Let the festivities begin! From drag queens to Queen Elizabeth I, there are fabulous holiday celebrations happening throughout the D.C. metro area this year.
“A Drag Queen Christmas: The Naughty Tour” comes to the Warner Theatre on Sunday, Nov. 18. Featuring contestants from “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” the evening includes holiday songs and fierce drag performances from the catwalk. Details can be found at warnertheatredc.com.
As part of the Smithsonian Ingenuity Festival (smithsonianmag.com/ingenuity), singer-songwriter Jewel will present her “Handmade Holiday Tour”at the Lincoln Theatre on Tuesday, Dec. 6.
The Lincoln Theatre will also host “The Holiday Show” by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington (gmcw.org/season-shows/the-holiday-show). Their annual holiday extravaganza returns with an all-new show, featuring dancing elves, falling snowflakes, soaring vocals and a special visit from Santa Claus. Performances run from Dec. 8-16 and some performances will include ASL interpretation.
From Dec. 14-23, the Folger Consort (folger.edu/folger-consort), the early music ensemble in residence at the Folger Shakespeare Library will present 12 concerts of “A Christmas Messe: A Banquet of Seasonal English Music.” In addition to seasonal English music from the 14th-17th centuries, celebrated D.C. actor Rick Foucheux will read scenes from a 1619 Christmas comedy.
The Folger Shakespeare Library (folger.edu) will also celebrate the season with the annual Emily Dickinson Birthday Tribute. On Monday, Dec. 10, there will be a discussion of Dickinson’s poetry followed by a wine reception featuring slices of Dickinson’s famous black cake.
Since 1983, the Washington Revels have held its annual “Christmas Revels” to celebrate the winter solstice and the “return of the sun.” Presided over by Queen Elizabeth I (Katrina Van Duyn), this year’s festivities will include performances by mummers and “rude mechanicals,” Morris dancing from the all-female Rock Creek Morris Women, performances of children’s singing games and dancing in the aisles for everyone. Performances run Dec. 8-16 at GW’s Lisner Auditorium. Details at revelsdc.org.
D.C. Different Drummers (dcdd.org) will hold their annual holiday concert on Sunday, Dec. 9 at the Church of the Redemption near Union Station.
On Dec. 1-2, the Smithsonian Holiday Film Festival will take place at the Smithsonian’s Warner Bros. Theatre. Screenings will include “A Christmas Story,” “It’s A Wonderful Life,” “Meet Me in St. Louis,” “Elf” and “Wonder Woman.” More information can be found at si.edu/theaters/holiday-film-festival.
Charles Dickens will of course be making his annual holiday appearance. For a maximalist approach to “A Christmas Carol,” head to Ford’s Theatre (fords.org) where award-winning D.C. actor Craig Wallace leads a large cast in a splendid retelling of the timeless tale.
From Dec. 15-31, the Keegan Theatre (keegantheatre.com) offers a non-traditional adaptation of the classic tale for the adults in the family. Set in modern Dublin, Matthew Keenan’s “An Irish Carol” is about a prosperous pub owner who is forced to reevaluate his life on Christmas Eve.
For a minimalist approach to the Yuletide classic, head to the Olney Theatre (olneytheatre.org) where company member Paul Morella will present his annual solo rendition of “A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas.”
Olney Theatre will also present the musical “Elf the Musical” through Jan. 6. Based on the hit Will Ferrell movie, the warm-hearted family musical tells the story of Buddy, a human accidentally transported to the North Pole as a baby.
In a somewhat jazzier mode, Arena Stage is offering gay composer Cole Porter’s effervescent musical “Anything Goes” this holiday season. Directed by Molly Smith and choreographed by Parker Esse, the madcap musical includes such classics as “Blow, Gabriel Blow,” “You’re the Top,” “I Get a Kick out of You” and the exhilarating title number.
Dragons (and imaginations) soar in Synetic Theatre’s wordless Family Theatre production of “My Father’s Dragon.” Based on the book by Ruth Stiles Gannett, the story centers on a young child and his cat companion as they try to rescue a captive baby dragon (synetictheater.org).
