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Holiday Shows Shine at Local Venues

Show Buzz by NANCY HERMANN

THE NUTCRACKER: Performing through Dec. 23, 130 children from 13 local communities join 39 professional dancers for Tulsa Ballet’s holiday classic



December is all about down-time, right? Well, maybe not. If you are in the clutches of hectic holiday planning, perhaps soon you can set aside the “must-dos” and let the fun begin.

For me, having worked at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center for many years, the Christmas season centered on two shows: “The Nutcracker” and “A Christmas Carol.” They are hallowed holiday traditions for good reasons.

The current version of Tulsa Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” has been enjoyed by local audiences since 2003. Using the framework of the well-known story and incorporating Tulsa’s Art Deco heritage, Tulsa Ballet Artistic Director Marcello Angelini transformed the tale into a glossy, romantic ballet set in Paris and Versailles. The production involves 130 children, ages 6 to 14, from 13 local communities, in addition to 39 professional dancers. Along with the exceptional dancing of Tulsa Ballet, you can look forward to hearing Tulsa Symphony Orchestra perform the Tchaikovsky “Nutcracker” score.

American Theatre Company’s “A Christmas Carol,” staged in the PAC’s Williams Theatre, is well-suited for children as well as adults. The ghost story, large cast, music and intimate theater setting will keep a young person’s attention. Actor Karl Krause has appeared in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge for at least three decades. He is remarkable, but he’s only one reason you should consider attending a performance. The show is a beautiful, happy holiday package, wrapped and delivered on stage just for you. Both “A Christmas Carol” and “The Nutcracker” have performances at the Tulsa PAC through Dec. 23.

Before we welcome 2019, take in multi-Grammy winner Michael McDonald’s “Season of Peace” concert at the Hard Rock, Dec. 20. The former front man for the Doobie Brothers will entertain with Christmas tunes as the centerpiece for his show. The American alternative rock band Third Eye Blind appears Dec. 28 at the Hard Rock’s Joint, and traditional country music artist Jon Pardi lands in Catoosa on Dec. 29 for a Hard Rock gig. Come January at The Joint, The Four Tops revisit 50 years of Motown hits, Jan. 4, and Emmy Award-winning comic David Spade entertains on Jan. 19.

Singing Christmas-themed country music tunes on Dec. 29 at the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center is the group Home Free. You might have seen this ensemble on television’s “Sing Off” competition. Their superb a cappella harmonies and showmanship will make a great evening.

River Spirit Casino’s lineup includes the English rock band Bad Company, Dec. 28, and comedian Ron White on New Year’s Eve, followed by Sinbad, Jan. 12. Boys II Men stops at River Spirit on Jan. 19.

Earlier in January at the Tulsa PAC, Tulsa Symphony Orchestra performs Prokofiev’s gorgeous “Romeo and Juliet.” Music by Mozart also will be included on the Jan. 5 Symphony program. I’m putting that concert on my “must-do” list.

If you didn’t see “Book of Mormon” when it was in town last, now is your chance, Jan. 8-13. Tickets for someone could make a thoughtful gift. The show is presented by Celebrity Attractions and welcomed by the Tulsa PAC Trust. The musical won nine Tony Awards, including “Best Musical.” “Book of Mormon” takes pot-shots at almost everything ? not just the Mormon church. From page to stage via the ingenious, irreverent minds of its “South Park” creators, the material is not suited for children. Among many elements, including language, the hilarious musical number “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” would be too much for a young mind to process! Outrageous and funny, “Book of Mormon” has a message and a heart.

My husband and I travel to hear great jazz, and we were thrilled when we learned that a jazz “listening room” was opening in downtown Tulsa. Duet features our excellent local jazz artists and hosts well-known musicians. Check out Duet and its many offerings. Blues, Latin music, comedy and more also can be enjoyed in this cool basement setting. Isn’t it fabulous when thoughtful entrepreneurs transform an old building into something useful and new?

That was done years ago with the old Union Depot train station. When you are scouting out jazz, be sure to include the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. There’s a free jam session on Tuesday nights; Eicher Wednesdays with the fabulous Eicher family of musicians, and Sunday concerts with a variety of local and nationally known jazz artists.

As we end the year and look back at the superb entertainment that came our way in 2018, we should feel fortunate. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the BOK Center brought some outstanding shows. Remember U2 and Justin Timberlake in the same week? The programming across Tulsa’s many venues has been phenomenal. Hats off to all the programming people, marketing staffs, sponsors and stage production crews who make possible this high-quality entertainment. I can’t wait to see what the new year brings. Cheers!

Updated 12-17-2018

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