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The best Christmas shows in NYC this holiday season

Here’s a handy guide to holiday stage fun: lots of Nutcrackers and details on the Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Radio City Christmas Spectacular
Photograph: Courtesy MSG Entertainment

Christmas shows are on everyone’s mind as New Yorkers prepare for the holidays. How can you have Christmas in New York without a new edition of The Radio City Christmas Spectacular and a whole bunch of Nutcrackers and A Christmas Carols? We scoured our listings to find appropriate Christmas-themed theater and dance shows. Get in the yuletide spirit and find the holiday show that’s right for you.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Christmas in NYC

Christmas shows to see in NYC

New York City Ballet: George Balanchine's The Nutcracker
Photograph: Courtesy Paul Kolnik
Dance, Ballet

New York City Ballet: George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

David H. Koch Theater (at Lincoln Center), Upper West Side

This magical 1954 production, set to Tchaikovsky's incredible score, includes the full New York City Ballet company and two casts of School of American Ballet students, as well as an onstage blizzard and a Christmas tree that grows from 12 to 40 feet. In the end, however, Balanchine's choreography is what holds it all together. It's enchanting.

Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes
Photograph: Paul Kolnik for MSG Entertainment
Theater, Musicals

Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes

Radio City Music Hall, Midtown West

You’ll get a kick out of this holiday stalwart, which still features Santa, wooden soldiers and the leggy, dazzlingly precise Rockettes. In recent years, new music, more eye-catching costumes and advanced technology have been introduced to bring audience members closer to the performance.

Ghost of Marley in A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic
Photograph: Courtesy Manuel Harlan
Theater, Drama

A Christmas Carol

Lyceum Theatre, Midtown West

Campbell Scott plays Scrooge in the latest stage version of Charles Dickens's classic yuletide story about a miser forcibly unclenched by visions of his own grinchiness. Matthew Warchus directs this 2017 adaptation by Jack Thorne. Andrea Martin and LaChanze play two of Scrooge's ghostly guests.

Nutcracker Rouge
Photograph: Courtesy Mark Shelby Perry

Company XIV: Nutcracker Rouge

Théâtre XIV, Bushwick

Austin McCormick and his risqué neo-Baroque dance-theater group Company XIV present a lavish erotic reimagining of the classic holiday tale, complete with circus performers, operatic singers and partial nudity. The word nutcracker has customarily conjured innocent wonder; now be ready to add glitter pasties, stripper poles and comically large stuffed penises to the toys in wonderland. Definitely leave the kids at home.

Photograph: Courtesy Maria Baranova
Theater, Drama

The Gospel of John

Sheen Center, Noho

Here's a rarity for you: a Christmas-season show that's actually about Christ. Ken Jennings, who originated the role of Toby in Sweeney Todd, performs the most idiosyncratic of the four gospels in a 90-minute solo show inspired by his own religious faith. John Pietrowski directs at the Sheen Center, a project of the Archdiocese of New York.

Eric Peters
Photograph: Courtesy of the artist
Theater, Musicals

Love Actually? The Unauthorized Musical Parody

The Theater Center, Midtown West

Increasingly, the world seems polarized into two factions who can barely understand each other, much less find common ground: those who cherish the 2003 romantic comedy Love Actually, and those who recognize it as the extremely terrible garbage that it is. This musical spoof aims to appeal to both camps. 

Christmas Carol Cocktails
Photograph: Courtesy Russ Rowland
Theater, Musicals

The Imbible: Christmas Carol Cocktails

The Producers Club, Hell's Kitchen

The team behind the Imbible spead their cheer to the holidays with another alcohol-informational musical comedy, aimed at expanding your noggin and your noggin'. The show looks at the history and future of Christmas quaffs through a story that imagines Ebenezer Scrooge planning a party the day after his big epiphany. Admission includes three craft cocktails.

A Christmas Carol at the Merchant's House
Photograph: Joey Stocks
Theater, Drama

A Christmas Carol at the Merchant's House: Charles Dickens in New York, 1867

Merchant's House Museum, Noho

John Kevin Jones plays Dickens in this one-hour account of the novelist's classic holiday ghost story, adapted with director Rhonda Dodd. The Merchant's House Museum, formerly the home of a wealthy 19th-century family, provides an atmospheric candlelit setting for Jones's seventh annual engagement.

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)
Photograph: Courtesy MOD Theatre Company
Theater, Comedy

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)

Theatre Row, Hell's Kitchen

This 2003 comedy throws Scrooge, Rudolph, Frosty, the Grinch, George Bailey and countless other Christmas characters in a blender and presses PUREE. The script is by Michael Carleton, Jim FitzGerald and John K. Alvarez, with songs by Will Knapp; Andrea Daveline directs a cast of three quick-changing actors.

Jeffrey Solomon in The Santa Closet
Photograph: Courtesy Bree Michael Warner
Theater, Comedy

The Santa Closet

64E4, East Village

Jeffrey Solomon performs a 10th-anniversary revision of his 2009 solo Santa Claus Is Coming Out, a multicharacter, faux-documentary dissection of the media frenzy that ensues when St. Nick reveals his true sexuality. Joe Brancato directs the show, which has been updated to reflect changes in LGBTQ issues.

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