margo Kane returns to her role as the narrator in Bah! Humbug!, a Downtown Eastside Christmas Carol.

      Where to find a new twist on old faves

      Bah! Humbug!
      At SFU Woodward’s in the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts from December 8 to 17
      Blues star Jim Byrnes plays Scrooge in this torn-from-local-headlines, Downtown Eastside–set spin on A Christmas Carol. David Marr is Marley, Margo Kane narrates, and artist Richard Tetrault provides an expressive backdrop of alleyways and crows.

      Mixed Nuts
      At the Vancouver Playhouse from December 16 to 18
      Arts Umbrella’s popular holiday performance plays on the Nutcracker theme with a wide-ranging program that spans classic pas de deux and edgy new work by Ballet BC dancers, Kidd Pivot company members, and more. It’s the equivalent of a giant box of chocolates for dance lovers.

      Hansel and Gretel
      At the Vancouver Playhouse from November 24 to December 11
      Giant creatures created by Old Trout Puppet Workshop bring new, eerie life to this Vancouver Opera production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s 19th-century masterpiece. Expect a nontraditional orchestration and topnotch singing from stars Pascale Spinney and Taylor Pardell.

      Music for the Winter Solstice
      At Heritage Hall on December 15 and 16
      Music on Main salutes the solstice with a concert that celebrates the season with new compositions. The highlight promises to be a new carol by Montreal sensation Nicole Lizée, along with the crack team of vocalist-violinist Caroline Shaw, singer-pianist Veda Hille, pianist Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa, and guitarist
      Adrian Verdejo. Sublime.

      Elektra Women’s Choir carefully curates a program of carols and other music, from here and around the globe.

      Where to catch some choral action

      Chez Nous: Christmas With Elektra
      At Ryerson United Church on November 26 and at Surrey’s Good Shepherd Church on November 27
      The city’s leading women’s choir has special guests on the program for its wildly popular Christmas show: pianist Jane Coop and the Pacific Mennonite Children’s Choir. Artistic director Morna Edmundson mixes up the programming every year, and for 2016 she’s kicking off with one of the world’s oldest Christmas carols, “Le Sommeil de l’Enfant Jésus”, going on to tackle everything from an African carol to “Ave Maria”.

      Christmas with the Bach Choir

      At the Orpheum on December 4

      Think 400-odd voices performing rousing renditions of your favourite carols, and you pretty much have a transcendent afternoon away from shopping stress. The accomplished adult choir is joined here by its entire "family" of choir members, including the little ones of its children's chorus.

      Handel’s Messiah
      At the Orpheum on December 9

      The Vancouver Chamber Choir gives voice to George Frederick Handel’s rafter-shaking masterpiece, with top soloists like soprano Martha Guth, mezzo Susan Platts, tenor Colin Balzer, and bass-baritone Tyler Duncan lending their considerable chops. The Vancouver Chamber Orchestra gives live backup, while the Pacifica Singers add to the
      vocal power.

      Christmas/Chor Leoni
      At St. Andrew’s-Wesley Church on December 16 and 17, and at West Vancouver United Church on December 18
      The all-male choir offers its resounding seasonal gift to listeners—new choral works, sing-alongs, old favourites, and more.

      Christmas Reprise XIV
      At Holy Rosary Cathedral on December 17
      The Vancouver Cantata Singers present favourite carols amid contemporary works in a warm downtown respite from nearby mall mayhem.