Holiday Entertainment Guide – Toy trains, ‘A Christmas Carol,’ and Smithville Light Show

    Looking for something to do this holiday season? WHYY’s Robin Bloom searches hundreds of listings each week to find out what’s happening in and around Philadelphia, South Jersey and Delaware. Here are her picks:

    Holiday Light Show in Smithville

    Historic Smithville, New Jersey hosts the annual Holiday Light Show, Thursdays through Sundays beginning Friday, November 23 and continuing through January 2, as 120 Christmas trees, made from 50,000 lights, float over the lake and dance, chase and blink on and off to holiday music by the Colonial Inn, 615 East Moss Mill Road, Smithville, NJ. Free.

    “A Christmas Carol” onstage at Clear Space Theatre Company

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    Onstage at Clear Space Theatre Company is “A Christmas Carol,” November 23 through December 16, based on the book by Charles Dickens with music by composer and Clear Space Artistic Director Doug Yetter (pictured), lyrics by Michael Hulett, and directed by David Button. Former NPR Weekend Edition Sunday host Liane Hansen joins the cast on the theater’s new thrust stage, 20 Baltimore Avenue (Beach Block), Rehoboth Beach, DE.


    August Wilson’s “Jitney” onstage at Stagecrafters

    Opening this weekend at Stagecrafters is August Wilson’s “Jitney,” part of the playwright’s ten-play “Pittsburgh Cycle,” telling the story, decade-by-decade, of the twentieth century African-American experience in that city, November 23 through December 9, directed by Marilyn Yoblick, starring Kash Goins, Damien Wallace, and Roderick Slocum, at 8130 Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill. Tickets $17 online (no service charge), $20 at the door, Thursday evening performances 2 for $25, students with ID $13 at door, groups of 15 or more $15 paid in advance. A meet the cast and director Q&A follows the Friday, November 30 performance.


    “The Christmas Express” onstage at Bridge Players

    Opening November 23 at Bridge Players Theatre Company is “The Christmas Express,” a family-friendly tale about train station manager Hilda Trowbridge and her assistant, Satch Brunswick. When Leo Tannenbaum drops by the Holly Railway Station on December 23, broken radios spring to life, tone-deaf carolers become a choir of angels, and the entire town of Holly is caught up in the spirit of Christmas, onstage at Broad Street United Methodist Church, 36 E. Broad Street, Burlington, NJ through December 1. Tickets $10.


    Antique Toy Train Show at SJ Museum of American History

    The South Jersey Museum of American History hosts the 11th Annual Antique Toy Train Show, opening this weekend, November 23 and featuring 0-27 gauge toy trains from the 1940s and 1950s, through February 3, 123 E. High Street, Glassboro, NJ. The Museum’s permanent exhibits include artifacts from the Pre-Columbian through the Colonial Eras, farmstead and antique hand tools, the Pine Barrens, glass and a comprehensive political history exhibit. Admission: $4 adults, $3 children. Open Thursday through Sunday from 1pm-5pm.


    “A Tuna Christmas” on Cape May Stage

    Cape May Stage presents the comedy “A Tuna Christmas,” by Ed Howard, Joe Sears and Jaston Williams, a sequel to “Greater Tuna,” opening this weekend, November 23 through December 30. The production features two actors, twelve days of Christmas, and twenty-four hilarious characters at the Robert Shackleton Playhouse, corner of Bank and Lafayette Streets, Cape May, NJ. Good for ages 12 and up. Tickets: $15-$35.


    Players Club of Swarthmore presents “Little Women”

    The American classic, “Little Women” comes to the Players Club of Swarthmore this Friday, November 23. Louisa May Alcott’s story about the March sisters’ coming of age has been adapted for the stage, starring Jenna Glazier, Sara Prendergast, and Meghan Hindmarch, through December 8, 614 Fairview Road, Swarthmore, PA. $15, $14 for seniors, $8 for students.


