date published: January 17, 2005

Visions of Sugar Plums...
Boston Ballet’s rendition of The Nutcracker has long been one of the area’s biggest holiday events—in fact, it annually attracts more people than any other staging of The Nutcracker in the country. This year, however, the 41st edition of the beloved classic moves from the Ballet’s traditional home at the enormous Wang Theatre to the more intimate confines of the historic Colonial Theatre, where it takes up residence through December 31. To mark the occasion, the company has re-tooled the production, creating all-new sets, costumes and choreography to best utilize the new venue. Based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s fairytale and set to the memorable compositions of Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker is still sure to capture the magic of the holiday season like no other event. For those on a budget, another local tradition takes up residence at the Sanctuary Theatre in Cambridge’s Harvard Square when Jose Mateo’s Ballet Theatre’s version of The Nutcracker hits the stage for its 17th year through December 19.
Pops Stars
oston’s holiday season hits full swing when the beloved Boston Pops take the stage at Symphony Hall for its annual Holiday Pops concerts beginning December 13. Maestro Keith Lockhart and principal guest conductor Bruce Hangen are joined by an array of special musical visitors—including country music star Collin Raye and teenage singing sensation Hayley Westenra (who appear on December 16 in a show to be taped for television)—and even Santa himself as the Pops highlight selections from its new holiday CD through December 31.
Poetry in Motion
powerful marriage of the Gospel of St. Luke and the poetry of Langston Hughes, Black Nativity unites scripture, verse, music and dance to create a holiday event brought to life by 160 singers, actors, dancers and musicians. Boston boasts the oldest production in the nation, featuring such memorable songs as
“Go Tell It On the Mountain” and “O’ Jer-usalem,” and is produced by the National Center for Afro-American Artists. Through December 19 at the Tremont Temple Baptist Church.  

All Aboard!
Nearly everything in the Bay State tends to be aglow with twinkling lights this time of year, but for a truly spectacular holiday display that can be enjoyed while on board a heated passenger train, head to South Carver and Edaville USA—a railroad-themed amusement park built around a cranberry bog.

Edaville offers visitors a chance to step back to a time when rail travel was the only way to get where you wanted to go. The park also boasts several childrens’ rides and a museum dedicated to the history of cranberry farming, the state’s biggest agricultural industry. But it’s around the holidays that things get truly magical. Board one of several antique trains and take a five-and-a-half mile journey through the park, which glitters with thousands of lights. When your trip concludes, grab a hot chocolate at the Freight House Cafe and then pay a visit to Santa Claus, who is on hand at Cran Central Junction.

Now Playing
The Brattle Theatre in Cambridge screens the Jimmy Stewart holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life, December 17–21. For a more modern look at the season, check out Steve Odederk’s Santa vs. The Snowman or The Polar Express featuring Tom Hanks, two animated 3-D films playing at the Simons IMAX Theatre at the New England Aquarium.

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They’ve Got Legs
They may have given a high-heeled kick to Boston Ballet’s beloved version of The Nutcracker (which has been booted over to the Colonial Theatre), but New York’s world- famous Rockettes are still faring better in the Hub than their Yankee counterparts could ever hope to. Boston audiences are lining up to catch a glimpse of said Rockettes, Santa Claus and a cast of 50 for the first-ever local appearance of the venerable Radio City Christmas Spectacular, at the Wang Theatre through December 31. The show, which has been packing ’em into Radio City Music Hall since 1933, features everything from the moving “Living Nativity” scene to a mini version of “The Nutcracker” with 31 dancing bears and a 35-foot-tall Christmas tree. But the real stars of the show are the high-kicking Rockettes—whether emerging from Fifth Avenue store windows, hitching themselves and their 72 legs to Santa’s sleigh, or wowing the audience as toy soldiers in the classic “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers.”
Misery Loves Company
f the holidays have you gagging at the thought of endless lines at the mall, visits with annoying relatives and candy-induced toothaches, Boston’s got just the cure for the holiday blues: Ryan Landry, the Hub’s reigning king of the pop culture parody. This year, the playwright and drag performer, along with his Gold Dust Orphans troupe, is reviving his popular holiday spoof, Who’s Afraid of the Virgin Mary?, on weekends in December at Theatre Machine. Cross-stitching the story of the Nativity with Edward Albee’s searing classic Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Landry’s lampoon details the feuding couple, Mary and Joseph—lost in time, still living in Bethlehem and in a perpetual state of drunken oblivion. Enter the young Kringles, Santa and “the Mrs.,” for an alcohol-fueled fight to the death that would make even Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor proud.