November 25, 2020 at 4:23 pm EST | by Patrick Folliard
Holiday musical productions go virtual
holiday shows, gay news, Washington Blade
A scene from a previous Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington Holiday Show. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

“Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat…”

The holidays are upon us and while the parameters of how we mark the season may have changed, many of the melodic celebrations are still taking place – only differently. Here’s a smattering of virtual offerings.

In honor of its 40th anniversary season, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C., presents “The Holiday Show,” streaming Dec. 5-20. The virtual event features some of the chorus’ best tunes from holiday shows past, plus many never-before-seen virtual performances and a virtual holiday sing-a-long. Songs will include “Sleigh Ride,” “The 12 Rockin’ Days of Christmas,” “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy,” “Jingle Bells,” “Boogie Boogie Frosty,” and “Silent Night.”

For further details and ticket information go to gmcw.org.

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is hosting a Pre-Hanukkah Global Celebration Concert, a virtual concert, taking place on Dec. 6. This is a one-of-a-kind program featuring performances by Academy Award-winning film composer Hans Zimmer, Israel Philharmonic Music Director Lahav Shani, and musicians of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

The program is free and accessible to all, streamed via YouTube on AFIPO’s site, and on Facebook. RSVP at afipo.org.

In conjunction with George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, Step Afrika! presents “Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show,” on Wednesday, Dec. 16. Spotlighting the African-American tradition of stepping, a percussive, highly energetic art form first developed through the song and dance rituals performed by African-American fraternities and sororities, the family fun show features characters from the Arctic Kingdom—Popper the Penguin along with polar bear twins, Pinky and Polo stepping in time for the holidays. This holiday event can be streamed free of charge at stepafrika.org.

For many Washington area theatergoers, the holidays aren’t complete without a performance of Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker.” To help ensure that the tradition endures, The Washington Ballet is working on putting together a delightful virtual Nutcracker experience with behind-the-scenes content, interviews, special performances, and more.

For unfolding details go to washingtonballet.org.

Folger Consort‘s Christmas concert, another beloved D.C. tradition, will be available to stream on-demand from Dec. 11 through Jan. 5. As its centerpiece, the concert features Bach’s cantata BWV140, Wachet auf (Sleepers Wake) along with other German holiday favorites paired with English and American Yuletide music from the early music tradition. The concert was filmed at St. Mark’s on Capitol Hill. For tickets and further information go to folger.edu.

Maestro Luke Frazier and The American Pops Orchestra (APO) present “Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas with Vanessa Williams,” premiering Tuesday, Dec. 15 on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS Video App. Filmed in front of a small, socially distanced live audience under strict COVID-19 mitigation procedures at the Meridian International Center in Washington, D.C., the concert reinterprets Ella Fitzgerald’s classic 1960 holiday album comprised of American songs of the season like “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “The Christmas Song,” “Sleigh Ride” and “Winter Wonderland.” In addition to the fabulous Vanessa Williams, the cast of stellar vocalists includes Broadway’s Dee Dee Bridgewater, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Morgan James, Norm Lewis, and local favorite Nova Y. Payton.

The Washington Chorus (TWC) is reimagining its annual “Candlelight Christmas: Live at the Music Center at Strathmore” (Dec. 18-20) in a beautifully produced show filmed live at the Music Center at Strathmore with socially distanced performances, guest soloists, and carol sing-alongs.

TWC’s concert is one hour with no intermission and features members of The Washington Chorus with soloists, guest “Side by Side” high school chorus from Duke Ellington School of the Arts, bells, and more. For tickets go to thewashingtonchorus.org.

With their tour grounded due to the pandemic, The King’s Singers Christmas Concert, an annual favorite for local fans, will stream live from the UK on Dec. 22 with a holiday selection of traditional carols and seasonal songs. kingssingers.com.

On Christmas Day at noon, the Washington National Cathedral presents its straightforwardly titled “Christmas Day Organ Recital.” Cathedral organists Thomas Sheehan and George Fergus present a program of festive Christmas music on the Cathedral’s Great Organ. The Cathedral suggests you “make a cup of cocoa, wear your holiday-appropriate ugly sweaters and socks and celebrate Christmas with them.” Admission is free. For registration and further details go to cathedral.org.

The Irish Repertory Theatre’s heartwarming musical “Meet Me in St. Louis” streams Dec. 11 through Jan. 2. This new digital production is an abridged version of the Broadway musical “Meet Me in St. Louis” (1989), based on the charming 1944 film of the same name starring a young Judy Garland. For further information and reservations go to irishrep.org.

On Dec. 29, Coyaba Dance Theater West African Dance Company presents “In Spirit of Kwanzaa,” a high-energy virtual presentation based on the Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa: Umoja, Kuchjichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba, Imani. Kwanzaa is a late December African-American holiday in celebration of families, community economics, and faith. This free virtual event promises to lift your spirits and warm your hearts. For further information go to danceplace.org.

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