The Best Holiday Talks and Performances Coming to NYC

By Alison Durkee

The holiday season is starting in New York City, bringing whimsical decorations and shopping frenzies to the cityalong with some great holiday performances. Whether you’re celebrating the holidays or just want to learn more about New York’s cultural scene, check out these upcoming performing arts talks and events.

Those looking for some alternate Nutcracker fare have plenty of options; Dances Patrelle will perform their Yorkville Nutcracker December 6-9, while New York Theatre Ballet’s Art Nouveau-styled take on the classic ballet will return December 14-16. For a different kind of interpretation of the Nutcracker, check out Mark Morris Dance Group’s classic The Hard Nut (December 14-23), which puts a modern spin on the well-known tale, or Company XIV’s more sultry Nutcracker Rouge (through January 13). The beloved ballet will also get a hip hop twist at the The Hip Hop Nutcracker (December 23), as well as at the Brooklyn Nutcracker (November 14), which fuses hip hop and ballet with world dance styles.

Another classic Christmas tale, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, will be onstage in musical form at the Players Theatre (November 25 – December 30), while a one-man show performed at the Merchant’s House Museum from November 27 – December 29 harkens back to Dickens’ own performances of the iconic tale. The Classical Theatre of Harlem will take on the literary legend in A Christmas Carol in Harlem (November 25 – December 8), which resuscitates the 19th century fable in modern-day Harlem.

Photo: Julieta Cervantes

There are also plenty of opportunities to enjoy new holiday tales this season. Put a Welsh spin on the holiday with Irish Rep’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales (November 28 – December 30), or enjoy a true story from the front lines of World War I at All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 (through December 30). For something a bit more participatory, take part in The Most Wonderful Crime of the Year, an interactive murder mystery dinner show taking place December 16. To enjoy the holiday traditions of Mexico, meanwhile, check out Navidad: A Mexican-American Christmas (November 30 – December 16), which will blend both U.S. and Mexican holiday celebrations through dance, music and more.

Returning this holiday season to the Guggenheim Museum will be the museum’s annual performances of Peter and the Wolf (December 1-9), which uses music, dance and narration by famed fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi to bring Sergei Prokofiev’s beloved children’s tale to life. The museum will also celebrate the holidays with a Rotunda Holiday Concert December 16-17.

Further down on Fifth Avenue, the Met will offer its own musical celebrations for the holidays, with concerts that celebrate Irish-Appalachian Christmas, John Adams’s Christmas oratorio El Niño, and the Spanish golden age of music. At Lincoln Center, the New York Philharmonic will celebrate the holidays in brassy fashion with Holiday Brass (December 16), while the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts will offer a Holiday Songbook of Broadway tunes on December 15 and 17. Music lovers can then end the year with the New Year’s Eve Concert for Peace, an annual concert first started by Leonard Bernstein in 1984.

Beyond the holidays, there are also plenty of ways to learn more about the performing arts more broadly this November and December. Dance fans can get an in-depth look at New York City Center’s dance legacy at a talk on November 29, which includes being the first home of the New York City Ballet. Music fans can discover the historyand downfallof New York City Opera at a discussion November 28 or learn more about musician Lou Reed’s history at a talk on November 26. To hear from a modern-day performing arts icon, TV and film actor Steve Carell will participate in conversations on December 19 with director Robert Zemeckis and December 20 at the 92nd Street Y.

Theatre fans can also delve into the art form with talks this winter. Examine how performance can be used for social justice on December 5, or look back at theatre history with talks on lyricist and theatre producer Billy Rose (November 27) and five decades of theatre poster art (December 13). To hear from today’s theatre makers and get an insight into shows currently on the Great White Way, join actor Bryan Cranston and director Ivo van Hove as they discuss the current Broadway production of Network December 17, or hear about the current production of Torch Song Trilogy in a conversation December 3, which will feature playwright Harvey Weinstein, producer Jordan Roth, and performers Michael Urie and Mercedes Ruehl.


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