Weekly Entertainment Guide – A Longwood Christmas, ‘The Santaland Diaries’ and Sounds of the Season

     A Longwood Christmas, through January 11 at Longwood Gardens. (Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens)

    A Longwood Christmas, through January 11 at Longwood Gardens. (Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens)

    Catch a reimagined fairy tale classic, David Sedaris’ works, an 18-foot rotating peacock-themed tree, the Parade of Lights, Mummenschanz, the Geminid Meteor Shower and more!  Robin Bloom shares her picks.

    Fairy Tale Classics Reimagined

    “Beauty and the Beast” at Arden Theatre Company

    Onstage at Arden Theatre Company is playwright Charles Way’s version of Beauty and the Beast, retelling the classic tale in an adventurous new way, through February 1. The innovative production is directed by Whit MacLaughlin and stars Emilie Krause as Belle, Matteo Scammell as Beast, along with Lauren Hooper, E. Ashley Izard, Kevin Meehan, and Brian Anthony Wilson. Best for ages 4 and up. After each show, children are invited to participate in a Q&A session and to meet the actors in the lobby. Teen Night is Friday, December 12 ($10 ticket includes pre-show party and post-show meet and greet). ASL shadow interpreted performances offered on select dates, 40 North 2nd Street, Philadelphia.

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    Enchantment Theatre Company’s “The Snow Queen”

    Adventure through the land of snow and ice with Enchantment Theatre Company’s adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. Featuring life-size puppets, masks, original music, and imaginative theatrical effects, the show opens on Saturday, December 13 with a Winter Wonderland Celebration including food and family activities. Directed and choreographed by Leslie Reidel and starring Scott McPheeters, Alison Liney, Peter Smith, Maria Konstantinidis, and Justin Jain, through January 4 at the Arts Bank, 601 South Broad Street, Philadelphia.

    Storybook Musical Theatre’s “Cinderella”

    Storybook Musical Theatre presents a holiday production of Cinderella, book by Patricia Goldberg and music and lyrics by Kevin Arruda, and starring Maggie Griffin-Smith and Carl Smith (pictured) December 17-30 at the Gratz College Theater, Elkins Park, PA and again January 13-17 at Bluett Theater, St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia.

    Sounds of the Season

    Philadelphia Orchestra Holiday performances

    The Philadelphia Orchestra celebrates the holiday season with a Christmas Kids Spectacular! Saturday, December 13, 11:30am, featuring selections from The Nutcracker and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, a Santa sing-along and more; the annual Glorious Sound of Christmas, named for the Fabulous Philadelphians’ best-selling album, December 18-20 featuring the Mendelssohn Club; the holiday tradition of Handel’s Messiah, Sunday, December 21, 2pm, featuring the Philadelphia Singers; Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center, Philadelphia.

    Mendelssohn Club’s “Feast of Carols”

    Mendelssohn Club’s annual Feast of Carols is back, Saturday, December 13, 5pm, with a program of Artistic Director Alan Harler’s favorites. The maestro will be retiring at the end of the season. He’ll be joined by the 130 member group, along with the Mendelssohn Brass and Michael Stairs on organ, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church of Chestnut Hill, 22 E. Chestnut Hill Avenue, Philadelphia.

    Christmas with the Philadelphia Singers

    The annual tradition, Christmas with the Philadelphia Singers, returns for the 42nd year, under the direction of David Hayes. The concert – the Artistic Director’s final holiday performance (22nd) before he retires at the end of the season – features brass and organ accompaniment, Saturday, December 13, 8pm and Sunday, December 14, 3pm. Program highlights include Pachelbel’s Magnificat, and Jennifer Higdon’s Deep in the Night, including the traditional candlelight procession and family carol-sing, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, 18th Street and Benjamin Franklin, Philadelphia.

