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Christmas Fare at The Theater

Retailers started the push toward Christmas on Halloween, but in the theater, the festivities still begin on Thanksgiving weekend. Shea’s Performing Arts Center seems determined to be Holiday Central this year, with a brand new production of The Nutcracker featuring the Neglia Ballet Artists and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on November 28 and 29. An online peak at the model for the scenery reveals a sumptuously magical vision for Tchaikovsky’s fairytale ballet.

Next up at Shea’s will be Cirque Dreams Holidaze, December 15-20, which promises that “Ornaments come to life with pageantry, music and majesty transforming ordinary holiday figurines into extraordinary aerialists, acrobats, musicians and dancers performing fantastical feats of pomp and cirque-umstance.” This event is, of course, appropriate for the entire family.

That would seem to be plenty of Christmas fare, but Shea’s has a compulsion to go over the top. The Christmas Music of Mannheim Steamroller will be performed on December 2; and the Jim Brickman Beautiful World Christmas Tour, an evening of music and comedy, will play at the venue on December 30.

Alleyway gives us the traditional full dose of their fully staged A Christmas Carol, adapted and directed by Neal Radice, starring John Smeathers, Syndi Starr, Katy Clancy, Roger Van Dette, Christopher S. Parada, David C. Mitchell, and Pamela Rose Mangus, December 10-20. (Call 852-2600 for tickets.)

MusicalFare is presenting Charles Dickens Presents: A Christmas Carol, in which Mike Randall takes on the Dickens persona to retell the beloved holiday ghost story. (Call 839-8540 for tickets.)

The New Alt Performance Group gets into the spirit with a holiday parody called A Christmas Twist!, written and directed by Peter Michael Marino, starring a delightful crew of crazies, including Tim Newell, David Lundy, Afrim Gjonbalaj, David Butler, Contance McEwen, Shaun McLaughlin, and Bethany Sparacio. This concoction runs December 11- 30. (Call 868-6847 for tickets.)

The Paul Robeson Theatre at 350 Masten Avenue is offering Home for the Holidays, original musical by Edward G. Smith, directed by June L. Saunders Duell, starring Roger Lamont Killian, Annette Christian, Nicolas Cofield, Evanette Viera, Charles Everhart, Claude Hill, and Cynthia Maxwell, through December 15. (Call 884-2013 for tickets.)

With another variation on the “home” theme, O’Connell & Company, now performing at the Erie Community College North Campus in Williamsville, invites us to “Swing into the Holidays” with Home for Christmas, featuring John Stevens and the Colored Musicians Club’s George Scott Big Band, with Muhammad School of Music Chamber Players, under the direction of Maestro Henri L. Muhammad & Mary Kate O’Connell, November 27-29.

O’Connell & Company seems to be swept up in the holiday spirit. They are also offering The Magic of Christmas, “a holiday spectacular” starring Stephanie Bax, Daniel Doctor, Gregory Gjurich, Mary Gjurich, Guy Tomassi, and the Matthew Clark Academy Dancers, December 3-20. (Call 848-0800 for tickets to either show.)

Road Less Traveled has A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Music of Vince Guaraldi, a concert presentation directed by Scott Behrend, through December 13. Call 629-3069 for tickets.)

For a bit of an antidote to the overt Christmas fare, Theatre of Youth is providing the winter themed fairytale by Hans Christian Anderson, The Snow Queen, directed by Meg Quinn, and starring Mary McMahon, Danica Riddick, Justin Fiordaliso, Kathleen Gaffney, Kurt Erb, and Laura Bevilacqua, December 11-20 at the Allendale Theatre. (Call 884-4400 for tickets.)

All Through the Night is a Christmas play written and directed by L. Don Swartz, starring Debby Koszelak Swartz, Joann V. Mis, Jesse Swartz, Trey Wydysh, Vanessa Stipkovits, Julie Senko, and Daniel Arrasjid being presented by Ghostlight Theatre in North Tonawanda, December 3-20 (743-1614). Lancaster Opera House has Dan Goggin’s Nuncrackers, presented by Rocking Horse Productions, November 27-December 6 (683-1776). Theatre in the Mist in Lewiston is presenting Uh-Oh, Here Comes Christmas, a musical by Ernest Zulia and David Caldwell, based on the books by Robert Fulghum, Dec 3-13, at Stella Niagara, corner of Pletcher and Lower River Roads in Lewiston (1-877-856-0694).

Check On The Boards for this week's complete theater listings.