We get it: The Nutcracker is awesome, but perhaps you've already seen it? Don't stress, because there are other holidays stage offerings out there — lots of them — and they're not all sugar-plum sweet either.
Here are 12 shows guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit, no matter what your definition of that is.
Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Performing Arts Fort Worth
You may have seen a green and rather shifty-looking character slithering and slinking around Dallas-Fort Worth lately, but there's no reason to hide your roast beast. The Grinch, at Bass Performance Hall for only 10 performances, is in town with a whole slew of singing Whos, turning Fort Worth into Whoville and officially marking the beginning of the holiday season.
Ultimate Thanksgiving Experience
Fun House Theatre and Film
There is a turkey, of course, but this holiday offering from Plano's favorite purveyor of adult-like children's theater also includes Dan Quayle, Bill O'Reilly, Lady Gaga, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the Easter Bunny (head of the Illuminati, of course) and a trio of Russian immigrants. It could only come from the mind of Jeff Swearingen, and that's why we love it.
A Christmas Carol
Dallas Theater Center
November 21-December 24
New home, new adaptation, new attitude. Dallas Theater Center is shaking up tradition this year by reimagining its holiday staple, Charles Dickens' surprisingly dark and spooky tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and his time-bending trip to self-discovery. Artistic director Kevin Moriarty is behind the reboot, so expect lots of untraditional touches (we hear there will be flying) mixed in with feel-good holiday cheer.
'Twas the Night Before Christmas
Dallas Children's Theater
November 22-December 22
Giving us a behind-the-scenes peek at Clement Moore's classic Christmas poem, Dallas Children's Theater brings to life the sugarplums, toys and, of course, Santa Claus. Although it's rumored that Moore composed the verse while on a wintery sleigh ride (and some question his authorship entirely, because the poem was first published anonymously), in this version he's under pressure because the president is planning to read the poem at the White House.
Other Desert Cities
November 25-December 15
What's a holiday season without family dysfunction? In Jon Robin Baitz's play, which was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize, the Wyeth family is reunited right before Christmas, and daughter Brooke announces she's planning to publish her memoirs, which happen to detail a long-held and heavily guarded family secret. There's politics, a relative visiting from rehab and lots of squabbling. Feels just like home, right?
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Musical
November 29-December 29
Do you look forward to your yearly viewing of the stop-motion animated special about a certain left-out reindeer whose glowing nose saves Christmas? If so, this production is probably for you. In conjunction with AT&T Performing Arts Center, the newly formed Wishing Star Productions is mounting a stage adaptation of the 1964 TV special that comes complete with "incredible costumes and amazing puppetry." In case you've forgotten, this story was the original source of the Island of Misfit Toys and also features an elf who longs to be a dentist, the Abominable Snow Man and a prospector names Yukon Cornelius. Because why not?
Frosty the Snowman
November 29-December 22
You might find the idea of a pile of frozen water coming to life massively creepy, but I bet your kids think it's awesome. No matter your views on frozen rights, this musical version of the famous book about a snowman who suddenly comes to life and cavorts with the town's children is probably going to be charming. And it's at Casa Manana, so you know the production values will be stunning.
Jubilation: The Christmas Musical
Jubilee Theatre's mascot, Lee Roy, comes to life in this holiday collection of jazzy, gospel-flavored tunes and tales. Tre Garrett recently scored a massive creative coup with his stirring direction of A Raisin in the Sun at Dallas Theater Center, so his guiding hand (collaborating with Geno Young) paired with the promise of all Lee Roy's "favorite friends and performers" pretty much guarantees an amazing time.
Sweater Curse: A Yarn About Love
Our Productions Theatre Co.
Our own Elaine Liner wrote a play and took it to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. People kind of went wild for it. Now she's mounting the one-woman show again in Lewisville during Dallas' time of sweater weather and encouraging knitters to bring their skeins and clack away during the show. You’d just better not be knitting anything for a significant other — that's where the curse comes from.
The Santaland Diaries
If you couldn't catch David Sedaris when he was in town earlier this month, this is the next best thing. One of his most famous essays from the collection Holidays on Ice, The Santaland Diaries details Sedaris' excruciating stint as a Macy's elf. The story is crass, vulgar and every bit as hilarious as you think it would be, and it plays out like a nutmeg-tinged fever dream. Garrett Storms will step into Crumpet the Elf's curly shoes.
A Very Nouveau Family!
Nouveau 47 Productions
Continuing with the notion of Anti-Claus, Nouveau 47 is offering up 10-minute plays with a holiday theme that skew on the side of the avant garde. New voices are the focus, so expect to hear some fresh stories and explore the holidays from a different perspective.
The Game's Afoot (Holmes for the Holiday)
December 13-January 5, 2014
Ken Ludwig, the pen behind Lend Me a Tenor and Crazy for You, dips back into the 1930s for a madcap murder mystery that can only be solved by Sherlock Holmes — or an actor who's used to playing him. The show begins with an actor getting shot onstage, but it is followed immediately by a house party. You know, typical ugly sweater shindig. But then one of the guests turns up dead, and it's up to the host to channel his Sherlock skills and catch the killer.
Irving Berlin's White Christmas
Dallas Summer Musicals
Try reading this show's title without hearing Irving Berlin's iconic tune in your head. It can't be done. Better to just give in to the music, tap your feet when the dancers start tapping theirs and say "oooh" when the snow starts falling. Because you will. Can't be helped. Surrender to the live stage version of one of your favorite holiday movies and just enjoy it. Merry Christmas. You're welcome.