Weekly Entertainment Guide – ‘The Nutcracker,’ ‘The Sincerity Project,’ and Parsons Dance

     Catch the Pennsylvania Ballet's annual holiday spectacular,

    Catch the Pennsylvania Ballet's annual holiday spectacular, "George Balanchine's The Nutcracker," December 6-31 at the Academy of Music. (Photography by Alexander Iziliaev)


    Holiday fun and more this week.  Robin Bloom shares her picks.

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


    Parsons Dance in Philadelphia

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    Internationally-acclaimed Parsons Dance returns to Philadelphia with a mix of premieres and classic works. Whirlaway, a full-ensemble dance, was commissioned by the New Orleans Ballet Association and is set to artistic director/choreographer David Parsons’ favorite playlist of iconic songs by music legend Allen Toussaint. Also, the Philadelphia premiere of Hymn, a duet choreographed by Trey McIntyre, an untitled world premiere by Natalie Lomonte, former Parsons dancer (celebrating the Company’s 30th anniversary), and the Philadelphia premiere of Kind of Blue, set to Miles Davis’ “So What.” Parsons’ favorite Caught and classic Bachiana – set to orchestral suites by Bach – round out the program, Thursday, December 4, 7:30pm, Friday, December 5, 8pm, and Saturday, December 6, 2pm and 8pm, as part of Dance Celebration, Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut Street, Philadelphia. Special programming on Friday, December 5 includes Student Discovery at 10:30am, master class at 1pm, and post-show talk back with David Parsons.

    Rennie Harris and Michael Sakamoto at the Barnes Foundation

    Two urban art forms collide with Flash, a dance theater duet written, choreographed, and performed by hip-hop artist Rennie Harris and butoh (Japanese dance theater) artist Michael Sakamoto at the Barnes Foundation’s First Friday! Artists on Site, Friday, December 5, 6pm-9pm. The evening also features a solo performance by Sakamoto, an educational talk on involving artists in the classroom, and the opportunity to check out the exhibition William Glackens, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia.

    The Lady Hoofers’ Holiday Concert

    The Lady Hoofers, Philly’s all-female tap company, offers a Holiday Concert Friday, December 5, 7pm and Saturday, December 6, 2pm and 7pm. The family friendly evening features tap dance, live jazz and holiday cheer with new works by choreographers Katie Budris and Becky Master, restaging of company favorites, as well as holiday classics, accompanied by the Youth Ensemble company (pictured), Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American Street, Philadelphia.


    “Outside Mullingar” at Philadelphia Theatre Company

    Onstage at Philadelphia Theatre Company is Outside Mullingar by John Patrick Shanley. The play, by the Pulitzer Prize winning American playwright, centers on two introverted farmers in rural Ireland dealing with a land feud, their parents and their romantic feelings, through December 28 in the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, Broad and Lombard Streets, Philadelphia. Directed by Mary B. Robinson and starring Beth Dixon, David Howey, Anthony Lawton, and Kathleen McNenny. Related events include Meet the artists talk backs on December 4 and 18 and backstage tour on December 13.

    “The Sincerity Project” at FringeArts

    Team Sunshine Performance Corporation tracks time through first person storytelling with the world premiere of The Sincerity Project, December 4-13 at FringeArts. The first installment of this “anti-play” considers authenticity on stage as the seven actors deal with real time problems and joys as young people aging, accompanied onstage by a 10 person choir. The same actors will return to the stage every three years for a total of eight performances over 24 years! Directed by Alex Torra and starring Aram Aghazarian, Benjamin Camp, Rachel Camp, Makoto Hirano, Jenna Horton, Melissa Krodman, and Mark McCloughan, 140 N. Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia. Mature audiences only.