The staff at Wolf Trap says that “the best way to spread holiday cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” Attendees at the “Annual Holiday Sing-A-Long”are invited to bring a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots and a candle to participate in the traditional candlelit recessional during the last verse of “Silent Night” Admission is free and details can be found at wolftrap.org/tickets.
From Dec. 14-30, the Atlas Performing Arts Centre on H Street, NE (atlasarts.secure.force.com/ticket) will present Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show. This contemporary holiday tradition features percussive beats, friendly, furry characters, pre-show instrument-making workshops and a dance party hosted by DJ Frosty the Snowman.
From free shows on the Millennium Stage to a diverse array of concerts and shows in several theaters, every corner of the Kennedy Center will be filled with holiday cheer this season. This year’s schedule includes “Love, Factually,” the Second City’s farcical take on the beloved holiday film (Dec. 4-31); NSO Pop’s “A Holiday Pops! Under the Mistletoe with special guest Ashley Brown (who played Mary Poppins on Broadway) (Dec. 14-14); and “The Nutcracker” performed by Utah’s Ballet West (Dec. 5-9).
From Dec. 14-16, the Kennedy Center will also host the Washington National Opera’s annual Family Holiday Opera “The Lion, the Unicorn and Me” based on the book by lesbian author Jeanette Winterson and directed by Francesca Zambello, the out artistic director of the WNO. From Dec. 20-23, the National Symphony Orchestra will present the perennial audience favorite Handel’s “Messiah.” The popular “Sing-Along Messiah” will take place Dec. 23. Free general admission tickets will be distributed starting at 4:30 p.m. the day of the event.
For a full list of holiday events at the Kennedy Center, go to kennedy-center.org.
Fans of “The Nutcracker” can also see the beloved holiday ballet at other venues throughout the area. The Washington Ballet will present “Septime Weber’s The Nutcracker” at THEARC Theatre Nov. 24-25 and at the Warner Theatre Nov. 29-Dec. 28. Set in Georgetown in 1882, the cast includes George Washington, King George III and other historical characters. More information on the 15th anniversary production can be found at washingtonballet.org.
The Strathmore in Bethesda, Md., is presenting two versions of “The Nutcracker.” Featuring authentic Russian costumes and hand-painted sets, the “Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker” (Dec. 16-17) returns the dance to its European roots. With digital scenery and an on-stage DJ, “The Hip Hop Nutcracker” (Dec. 18-19) offers a contemporary take on the classic tale. For other holiday programming at the Strathmore, head to strathmore.org.
Seasonal programming at the legendary Birchmere in Alexandria, Va., (birchmere.com) includes concerts by Melissa Etheridge (Nov. 26-28), Sara Evans (Dec. 8), Judy Collins (Dec. 18-19), John Waters (Dec. 20) and Maysa (Dec. 22).
With beautiful holiday decorations augmenting the legendary stained-glass windows, the Washington National Cathedral (cathedral.org) is a splendid place to celebrate the holiday season. On Dec. 7-9, the Cathedral Choir will sing Handel’s “Messiah,” and on Dec. 8, the chorus will present a special family edition of the “Messiah.” This shortened version of this iconic work focuses on the birth of Jesus and continues the story of his death and resurrection through selected arias and choruses, ending with the famous “Hallelujah Chorus.”
Dance Place in the Brookland neighborhood (danceplace.org) will hold a Kwanzaa Celebration Dec. 15-16. Led by director Sylvia Soumah, the communal event will celebrate the seven principles of the holiday.
On Dec. 28, the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum (anacostia.si.edu) will host an interactive introduction to Kwanzaa with Baba Ras D and the LeSole Dance Project. The audience participatory program includes dancers, singers, music, colorful costumes and lively characters designed for young children and adults alike.
If you’re gorged out on holiday fare and want something different, The Washington Stage Guild presents the world premiere of “All Save One” by local playwright Greg Jones Ellis Nov. 15-Dec. 9. Set in 1950s Hollywood, it’s a witty dramedy that depicts what goes on behind closed doors when a world-famous writer, his actress wife and longtime “secretary” arrive in England only to have their comfortable household disrupted by the arrival of a handsome young priest and a film producer. It’s at The Undercroft Theatre of Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church (900 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.). E-mail email@example.com for details.