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2021 Holiday Arts Preview: Let It Show, Let It Show, Let It Show!

Live performances are back, and we have a lot to choose from this holiday season

Published on: November 30, 2021

Kyla Stone as Anya in the Anastasia national tour (Jeremy Daniel)
Kyla Stone as Anya in “Anastasia”; photo by Jeremy Daniel

Although many arts venues have been reopening over the past few months, many families have had to opt out because their kids weren’t vaccinated yet. Now that it’s possible to vaccinate everyone in the family who is old enough to sit through a performance without too much fidgeting, a lot of us are extremely excited to get back to the theaters and renew our holiday arts traditions. We’ve found a dozen family-friendly arts offerings that will get your family through the holidays and into the new year.

As always, COVID-19 safety protocols are rapidly evolving. Wearing masks and providing proof of vaccination are generally required; check the venue website for details before you go.

‘George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker’ (a splurge!)

After all the disruption of the past two years, it’s thrilling to renew the Christmas tradition of taking the family to see Pacific Northwest Ballet’s classic “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker,” featuring sets designed by children’s author and illustrator Ian Falconer. There is also a virtual option if you’re still not confident about taking your littles to a show in person.

Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle; Nov. 26–Dec. 28; $27+

Other “Nutcracker” options this year include performances staged by Emerald Ballet Theatre in Bothell; Spectrum Dance Theater with “The Harlem Nutcracker”; Tacoma City Ballet at Pantages Theater; and Bainbridge Ballet.

Playbill photo of Studio East's 2021 production of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”
Studio East's 2021 production of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” runs Dec. 4–19

‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever’

We’ve all had enough of things not going the way they’re supposed to lately. But hopefully we can find an iota of the humor in our lives that we get from the debacle presented in the classic holiday play “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” Only one hour long, it’s perfect for younger kids and anyone who is still getting used to sharing space with strangers.

Studio East Mainstage, Kirkland; Dec. 4–19; $20–$23

‘Welcome Home: A Holiday Concert’ (splurge!)

Village Theatre reopens both its Everett and Issaquah stages with “Welcome Home: A Holiday Concert.” Featuring a live band and a mix of showtunes and holiday classics, the concert will kick off the holiday season with a festive return to live performances. Only a few performances remain in the Everett run, which ends Dec. 5, but shows in Issaquah continue through Christmas.

Everett Performing Arts Center, Everett; Nov. 19–Dec. 5; $47–$62

Village Theatre, Issaquah; Dec. 8–26; $35–$50

‘Elf: The Broadway Musical’ (a steal!)

This season, the Auburn Community Players return to the stage with “Elf: The Broadway Musical,” based on the contemporary Christmas movie starring Will Ferrell. The naive optimism of wannabe elf Buddy will have your family spreading Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear.

Auburn Avenue Theater, Auburn; Dec. 10–19; $15–$18 presale/$20–$23 at the door

Dancers perform in DASSdance’s “Seattle City Nutcracker”
DASSdance’s “Seattle City Nutcracker” is not your momma’s “Nutcracker.”

‘Seattle City Nutcracker’ (splurge!)

With a flying LED-lit mechanical doll and a blacklight battle scene featuring robots, DASSdance’s “Seattle City Nutcracker” is not your momma’s “Nutcracker.” The choreography, which is only loosely based on the classic story, blends jazz, ballet, tap and modern dance as well as acrobatics and aerial feats.

Broadway Performance Hall, Seattle; Dec. 12, 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.; $27–$32

‘Rock the Giving Season’ (steal!)

Not everyone is ready to rock the live performing arts scene yet, but fortunately, virtual options still abound. The Gates Foundation Discovery Center is hosting a virtual concert by young artists from Totem Star in celebration of the giving season. Adults will get ideas for giving back during the holidays, but kids will just enjoy grooving to livestreamed performances by local ultratalented young artists.