    “Plaid Tidings” at Bucks County Playhouse

    Plaid Tidings, the holiday edition of Forever Plaid, takes to the stage at Bucks County Playhouse, December 4 featuring holiday standards like “Jingle Bells,” “Let it Snow,” and “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” Directed and choreographed by Gordon Greenberg and Lorin Latarro, the cast includes Nick Cearley, Ben Mayne, Sean Bell, and Mitch McCarrell, through December 28, 70 South Main Street, New Hope, PA.  Santa arrives by horse and carriage on Friday night, December 5 for the lighting of the Playhouse Christmas tree and opening of Plaid Tidings. Enjoy Santa’s workshop on select Saturdays and Sundays throughout December.

    Holiday Happenings

    Pennsylvania Ballet presents George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker”

    The Pennsylvania Ballet performs the annual holiday spectacular, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, December 6-31, featuring the Philadelphia Boys Choir and dozens of local dance students along with the Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra at the Academy of Music, Broad Street, Philadelphia. The popular Nutcracker Market gift fair, featuring over 75 select exhibitors, offers a variety of hand-crafted works like ornaments and jewelry, along with activities including origami lessons, a candy shop, performances, workshops and more at the Kimmel Center, December 10-14. Special programming includes Tea with the Sugarplum Fairy, Sunday, December 14, 2:30pm and Saturday, December 20, noon and Nutcracker Magic Children’s Party, Saturday, December 13, noon.

    McCarter Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol”

    Broadway veteran Graeme Malcolm reprises his role of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, at McCarter Theatre Center, December 5-28. Michael Unger directs the critically-acclaimed production, with an original score by composer Michael Starobin. Check out a variety of events in conjunction with the performances, as well as special services for patrons with visual and audio impairments at no additional charge on December 13-14, 91 University Place, Princeton, NJ 

    Yuletide at Winterthur

    Yuletide at Winterthur returns with a glimpse at winter holidays past, exploring how Americans have celebrated the winter social season from the 1800s to the present.Look for the dried flower tree, Winterthur’s signature showpiece, and new this year, the tree decorated in Downton Abbey style (to accompany the exhibit Costumes of Downton Abbey). Also, many seasonally themed activities like floral design workshops, a live performance of A Christmas Carol, Yuletide Jazz and Wine, Master Players concert, and more, including the Touch-It room, through January 4, Winterthur, DE.

    All That Sparkles at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    The Philadelphia Museum of Art celebrates the holiday season with special events, musical performances, and activities including caroling in the galleries, art activities, The Christmas Story in Art tour, Winter Family Studios, Philadelphia Holiday Groove, and new this year, a Fairmount Christmas Carol tour with Dickens characters. Also, Art After 5: Friday, December 5 is “Nutcracker Holiday Party. See the Great Stair Hall lit and decorated for the holidays. Plus, tour the historic homes of Mount Pleasant and Cedar Grove. Daily activities planned December 26-31, Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia.

    Deck the Alley

    Deck the Alley returns Saturday, December 6, 3pm-7pm, featuring tours of the private historic homes on Elfreth’s Alley, our nation’s oldest continuously lived on street, as residents open their homes to the public for tours. Admission includes seasonal refreshments, colonial carolers, holiday stories, a visit by Benjamin Franklin, and authentic 18th century mummery with a special appearance by colonial Pennsylvania’s own “cranky Santa” Belsnickel, 126 Elfreth’s Alley, Philadelphia.

    Let it Snow! Woodmere Art Museum

    Step back into the nineteenth century and enjoy the Christmas traditions of the German settlement in Philadelphia with an exhibition of children’s toys and holiday decorations from the collection of the Germantown Historical Society, on view at Woodmere Art Museum through January 11. Highlights include a nineteenth-century sculpture of Belsnickel, the predecessor of the modern Santa Claus, the holiday tree decorated according to the style of the time with historic and period-inspired ornaments, and the gallery filled with toy trains, wooden toys, puzzles, dolls, a doll house, and other objects that transport visitors back into a traditional Christmas of Philadelphia, 9201 Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill. Also on view, Let it Snow!, a selection of winter landscapes. Special holiday activities include film screenings, family art-making, and Friday Night Jazz: Crooner Christmas.

