Holiday Theatre

The spirit of the season comes to life on stage!NutcrackerSnowKey

No city does the holidays quite like New York. As with everything else, the Big Apple makes no small show of keeping the season merry and bright as the concrete jungle becomes a veritable winter wonderland. The performing arts is no exception. New holiday favorite Elf:The Musical joins classic holiday stalwarts Handel’s Messiah, The Nutcracker, and The Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring The Rockettes in bringing holiday cheer to audiences throughout the month.

A recent edition to the holiday canon is the feel good comedy Elf: The Musical playing this December at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. The smile inducing musical premiered on Broadway, was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Musical and is inspired by the hit film starring Will Ferrell. Elf is the heartwarming story of Buddy, a young orphan who mistakenly finds his way into Santa’s bag of toys and is taken back to the North Pole where he is raised as an Elf in Santa’s workshop. Unaware of his true identity, Buddy struggles to fit in at the famed workshop where his sheer size and lackluster toy making skills set him apart from the other elves. With Santa’s loving encouragement, Buddy sets out on an adventure of self discovery to to New York City where he hopes to find his real family. Along the way he finds plenty of laughs and with his joyous spirit helps jaded New Yorkers rediscover the true meaning of Christmas. A toe-tapping musical score helps make Elf: The Musical a sure bet for keeping the season merry and bright. Performances 12/9-12/27. (Theater at MSG, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza)

On the other end of the spectrum, classical music aficionados need look no further than the New York Philharmonic’s annual offering of Handel’s Messiah presented at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts to rejoice in seasonal merriment. First debuted in 1742, the baroque masterpiece written by the German-British composer George Frideric Handel is a symphonic and choral oratorio of the story of Jesus of Nazareth told in three parts. The piece includes the famed “Hallelujah” chorus and is a triumphant testament to not only the spirit of the season but also to one of classical music’s greatest composers. The philharmonic is joined by a full chorus which brings to life one of the most famous pieces of music in Western civilization. Performances from 12/16-12/20. (David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza)

For classical dance lovers there is no greater holiday experience than New York City Ballet’s iconic annual production of Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet The Nutcracker. The entire world renowned company of ninety dancers pairs with students from its famed American School of Ballet and is joined by a live orchestra of sixty-two musicians to bring George Balanchine’s timeless choreography to life. The ballet follows adolescent Marie from her family’s spirited Christmas Party, where the mysterious yet loving Herr Drosselmeier gifts her with a nutcracker doll, to the fantastical Kingdom of the Sugarplum Fairy. Along the way, the Nutcracker Prince comes to life and with the help of toy soldiers saves Marie from the wicked rat king before whisking her off to the magical kingdom. With dancing snowflakes, dashing princes, and waltzing flowers, The Nutcracker is a delightful dream of holiday wonder. With Tchaikovsky’s soaring melodies and the skill and artistry of one of the world’s greatest ballet companies this is a quintessential production of the seminal dance classic. (David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza)

For those looking for a glitzier holiday tradition, nothing captures the spirit of the season with pizazz quite like the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring The Rockettes. As iconic as the tree in Rockefeller Plaza or ice skating in Bryant Park, this beloved holiday tradition is a dazzling spectacle the entire family can enjoy. The world famous troupe of dancers is known as much for their high kicks and sensational tap routines as they are for spreading joy and bringing smiles to the faces of audience members of all ages. The ninety-minute show includes annual favorites “The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers,” which has been performed since 1933, and thrilling new numbers combining awe-inspiring theatricality and innovative special effects with the spectacular talent of the dancers onstage. No holiday visit to Manhattan is complete without a stop at Radio City Music Hall. (Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Avenue of the Americas)