Catch traditional holiday favorites, more with festive Akron-area performances

When folks think about live holiday performances, favorite shows that most often come to mind are the timeless wonders of the "The Nutcracker" ballet and the ultimate tale of redemption in the Charles Dickens classic "A Christmas Carol."

Traditional productions of "The Nutcracker" will kick off Nov. 26-27 and Dec. 3-4 with Ballet Theatre of Ohio, performing its festive show at the Akron Civic Theatre, 182 S. Main St. The Munroe Falls dance company is celebrating its 30th year performing the treasured holiday classic.

Performances are 2 and 7 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. The company also will offer "Nutty Nutcracker," a spoof of the classic ballet, at 7 p.m. Dec. 2. Cost for either show is $40-$50. See or call 330-253-2488.

For another "Nutcracker" choice, the Cleveland Ballet will offer seven performances of the holiday ballet Dec. 15-18 at the Connor Palace at Playhouse Square, 1615 Euclid Ave., Cleveland. Shows are 7 p.m. Dec. 15, 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 16, and 1 and 7 p.m. Dec. 17-18.

Cost is $28-$131. See or call 216-241-6000.

The Cleveland Ballet will perform "The Nutcracker" Dec. 15-18 at Playhouse Square.

The Cleveland Ballet also will bring the fantasy and adventure of "The Little Nutcracker," featuring excerpts from the ballet, to Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens in Akron Dec. 3-4. The event, called Dinner, Ballet & Deck the Hall, includes a plated dinner at 5 p.m., the performance at 6 p.m. and the self-guided Deck the Hall tour at 7 p.m.

Cost is $100 plus tax for members ages 13 and older or $70 plus tax for members 12 and under. Nonmembers pay $125 or $87, plus tax. See The manor is located at 714 N. Portage Path.

Other traditional "Nutcrackers" include the holiday favorite at Hudson Conservatory of Ballet and at Canton Ballet.

Hudson Conservatory of Ballet's show will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 26 and 2 p.m. Nov. 27 at Cuyahoga Falls High School, 2300 Fourth St. More than 100 dancers will perform, including American Ballet Theatre of New York guest artists Lea Fleytoux and Jarod Curley as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier and Verb Ballets dancers Antonio Morillo and Sikhumbuzo Hlahleni.

The show features a growing tree drop, magical sleigh and handmade costumes. For tickets, which cost $25, see or purchase at the door.

Hudson Conservatory of Ballet dancers perform "Waltz of the Snowflakes" in "The Nutcracker."

The Canton Ballet will perform "The Nutcracker," a tradition since 1968, at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 and 2 p.m. Dec. 10-11 at the Canton Palace Theatre, 605 Market Ave. N. Zachary Catazaro, a Canton Ballet alumnus who now dances with the Cleveland Ballet, will perform as the Sugar Plum Cavalier and American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Hee Seo will dance the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Cost is $21-$39. See or call 330-455-7220.

New and different spins on the beloved holiday ballet include the "The Akron Nutcracker," in its second year at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 22 and 23 at E.J. Thomas Hall, 198 Hill St., Akron. The Akron-centric version of the beloved ballet celebrates Akron's history and cultural diversity, featuring everything from a 1930s Stan Hywet setting to Soap Box Derby cars.

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The show is a collaboration among the University of Akron Dance Institute, Verb Ballets, ArtSparks and the Akron Symphony Orchestra, which will again perform Tchaikovsky's music live. Cost is $23-$43. Call 330-972-7570 or see

For another cool twist on the holiday ballet, "Hip Hop Nutcracker" will play at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at the State Theatre at Playhouse Square. The contemporary dance spectacle brings the beloved story and Tchaikovsky's score to modern-day New York City, complete with digital graffiti, an all-star cast of 12 dancers, a DJ and a violinist. Cost is $25-$65. See or call 216-241-6000.

'A Christmas Carol'

Enjoy the 34th year of Great Lakes Theater's gorgeous production of "A Christmas Carol" Nov. 25-Dec. 23 at the Mimi Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square. The classic tale of Scrooge and the three spirits who visit him stars Lynn Robert Berg as the miser Scrooge.

Cost is $35-$80, or $30 for those 25 and under. See

David Anthony Smith plays the Ghost of Jacob Marley, left, and Lynn Robert Berg plays Ebenezer Scrooge in Great Lakes Theater's "A Christmas Carol" at the Mimi Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square.

For a spin on the Dickens classic, Boom! Theatre will perform "Scrooge the Musical" Dec. 2-17 on the Knight Stage at the Akron Civic Theatre. Shows by the newer company, which features performers ages 50 and up, run 7:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. Cost is $25. See

Movie classic

Rubber City Theatre will offer the stage version of a movie classic, Irving Berlin's "White Christmas," at 7 p.m. Dec. 22 and 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 23 at Goodyear Theater, 1201 E. Market St., Akron.

In the show, veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, who have a successful song-and-dance act after World War II, follow a duo of beautiful singing sisters en route to their Christmas show at a Vermont lodge, which just happens to be owned by the men's former army commander. Berlin's score features standards including “Blue Skies” and the perennial title song.

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Cost is $20-$50. See or

More holiday shows

Here's a sampling of additional holiday shows throughout Northeast Ohio.

● Friday through Sunday: "Christmas with C.S. Lewis" at the Hanna Theatre, 2067 E. 14th St., Playhouse Square, Cleveland. British Actor David Payne stars in the one-man show that tells the story of how Christmas came to mean so much to the famous British author, a former atheist. Shows are 8 p.m. Friday, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Cost is $64. See or call 216-241-6000.