    Reading Terminal Market’s Holiday Railroad

    The Reading Terminal Market Holiday Railroad opens this Friday, November 23. Almost a third of a mile of track runs twelve working train lines through miniature scenery depicting Center City Philadelphia, a Christmas Village, and other seasonal displays, opens daily at 10am through December 31 (closed on Christmas Day), Piano Court in Reading Terminal Market, 12th and Arch Street, Philadelphia, free.


    “Lights On!” at Grounds for Sculpture

    Grounds for Sculpture, the 42 acre sculpture park and arboretum, kicks off the 2nd annual Winter Wonders, three individually themed months of special events for all ages. The festivities begin this weekend with “Lights On!” featuring workshops, performances, children’s activities and more, culminating at sundown as 50,000 lights come on throughout the park, creating a winter wonderland, Saturday, November 24, 10am-9pm and Sunday, November 25, 10am-7pm. December’s theme is “Holiday Happenings” with tram rides, handmade gifts, workshops, musical performances and more in Hamilton Township, NJ. Admission: $12 adults, $10 seniors, $8 students, children 5 and under free.

    Holiday Garden Railway Display at Morris Arboretum

    The Morris Arboretum’s popular Holiday Garden Railway Display returns this weekend with a quarter mile of track featuring seven loops and tunnels with fifteen different rail lines and two cable cars, nine bridges (including a trestle bridge you can walk under), and bustling model trains.  The display and buildings are all made of natural materials (bark, leaves, twigs, hollow logs, mosses, acorns, dried flowers, seeds and stones) to form a miniature landscape with miniature rivers and buildings that are exact replicas of the original including Independence Hall and other Philadelphia-area landmarks, all decorated for the holidays through December 31 at 100 Northwestern Avenue in Chestnut Hill.  On Saturday, November 24, 1-3pm is a Holiday Garden Railway Grand Opening Celebration featuring performances, ornament decorating, and more; December 8, 2pm, Penn Glee Club performs; December 15, 4pm, Holiday Hat Parade.  Activities included with garden admission: $16 adults, $14 for seniors, students and youth (13-18) $7, children under age three and members free.  Open daily from 10am-4pm through December 14 and 10am-5pm, December 15-31 (closed Christmas Eve and day, and New Years day).


    Holiday offerings at Bristol Riverside Theatre

    Bristol Riverside Theatre celebrates the holidays with “The Velveteen Rabbit,” four performances by Enchantment Theatre Company, Saturday, November 24 and Sunday, November 25; The musical “HUMBUG!” with Alan Safier in a one-man tour-de-force performance as 27 characters from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, onstage November 29 through December 2, along with video projections and an original score by composers Sheldon Harnick and Michel Legrand. “Winter Musicale 2012” follows December 13-23 at 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, PA. Tickets $15-$45.

    Brave Combo performs in Philly

    Brave Combo brings their “nuclear polka and psychedelic salsa” sound to World Café Live this Sunday, November 25, 8pm, performing music from their holiday albums Christmas Present and It’s Christmas, Man, along with songs from their new album Sounds of the Hollow, at 3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia. Tickets $12-$15.


    “The Best of Enemies” at George Street Playhouse

    Opening Tuesday, November 27 at George Street Playhouse is “The Best of Enemies,” by Mark. St. Germain, directed by Julianne Boyd, and starring Aisha Hinds and John Bedford Lloyd (pictured), a true story, inspired by The Best of Enemies by Osha Gray Davidson, about the relationship between C.P. Ellis (a Grand Cyclops of the KKK) and Ann Atwater (an African-American civil rights activist) during the desegregation of the Durham, NC, schools in 1971, onstage through December 23 at 9 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ.


