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This week’s roundup has ample offerings for the season, with a handful of picks that have a different take on holiday classics. A festive, experimental audio walk lines up Rittenhouse while The Tapcracker, A Winter’s Dream, and Mr. Digger’s Spooky Christmas Radio Special shake up our expectations. And if you’re wondering what happened to the Grinch, look no further than Mabeline “Grinchester,” Diorio’s upcoming holiday drag show.
On the other hand, there’s plenty of non-holiday events to check out. Artist Makeba Rainey brings striking paintings to the Schuylkill Center, Intercultural Journeys hosts a concert with an incredibly talented roster, and Philly legend Donn T highlights the High Note High Step Festival from Musicopia and Dancing Classrooms Philly.
LESS IS MORE: The Nature of Letting Go
Now through March 26, 2022
The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, 8480 Hagy’s Mill Road, Philadelphia
If you haven’t caught it by now, be sure to pay a visit to the Schuylkill Center and check out Philadelphia artist and community organizer Makeba Rainey’s exhibition LESS IS MORE. Rainey describes it as “a celebration of a distinctly Black American ingenuity,” and her paintings are striking (see for yourself!) The Schuylkill Center says that Rainey is transforming the gallery into a healing, memorial space complete with a restorative corner for rest and reflection as well as a place to display her work. Read more about Rainey’s work, and pay a visit if you can over the holiday. Access is free and open to the public.
Lantern Theater Company’s A Christmas Carol
In-person through December 30; streaming online December 14 through January 2, 2022
The Drake, 302 S. Hicks Street, Philadelphia
Yes, A Christmas Carol is hard to miss during the season, but I especially wanted to point out Lantern Theater’s performance because it’s both live and it’s virtual. Those who may not want to leave their homes to go see a show but still want to catch the classic will not be forsaken as Lantern is streaming a fully-fledged film adaptation of the performance starting Wednesday, December 14.
Mr. Digger’s Spooky Christmas Radio Special
Pig Iron Theatre Company, Studio B, 1417 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia
I may not be alone in thinking that Christmas is also a spooky holiday after all! New Philly theater company Theatre on the Verge’s second show is a Christmas one—and it’s spooky! It’s also hilarious, too, apparently, as the Verge stages a unique take that aims to “bring some horror to your Christmas Humbug.” The performance is directed by Nora Gair, adapted by Anna Kurtz, and features original music by Erin Frances. Admission is free with a suggested donation.
Mabeline’s You Really Are a Heel
The Ruba Club, 416 Green Street, Philadelphia
Cabaret star Mabeline “Grinchester” Diorio comes to Philly for a cabaret performance. Teaming up with the Bearded Ladies and the House of Dorio with music from DJ Cindy Lou Who, the show promises to be “a new queer holiday tradition.” Tickets are pay-what-you-can.
Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night
Friday, December 10, 6:30pm
Rittenhouse Square, 210 W. Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia
Join Relâche for an evening of holiday-inspired collective soundscaping. Participants can join the event with an audio device of their choice—whether it’s their phone or their boombox—for a festive walk paired with experimental composition in the Rittenhouse Square area. The event is free, family-friendly, and open to the public.
A Winter’s Dream
Saturday, December 11, 1pm and 7pm
Teatro Esperanza, 4261 N. 5th Street, Philadelphia
International Ballet Exchange invites audiences to its family-friendly premiere of A Winter’s Dream, a brand new ballet that’s making “international connections, blending professionals and students on stage, featuring diverse casts, and using story to engage people in the art of ballet” according to choreographer Christina Castro-Tauser. The show’s story is set in the present and what begins at a party drifts into an enchanted winter forest and ends up under the glow of the Northern Lights. The performance is live at Teatro Esperanza and is also available for streaming at home (or maybe at school for the kids?)
Saturday, December 11, 3pm and 7pm; Sunday, December 12 at 11am and 3pm
Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia
The Lady Hoofers Tap Ensemble is back with their fourth annual production of The Tapcracker, a 90-minute family-friendly concert with an all-women cast that’s all tap dancing. There’s also some Duke Ellington woven in with the Tchaikovsky if you want any further of an idea of what you could be “stepping” into here.
High Note High Step Festival
Sunday, December 12, 10am-4:30pm
Musicopia and Dancing Classrooms Philly are collaborating to bring us a High Note High Step, a festival that features hands-on music and dance workshops, a student Q&A, and an artist showcase. The free event will be hosted by Donn T, an accomplished musician, author president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Recording Academy, label owner of D-tone Victorious, and the sister of Questlove (she’s pretty amazing). The event is free and attendees can jump into the virtual event at any time during its run.
Looking for Light
Wednesday, December 15, 7pm
Intercultural Journeys is hosting an online evening of music to bring light and love to the long winter days. Scheduled to perform are Falsa, Yosef Goldman, Monnette Sudler, Solomon Temple, Susan Hoffman Watts, and Keisha Hutchins Hirlinger. The performance is free with a suggested donation.
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