Holiday traditions often include live performances which only take place during the last two months of the year. Since the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for many people to gather safely in 2020, cities around the state are excited for the return of local theater and dance companies after a long hiatus. If looking for a merry and bright event to treat family and friends to in Wisconsin, reserve tickets to one of these shows.
Overture Center, Madison
Children’s Theater of Madison (CTM) welcomes audiences back to celebrate the holidays with its annual production of A Christmas Carol, beginning Dec. 11. This year’s production, directed by James Ridge, features many new actors including LaShawn Banks as Ebenezer Scrooge. The entire cast, crew and staff is fully vaccinated, along with extensive protocols being in place for each performance to ensure the comfort and well-being of everyone in attendance. Plus, the elegant Capitol Theater provides spacious seating and distancing from the performers. “We’re thrilled with the diverse cast that has been assembled for this production, and the opportunity to share this story with our community,” says Roseann Sheridan, CTM’s artistic director. “We can’t wait to raise the curtain once more!” The run concludes on Dec. 23.
Marcus Center Performing Arts Center, Milwaukee
Milwaukee Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker returns in full grandeur on Dec. 10—complete with gorgeous costumes, special effects and live music from Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra. Event-goers can also feel confident that entry protocols are in place to ensure the health and safety of all attendees, artists and staff. Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test result (taken within 72 hours of each performance time) is required to enter the building for patrons ages 12 and up. Additionally, anyone aged 3 and up are required to wear a mask while inside the facility. Final performance is on Dec. 26.
The National Railroad Museum, Green Bay
The National Railroad Museum is the only location in Wisconsin hosting the popular Polar Express Train Ride, which features 42 shows spanning Nov. 19 through Dec. 12, in a magical re-creation of the classic children’s Christmas story. Following the original storyline, guests arrive at the museum then self-tour train exhibits, explore the Festival of Trees and play reindeer games. Once everyone is seated, the show begins with the “Hot Chocolate Dance” while savoring a cup of hot chocolate—followed by a dramatic reading of the original Polar Express book. The conductor then calls “All Aboard!,” inviting guests to step outside and board the Polar Express train to the North Pole. Once on the real full-size, moving train, the adventure continues as characters from the story interact with the passengers. The journey involves cold, dark forests; Northern Lights shining into the train cars; and polar bears in the Arctic Circle. And this memorable journey concludes with a much-awaited visit from Santa.
Weber Center for the Performing Arts, La Crosse
La Crosse Community Theatre’s (LCT) holiday production of The Sound of Music begins on Dec. 3. This performance will mark the return of musical theatre to LCT, and it will be the first time in over 10 years that this show has appeared there. The company intentionally selected a title for their Broadway Series’ holiday production slot which would appeal to all ages, in addition to cultural backgrounds, while providing a sense of warmth and comfort to anyone wanting to enjoy a timeless story during this festive time of year. While audiences can be certain to experience all their “favorite things” about The Sound of Music, they can also be sure to get some musical surprises thanks to some twists and turns one might not be expecting when seeing this beloved classic come to life onstage. The production closes on Dec. 19.
Meyer Theatre, Green Bay
A family-friendly comedy sure to entertain children and adults alike, this year’s production of A Frank’s Christmas includes all local performers and musicians who reside in northeastern Wisconsin. Set in a royal palace in Cairo, as well as the accompanying city market, attendees will be treated to a show full of action, choreography and live band accompaniment to each musical number. This avant garde retelling of the first Christmas story interweaves narratives from the Old Testament, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Aladdin. Thus, the costumes also reflect the characters as previously portrayed in other movies or musicals. Opening night is Nov. 26, with a percentage of ticket sales for the evening set to be donated to the C.P. Innovation—a nonprofit that provides services and resources to children and adults with a variety of physical, developmental, communication and sensory access needs in the Fox Cities region.