Weekly Entertainment Guide – Gingerbread, Gumdrops, Gretel & Glorious Sound

     The beloved television classic

    The beloved television classic "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" flies off the screen and on to the stage in Philadelphia for 8 performances, December 17-20 at the Merriam Theater. Photo courtesy of Rudolph the Musical.

    Looking for something to do this holiday season?  Robin Bloom shares her picks.


    “The Three Maries” at the Prince Theater

    No Attytude Productions pokes gentle fun at Philadelphia with the world premiere musical The Three Maries, “a Philadelphia Phable,” written by local playwright, composer and lyricist Michael Ogborn. A mash-up of Cinderella and Pygmalion, the “love letter” to the city is a fictional account of an historical event in the year 1926 when Queen Marie of Romania announced a visit to Philadelphia for the celebration of the sesquicentennial. Narrated from a Mummer’s clubhouse in South Philly, the score is infused with 1920s Jazz, Vaudeville, Tin Pan Alley and of course Mummer’s string band music. Directed by Peter Rios and starring Jeff Coon, Mary Martello, Rachel Brennan, Paul Nolan, Deirdre Finnegan, Neill Hartley, John Monforto, Josh Totora, and Jenna Rogalski, plus Broadway veterans Kathy Deitch and Mindy Dougherty through January 10 at the Prince Theater, 1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. Photo by Christopher Sapienza/Wiseman Productions.

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    “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” at the Merriam Theater

    The beloved television classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer flies off the screen and on to the stage in Philadelphia for 8 performances, December 17-20. All of the favorite characters from the animated special come to life including Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and, of course, Rudolph, directed and conceived by Jeff Frank and First Stage with script adaptation by Robert Penola, Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia.

    Quintessence Theatre’s “Hansel and Gretel”

    Escape into the wild woods with Hansel and Gretel, a holiday family classic by Quintessence Theatre Group. Known for presenting progressive classic theatre, the contemporary retelling of the Brothers Grimm’s dark tale has been adapted for the stage by Alexander Burns – who also directs the show – and features original songs by Philadelphia musician David Cope. Starring Sean Bradley, Alan Brincks, Faith Fossett, Anita Holland, Clare O’Malley, and Robert Stineman through January 3 at the Sedgwick Theater, 7137 Germantown Avenue, Mt. Airy. A talkback with the audience takes place December 17. Photo by Shawn May.

    “Murray the Elf” at Act II Playhouse

    Help save Christmas with Act II Playhouse’s Murray the Elf and the Case of the Gruesome Gumdrop, opening Friday, December 18-27. Written by Act II’s Bill D’Agostino and directed by Matt Silva, the new play mixes mystery with comedy for an exciting and fun story for the whole family. Starring Will Dennis as Murray and Andy Shaw, who plays all of the other characters including Mrs. Claus, Rudy the Reindeer, and Candy Kane. Designed for children ages 5 and older. Also onstage, Behind the Music: Holiday Tunes, featuring Sonny Leo and April Woodall performing classic holiday songs, 56 East Butler Avenue, Ambler, PA. Photo by Bill D’Agostino.

    Hedgerow Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol”

    Hedgerow Theatre presents the 23rd annual production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with a twist this year. The new adaptation by Artistic Director Jared Reed incorporates the use of puppets to portray the spirits whose visits transform Ebenezer Scrooge from miser to philanthropist. The puppets were designed and created by Alisa Sickora Kleckner, an award-winning theatre artist and adjunct professor and resident designer at Arcadia University. Featuring Zoran Kovcic (pictured) as Scrooge at “America’s first repertory theater” through December 27, at 64 Rose Valley Road, Rose Valley, PA. Photo courtesy of Hedgerow Theatre.

    “The Santaland Diaries” at Theatre Horizon

    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. Keith Conallen returns as the lovable, curmudgeonly elf for three nights, December 18-20. Adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello and directed by Matt Pfeiffer at Theatre Horizon, 401 Dekalb Street, Norristown, PA. Tasty holiday treats offered! Photo by Thom Weaver.

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

    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, garden railway, and much more. Take in more than 50 trees adorned with icicles and frosty glass ornaments and a 24-foot Fraser Fir with 2000 crystal ornaments.  The Music Room décor features two 15-foot Fraser Fir trees that frame a picturesque view out to a winter fountain garden with an arching bower and flowing fountain.  Also, enjoy the illuminated Italian Water Garden, Meadow Garden-inspired tree in the Hourglass Lake Pavilion, the Wildlife Tree with edible ornaments for feathered and furry friends, and more, through January 10 on Route 1, Kennett Square, PA. Timed admission tickets. Photo by Richard Donham/courtesy of Longwood Gardens.

    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. Photo courtesy of Reading Terminal Market.

    Gingerbread House Competition & Display at Peddler’s Village

    Peddler’s Village hosts the annual Gingerbread House Competition and Display, with a show of confections in several categories through January 2, 2015 in the gazebo, Routes 202 and 263, Lahaska, Bucks County, PA. Free admission and free parking. Photo courtesy of Peddler’s Village.

    Adventure Aquarium’s annual Christmas Celebration

    Adventure Aquarium’s annual Christmas Celebration transforms the space into an underwater winter wonderland with larger than life decorations, twinkling lights, glowing trees and gently falling snow, through December 31. Look for Christmas characters including Scuba Santa, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, with activities that include live shows and more, 1 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ. Photo courtesy of Adventure Aquarium.

    Historic Smithville’s Holiday Light Show

    Historic Smithville, New Jersey hosts the annual Holiday Light Show, Thursdays through Sundays, through January 6, as over 120 Christmas trees in the lake, made from 50,000 lights, blink on and off to holiday music by the Colonial Inn, 615 East Moss Mill Road, Smithville, NJ. Free. Enjoy Breakfast with Santa, Saturday, December 19, 9am.

