Let's just get it out of the way: If you're in the U.S. and you're not at home, there's no place like New York City for the holidays. (If New York City is your home, you're really in luck this time of year!) For theater fans, the city is especially exciting over the holidays, as Broadway stars perform limited engagements in top venues all over town. With one week to go until Christmas and less than two weeks left in 2013, here are some last-minute things to do for theater fans in the Big Apple.
The New York Pops has several holiday events this coming weekend. Starting on Thursday, Tony nominee Ashley Brown (star of Mary Poppins) will perform seasonal classics under the baton of Steven Reineke at Carnegie Hall. Bonus: On Friday night, the musicians will be at the nearby Red Eye Bar and Grill (great seafood) for an after-party--contact [email protected] for tickets. Proceeds support The New York Pops and its PopsEd programs throughout New York City.
On Saturday, Tony-nominee John Tartaglia will join the Pops for a single performance of A Charlie Brown Christmas, which will include dance from New York Theater Ballet. (Families can go upstairs to Carnegie Hall's Rohatyn Room for an arts-and-crafts party after the concert.
The New York Philharmonic also has plenty of music planned for the last two weeks of the year (the annual Messiah concert is a tradition), but fans of musical theater will especially want to see Brian Stokes Mitchell's concert, A Broadway Christmas. The program includes plenty of standards ("We Need a Little Christmas," "White Christmas"), traditional carols ("Friendly Beasts," "The Little Drummer Boy") and some new material from the singer himself. There are only two performances on Friday night and Saturday morning, so grab tickets fast!
For a more intimate end to the year, escape the crowds in Times Square and head to 54 Below, the cabaret room that regularly gets Broadway's best and brightest. New Year's Eve, though, will be extra-special: One of the true legends of musical theater, Chita Rivera, will take to the boards for two shows only, one at 7 p.m. and one at 11 p.m. Both shows include a four-course dinner (think blinis, roast rack of lamb, baked lobster, baba rhum and a bourbon apple tart). The singer will be backed by music director Michael Croiter, Michael Patrick Walker and Jim Donica. No word yet on what the song list will be, but we imagine it will include some of the songs Rivera originated in her career--perhaps "America" from West Side Story and (inevitably) "All That Jazz" from Chicago.
Many Broadway shows will have adjusted schedules for the last weeks of the year. While many shows are dark Christmas Eve (even actors and stagehands have to get their last minute shopping in), several do have performances on Christmas evening. Because of the chaos in Times Square, almost no shows have evening performances on December 31, but Macbeth up at Lincoln Center will have a 7 p.m. curtain that night. (There are benefits to being off the beaten path.) Playbill.com has all the schedule changes for both Christmas week and New Year's week, so be sure to check before getting tickets (or before getting to the theater! Many shows start earlier than usual.)
Of course, there are lots of other ways to kick of 2014, including great parties all over town. Pick your favorite, stay safe and have a healthy and happy holiday season and New Year!