You might regret indulging in the eggnog or letting loose at the office holiday party, but you’ll always be happy that you took in a live holiday performance. Theaters and other venues are filled to the rafters with the excitement and joy of the season, and there are ample opportunities to be swept up in the spirit.
For many, the season wouldn’t be complete without The Nutcracker ballet, and there are several productions to choose from across Ventura County. The Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza (www.civicartsplaza.com) alone plays host to three, including The Conejo Civic Ballet (Fred Kavli Theatre, Dec. 10), the Moorpark Civic Ballet (Scherr Forum, Dec. 16) and the Pacific Festival Ballet (Fred Kavli Theatre, Dec. 16-17), featuring New York City Ballet principal dancers Tiler Peck and Gonzalo Garcia, the Kalinin Russian Dance Troupe and a cast of 200. The Ventura County Ballet (venturacountyballet.com) puts its spin on The Nutcracker accompanied by the 52-piece Ventura College Symphony Orchestra (Oxnard Performing Arts Center, December 2-3, and Ventura College Performing Arts Center, December 8-10). Need one more option? Try the Footworks Youth Ballet (www.oakleyballet.com) at the Oxnard Performing Arts
Center on Dec. 9-10.
Another holiday favorite, of course, is A Christmas Carol. At least two great productions return to the area this season. Peter Van Norden and Joe Spano reprise their roles as Ebenezer Scrooge and Marley’s Ghost in Rubicon Theatre’s critically acclaimed version of the Christmas classic (Dec. 6-23; www.rubicontheatre.org). Charles Dickens’ words play a starring role in the wonderful production that also features live music, dancing and just the right amount of ghostly spookiness. The Thousand Oaks Repertory returns with its own popular production of A Christmas Carol that promises to put the whole family in the holiday spirit. (Scherr Forum Theatre, Dec. 7-10; www.civicartsplaza.com.)
Then there is A Christmas Carol like no other, one that is sure to be greeted with a collective squee by traditionalists and Trekkies alike. Lit Live presents the West Coast premiere of A Klingon Christmas Carol, performed entirely in KIingon (with English subtitiles). The antidote to the bah ho-hum, A Klingon Christmas Carol promises to be “pretty incredible, strange and wonderful and just right for the adventurous looking for something new.” Christopher Kidder-Mostrom and Sasha Warren wrote the play and Kidder-Mostrom will be playing several roles in the production. (Santa Susana High School Performing Arts Center, Dec. 14-16; www.litlivetheaterco.com.)
Santa Paula Theater Center puts a more Earthly twist on another beloved holiday classic. It’s a Wonderful Life: On the Air reimagines the beloved Frank Capra film as a 1940s radio broadcast, complete with sound effects and an original score. It features the familiar cast of characters from Bedford Falls, from George Bailey to mean old man Potter, plus all the hilarious mishaps that can happen during a “live” radio play. (Santa Paula Theater Center, through Dec. 23; www.santapaulatheatercenter.org.)
A Christmas Story, the film that runs round-the-clock on some TV stations during the holidays, is brought to the stage as a musical by the Actors’ Repertory Theatre of Simi. Everything you love about the movie, from Ralphie Parker, the little boy who dreams of getting a Red Ryder for Christmas, to his delightfully deranged family and friends, will be there. Old memories (the flagpole incident to name but one) and new music (songs like “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out”) meet in the play written by Joseph Robinette with music composed by Benj Hasek and Justin Paul. (Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, through Dec. 23; simi-arts.org.)
The Little Sisters of Hoboken, last seen in Nunsense, come home for the
holidays in Nuncrackers. They’re joined by some of the most talented students from Mount Saint Helen’s for a Christmas show to end all Christmas shows. But things go to, well, you know, when Sister Mary Leo suffers a mishap, the gifts go missing, and their special guest doesn’t show up. (Camarillo Skyway Playhouse, Dec. 8-17; skywayplayhouse.org.)
Christmas Magic returns to Moorpark’s High Street Arts Center. The popular event stars cast members from the theater’s season singing, dancing, telling stories and sharing some Christmas secrets. (High Street Arts Center, Dec. 1-10; highstreetartscenter.com.)
If holiday concerts are more your thing, try the Moorpark College Holiday Concert featuring the Moorpark College Symphony and Chorus performing selections from The Nutcracker and “Gloria” by John Rutter. (Moorpark College Performing Arts Center, Dec. 2; www.moorparkcollege.edu/departments/academic/theatre-arts/performing-arts-center.) At Cal Lutheran, the CLU Choral Ensemble and University String Symphony perform “His Light on Us,” conducted by Wyant Morton and Yoshika Masada. (CLU, Samuelson Chapel, Dec. 2-4; www.callutheran.edu.). The California State University Channel Islands Choir’s Winter Concert, entitled “The Poet Sings: Songs and Poetry of the British Isles,” may not be strictly holiday, but it is something to celebrate. The 55-member choir performs works of William Shakespeare, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Ursula Wood, combining poetry and musical selections from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. (CSUCI Malibu Hall, Dec. 4 and Columba’s Episcopal Church, Dec. 10; choir.csuci.edu.)
For something flashier, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza (www.civicartsplaza.com) hosts 98º At Christmas. The ’90s boy band, featuring Nick Lachey, Drew Lachey, Justin Jeffre and Jeff Timmons, is all grown up and performing songs from the new holiday album Let It Snow plus some other favorites (Fred Kavli Theatre, Dec. 21). For the more traditionally inclined, the Village Voices Chorale returns with Holiday Magic. The 70-member chorale performs such classics as “Gloria in
Excelsis Deo,” “O Holy Night” and many other songs celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah (Scherr Forum Theatre, Dec. 1-2). Also at the Plaza is An Irish Christmas, starring world-champion Irish dancers Scott Doherty and Tyler
Schwartz (Scherr Forum Theatre, Dec. 13). Then, Wyndham Hill recording artist David Arkenstone presents his Winter Fantasy, featuring traditional holiday music and original songs from his albums Christmas Spirit, Celtic Christmas and Christmas Lounge (Scherr Forum Theatre, Dec. 23). Capping off the holidays are Straight No Chaser The Speakeasy Tour (Fred Kavli Theatre, Dec. 30) and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on New Year’s Eve. (Fred Kavli Theatre, Dec. 31).
There’s something for everyone this holiday season, whether you’re partial to Dickens, ballet, choral music . . . or Klingons.