    Christmas Follies at the Rotunda

    Catch Five Minute Follies’ Christmas Follies, old fashioned variety entertainment for the whole family featuring Combs Family Magic with father Jim Combs, daughter Cecilia and son Peter performing tricks and illusions, hoop artist Jenny Hill, resident comic Craig Liggeons (pictured) offering his zany take on the holiday season, and dancer Ashlyn Gardner paying tribute to the Nutcracker, Saturday, December 19, 3pm, the Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street, Philadelphia.

    A Charlie Brown Christmas events

    The Eric Mintel Quartet offers the annual “A Charlie Brown Christmas” holiday concert, Thursday, December 17, 7:30pm, the Colonial Theater, 227 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, PA and Friday, December 18, 7:30pm, Miller Symphony Hall, 23 N. 6th Street, Allentown, PA.   Ballet 180 performs “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Sunday, December, 20, 3pm, a jazzy ballet set to the classic Vince Guaraldi holiday soundtrack, Rotwitt Theater at Rosemont College, 1400 Montgomery Avenue, Rosemont, PA. Photo courtesy of Ballet 180.

    Holidays in Delaware

    Nemours Mansion (pictured) is decorated for the season with historical artifacts, Christmas trees, hand-painted ornaments and decorations from the early 1900s to the present, and more, through January 3, 850 Alapocas Drive, Wilmington, DE.Read House and Gardens offers holiday tours as part of their Victorian Christmas, as the twenty-two room, 14,000-square-foot home of George Read II, son of a Delaware signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, is decorated for Christmas with a holiday dinner setting, tree decorated with fruit and nut garlands and trinkets, costume party attire, and more, through December 31, 42 The Strand, on the waterfront in New Castle, DE.Tour Rockwood Museum for free all December and enjoy the sights and sounds of 19th century holiday traditions, “Twas the Night…,” including party dresses, suits, accessories, and furnishings set amongst lavish holiday decorations, 610 Shipley Road, Wilmington, DE.

    Yuletide at Winterthur

    Yuletide at Winterthur returns with a glimpse at winter holidays past, exploring the holiday traditions of Henry Francis du Pont and his family. Look for the dried flower tree (pictured), Winterthur’s signature showpiece. This year, to coincide with Winterthur’s major exhibition A Colorful Folk: Pennsylvania Germans and the Art of Everyday Life, the Yuletide Tour will begin with displays exploring holiday practices of the Pennsylvania Germans, who introduced Americans to such seasonal standards as the Christmas tree, the charity bazaar, and the tradition of the gift-giver. Among the many highlights will be an unusual 19th-century Christmas tree, a sassafras stripped of its leaves and wrapped in cotton batting to form a snowy backdrop for a display of colorful ornaments, through January 3, Winterthur, DE. Photo courtesy of Winterthur.

    Sounds of the Season

    Philadelphia Orchestra’s “Glorious Sound of Christmas”

    The Philadelphia Orchestra celebrates the holiday season the annual Glorious Sound of Christmas, named for the Fabulous Philadelphians’ best-selling album, December 17-20 featuring the Mendelssohn Club, under the artistic direction of Paul Rardin. Program includes favorite traditional carols to works by Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Hairston, and Bramwell Tovey, who is back by popular demand to conduct, Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center, Philadelphia. Photo by Jessica Griffin.

    The York Street Hustle 5th annual Holiday Spectacular

    Enjoy the classic sounds of the 1960s Motown holiday classics and deep cuts from Detroit, Memphis, Chicago and beyond with the York Street Hustle 5th annual Holiday Spectacular, Friday, December 18, 8pm. Doors open at 7pm, World Cafe Live Philadelphia, 3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA. Photo by Lisa Schaffer Photography.

    Christmas in Germany

    Two of the city’s leading early music ensembles make musical history with a reenactment of the remarkable meeting of Michael Praetorius, Heinrich Schütz and Samuel Scheidt in 1619 for a festive Advent Vespers in the Dresden Court of Johann Georg I. Piffaro, the Renaissance Band* and Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra Tempesta di Mare recall the celebrated 17th century meeting of composers with “Christmas in Germany,” Friday, December 18, 8pm, Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, 1723 Race Street, Philadelphia, Saturday, December 19, 8pm, Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, and Sunday, December 20, 3:30pm, Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Michael, 719 Shipley Street, Wilmington, DE. Praetorius’ Magnificat super Ut re mi fa sol la, a large-scale, six-part vocal work will be performed along with hymns by the composer, psalm settings by Schütz, and instrumental interludes by Scheidt, on Piffaro’s winds and pipes, Tempesta’s strings and continuo, and accompanied by the 12 member Choral Arts Philadelphia Chamber Choir.

    Listen to Piffaro, featured on WHYY’s NewsWorks Tonight.

    Lúnasa with Karan Casey

    Catch Lúnasa with Karan Casey, traditional Irish music with inventive arrangements and bass-driven grooves, Friday December 18, 7:30pm, St. Mary’s Hamilton Village, 3916 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, as part of Crossroads Music, concerts in West Philadelphia.

    Tuba Christmas

    Join Tuba Christmas, a worldwide celebration of the tuba, Sunday, December 20, 12pm and 5pm, celebrating its 42nd anniversary, as more than 100 regional tuba, sousaphone, and euphonium players join together to perform holiday classics for all ages, Commonwealth Plaza, Kimmel Center, Philadelphia. Free.




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

    Each week, the Entertainment Guide spotlights interesting local arts offerings happening now, including music, dance, theater, museums, special exhibitions and other arts events from across the region.

    To submit an event to be considered, email Robin Bloom at artscalendar@whyy.org.


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