What kind of holiday show do you want? This year, Twin Cities area theatergoers have more choices as performing arts companies get back into the holiday groove, COVID-19 shutdowns notwithstanding. Here are stage shows that will make your season feel merry and bright. But one, a deadpan thriller, offers a bit of counterprogramming.
Please note that all of these shows are at venues with COVID-19 protocols.
'All Is Calm'
Many shows speak of ancient happenings but Theater Latte Da's docudrama centers on a special event that's comparatively recent — the 1914 Christmas truce during World War I when enemy soldiers paused their fighting to observe the holiday together. Director Peter Rothstein created this a cappella work in 2007 and it's become a mainstay of the holidays, with PBS filming and airing the production. The 10 actors blend carols from across Europe as well as patriotic tunes and trench songs. (7:30 p.m. Fri., 2 & 7:30 p.m. Sat., 2 p.m. Sun., 7:30 p.m. Wed.-Thu. Ends Jan 2. Ritz Theater, 345 13th Av. NE., Mpls. $35-$53. 612-339-3003 or latteda.org.)
For some, getting back into the spirit of the holidays is done best with a show that squares to the season. One such show is "Black Nativity," Penumbra Theatre's spirit-filled celebration that's coming back from a gap year. In that interim, choir director and soloist Yolande Bruce died. Pop-soul song stylist g'Beau has stepped in to lead the Kingdom Life Choir and maestro Sanford Moore returns with soloists Dennis Spears and Greta Oglesby. Jennifer Whitlock narrates and Leslie Parker choreographs a show whose observance of the birth of Christ doubles as a distillation of Black liturgy and song. (Dec. 2-24, Penumbra Theatre, 270 N. Kent St., St. Paul. $15-$40. 651-224-3180 or penumbratheatre.org.)
St. Paul-based Collide Theatrical goes for the star on top of the tree with its Holiday Cabaret, an ode to joy and merriment featuring live music and dance. Music director Andy Fraser teams with country stylist Rachel Holder on holiday favorites and standards while five dancers spread happiness through the choreography of Heather Brockman and Collide founder Regina Peluso. (Dec. 3-12, Collide Cabaret, 755 N. Prior Av., #235H, St. Paul. $20-$45. 651-395-7903).
'Amahl and the Night Visitors'
At Skylark Opera Theatre, director Gary Briggle stages Gian Carlo Menotti's 1951 made-for-TV opera about an impoverished, disabled boy and his mother who are visited by the Magi as they bring gifts for the child born in Bethlehem. Twins Henry and Oskar Helle-Morrissey alternate in the title role, while Vicki Fingalson plays the mother in this one-act that's suitable for families with children over age 6. (Dec. 4-19, Andy Boss Stage at Park Square Theatre, 20 W. 7th Place, St. Paul. $20-$35. 651-252-1867 or skylark.booktix.com.)
'Tales From the Charred Underbelly of the Yule Log'
For one night only at the Guthrie Theater, veteran raconteur Kevin Kling is presenting his "Tales From the Charred Underbelly of the Yule Log." Witty and wry, Kling is known for his insightful yarns drawn from his life and adventures. He fills out the evening of "Tales" with contributions from the Brass Messengers, featuring vocalist Simone Perrin and bandleader Dan Chouinard (7:30 Dec. 7, Guthrie Theater, 818 S. 2nd St., Mpls. $28. 612-377-2224 or guthrietheater.org.)
Of course, a theatergoer who wants to avoid the season altogether can do so with "Jacuzzi," Dark & Stormy theater company's comic bit of counterprogramming. Written by Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen, "Jacuzzi" is set in a Colorado ski chalet and features an actual hot tub onstage. Actors Clint Allen, Darius Dotch, Paul LaNave and theater founder Sara Marsh make up the cast. (Opens 7:30 p.m. Fri. through Dec. 19, 450 Main St. N., Stillwater. $25-$39, 612-397-7926 or darkstormy.org.)