    The Santaland Diaries

    Flashpoint Theatre Company

    Journey to the darker side of the holiday season with The Santaland Diaries, the autobiographical, comical account of David Sedaris’ time working as a Christmas elf in “Santaland” at Macy’s department store. Flashpoint Theatre Company celebrates 11 years of performing this new classic, December 10-21, starring Keith Conallen as the lovable, curmudgeonly elf. Directed by Matt Pfeiffer at Off-Broad Street Theatre, 1636 Sansom Street, Philadelphia.

    Cape May Stage

    Cape May Stage presents The Santaland Diaries, the quick-witted, quirky one-man show starring Brady Adair (pictured), through December 30, directed by Roy Steinberg, at Congress Hall, 200 Congress Place, downtown Cape May, NJ.


    Did you know that David Sedaris first read the essay The Santaland Diaries on NPR’s Morning Edition on December 23, 1992?

    More David Sedaris – “Holidays on Ice”

    Catch the Philadelphia premiere of David Sedaris’ Holidays on Ice, December 12-21, at the Society Hill Playhouse. The humorous essays by the quirky storyteller are brought to life by Michelle Pauls and Peter Zielinski and is directed by Stan Heleva in the Red Room, 507 S. 8th Street, Philadelphia. For ages 13 and up. Ticket price includes one drink.

    Holiday Happenings

    A Longwood Christmas

    This Christmas, experience the spectacular both indoors and out at Longwood Gardens with A Longwood Christmas, and living floral displays, opulent ornaments, stunning trees, more than a half-million lights, dancing fountains, musical performances, organ sing-alongs, strolling performances, garden railway, and much more. Bird-inspired displays include trees depicting classic tales like The Ugly Duckling and The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg. See the 18-foot rotating peacock-themed tree in the Music Room. Also, wood turned birdhouse ornaments and hand blown glass hummingbirds in the Rose House and the Wildlife Tree with edible ornaments for feathered and furry friends, through January 11 on Route 1, Kennett Square, PA. Timed admission tickets.

    Reading Terminal Market Holiday Railroad

    The Reading Terminal Market Holiday Railroad returns with almost a third of a mile of track running fourteen working train lines through miniature scenery depicting Center City Philadelphia, a Christmas Village, and other seasonal displays, open daily at 10am through December 31 (closed on Christmas Day), 12th and Arch Street, Philadelphia, free.

    Parade of Lights at the Philly Seaport

    Independence Seaport Museum’s 5th annual Parade of Lights is Saturday, December 13. The festivities begin inside the museum at 11am with carolers, refreshments, visits with Santa, and the Silver Ships display, featuring dozens of tiny silver ships from the Museum’s collection. At 5pm, the parade of festively decorated working vessels and pleasure boats begins its march down the Delaware River, led by the Jupiter, a vintage 1902 tug maintained by the Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild. Great views from the 2nd floor balcony overlooking the Delaware River inside the Museum, 211 South Christopher Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia.


    Mummenschanz returns to Philadelphia with 40 Years, five performances at Annenberg Center Live, December 11-14. The Swiss troupe, veterans in nonverbal theater, are known for their inventive use of shadow, light and creative manipulation of objects to silently tell a story. Numerous characters are portrayed by a cast of four theatre artists including founding member Floriana Frassetto, 3680 Walnut Street, Philadelphia.

    Hedgerow Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol”

    Hedgerow Theatre presents the 22nd annual production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, an adaptation by award-winning playwright Nagle Jackson. Executive Director Penelope Reed, who directs the play, says this year’s production focuses on the importance of family and the power of education. Featuring Zoran Kovcic as Scrooge at “America’s first repertory theater” through December 28, at 64 Rose Valley Road, Rose Valley, PA.

    Cairnwood by Candlelight

    Cairnwood Estate hosts Cairnwood by Candlelight, an evening of candlelight and music at the 119 year old Beaux Arts-style mansion, Thursday, December 11, 7:30pm, with self-guided tours of all three floors of the mansion, the servant’s quarters, and the tower, live music, a display of Victorian gowns, Yuletide desserts, and holiday décor including the two-story Christmas tree adorned with more than 3000 lights and 300 pieces of sugared fruit (pictured), 1005 Cathedral Road, Bryn Athyn, PA.

