Last-Minute NYC Theatre Opportunities for the Holidays


If you’re looking for a last-minute way to ring in the holidays in style, New York City obviously has a lot to offer, from long-running classics to brazenly different new comedies, along with a few family-friendly works tossed into the mix.

And there’s also the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Annual Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche, an annual tradition that features crèche figures dating back to 1925.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular
Classic meets high-tech in this snow-drenched show, featuring the Rockettes – founded in 1925 and still offering the perfection of precision dance – Santa and his workshop, an entrancing LED video screen and classic holiday music make this show one to remember.

The nation’s top holiday show, which draws more than 2 million people to Radio City Musical Hall each year to see the Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes, which has been playing annually since 1932. The long-running segment of the show, “The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers,” opened a year later, in 1933, and has been playing ever since.

The annual production runs through Dec. 31 at Radio City Musical Hall.

Fun fact: The Rockettes wear microphones in their shoes so the tap dance numbers are particularly dramatic.

New York City Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”
This classic ballet set to the captivating, iconic music of Tchaikovsky and featuring the choreography of George Balanchine, considered the father of modern ballet and founder of both the New York City Ballet and along with Jerome Robbins, the School of American Ballet.

“The Balanchine ‘Nutcracker,’ which had its premiere at New York City Center on Feb. 2, 1954, is now older than any member of its onstage cast (except an occasional Drosselmeier) and most of the audience,” wrote the New York Times.

Historic and beautiful, the show is performed by some of the best dancers in the world, Almost 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 32 stagehands and two casts of 50 young students each from the School of American Ballet to bring to life this holiday classic, which is highlighted by a one-ton Christmas tree that grows from 12 to 40 feet to illustrate the magical theme of the classic show.

“The Nutcracker” runs through Jan. 3 at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theatre.

Fun fact: The Nutcracker Ballet, choreographed by Marius Petipa, debuted at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on Sunday, Dec. 18, 1892, on a double-bill with Tchaikovsky’s opera, “Iolanta.” It was not considered a success – one cruel critic called it a “quite amateurish,” but the ballet is now one of the most widely performed in the world.

Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas
This live-action version of the classic Dr. Seuss story about a Grinch whose heart was “two sizes too small” and the lessons he learns from the Whos who live in Whoville, in the valley below his home on Mount Crumpit, is a perfectly nostalgic way to celebrate the holiday season.

The show features the songs “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “Welcome Home, Christmas” – both written by Seuss himself – and is a heartwarming and charming as the classic book, which was published in 1957, or the cartoon TV version narrated by Boris Karloff, which debuted in 1966.
The show closes Dec. 28 at Madison Square Garden.

Fun fact: According to Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” was his easiest story to write, until he reached the end. “I got hung up getting the Grinch out of the mess,” he once said in an interview, “I got into a situation where I sounded like a second-rate preacher or some biblical truisim… Finally in desperation… without making any statement whatever, I showed the Grinch and the Whos together at the table, and made a pun of the Grinch carving the ‘roast beast.’ … I had gone through thousands of religious choices, and then after three months it came out like that.”

Christmas with the Crawfords
Starring Joey Arias and Chris March, this satirical show pays comical tribute to the 1949 Christmas Eve when Joan Crawford invited America into her home via radio as a way to reignite her faulting career and reputation.

If features plenty of Hollywood royalty as visitors to the Crawford home, and costumes designed by March, who has made several appearances on the reality show “Project Runway.”

Mommy Dearest at her finest, the show runs through Dec. 27 at the Abrons Art Center.

Fun fact: According to the original 1949 radio production, the Christmas tree in the Crawford home was almost hidden by all the gifts beneath the tree, many sent by Crawford’s fans to her children. Although Crawford said the children were allowed to keep all of the gifts out of respect for those who sent them, according to Christina, in her tell-all “Mommy Dearest,” they were only allowed to keep one of the gifts. The rest were donated to local hospitals and charitable organizations, although the children were required to write painstakingly perfect thank you notes for each all the same.

Author: Brenda Neugent