● Nov. 25-Dec. 18: "Elf the Musical" at Weathervane Playhouse has sold out for its entire run. Call 330-836-2626 to be added to a waiting list or arrive at the theater one hour before each performance to have your name put on standby in case of cancellations.

● Nov. 26: "Tomaseen Foley's A Celtic Christmas," 7:30 p.m. at Playhouse Square's Hanna Theatre, 2067 E. 14 St., Cleveland. In its 27th season of touring nationally, the show re-creates the joy and innocence of a night before Christmas in a remote farmhouse in the west of Ireland in the 1950s. Cost is $20-$89. See or call 216-241-6000.

● Nov. 27: The Cleveland Pops Holiday Spectacular! will be at 2 p.m. at Playhouse Square's Connor Palace. Cost is $19-$45. Donations of new toys and games will be accepted by The City Mission. See or call 216-241-6000.

● Dec. 2: Summit Choral Society Children's Choir will present A Concert for the Holidays at 7 p.m. at Goodyear Theater, 1201 E. Market St., Akron. Cost is $15. See

● Dec. 2-30: Beck Center for the Arts is also producing the sweet holiday treat "Elf the Musical," based on the beloved film, for its second holiday season. It will be performed at 17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood. Cost is $10-$38. See or call 216-521-2540.

Tim Allen stars for the second year as Buddy in "Elf" at Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood.

● Dec. 2-4: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer the Musical" runs for five shows at Playhouse Square's Connor Palace. Cost is $25-$75. See or call 216-241-6000.

● Dec. 2-18: Magical Theatre Company will ring in the holidays with "Junie B. Jones: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells!" at 565 Tuscarawas Ave., Barberton. The show is adapted from the books by Barbara Park and most enjoyed by those ages 5 and up. Cost is $18-$20. See or call 330-848-3708.

● Dec. 8: Apollo's Fire and Apollo's Singers will perform the holiday classic Handel's "Messiah" at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 1361 W. Market St., Akron. Conductor Jeannette Sorrell and the baroque orchestra have developed a dramatic interpretation of "Messiah" that harkens back to Handel’s original concept of the masterpiece as a theatrical entertainment. Tickets start at $28. See or call 216-320-0012.

● Dec. 8-18: The Cleveland Orchestra will offer its traditional holiday concerts at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays and 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays at Severance Music Center, 11001 Euclid Ave., Cleveland. The orchestra, conducted by Brett Mitchell, will perform with the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and members of the Blossom Music Festival Chorus. Cost is $49-$128. See or call 216-231-1111.

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● Dec. 9: The Akron Symphony Orchestra will present Home for the Holidays at 7:30 p.m. at E.J. Thomas Hall, featuring an evening of traditional carols and festivities that also includes the Akron Symphony Chorus and a special guest from the North Pole. Tickets cost $20-$60 or $15 for children under 18. See or call 330-535-8131.

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● Dec. 11: The ETC School of Musical Arts choirs will perform at 4 p.m. with the Ellet High School Madrigals and the "Tuned Up" barbershop quartet at Goodyear Theater, 1201 E. Market St., Akron. Cost is $14 or $8 for children ages 5-12, free for children under 5. See

● Dec. 13: Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass, led by trumpeter Marsalis, will bring its holiday-style New Orleans swing, classical and big band sounds to E.J. Thomas Hall at 7:30 p.m., featuring a festive holiday mix from Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" to a narrated musical version of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" and an Earth Wind and Fire medley. The Tuesday Musical concert comes to Akron after a COVID-related cancellation last year. Tickets cost $19-$49 or free for students. See or call 330-761-3460.

Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass will perform a holiday concert for Tuesday Musical at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron Dec. 13.

● Dec. 14: "Million Dollar Quartet Christmas," from the creators of the Broadway hit musical, will be at 7:30 p.m. at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron, bringing the characters Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash back together for a jam-packed evening of holiday hits. Cost is $35-$58. See

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● Dec. 15-18: Cleveland Opera Theater will perform the classic holiday opera "Amahl and the Night Visitors," based on Italian folk tales of the Nativity and Epiphany for five shows at the Helen Theatre, 1407 Euclid Ave., Playhouse Square. Cost is $10. See or call 216-241-6000.

● Dec. 16-18: Summit Choral Society will perform its 33rd Christmas Candlelight Concerts at St. Bernard Catholic Church, 44 University Ave., Akron. The Metropolitan Chorus, Performance Choir, Advanced Choir, orchestra and organ will perform at 7 p.m. Dec. 16 and 17. Metropolitan, Performance and Bel Canto choirs will perform with orchestra and organ at 4 p.m. Dec. 18. Music will include Handel's "Messiah" and traditional holiday classics. Cost is $20-$25. See

● Dec. 17: The free Tuba Christmas concert will be performed at 12 and 2:30 p.m. at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron, with TubaMaestro Tucker Jolly conducting the 42nd annual holiday singalong. See for tickets. Performers, who pay $10, call 330-972-8301 to register.

TubaChristmas will be performed Dec. 17 at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron.

● Dec. 17: Lightwire Theater, known for its electroluminescent artistry, will perform "A Very Electric Christmas" at 3 and 7 p.m. at the Akron Civic Theatre, following the story of young bird Max, who's blown off course during his journey south for the winter and ends up at the North Pole. Set to the holiday hits of Nat King Cole, Mariah Carey, Tchaikovsky and more. Cost is $20-$55. See or call 330-253-2488.

Arts and restaurant writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: See versions of 'Nutcracker,' 'Christmas Carol,' everything in between