    ** UPDATE: Cairnwood by Candlelight is SOLD OUT! **


    “Under the Tree: A Century of Holiday Trees and Toys”

    The Mercer Museum captures the excitement of Christmases past from a child’s perspective with an exhibit of toys and games from the 1860s to the 1980s with their annual holiday display. Under the Tree: A Century of Holiday Trees and Toys features decorated trees and popular toys from the Victorian age through the post-World War II period on view through January 4. Tour nearby Fonthill Museum’s Winter Wonderland and take the Holiday Lights Meander, Saturday, December 13, 6:30pm-9:30pm, featuring live music and light refreshments, East Court Street and Route 313, Doylestown, PA.

    Sellersville Theatre’s Holiday Performances

    Sellersville Theatre hosts holiday concerts and performances: Irish Christmas in America, Thursday, December 11, 8pm; Jane Siberry’s Holiday Hoes and Hosers (pictured), Saturday, December 13, 8pm; A Rat Pack Christmas, Sunday, December 14, 1pm; Bill Kirchen’s Honky Tonk Holiday, Sunday, December 14, 7:30pm; A Christmas Story “View and Brew” movie, Monday, December 15, 7:30pm; The Sweetback Sisters’ Country Christmas Singalong Spectacular, Thursday, December 18, 8pm; Annie Haslam in the Spirit of the Holidays, Saturday, December 20, 8pm; 24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, PA.

    Nutcracker, the Annual Holiday Tradition – Regional Performances

    The Brandywine Ballet Company’s 35th annual production of The Nutcracker returns (pictured) with performances December 12-21 at the Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall, 700 S. High Street, West Chester, PA. The Company offers the popular “Nutcracker Tea,” with the opportunity to join Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy and other characters for a special brunch on December 13, 20, and 21.  The Atlantic City Ballet performs The Nutcracker Friday, December 12 and Saturday, December 13, Stockton Performing Arts Center, Galloway, NJ and December 18-23 with the Garden State Philharmonic at the Claridge Hotel, Atlantic City, NJ.  International Ballet Classique performs selections from the Nutcracker Ballet, December 11-14 at Neumann University, Aston, PA.  Moscow Ballet’s The Great Russian Nutcracker returns to the State Theatre Saturday, December 13, 3pm and 7pm, 453 Northampton Street, Easton, PA.  First State Ballet Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker features the Delaware Symphony Orchestra and the Wilmington Children’s Chorus, Saturday, December 13, 7pm, Delaware Tech, Georgetown, DE, and Saturday, December 20, 2pm and 7pm, and Sunday, December 21, 2pm at the Grand, 818 N. Market Street, Wilmington, DE.

    Stargazing in the Winter Sky

    The Geminid Meteor Shower peaks Friday, December 12 and there are a number of opportunities to view the night sky.  The Franklin Institute’s monthly stargazing event with Chief Astronomer Derrick Pitts takes place Thursday, December 11, 6pm-9pm. The evening includes a Fels Planetarium show and a lecture or presentation, and a look at the night sky from five different rooftop telescopes in the Observatory (pictured), 222 North 20th Street, Philadelphia.  The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education’s Winterfest is Saturday, December 13, 3pm-8pm, a star-themed festival with star-inspired crafts, guided walks, workshops, live animal shows, a bonfire with s’mores, and stargazing with Derrick Pitts of the Franklin Institute, 8480 Hagy’s Mill Road, Philadelphia.  Delaware Museum of Natural History hosts a Star Party, Saturday, December 13, 7pm-8:30pm, with telescopes and astronomers from the Delaware Astronomical Society, 4840 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE.  In conjunction with their “Starstruck: The Fine Art of Astrophotography” exhibition, Michener Art Museum hosts a Star Party, Thursday, December 18, 7pm, with the Bucks-Mont Astronomical Association, Doylestown, PA.





    Take advantage of free meter parking in Philadelphia after 11am on Saturdays through New Year’s.

    To submit an event to be considered for the Weekly Entertainment Guide email Robin Bloom at artscalendar@whyy.org.

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