Holiday Shows 2014 – Art-y or Party? Or just kinda weird?

Minneapolis_skyline_151BY DEBRA KEEFER RAMAGE

One of the great features of Twin Cities life is the incredible selection of entertainment and celebration options around the winter holidays. Mindful that there are loads of newspaper and online guides to the holidays out there, we  are going to focus—not exclusively, but largely—on the quirky and the thoughtful. The following guide is chosen more or less at random. A few options are outside of South Minneapolis, and a few may be outside what some would consider a reasonable price range. But hey, we don’t judge.
Theatre—from the solemn to the ridiculous
“The Juniper Tree” at Open Eye Theatre. 506 E. 24th St., 612-874-6338.  Shows Thu., Fri., Sat., Sun., from 11/7/14 to 11/30/14, except Thanksgiving, extra Monday show 11/24. Sunday shows at 4 p.m., other shows at 7:30 p.m. Created by Michael Sommers, composed by Michael Koerner, The Juniper Tree is puppets plus live actors with a live band, based on a Grimm Bros. tale. Very affordable, $5 to $15.
Dr. Suess’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” at the Children’s Theatre Company.  2400 3rd Ave. S. 612-874-0400. Shows 11/11/14 through  1/4/15. A Christmas kids’ standard; tickets start at $10.
“The Cocktail Hour” at the Guthrie. 818 S. 2nd St., Minneapolis 55415. 612-377-2224. Shows 11/22/14 through 1/04/15 on the McGuire Proscenium Stage.  An entertaining family reunion on the rocks. With delightfully witty wordplay, A.R. Gurney’s comedy of manners pits artistic pursuit against family loyalty. An uptight, upper-crust WASP family in the 1970s. Revelations and recriminations, both funny and poignant. Quite affordable at $18 and up.
Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” at the Orpheum. 910 Hennepin Ave. S. 800-982-2787. Shows 11/25 to 11/30. The classic holiday movie comes to the stage at last! Tickets $39 to $134.
“Nutcracker Nutz” at the Daytrippers Dinner Theatre. 9152 Old Cedar Ave., Bloomington 55425 (5 mins. from MoA). 952-393-3644. Mid-day shows with a large luncheon buffet, 12/01/14 to 12/19/14. We’ve got your quirky right here. The Residents’ Council of a retirement community in Frankfort, Mich., has relied for years on an annual performance of “A Christmas Carol” as a fundraiser, but the guy who plays Scrooge can’t remember his lines anymore. After the loss of their director, the program committee decides to look for another script. Not realizing it’s a ballet, they plan a production of “The Nutcracker” and when they find out, it’s too late to back out! It’s your only chance to see “The Nutcracker” performed with walkers.
“A Christmas Story: The Musical” at the Ordway. 345 Washington St., Saint Paul 55102. 651-224-4222. Shows 11/29/14 to 12/28/14. Filled with nostalgia and quirky childhood innocence, the musical is the hilarious account of  a boy’s desperate quest to ensure that the most perfect gift (an air rifle) ends up under his tree for Christmas. Tickets $33 to $110.
“La Natividad” at the Basilica. 88 N. 17th St., Minneapolis 55403. 612-333-1381. One show Saturday 12/6/14 at 2 p.m. Presented in partnership with In the Heart of the Beast (see below for performance details, except La Posada is all within the church building). Tickets $15, free for 5 and under.
“La Natividad” at In the Heart of the Beast and surrounding streets and businesses. 1500 E. Lake St. 612-721-2535 Shows: At 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, 12/11; Saturday, 12/13; Sunday, 12/14; Thursday, 12/18; Friday, 12/19; Saturday, 12/20; Sunday, 12/21.  The Nativity story, and more, in English and Spanish, with mostly amateur actors and singers and a few puppets. This unique event honors the Mexican tradition of La Posada, leading everyone on a journey to four sites in our community. Enacted with tenderness, humor, live music, and an ending feast.  In partnership with St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, directed by Sandy Spieler, musical direction by Laurie Witzkowski. Tickets: Adults, $22; Children and Groups of 10 or more,$16.
“All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914” at the Pantages. 710 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis  55403. Tickets 612-339-7007. Shows 12/17 to 12/21/14. This moving ode to peace was created by Peter Rothstein and features Cantus, one of America’s finest vocal ensembles, with musical arrangements by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach. Ages 12 and up! Harrowing content! $51 to $150.
Dance—any show you want, as long as it’s the Nutcracker
Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker” at the Orpheum. 910 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis  55403. 1-800-982-2787. Three shows only on 12/6/14 at noon, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Online sales only, tickets vary a lot, but about $40 to upper $100s.
Ballet Minnesota presents “The Classic Nutcracker” at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium of St. Catherine. 2004 Randolph Ave., Saint Paul 55105. 651-690-6700. Shows 12/19/14 and 12/20/14 at 7:30 p.m. plus 12/20 and 12/21 at 2 p.m. Tickets quite reasonable at $18 to $44.
“Nutcracker Fantasy” at the State Theatre. 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis 55402. 1-800-982-2787. Presented by MN Dance Theatre ( Shows  12/19/14 to 12/23/14. Tickets $45 to $70.
And now for something really different: “Visions of Sugarplums: A Burlesque Nutcracker” at the Ritz.  345 13th Ave. N.E., Minneapolis 55413. Lily Verlaine & Nadine DuBois, along with their distinguished cast of dancers and burlesque artists present the exotic treats of the classic Nutcracker ballet. From Queenie von Curves’ vivacious Snow Queen and Rebecca Abroe’s sultry Countess of Coffee to Sweetpea’s smokin’ Hot Chocolate, not to mention the exquisite work of the Sugarplum ensemble, the show is a bawdy yet beautiful makeover of the Nutcracker ballet. Must be 18 to attend. Tickets $35.
Concerts—a wide selection
Mannheim Steamroller at the Orpheum. 910 Hennepin Ave.,  Minneapolis 55403. 855-705-7413. Sunday, 12/07/14 at 7 p.m. Tickets $48.50 to $68.50.
Billy McLaughlin with band Simple Gifts at the Pepito’s Parkway Theatre. 4814 Chicago Ave. S.  612-822-3030. New age acoustic guitar from a hometown guy. Tickets $25 to $30.
Handel’s “Messiah” at the Basilica. 88 N. 17th St., Minneapolis 55403. One show 12/18/14 at 7:30 p.m. Performed by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. For tickets and info call 651-291-1144 or visit  Tickets $14 to $52.
Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant at the Target Center. 600 1st Ave. N., Minneapolis 55403.  Saturday, 12/13/14 at 7 p.m. Presented by KTIS 98.5. Tickets $32 to $77.
Art Exhibits—some quiet time
“Winter Wonderland: A Nordic Christmas” at the American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave. S.  612-871-4907. Daily from 11/15/14 until 1/11/15. Opening reception 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sat., 11/15 with musical performances and activities.
“Winter Holidays in the Soviet Era” at The Museum of Russian Art. 5500 Stevens Ave. S., Minneapolis 55419. 612-821-9045, daily from 11/1/14 until 1/25/15. Featuring 600+ objects from one of the world’s largest collections of Soviet holiday ornaments.

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