    Plein Air for Camphill at Rosenfeld Gallery

    Plein Air for Camphill holds its 3rd exhibition at Rosenfeld Gallery November 29 through December 2, to benefit Camphill Special School. Over 50 of the Philadelphia area’s finest artists participated in the exhibition with the theme of “The Four Seasons,” showcasing the beauty of Beaver Farm throughout the changing seasons of the year. An exclusive preview sale and reception will be held Thursday, November 29, 5:30pm-8:30pm and a public opening Friday, November 30, 5pm-9pm at 113 Arch Street, Philadelphia. Artwork is available for preview online.


    “Dave & Aaron Go to Work” at 1812 Productions

    1812 Productions’ holiday show “Dave & Aaron Go to Work” opens at Plays & Players Theatre, Thursday, November 29. Dave Jadico and Aaron Cromie take inspiration from iconic physical comedians such as Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy in this “silent film for the stage” that tells the story of two roommates in a cramped apartment, searching for the perfect profession. Musical Director Alex Bechtel wrote the play’s original score, which will be accompanied by sound effects and supertitles, through December 31, 1714 Delancey Street, Philadelphia. Tickets: $22-$38.


    Macy’s Grand Court Light Show

    Macy’s Grand Court Light Show returns with shows every hour on the hour, the annual Dickens Village, daily Wanamaker Organ concerts and more, now through December 31, 13th and Market Streets, Philadelphia.  Least crowded viewing times: Mondays through Thursday.



    City of Gold: Tomb and Temple in Ancient Cyprus

    On display at Princeton University Art Museum is “City of Gold: Tomb and Temple in Ancient Cyprus” through January 20, celebrating the conclusion of over two decades of excavation in Polis Chrysochous in the republic of Cyprus. Finds include gold jewelry, a rare marble statue, and more from the Princeton Department of Art and Archaeology as well as objects lent by the Cypriot Department of Antiquities, the British Museum, and the Musée du Louvre, in Princeton, NJ. Free admission.

    Holiday events:

    The National Constitution Center’s Thanksgiving Weekend Celebration offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the history of the American holiday, from George Washington’s first Thanksgiving proclamation to modern day traditions. Children can participate in interactive programs, make seasonal crafts and even send letters of gratitude to men and women serving overseas at a special Soldier Mail Call station, Friday, November 23 through Sunday, November 25, 525 Arch Street, Philadelphia. Included with museum admission.

    East Lynne Theater Company presents “Louisa May Alcott’s Christmas,” three of Alcott’s tales, including the opening of “Little Women,” brought to life by storyteller Gayle Stahlhuth, for the whole family, Friday, November 23 through December 14 at the First Presbyterian Church, 500 Hughes Street, Cape May, NJ. Tickets: $25 general, $15 students, children 12 and under free.

    Adventure Aquarium’s 2012 Christmas Celebration kicks off this weekend, November 23, transforming into an underwater winter wonderland with larger than life decorations, twinkling lights, glowing trees and gently falling snow, Christmas characters including “Scuba Santa,” through January 1, 1 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ. $17.95-$23.95.

    The 5th annual Christmas Village in Philadelphia returns to LOVE Park in Center City, an outdoor holiday market with vendors in more than 90 wooden booths offering international seasonal arts and crafts, gifts, ornaments, food and more as well as a life-size Advent calendar and a stage with daily live performances of local choirs, orchestras and bands. Saturday, November 24, the original Nuremberger Christkind performs in the Grand Opening Ceremony; Mayor Michael Nutter lights the municipal tree, Wednesday, December 5, with special events to follow through Christmas, JFK Plaza, 1500 Arch Street. Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11am-7pm, Friday and Saturday 11am-8pm, and Thanksgiving and Christmas 11am-5pm. Free admission.

    Dover Downs Hotel and Casino celebrates the holiday season with the 7th annual Chocolate Festival, Saturday, November 24, 10am-6pm with varieties of chocolate and candy exhibitors, an ice carving contest, candy and gingerbread village, arts and crafts marketplace, live entertainment, dance performances by Delaware Ballet Company and more, free admission for children under 18, adults $5; “Ringing in the Holiday Season,” with the Dover Symphony Orchestra, Sunday, November 25, 2pm, $20 adults, $15 seniors, college students, military, children under 16 free with paying adult; The Kent County Festival of Trees display by Delaware Hospice; 1131 North DuPont Highway, Dover, DE.

