Great Lakes Improvising Orchestra
“Enhanced Readers’ Theatre” at Soulstice Theatre
Why? Because it’s dinner and show under one roof. Buy your ticket, and treat yourself to a smorgasbord of local food from the likes of Purple Door Ice Cream, Anodyne Coffee and Wild Flour Bakery. Then enjoy the show, Lunch Hour, a 1980 Broadway comedy by Jean Kerr—think equal parts Nora Ephron and Woody Allen. And you’ll rest easy knowing you’ve supported the work of the intrepid Soulstice Theatre.
The Bel Canto Chorus’s “Christmas in the Basilica” at St. Josaphat’s
Why? Because if any choral group is fit to fill the vast space of that South Side sepulcher, it’s Bel Canto. Richard Hynson’s terrific chorus is joined by the Bel Canto Boy Choirs and the Stained Glass Brass (our vote Best Name for a Holiday Pick-Up Group). Both groups will help out with the world premiere of Hynson’s “The Christmas Story.” And expect many familiar favorites as well.
The Great Lakes Improvising Orchestra at Woodland Pattern Book Center
Why? Because you’re no Grinch, but you sometimes get a little weary of all those “Ho-ho-hos” and “Gllooooorrrrriaaaaahs” on the radio. So treat yourself to some music that you’ll probably never hear over the PA system at Target. Hal Rammel’s 12-member ensemble includes such superb musicians as Chris Burns, Steve Nelson-Raney and Amanda Schoofs. And practices “open form collective improvisation,” which can lead to some sublime and colorful soundscapes. Deck the halls with tone clusters, sine waves and harmonic overtones.
It’s a Wonderful Life: Live Radio Show at Next Act Theatre
Why? Because Mary MacDonald Kerr’s charming and heartfelt adaption of the Greatest Christmas Story Ever Told (in the 20th Century, anyway) is becoming a tradition on par with those Dickens and Tchaikovsky skits. It’s a radio play in the true sense, with sound effects courtesy of the actors, who deploy contraptions that whirr and clank (no batteries required) to create Bedford Falls in all its glory. Jack Forbes Wilson provides the music, and an impressive cast of actors—including MacDonald Kerr, Next Act Artistic Director David Cescarini, and Bo Johnson—bring Frank Capra’s great story to life.
The Milwaukee Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Why? Because it’s easy to write off as an annual crowd pleasure, but the MB’s classic holiday offering has many things to offer even the most seasoned ballet aficionado. Terrific dancing, namely. Sure, there will be oohs and ahhs as the Christmas Tree shoots skyward, but some time before the curtain goes down, you’ll be dazzled by the work of the ballet’s superb dancers, including Luz San Miguel, Marc Petrocci, Alexandre Ferreira and Susan Gartell.