The Best Holiday Shows

'Elf,' photo by Joan Marcus
'Elf,' photo by Joan Marcus

Where to find your spirit of the season

If you love holiday cheer but hate holiday schmaltz, get thee to The Dina Martina Christmas Show, the annual gift from our undisputed grande dame of deranged story and song. Another low-treacle, high-entertainment option: Homo for the Holidays, a blue-ribbon drag-dance-comedy-burlesque extravaganza from BenDeLaCreme, Kitten LaRue and Lou Henry Hoover. Lily Verlaine leads Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker, a titillating take on the Tchaikovsky classic at the Triple Door; down the road at Can Can, Wonderland is another dose of winter theatre-cabaret. For more of a sampler platter, multimedia event The Chanukah Party at Fred Wildlife Refuge offers an evening of comedy, music, dancing and shadow puppetry. And if shadow puppetry is really your thing, avant-dinner-theatre Café Nordo is teaming up with playwright and shadow-puppet comedy genius Scot Augustson for The View from Santa’s Lap. Modern dance meets ’80s hair metal and the Nutcracker (duh) in Buttcracker III…even more crack!, and hot alt-drag venue Krewmerk hosts Art Haus 4.0 Ho-Ho-Ho Down, a holiday edition of Arthaus: Drag Haus Battle Royale that’s “calling all grinches, pagans mad about Christmas trees and anti-capitalist ex-carolers.”

Holiday chestnuts are a great bet for those on the family tip, and the biggest chestnuts of all are Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at ACT Theatre and Pacific Northwest Ballet’s recently revamped Nutcracker, with choreography by George Balanchine. Movie adaptations are another hot trend in holiday fare with wide-ranging age appeal: the musical adaptation of the Will Ferrell film Elf hits the Paramount; A Charlie Brown Christmas comes to life at Taproot Theatre; and Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn, based on the Golden Age song-and-dance film of the same name, snuggles into the 5th Avenue Theatre.

If it’s music that gets you in the holiday mood, Seattle Symphony has two events for you: the Holiday Pops concert, full of carols and classics, and Handel’s Messiah, that massive traditional mashup of music and text, featuring the inimitable “Hallelujah” chorus. Local cathedrals are ringing with glorious choral music for the season: Seattle Choral Company presents Buon Natale: An Italian Christmas at St. Mark’s, and Medieval Women’s Choir brings Nowell Sing We to St. James. On the much-less-subdued end, Seattle Men’s Chorus presents high-energy holiday concerts with traditional carols and choral music alongside pop and Broadway hits at Benaroya Hall