Houston Ballet First Soloist Allison Miller.Photo by Lawrence Elizabeth Knox, Courtesy of Houston Ballet.
Hope you’re in a festive mood, because the holidays are in full swing across the virtual stages of Houston. Read on for holiday traditions moved online and reimagined, and new works, both seasonal and not.
In 1944, a smitten 18-year-old penned a "yuletide love song" that languished in limbo until the author, Frank Pooler, found himself choir teacher to Richard and Karen Carpenter more than 20 years later. Cut to 1970, when The Carpenters’ reworked version shoots to the top of Billboard‘s Christmas charts and quickly cements its place as an underrated holiday classic. This Thursday, December 10, A.D. Players in partnership with Artists Lounge Live will open their Christmas concert, Merry Christmas Darling: Heidi Kettenring Sings Karen Carpenter. Though the company has turned The George Theater parking lot into an open-air venue, you can still enjoy the titular tune and Carpenters hits like "Close To You" virtually from the comforts of your own home on Friday, December 11 and 18, at 8 p.m. and Saturday, December 12 and 19, at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available here for $35.
Very Merry POPS, which the Houston Chronicle dubbed “the antidote to ho-hum holiday music,” returns to Jones Hall this weekend along with Michael Krajewski, former Principal POPS conductor. Krajewski will lead the Symphony in a program full of fun arrangements and holiday favorites, including “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Houston’s own (and HSPVA alum) Chelsea Cymone will lend her voice to the festivities, and we’re hoping that the big guy himself, Santa Claus, will also make his usual appearance. Very Merry POPS will enjoy a two-weekend run at Jones Hall (December 11 to 13 and December 18 to 20), with two livestreamed performances on Saturday, December 12, and Saturday, December 19, at 8 p.m. Tickets to the livestream can be purchased for $20 here.
Imaginary dragons, Wild West shows, and graduation parties – the works of the seven high school playwrights chosen by a panel of judges that included playwrights Lauren Gunderson and David Henry Hwang for #ENOUGH: Plays to End Gun Violence, a national short play competition, are varied but united with a common thread: gun violence. Chosen from 184 submissions, the plays will be read and available to watch on Monday, December 14, at 7 p.m. with our own Mildred’s Umbrella Theater Company participating in the nationwide readings. And if the date seems familiar, it is: December 14 marks the eighth remembrance of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. You can view the readings on the Mildred’s Umbrella Facebook page here. Free, through any donations received will go to Texas Gun Sense.
Artists of Houston Ballet in Stanton Welch’s The Nutcracker.
Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy of Houston Ballet
Sighs of relief all around that we won’t go through a holiday season without Houston Ballet, as the Company will open a digital run of Nutcracker Sweets on Tuesday, December 15. The program includes new works filmed one dancer at a time and set to music like Barbara Streisand’s “Jingle Bells” and Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby,” a number from the Houston Ballet Academy, and an abbreviated version of The Nutcracker. The Nutcracker footage is from the 2018 run of Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch’s take on the holiday staple, also the Company’s return to the Wortham Theater Center post-Harvey, and will include Clara’s trip to the Kingdom of Sweets and some of the fan-favorite divertissements. Tickets for the on-demand digital program can be purchased here for $35, and they will be available through the last day of the run, January 8.
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