Online; Dec. 9, 7 p.m.; free

‘Disney’s Beauty and the Beast’

If the holiday hustle seems a little too hectic after the relative quiet of last year’s lockdown, be our guest and prioritize your arts outings for the new year. What better beginning than “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” at The 5th Avenue Theatre? It’s a new production of a tale as old as time that the whole family can enjoy.

The 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle; Jan. 12–Feb. 6; pricing TBA

‘Songs for a New World’

We can all use the kind of celebration of new beginnings that Village Theatre is presenting in Jason Robert Brown’s “Songs for a New World.” Not quite a musical and not quite a concert, this collection of shorts is filled with uplifting songs that celebrate life and envision a better future. It’s just the thing for energizing everyone to get out there and build that better world — or at least make it through the winter.

Village Theatre, Issaquah; Jan. 14–Feb. 13; pricing TBA Everett; Feb. 18–March 13; pricing TBA

‘Science Circus’ (steal!)

It’s a popular myth that art and science are enemies — “Science Circus” puts the art in science and the science in art in a performance that teaches Newtonian physics using the force of levity. Blending comedy and circus arts, “Science Circus” demonstrates gravity (through bowling ball juggling), gyroscopic stability (through glass bowl spinning), centripetal force (with lassos) and other cool science tricks.

Auburn Avenue Theater, Auburn; Jan. 22; $10

‘Anastasia’ (splurge!)

Originally scheduled for Broadway at the Paramount’s canceled 2020 season, “Anastasia” has been rescheduled for January 2022. It follows the story of Anya, who pairs up with a con man and a former aristocrat on an adventure to discover her own past. Is she the missing Russian princess? Be aware that pre-pandemic reviewers were divided into two camps: To some, “Anastasia” is the perfect introduction to Broadway; others say it’s not appropriate for younger children. Your mileage may vary.

The Paramount Theatre, Seattle; Jan. 25–30; $35+ 

The Original Harlem Globetrotters: Spread Game Tour

The original Original Harlem Globetrotters exhibition basketball team was formed in 1926. Those first players may be long gone, but nearly 100 years later, the current generation is just as sure to impress with its superpower-like skills in the service of playful family entertainment. It’s a wonderful, creative contrast to the too-serious world of competitive sports.

Angel of the Winds Arena, Everett; Jan. 28; $20–$110

‘Red Riding Hood’

Seattle Children’s Theatre returns to live productions in February with a world premiere. Its farcical take on “Red Riding Hood” features Wolfgang, the greatest actor in the world preparing for his biggest role yet, and a delivery driver who questions his story. Despite the high jinks, the story’s theme of courage is timelier than ever. Virtual options are available.

Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle; Feb. 1–March 6; $15–$40

Cascade Symphony Orchestra: Children’s Concert — ‘Mother Goose’ (steal!)

Dressing up and sitting still for late-night concerts is not most kids’ idea of a good time. But children absolutely can appreciate classical music under the right circumstances. Cascade Symphony Orchestra presents Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite” and other accessible works with a narrator in a matinee performance. And with tickets at only $10 ($3 for kids), you won’t even feel bad about stepping out if your kids get the wiggles.

Edmonds Center for the Arts, Edmonds; Feb. 5; $3–$10

The Yamato Drummers
The Yamato Drummers perform at The Moore Theatre, Feb. 14

Yamato Drummers of Japan (splurge!)

The ritualized way that taiko drummers play their instruments resembles dance, but even if you listen with your eyes closed, a traditional taiko drum performance is an intense, whole-body experience. Hailing from Japan’s Nara Prefecture, the Yamato Drummers take an innovative and original approach to this traditional Japanese musical instrument while still imparting the spirit of Japan.

The Moore Theatre, Seattle; Feb. 14; $32–$42

‘Seussical the Musical’ (steal!)

The Cat in the Hat narrates a mash-up of Horton’s stories: Horton faces challenges in his dealings with thinker Jojo and other Whos, and in hatching the egg left behind by Mayzie La Bird. But with support from Gertrude McFuzz and through Horton’s own steadfast loyalty, friendship and family survive.

Tacoma Musical Playhouse, Tacoma; Feb. 26–March 6; $12–$15

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