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Charles Dickens

Hot Shows for the Holidays

The holiday hoopla is beginning to reach fever pitch in Toronto. In the lead-up to December 25, the city offers numerous seasonal shows that are sure to enthrall the whole family.

The National Ballet's Nutcracker

DECEMBER 6 TO DECEMBER 30 A classic tale is told in Soulpepper Theatre’s lauded staging of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. The troupe’s adaptation is noted for its reverence to Dickens’ original prose, as well as strong performances by a stellar cast, including Joseph Ziegler as the tormented Ebenezer Scrooge. Performed in the round, this is a holiday treat for the traditional theatre lover.

DECEMBER 11 TO JANUARY 2 The Four Seasons Centre is transformed into a magical kingdom in the National Ballet of Canada’s annual production of The Nutcracker. Choreographer James Kudelka’s reworking of this classic story is an elegant take on Misha and Marie’s journey through a fairy tale land of sugar plum fairies and toy soldiers. Watching the ballerinas float across the stage in perfect coordination with Tchaikovsky’s memorable score is a delight that is sure to transport you into the blissful land of sweets and snow.

Classical music doesn’t get much more joyous than this! The renowned Toronto Symphony Orchestra offers a stirring rendition of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah at Roy Thomson Hall. Featuring more than 60 instruments and accompanied by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, this is a performance on the grandest possible scale. If you can’t help but join in the music-making, the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir invites you to Massey Hall for its Sing-Along Messiah, a holiday tradition spanning a quarter-century. It’s a truly moving experience to be part of the hundreds of voices singing this immortal oratorio. (Tafelmusik also offers four traditional Messiah concerts at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre.)

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas

DECEMBER 17 TO JANUARY 2 Dr. Seuss’s world of whimsy comes to life at the Sony Centre in How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical. This acclaimed Broadway production is true to the author’s original story and illustrations, remaking the stage as an animated Whoville. Though the Grinch may start the show with a heart “three sizes too small,” he soon comes to learn the true meaning of Christmas.

NOVEMBER 25 TO JANUARY 2 Popular producer Ross Petty brings his brand of zany enchantment to the Elgin Theatre in the form of Beauty and the Beast: The Savagely Silly Family Musical. Featuring stars of stage and screen, this is a unique, contemporary theatre experience for kids and families, with many laughs to be had as the characters guide you through a classic tale with a comedic twist.

DECEMBER 25 TO JANUARY 2 Disney on Ice dazzles Rogers Centre spectators with Mickey and Minnie’s Magical Journey. See the beloved cartoon mice as they dive under the sea with The Little Mermaid, venture into Africa with The Lion King, fly through the skies with Peter Pan and hula dance with Lilo & Stitch. This round-the-world journey makes a great gift for both kids and parents.

Hot Entertainment: A Classic Christmas Carol

John Jarvis and Joseph Ziegler in A Christmas Carol (photo by Sandy Nicholson)

DECEMBER 6 TO 30 The renowned Soulpepper Theatre Company welcomes the holiday season the traditional way—by staging A Christmas Carol. A talented cast, including Joseph Ziegler as Ebeneezer Scrooge, brings the classic tale to life in a minimalist adaptation that honours Charles Dickens’ grandly descriptive language, “bah humbugs” and all. Presented in “the round”—on a circular stage in the centre of the audience—this production ensures every seat has a view and every viewer a reason to applaud. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, Monday to Saturday, $22 to $75.33; call 416-866-8666 or click here for showtimes and tickets.

December Editor’s Picks: Entertainment

Yamato Drummers of Japan

Yamato Drummers of Japan

DECEMBER 2 Music, dance and propulsive percussion fill the city this month in a dramatic display of rhythmic prowess by the Yamato Drummers of Japan. A modern generation of energetic men and women revives an ancient Japanese art form in this unforgettable ensemble presentation featuring traditional taiko drums and thunderous odaiko barrels that are six feet in diameter. Both ingeniously innovative and intensely physical, the Yamato Drummers’ performances are influenced by the idea that the drumbeat, like the heartbeat, is the very pulse of life. Massey Hall,
8 p.m., $49.50 to $69.50; for tickets call 416-872-4255.

DECEMBER 6 A classic fable of kindness and redemption is told through music when the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Canadian Children’s Opera team up to present Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Roy Thomson Hall, 3 p.m. $15 to $59; call 416-593-4828 for tickets.

The Princess and the Handmaiden (photo by iden ford)

The Princess and the Handmaiden (photo by iden ford)

DECEMBER 18 TO 27 In Disney on Ice Presents Princess Classics, pint-size viewers marvel as Cinderella, Snow White and other beloved screen characters skate through an undersea kingdom, an enchanted castle and beyond. Rogers Centre, $15 to $90; call 416-870-8000 to buy.

TO DECEMBER 30 Canadian composer and librettist Leslie Arden explores friendship and loyalty in her world-premiere musical, The Princess and the Handmaiden, a modern retelling of a fairytale about a pampered royal and her hard-working companion. Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, $10 to $20; call 416-862-2222 for times and tickets.

A 2008 performance of Bravissimo

A 2008 performance of Bravissimo

DECEMBER 31 Stand up and cheer for some of the most passionate operatic music ever written, as Bravissimo! Opera’s Greatest Hits returns to Toronto for a spectacular New Year’s Eve concert. Led by Austrian-Italian conductor Roberto Paternostro, an all-star cast of internationally renowned singers and musicians, perform an array of beloved arias, duets, overtures and more. Newcomers and seasoned aficionados alike are sure to be moved by the legendary melodies from Carmen, Madama Butterfly, La bohème and other classics from opera’s golden age. Roy Thomson Hall, 7 p.m., $75 to $155; call 416-872-4255 to purchase tickets.