    Philly Tree Lighting & Holiday Events

    East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District and Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation hosts Deck the Ave, Thursday, December 4, 5pm-7pm, a free celebration including live music, carolers, holiday sweets, and more, along with a tree Lighting Party at the Singing Fountain, Tasker Street and EPA, and an opportunity to check out the new installation at the Filitalia International History of Italian Immigration Museum, showcasing photos of the avenue through the decades, 1834 East Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia.FrostFest kicks off for three Saturdays in December beginning December 6, 10am-2pm at Sister Cities Park with music, family-friendly activities, free carriage rides around the park, ice carving demonstrations, the Franklin Institute traveling science show, visits with Santa and treats, 18th Street and the Ben Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia.  *** UPDATE: FrostFest has been cancelled due to the inclement weather forecast ***  South Street Headhouse District hosts the annual Winter Wonderland, with dance performances, ornament-making, free horse and carriage rides, a holiday market, visits from Santa, and the lighting of the holiday tree (pictured), Sunday, December 7, 3pm-7pm, Historic Headhouse Square Shambles, 2nd Street between Pine and Lombard Streets, Philadelphia.


    Seasonal cultural offerings

    The American Swedish Historical Museum’s annual Lucia Fest (pictured) and Christmas Market is Saturday, December 6, 11:30am-4:30pm, with family activities, Lucia processions with traditional songs and dances, and more, at 1900 Pattison Avenue, FDR Park, South Philadelphia. Originally celebrated by the Norse as the winter solstice, the festival of St. Lucia marks the beginning of the Christmas season in Scandinavia. Penn Museum’s 19th annual Peace around the World holiday celebration is this Sunday, December 6, 11am-4pm. Upon entrance, visitors receive a “passport” itinerary that lets them explore the holiday traditions of many cultures from around the world including China, Haiti, India, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Poland, and Russia. Activities include music and dance performances, storytelling, face painting, balloon art, crafts, and much more, 3260 South Street, Philadelphia.Latkepalooza returns to the Gershman Y, Sunday, December 7, 2pm-4pm, offering gourmet latkes from Philadelphia restaurants including Talula’s Garden, Jones, Frankford Hall, Vedge, Abe Fisher, Estia, Sabrina’s Café, Catahoula Bar and Restaurant, and London Grill. Ice cream from Bareburger and sufganiyot (Hanukkah doughnuts). Also, family fun including music by the Plants, Magic by Poly, Hanukkah crafts and children’s activities, 401 South Broad Street, Philadelphia. While there, see Blue Like Me: The Art of Siona Benjamin, works by the painter who grew up Jewish in predominantly Hindu and Muslim India, on display through December 19 in the Gershman Gallery.

    Regional Dickens Celebrations

    Dickens Festivals are celebrated this week throughout the region. In Medford, NJ, downtown Main Street closes and transforms visitors back to England in the days of Charles Dickens, with a visit from Santa in a horse-drawn carriage along with musical entertainment, crafts, food and the lighting of the holiday tree at the gazebo, Saturday, December 6, 6pm-10pm.  On Sunday, December 7 in Narberth, PA from noon-4pm, with activities for all ages, including a scavenger hunt, horse and carriage rides, music, carolers, crafts, and more.  Cape May hosts the annual Dickens Christmas Extravaganza, December 7-9.  The Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion’s Dickens Christmas Party is Saturday, December 13, 2pm-5pm and “An Evening with Charles Dickens” with Edward G. Pettit at 7pm.  Without a Cue Production’s interactive comedy A Dickens of a Murder Dinner Theatre is December 6, 13, and 20 at Fisher’s Tudor House, Bensalem, PA and December 14 and 21 at Palm Restaurant in Atlantic City, NJ.  A Dickens’ Experience in Old New Castle, DE takes place December 12-13, transporting visitors back to mid-19th century England.

