As the holiday season hits its stride it seems every company in Portland has something to say, cheer, sing, or quip. We did our best to compile the ultimate guide to Portland's holiday offerings, from our renditions of time-honored traditions like The Nutcracker to wonky works of Christmas spirit like Second City's A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens. Take notes and head out.
For Your Fix Of Classic Holiday Jollies On Stage
A Christmas Carol
Thru Dec 28, Portland Playhouse
This original musical adaptation dressed up the playhouse last season in warm Victorian cheer, the cast singing carols and taking your tickets in tailcoats and long skirts. After winning Drammy Awards for best ensemble, director, and production, it returns this year like a welcomed ghost of Christmas past—but this time with a Christmas tree lot to boot, so you can take home an evergreen souvenir. Read our review from last year.
OBT: The Nutcracker
Dec 13–27, Keller Auditorium
Some things are tradition for a reason. Legendary choreographer George Balanchine’s take on the Tchaikovsky score is deservedly a classic, and OBT’s enduringly popular production fills seats every year.
A Christmas Survival Guide
Thru Dec 21, Broadway Rose New Stage Theatre
The Tigard-based musical theater company presents a holiday revue for those of us who find the holidays more stressful than relaxing—in other words, a show with universal appeal.
Christmas at the Old Church
Dec 16–26, The Old Church
Acclaimed Portland pianist Michael Allen Harrison is hosting his annual holiday concert for its 20th year. Throughout the fifteen shows, Harrison will be joined by an extensive list of local collaborators: vocalist Julianne Johnson, violinist Aaron Meyer, clarinetist Jim Beatty, and pianist Tom Grant, amongst others.
The Christmas Revels
Dec 18–23, St. Mary's Academy
Step into 17th century London in the Portland Revels' 20th anniversary production of "Christmas Revels." Directed by Bruce Hostetler, this year's installment features a time-traveling teen who finds two unlikely companions to trail through the Tower of London. The cast includes actors Tobias Andersen and Burl Ross.
Dare to Get Your Stockings In a Bunch With These Twisted Holiday Shows
Miracle on 43rd Street: A 1940s Holiday Radio Massacre
Thru Dec 23, Venetian Theatre
Last year, this Hillsboro company skewered It’s a (Somewhat) Wonderful Life with a 1940s-era radio performance gone horribly wrong. This season they give the same treatment to the story of a Macy’s Santa who turns out to be the real deal—only with an added mafia boss, show-tune-loving detective, and station manager with digestive problems.
The Second City's A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens
Thru Dec 24, Portland Center Stage
The famed Chicago improv troupe returns for a second time to stage its satirical romp through this ubiquitous holiday tale, with audience input and revolving local celebrity guests making for a fresh performance each night. Read our review from last year.
Rudolph On Stage!
Thru Dec 20, CoHo Theatre
Since starting Bad Reputation in 2010, local funny-woman Shelley McLendon has given the ’80s Patrick Swayze vehicle Road House and teen-vampire flick The Lost Boys the Bad Rep treatment—that is, performed their screenplays on stage more or less straight, letting their so-bad-it’s-good comedy speak for itself. For the second time, McLendon puts the cherished 1964 stop-motion-animated Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer in her affectionately mocking crosshairs, ridiculing the film at its unintentionally funniest, complete with commercial interruptions and acted-out stop-motion. Island of Misfit Toys, anyone?
A John Waters Christmas
Dec 8, Aladdin Theater
The Sultan of Sleaze’s annual one-man Christmas show brings Waters’s infamously and unapologetically trashy style to bear on a holiday that is, believe it or not, a slight obsession of the cult filmmaker.
A Tuna Christmas
Dec 12–21, Newmark Theatre
Take a trip to Tuna, Texas to celebrate the holidays with local comedians Jeffrey Jason Gilpin and Alan King. Trailing the tribulations of this small southern town's Christmas aspirations, Gilpin and King portray all 22 characters in slapstick fashion.
Dauntless, Dashing, and Raucous Renditions of Holiday Spirit
Jane Siberry Holiday Hoes and Hosers
Dec 4–7, The Secret Society Lounge
Eccentric Canadian singer-songwriter Jane Siberry is bringing her Holiday Hoes and Hosers to Portland with a string of special guests. Bergerette with Viva Las Vegas will be joining her on Friday (read our Q&A with Viva). And then on Saturday, the press release says she'll be joined by a Portlander who's "so unique, she's been nominated for countless awards, won four Grammys and has performed with some of the biggest names in the industry." If we were to bet, we'd put our money on k.d. lang, who famously collaborated with Siberry on "Calling All Angels" and has four Grammys under her belt. But then again, Siberry has worked with Emmylou Harris, the Indigo Girls, Peter Gabriel, and Brian Eno, amongst many others, so who knows who she has on speed dial.
White Album Christmas
Thru Dec 12, Alberta Rose Theater
Who ever thought that one of the ways to celebrate Christmas would include a circus, the Cascadian Freak Family, and the Beatles? Watch Wanderlust Circus and the Nowhere Band team up to bring audiences a very White Album Christmas at this annual sell-out extravaganza.
For Carols, Strings, and Sacred Hymns
Portland Cello Project Holiday Spectacular
Dec 5–6, Aladdin Theater
The Portland Cello Project presents their annual holiday special, but this year with an additional focus on Elliot Smith. In addition to Yuletide fare, the Cello Project will release its Elliot Smith tribute album to e.s. on December 2, and its songs will make up half the program.
Portland Gay Men's Chorus: A Holiday Celebration
Dec 5–7, Newmark Theatre
Expect the tux-clad PGMC to pull out all the stops (and top hats) for its 35th-anniversary performance, as more than 150 voices will fill the Newmark Theatre during this festive weekend of choral toasts to holiday cheer across traditions.
Dec 12–14, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
The Northwest Community Gospel Choir has given the symphony musicians a chance to let down their collective hair and let the music flow through them every holiday season for 16 years now, and the tradition keeps getting better and better.
Portland Baroque Orchestra: Handel's Messiah
Dec 12–15, First Baptist Church
PBO joins forces with Cappella Romana, UK conductor John Butt, and soloists Lauren Snouffer, Abigail Nims, Colin Balzer, and Kevin Deas for the German composer’s masterpiece. The Monday performance shortens the Messiah to two hours of highlights.
Dec 13, Pioneer Courthouse Square
Hoards of horn players (over 250) will converge in the Square to perform renditions of holiday hymns. Conducted by Chuck Bolton, the tuba collective is open to the public, welcoming tuba players to register and join in the festivities.
Portland Baroque Orchestra: Bach's Christmas Oratorio
Dec 18, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
The series of collaborations between PBO, Seattle’s Pacific MusicWorks, and Early Music Vancouver continues with an evening of German baroque music, including Cantatas 1, 3, and 6 of Bach’s Oratorio.
Comfort and Joy: A Classical Christmas
Dec 21, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Someone in your household probably started playing this music in November, so you might as well gather the family together for an afternoon of holiday classics that, if we’re being honest, really don’t get old.
Christmas with the Ensemble
Dec 28, Saint Stephen Catholic Church
The local chamber group, which boasts a revolving cast of local music veterans, presents a program of a cappella Christmas music spanning the past century.