Holiday shows for families in the Washington area

December 5, 2013

Holiday shows have a way of bridging generations, and the choices are plentiful on Washington stages this season. So, parents and grandparents, here are several classic and contemporary shows you can share with the kids.

A Commedia Christmas Carol

Through Dec. 22 at Gallaudet University, Elstad Auditorium, 800 Florida Ave. NE. www.factionoffools.org. $12-$30.

Faction of Fools has transformed the classic Dickens tale into a masked 16th-century commedia dell’arte play full of pratfalls and references to contemporary pop culture. And all of the Dickens characters have been reshaped as theatrical archetypes (e.g., Scrooge is Pantalone, a grouchy old man character found in traditional Italian theater).


Will Blum as Buddy in’ ELF The Musical,’ at the Kennedy Center. (AMY BOYLE PHOTOGRAPHY 2012)
Elf The Musical

Dec. 17 through Jan. 5 at the Kennedy
Center, 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600. www.kennedy-center.org. $25-$150.

The slightly subversive humor of the 2003 Will Ferrell film is maintained in this touring musical adaptation, making it a great choice for, as the title character might say, the cotton-headed-ninny-muggins among us — or those who are a little holidayed-out. And although the story of a human who thinks he’s an elf and travels to New York to find his father is contemporary, the soundtrack evokes holiday musicals of yore.

The Nutcracker

Through Dec. 29 at the Puppet Co.,
7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo.
301-634-5380. www.thepuppetco.org.
$10.

If ballerinas aren’t your thing, take the kids to this version of “The Nutcracker,” which is performed on strings rather than en pointe. The Puppet Co. production, in its 25th year, features marionettes, hand puppets and costumes that turn actors into life-size puppets. And for wiggly kids who might not be able to sit through a full “Nutcracker,” this show is a tidy 50 minutes.

The King and I

Through Jan. 5 at Olney Theatre, 2001 Olney Sandy Spring Rd., Olney. 301-924-3400.
www.olneytheatre.org
. $32.50-$65.

For ears that have grown tired of hearing holiday carols, “Getting to Know You” and other classic tunes from this 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical will make for a welcome respite. “The King and I,” about a British schoolteacher in charge of the king of Siam’s children, is as festive and lavish as any holiday show, with its shimmering costumes and large cast of children.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Through Dec. 30 at Adventure Theatre, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo. 301-634-2270. www.adventuretheatre-mtc.org. $19.

This adaptation of the classic Christmas carol brings in some big-deal adult names: It was written by Renee Calarco, of Theater J’s “The Religion Thing,” and is directed by Michael Dove, artistic director of Forum Theater. Because the song comes back to the partridge in the pear tree, Calarco centered her play on Shirley, a partridge who must gather all of the other components of the song — the five golden rings, the dancing ladies, etc. — in order to save Christmas.

A Christmas Carol

Through Jan. 1 at Ford’s Theatre, 511 10th St. NW. 800-982-2787. www.fords.org. $20-$91.

The Ford’s Theatre “Christmas Carol” has become an annual holiday favorite in part because it’s so predictable: No modern interpretations, no new songs, no surprises. Even the actor who plays Scrooge, Edward Gero, remains the same year after year. (As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.) Dickens’s classic story of redemption, enhanced by festive trimmings and period attire, will give you and your kids a warm, fuzzy feeling of generosity and holiday spirit. And if that message sinks in, you can make a donation to the theater’s partner charity, Covenant House Washington, after curtain call.

Miracle on 34th Street

Through Jan. 5 at Toby’s Dinner Theatre, 5900 Symphony Woods Rd., Columbia. 800-888-6297. www.tobysdinnertheatre.
com
. $37.50-$56.

This Columbia dinner theater is probably the only place you can take in the uplifting tale of a girl who learns to believe in Santa Claus and find a themed menu to match: Dine on “Gimbel’s Beef Burgundy” and “Macy’s Chicken Cordon Bleu” with a side of “Kringle’s Karrotes,” each a winking nod to the story’s department store Santa. The soundtrack is full of singalong holiday classics, including “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.
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