    The Please Touch Museum hosts holiday events including the Enchanted Colonial Village, on display through January 6, depicting holiday scenes of blacksmiths, bakers, toymakers, and more. Thursday, November 29, meet the Sugarplum Fairy from the Pennsylvania Ballet’s production of “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker,” with a 30-minute class for preschoolers on the art of dance at 10:15am, then at 11am, the Sugarplum Fairy will pose for pictures until noon after a reading from “The Nutcracker,” 4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia.

    Temple University Boyer College of Music and Dance presents “Sounds of the Season,” a family concert with the Temple University Orchestra, Jazz Band, and combined choirs, Friday, November 30, 7pm, with conductors Luis Biava, Paul Rardin, and Terell Stafford and featuring Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, Ellington’s The Nutcracker Suite, Handel’s Messiah and more including an audience sing-a-long, Temple Performing Arts Center Lew Klein Hall, N. Broad Street, Philadelphia.

    Riverside Symphonia of New Hope/Lambertville kicks off the holiday season with “Joy to the World,” a mix of classical and holiday musical favorites, November 30 and Saturday, December 1, 8pm, featuring violinist Piotr Filochowski, and the Hunterdon Youth Concert Choir from the Hunterdon Academy of the Arts, Church of St. John the Evangelist, Lambertville, NJ. Tickets $15-$55.

    Peddler’s Village hosts the annual Gingerbread House Competition & Display, with confections in categories including traditional, authentic reproduction of a significant building, amateur, unusual 3D creation, and more, through January 5, 2013 in the gazebo, Routes 202 and 263, Lahaska, Bucks County, PA. Free admission and free parking.

    The Comcast Holiday Spectacular 2012 returns to the Comcast Center now through New Year’s Day, shown on the state-of-the-art Comcast Experience Video Wall, the largest four-millimeter LED screen in the world, spanning 83.3 feet wide by 25.4 feet high, capturing the essence of the holidays with performances by the Pennsylvania Ballet, Broadway dancers, the Commonwealth Youth Choir’s Keystone State Boychoir, and more. 15 minute shows begin at the top of every hour, 10am-8pm daily (except for weekdays at 5pm), Comcast Center, 1701 John F. Kennedy Boulevard, Philadelphia. Free.

    The Clay Studio’s annual holiday exhibition “Gifted,” hand made objects including plates, bowls, mugs, ornaments, tiles and more, representing a wide aesthetic range of more than 200 artists, affordably priced for holiday gift giving, is on display through December 30 at 137-139 North Second Street, Old City, Philadelphia.

    Other events in Philly:

    The “Handmade in Philadelphia” holiday exhibition and sale opens with a reception Friday, November 23, 5pm-7pm and Saturday, November 24, 10am-4pm, offering ceramics, textiles, jewelry and more at the Ethical Society Building, 1906 Rittenhouse Square (Southwest corner), Philadelphia.

    The Meiravi Quartet performs at the Academy of Vocal Arts this Sunday, November 25, 3pm. The program includes the Bartok String Quartet No. 2, the Mozart Quartet in F, K 590, and the third movement of Meiravi’s composer-in-residence Peter Nocella’s String Quartet No. 3 in Green at 1920 Spruce Street, Philadelphia. Tickets: $22, $15 for seniors, $5 for students. Online discounts available.

    Quintessence Theatre Group presents John Farrell’s reading of T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets.” In 2007 Farrell, an actor and poet, set out to accomplish his goal of memorizing T.S. Eliot’s crowning poetic achievement, and now he brings the complex meditation on existence, time, and divinity to the stage, November 28 to December 2, Sedgwick Theater, 7137 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia. Tickets: $15, $10 for students and youth.