    Holiday Pops

    The Philly Pops annual Christmas Spectacular (pictured) is December 6-20, led by noted guest conductor David Charles Abell with Philly native and Broadway singer/actor Hugh Panaro, accompanied by the Philadelphia Boys Choir, the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir, Wanamaker Organist Peter Conte, and the POPS Festival Chorus. Featuring holiday favorites and the popular audience sing-along, Kimmel Center, Broad Street, Philadelphia.Kennett Symphony presents Pops Goes the Holiday, Saturday, December 6, 7:30pm, featuring sounds of the season with the Kennett Symphony Children’s Chorus, a sing-a-long and visit from Santa, Kennett High School Auditorium, Kennett Square, PA. Stay for a post-concert Q&A with new music director Michael Hall.Rossen Milanov conducts Symphony in C’s Holiday Pops concert, featuring arrangements of holiday favorites accompanied by the New Jersey MasterChorale and soloists under the direction of Wayne Richmond, Saturday, December 6, 8pm, Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts’ Gordon Theater, Camden, NJ.

    Old-Fashioned holiday celebrations in the region

    The historic riverfront estate Glen Foerd (pictured) celebrates a Gilded Age Christmas, Saturday, December 6, 1pm-5pm. Enjoy the mansion in full holiday décor. Settlement Music School offers musical and ballet performances. Plus, treats, tree lighting ceremony, crafts, visit from Santa, and more, 5001 Grant Avenue, Philadelphia.Tyler Arboretum hosts the Woodland Winter Wonderland celebration, Saturday, December 6, 10am-1pm. Activities include hayrides, ornament-making crafts, reindeer scavenger hunt, hot beverages, tours, portraits and more, 515 Painter Road, Media, PA.  *** UPDATE: Due to the weather forecast, Tyler Arboretum’s activities have been moved indoors ***The Marshall Steam Museum at Auburn Heights Preserve presents an Old-Fashioned Holiday, Sunday, December 7 and Sunday, December 14, 12pm-3pm. Enjoy hot chocolate, trains, story time with readings of The Night Before Christmas and The Polar Express, Victorian and train-inspired holiday crafts and activities, and a photo exhibit, “Snow Travelers: Experiencing Winter at the Dawn of the Automotive Age,” 3000 Creek Road (Rt. 82), Yorklyn, DE. The Museum boasts the world’s largest operating collection of Stanley steam cars.

    Holiday Craft Shows

    The Clay Studio’s annual holiday exhibition Gifted features unique, hand-made objects including ceramic plates, bowls, mugs, ornaments, tiles and more, representing a wide aesthetic range of over one hundred artists, affordably priced for holiday gift giving, through January 4 at 137-139 North Second Street, Old City, Philadelphia. A public holiday sale takes place First Friday, December 5, 5pm-9pm and Saturday, December 6, 11am-6pm. Pictured: “Hermie” by Jason Kiley.Craft Forms 2014 opens at the Wayne Arts Center this Friday, December 5, in its 20th year, featuring works of fine contemporary craft made from ceramic, metal, glass, fiber, and mixed medium. A Preview Party will be held Friday, December 5, 6pm-10pm, with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and jazz by the Ken Ulansey Ensemble. “Living with Craft,” a companion show, will run alongside the craft show, 413 Maplewood Avenue, Wayne, PA. The annual Holiday Shopping Day is Saturday, December 13, 10am-4pm.University City Arts League (UCAL) 15th Annual Craft Show and Sale kicks off December 5-21 with handmade, one-of-a-kind creations in pottery, hand-blown glass, jewelry, wearable art, and much more, by 30 local artists. Preview for members on Friday, December 5, 6pm-8pm, and opening free reception for the public is on Saturday, December 6, 6pm-8pm, at 4226 Spruce Street, Philadelphia.



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

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