The whirlwind of the holiday season is upon us once again, and as always, it brings with it a craving for entertainment that lights that magical glow in our hearts. Fortunately, this is Los Angeles, and there is no shortage of fine options to be enjoyed on those special nights out – whether it’s an outing for the whole extended family or a date night for two.
Los Angeles Blade has put together a guide to some of the best holiday offerings from our local arts scene – some traditional, some not – that are guaranteed to provide just the kind of seasonal stimulation you need.
Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” – Now through Dec. 9 at Geffen Playhouse (10886 Le Conte Ave.). A staple of every holiday season, this timeless and beloved Christmas classic is reinvented in a wildly theatrical and spectacular new production directed by Tony nominee Michael Arden and starring Tony winner Jefferson Mays, who brings fresh perspective to Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and the rest, playing every role in this whirlwind one-man show. While the heart of “A Christmas Carol” is evergreen, this version breathes new life into the greatest ghost story ever told. For more information and tickets, visit geffenplayhouse.org.
Enchanted: Forest of Light – Nov. 18 – Jan. 6 at Descanso Gardens (1418 Descanso Dr, La Canada Flintridge). If you’ve never experienced this luminous holiday wonderland, it’s time to treat yourself. Each year during the holidays, Descanso Gardens transforms its grounds into an enchanted forest with whimsical lighting displays and interactive exhibitions. A one-mile path, intended for nighttime enjoyment, veers through the Oak Woodland, Camellia Forest, Japanese Garden and Rose Garden. Descanso Gardens partners with Lightswitch to create ten high-impact theatrical experiences using environmental light effects. New this year is “Aqueous” by Jen Lewis, an interactive landscape of meandering pathways of light. It’s a rain or shine event, and non-refundable tickets can be purchased at descansogardens.org.
“Come From Away” – Nov. 28 – Jan. 16 at Ahmanson Theatre (135 North Grand Ave.). It’s not about the holidays, but the touring production of this acclaimed Broadway show will be a treat nonetheless. Based on a true story, this folk-inspired musical is the tale of 7,000 airline passengers stranded in a small Canadian town when their flights are diverted there on 9/11; cultures clash and nerves run high, but uneasiness turns into trust, music soars into the night and gratitude grows into enduring friendships. A small ensemble cast masterfully assumes multiple roles in this New York Times critic’s pick, which earned a Tony nomination for its score by Irene Sankoff and David Hein and scored a win for its director, Christopher Ashley. For more information and tickets, visit centertheatregroup.org.
An Intimate Evening with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen – Dec. 1 at Dolby Theatre (6801 Hollywood Blvd.). It’s not holiday and it’s not the arts, but it’s sure to be entertaining when silver foxes Cooper and Cohen take the stage together for a session of unscripted, uncensored and unforgettable conversation. This one is sure to be a sell-out, so grab your tickets now at ticketmaster.com.
A Well-Strung Christmas – Dec. 8 at Los Angeles LGBT Center (1125 N. McCadden Pl.). The internationally acclaimed singing string quartet Well-Strung, who specialize in pairing universally recognized classical pieces while singing pop music hits, returns to the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Renberg Theatre with their hit holiday show. The show will feature the group’s own unique pop-classical spin on some of the most beautiful and traditional holiday favorites from “Silent Night” and “Sleighride” all the way to Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas,” and everything in between. Net proceeds from all ticket sales will support the full range of free and low-cost programs and services offered by the LGBT Center, so you’ll be supporting a great cause while enjoying the music of a jaw-droppingly talented ensemble – who are pretty easy on the eyes as well. For more information and tickets, visit lalgbtcenter.org.
Sandra Bernhard: “Sandemonium” – Dec. 13 – Dec. 15 at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd.). The inimitable Miss Bernhard returns to the Wallis with her all new show, just in time for the holidays. “Sandemonium” is swirling all around you, minute to minute “breaking news.” No one knows what’s coming next. Climate disaster, Russian invasion, unhinged leaders. Have you been slut shamed? Are you gender neutral? It’s time for a psychic break, and Sandra is here to bring you back from your bad trip. Soothe your aura and calm your chakras, shut down your electronics, find your mantra, do a meditation, let it all go! Sandy and the Sandyland Squad Band will make it all better. Get your tickets fast, at thewallis.org.
GMCLA Holiday Spectacular: Calling All Angels – Dec. 15-16 at Alex Theatre (216 North Brand Blvd., Glendale). If there’s any single “must-do holiday” event for LGBTQ LA, GMCLA’s annual holiday concert is it. This year, as always, they will offer up an eclectic mix of holiday treats sweeter than Santa’s cookies. What could be more heavenly than celebrating the holidays with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles? There are only three performances, and this one always packs the house, so make sure and get your tickets before it’s too late. For more information and tickets, visit gmcla.org.
“The Wonderful Winter of Oz” – Dec. 15 – Dec. 30 at Pasadena Civic Auditorium (300 E. Green St., Pasadena). Presented by the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and presented by the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and The Lythgoe Family, this musical adventure is fun for the family. A holiday version of America’s favorite modern fairy tale, performed in the style of a traditional British Family Panto, this reimagining of the familiar story has Dorothy swept away on Christmas Eve by a “freak” Kansas blizzard which lands her in a world of munchkins and witches. With songs from Journey to Wham!, “The Wonderful Winter of Oz” is the perfect family experience at the holiday time, featuring Broadway star Marissa Jane Winokur and none other than Kermit the Frog himself as the Great and Powerful Oz. More information can be found at visitpasadena.com.
New Year’s Eve with Pink Martini – Dec. 31 at Walt Disney Concert Hall (111 South Grand Ave.). Pianist Thomas Lauderdale and the celebrated “little orchestra,” featuring a rare joint appearance by singers China Forbes and Storm Large, return for another quintessentially eclectic New Year’s program that mixes the heat of Brazilian samba, party sounds of ’30s Cuban dance music, and a dash of Parisian café cool. There’s no classier way to ring in 2019! Tickets available at laphil.com.