Perfect Gift: 8 Holiday Shows for Different Types of Theatergoers

Show-Score | By Raven Snook | Dec 8, 2016

(Even ones who hate the holidays!)

Finding a holiday show in NYC is easy. But finding the right holiday show for you? That can be as tough as picking out a present your mother-in-law actually likes. Whether you're buying tickets as a gift for others, or as a surprise for your family and friends, we've got some suggestions about which seasonal spectacles best suit different types of theatergoers. 

If you have young kids, try...

An impressively designed stage adaptation of the iconic 1964 Rankin/Bass holiday special, this family-friendly spectacle is perfect for the under-10 set as "misfit" Rudolph proves to his bullies (and himself) that his glowing red nose may be different, but also quite useful. The production follows the source material closely, right down to the signature stop-motion aesthetic and Johnny Marks' catchy songs like "Holly Jolly Christmas" and the title tune. If your kids (or you!) are fans of the original, you can't go wrong with this holiday show. Don't pay full price! There are lots of discounts to be had


If you have tweens or teens, try... 


Another inventive spoof/tribute of a beloved movie from the same folks behind the "Lord of the Rings" parody "Fly, You Fools!" "Kevin!!!!!" riffs on the 1990 blockbuster "Home Alone," a slapstick-heavy comedy about a boy who gets left behind when his family leaves for the holidays, and finds himself defending their house from robbers. This hour-long stage reinvention recreates iconic moments from the flick via live projections, puppets, and even a choir! Though not aimed at families, it's definitely PG (only one curse word), just like the original movie, and the bar out front will make your in-a-hurry-to-grow-up adolescents feel more mature than they actually are. Be sure to (re)watch the movie before you go. Bonus: It's just $18!

If you can't get through the season without alcohol, try... 


The only holiday show in NYC where drinks are an integral part of the narrative and included in the ticket price! This alcohol-soaked sequel to "A Christmas Carol" finds Scrooge planning his first holiday party and asking ghosts for help with the cocktail menu. Admittedly, this production is more about the spirits than the story. But with an expert mixologist as your guide and supplier, your journey's bound to be intoxicating. 


If you want a classic, try... 


Speaking of "A Christmas Carol," there are many stage variations of Charles Dickens' classic to choose from. But purists should appreciate Summoner Ensemble Theatre's one-man adaptation, inspired by the Victorian author's very own touring script in which he acted out his seminal holiday tale. John Kevin Jones plays Dickens, Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Marley, and all of the other iconic characters using only his voice to delineate them. To make it feel even more authentic, he performs the piece in the intimate parlor of the historic 19th-century Merchant House Museum in the East Village. Talk about the perfect setting!


If you're naughty, not nice, try... 


Sure, you've seen the famous ballet, but how about "The Nutcracker" burlesque? Company XIV revives its sexy, NC-17 take on the holiday stalwart, which fuses elements of opera, circus, vaudeville, and the art of striptease. In this reinvention, Clara is an adventurous grown-up who enters a wintry world of semi-nude dancers and acrobats who make her (and the audience) swoon. Leave the kiddos at home! 


If you're a Scrooge, try...


Yes, the show's slick and sentimental, with a somewhat cloying story line about Santa charming a pair of cynical young siblings, and way too much product placement. But there's a reason this spectacular is the longest-running seasonal show in town (since 1933): the Rockettes. These leggy ladies perform a slew of exuberant, perfectly synchronized routines like "Rag Dolls" and "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" that could make even cranky old Ebenezer cheer. Just try to resist—it's tough! If you've never been, note that the mostly secular show takes a turn toward the devout at the end with the Living Nativity complete with donkeys and camels. There's a reason it's called the Christmas Spectacular.


If you're Jewish, try...


No, "Fiddler" isn't a holiday show. But as my bubbe used to say when she saw all the electric menorahs illuminated next to Christmas trees in building lobbies, "Only gentiles think Hanukkah is a big deal. It ain't Passover!" "Fiddler" is a rousing celebration of Jewish history and culture, and you don't even have to be a member of the tribe to enjoy it. This Tony-nominated revival, which features classic songs such as "Sunrise, Sunset," "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," and "If I Were a Rich Man," wraps up its year-long run at the end of this month. So it's your last chance to toast, "L'chaim!"


If you crave something multicultural, try... 

Celebrated South African singer Thuli Dumakude and her fellow crooners share holiday tunes in English and Zulu accompanied by a live band. More of an interactive concert than a traditional show, the evening requires audience participation—Dumakude reportedly refuses to let viewers just sit on the sidelines. If you think that sounds annoying, you've never seen her live: Dumakude could charm Krampus into singing Christmas carols!


Which type of holiday theatergoer are you? Share in the comments!


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