There’s no place like New York for the holidays! And no December visit to the big city would be complete without taking in at least one holiday show. This year, six festive theatrical events are on tap around town, including musicals based on beloved holiday movies, a splashy revival and, as always, the high-kicking Rockettes. Not sure which one to choose? Check out our cheat sheet below, or click here to buy a Broadway.com gift certificate, the ideal gift for everyone on your list.
Why It’s a Holiday Treat: Broadway theatergoers are getting a New Deal for Christmas this year! Little Orphan Annie (11-year-old belter Lilla Crawford) is back, celebrating the season with billionaire Oliver Warbucks (the sublime Anthony Warlow), who longs to adopt her. Annie has everything: songs you can’t stop humming, a lineup of adorable orphans, a larger-than-life villainess (Katie Finneran as Miss Hannigan) and, of course, a loveable mutt named Sandy.
Where to See It: Broadway’s Palace Theatre.
A Christmas Story
Why It’s a Holiday Treat: If you love the big-screen tale of the Parker family of Hohman, Indiana, you will cherish this musical as a reminder of a more innocent time. Watch Ralphie (Johnny Rabe) fantasize about all the adventures he could have as owner of a Red Ryder BB gun, while his Old Man (John Bolton) leads a production number centering on that infamous leg lamp. Meanwhile, buttoned-up teacher Miss Shields (Caroline O’Connor) joins pint-sized tapper Luke Spring to tear up the stage.
Where to See It: Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, through December 30.
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Why It’s a Holiday Treat: Can a town of tiny Christmas-loving Whos win out over a big green meanie determined to quash holiday fun for everyone? Absolutely! This bright and bouncy 90-minute musical retelling of Dr. Seuss’ timeless children’s book includes the beloved “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and features Broadway regular Jeff McCarthy in the title role. Tony-winning director Jack O’Brien has honed the show into a delight for all ages.
Where to See It: The Theater at Madison Square Garden, December 13 through December 30.
Why It’s a Holiday Treat: The irresistible 2003 film comedy starring Will Ferrell has become an equally funny musical, back on Broadway after a two-year absence. Perfect for school-age kids (and adults!), Elf centers on the sweetly naive title character, Buddy (Avenue Q’s Jordan Gelber), who travels from the North Pole to New York to find his father. (Seinfeld’s Wayne Knight co-stars as Santa.) Elf boasts a lovely score and top-notch direction and choreography by The Book of Mormon’s Casey Nicholaw.
Where to See It: Broadway’s Al Hirschfeld Theatre, through January 6, 2013.
Jackie Hoffman’s A Chanukah Charol
Why It’s a Holiday Treat: Broadway’s favorite curmudgeon debuts an all-new show in which she channels Ebenezer Scrooge and is confronted by the Ghosts of Chanukah Past, Present and Future. Hoffman is always hilarious, but her brand of humor (a welcome antidote to forced wintery cheer) is not appropriate for kids. Down a martini and spin the dreidel with Ebenezer Jackie!
Where to See It: Off-Broadway's New World Stages, December 8 through December 29.
The Radio City Christmas Spectacular
Why It’s a Holiday Treat: The precision dancing of the Rockettes has thrilled audiences at Rockefeller Center’s Art Deco theatrical palace for 85 years. This must-see show also includes a visit to Santa’s workshop, a stuffed animal Nutcracker, the famous “Living Nativity” and a 3-D film. New this year: a showcase of the Rockettes’ best-ever costumes. Whether it’s your first or tenth visit, this Spectacular show never disappoints.
Where to See It: Radio City Music Hall, through December 30.