Untraditional Tidings

A sampling of alternative holiday happenings at area venues

Got the holiday spirit – but tired of tradition? Call it bah-humbug blasphemy, but most area theaters and concert venues aim to entice the average Scrooge with at least one alternative holiday offering over the next few weeks. Even in the chorale capital of the United States, it’s not all singing carols out there: We’re talking shows that go beyond, say, the Washington Chorus’s A Candlelight Christmas (12/15 and 12/22, Kennedy Center) or the National Philharmonic’s rendering of Handel’s Messiah (12/22-23, Strathmore).

You won’t hear the standard Season’s Greetings songbook, for example, in the Folger Consort’s 14th century Florence-based program Christmas Music of the Trecento (12/14-23, Folger Theatre). A sampling of other concerts that stray, to varying degrees, from the typical mass-marketed American Christmas tunes of today: National Geographic‘s 7th Annual Irish Christmas in America (12/15, Grosvenor Auditorium); the City Chorus of Washington‘s The Holly and the Ivy: British Music for Christmas (12/16, National Presbyterian Church); the University of Maryland’s soul-stirring program Christmas Gift! with R&B legend Shirley Murdock and John Stoddart and the Voices of Inspiration (12/14-15, Clarice Smith Center); Jose Feliciano’s Holiday Feliz Navidad Show (12/14, Howard Theatre); and Bill Kirchen’s Honky Tonk Holiday Show (12/22, Birchmere).

Also intriguing are stage productions that go beyond the many variations on the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. If a stage adaptation of the movie musical Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (now at the Kennedy Center) sounds a little too roasted chestnutty, you could consider Adventure Theatre MTC’s A Little House Christmas, based on the famous books of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Or Theater Alliance’s version of the movie Wonderful Life at the H Street Playhouse, where it runs in repertory with the Alliance’s darkly hilarious and very adult play The Night Before Christmas. Signature Theatre gets an honorable mention for its annual holiday cabaret featuring several of its stars, this year including Bobby Smith and Eleasha Gamble (12/18-23). And there’s sure-to-be Scrooge-like delight in the City Artistic Partnerships production of David Sedaris’s Santaland Diaries starring Joe Brack now at Capital Fringe Festival’s Fort Fringe.

And, yes, there are even alternative choices for the Chosen People. In addition to a couple funny offerings at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, Jammin’ Java offers one last Hanukkah hurrah on Dec. 24: Rob Tannenbaum and David Fagin’s Good for the Jews: Putting the Ha! in Hanukah!

Because laughter is definitely a cure for the seasonal blues. ‘

See Metro Weekly’s Out On The Town for more details and additional listings.

Doug Rule is a theater critic and contributing editor for Metro Weekly.

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