    Koresh Dance Company performs “Trust,” a program of works selected by artistic director Ronen Koresh, Thursday, November 29 to December 2 at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre. Assistant artistic director Melissa Rector will debut her newest piece as a part of the program, performed by the Koresh Youth Ensemble, 480 South Broad Street, Philadelphia. Tickets: $25-$35.

    Allens Lane Theater presents “Expecting Isabel,” by Lisa Loomer, a comedy that chronicles the journey of a Manhattan couple and their desire to have a baby, directed by Loretta Lucy Miller, through December 1, 601 West Allens Lane, Philadelphia. Tickets: $18 with reservations, $20 at the door, with Sunday special for seniors and students $15 and $17 at the door.

    “War Horse” is onstage as part of the Kimmel Center’s Broadway at the Academy of Music, based on the book by the same name by Michael Morpurgo, through December 2, Broad Street, Philadelphia. Tickets: $25-$110.

    Onstage at the Wilma Theater is “Satchmo at the Waldorf,” a new one-man play by author and critic Terry Teachout, about Louis Armstrong trying to pull himself together following his performance, set backstage at the Empire Room of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in March 1971, through December 2, directed by Long Wharf Theatre Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein and starring OBIE Award-winning actor John Douglas Thompson, 265 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia. Tickets: $39-$54.

    Twelve Gates Arts presents “Multiples,” Philadelphia-based abstract artist Antonio Puri’s latest series, Chakra, on display through December 15 at 51 North Second Street, Philadelphia.

    The Philadelphia Museum of Art presents “Dancing Around the Bride,” the first exhibition to explore the works and lives of Marcel Duchamp, and four American postwar artists: composer John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham, and visual artists Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, through January 21, Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia.

    On display at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is “The Female Gaze: Women Artists Making their World,” through April 7 with related programs and events at the Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building, 128 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia. Admission: $15 adults, $12 seniors and students, $10 youth (12-18), children under 12 and members free.

    Other events in the region:

    The Not Just Rock Expo returns for the 26th year, hosting over 150 vendors selling CDs, DVDs, LPs, memorabilia, and more with special celebrity appearances by Marky Ramone of the Ramones and Vinny Martell of Vanilla Fudge, Friday, November 23, noon-6pm and Saturday, November 24, 10am-6pm, at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, 100 Station Avenue, Oaks, PA. Free.

    2nd Street Players presents Roald Dahl’s “Willy Wonka,” the stage adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, featuring the songs from the classic film Willie Wonka and the Chocolate factory, November 23 through December 2, Riverfront Theater, 2 S. Walnut Street, Milford, DE. Tickets $17-$20.

    “On the Verge” opens at Arcadia University Theater on Thursday, November 29. This offbeat, wacky comedy sends a trio of proper Victorian ladies on a journey through space and time. Written by Eric Overmyer and directed by Kevin Marini and onstage through December 9, 450 South Easton Road, Glenside, PA. $15, $12 for students, seniors, and alumni, free for current Arcadia students.

    Somerville Manning Gallery presents “Peter Sculthorpe – Recent Paintings,” displaying the artist’s realist oil and watercolor paintings of Maine and the American Mid-Atlantic through December 29 at 101 Stone Block Row, Greenville, DE. Free.

    People’s Light & Theatre presents “Aladdin: A Musical Panto” through January 6, based loosely on the classic story of Aladdin finding a magic lamp, adding outrageous jokes, songs, dancing, and audience participation, 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, PA. Tickets: $35-45.

    See the world on smaller scale at the Nikon Small World Exhibit at the Delaware Museum of Natural History, presenting winning photographs from the 2012 Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition. The exhibit hosts 20 images of magnified objects, which showcase a balance of scientific precision and artistic aesthetic, through January 6, 4840 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE. Admission: $9 for adults, $8 for seniors, $7 for children, Free for members and children under 2.

    Brett Rader contributed reporting to this week’s guide.

    To submit an event to be considered for the Weekly Entertainment Guide email Robin Bloom at

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