This holiday season, Oregon Art Beat and Arts & Life are helping you navigate the seasonal performances — some old and some new — with weekend previews of our best bets. Check out some of what’s on tap this weekend.
Oregon Mandolin Orchestra Winter Concert
With 30 members and a collection of mandolins, mandolas, mandocellos and double basses, the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra is the only one of its kind in Oregon and is modeled after the traditional mandolin orchestras that were popular in the United States in the 1900s.
The orchestra will play two holiday shows in the state: one in Hillsboro and one in Salem. The shows feature holiday classics and special performances by Music Director and Conductor Brian Oblerlin. Other guests include Josh Feinberg, Greg Allison and Paul Hirschmann. Many members of the orchestra will also perform in smaller ensembles.
As for the music, it will range from swinging Christmas favorites by Johnny Marks, Irving Berlin, Felix Bernard and Mel Tormé to classical holiday pieces by Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Haydn, Corelli and Beethoven. It’s a night of classical tradition.
December 20, Glenn & Viola Walters Art Center, Hillsboro
December 21, The Grand Theater, Salem
More Weekend Holiday
The Oregon Symphony offers a bevy of holiday options this year, including Natalie Cole and a special matinee of holiday favorites.
Natalie Cole Christmas, December 21, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland
Comfort and Job, December 22, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland
A Circus Carol
Wanderlust Circus and gypsy chamber ensemble 3 Leg Torso perform a musical in which the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge (Noah Mickens) is visited by three spirits.
December 20-22, Alberta Rose Theater, Portland
Michael Allen Harrison: Christmas at the Old Church
Pianist Michael Allen Harrison returns with his annual holiday show, with special guests Julianne Johnson, rock concert violinist Aaron Meyer and jazz pianist Tom Grant.
Through December 26, The Old Church, Portland
Oregon Ballet Theatre: The Nutcracker
George Balanchine’s version of the holiday favorite has all the rat armies, toy soldiers and snowflakes you’d expect. OBT is the only company west of the Mississippi River licensed to perform Balanchine’s version. The show is set to a live orchestra.
Through December 24, Keller Auditorium, Portland
Lakewood Theatre Company: White Christmas
The classic musical based on the 1954 movie is becoming a tradition at Lakewood. Hear the holiday favorites “Blue Skies,” “Sisters” and of course, the title Bing Crosby hit.
December 17-22, 26-29, Lakewood Center for the Arts, Lake Oswego
Rudolph On Stage!
Bad Reputation, the company that produced the irreverent bar plays Road House: The Play! and The Lost Boys — Live! take on the Rankin-Bass stop-motion story of the outcast reindeer. Kid-friendly matinee on December 21.
Through December 21, CoHo Theater, Portland
Artists Repertory Theatre: Xmas Unplugged
A holiday debauchery double bill for mature audiences, Xmas Unplugged is two short plays: The Reason for the Season and The Night Before Christmas. Playwrights Matt Pelfrey and Anthony Nielson’s two plays feature a churlish Santa, a kidnapped elf and a handful of hapless souls.
Through December 29, Alder Stage, Portland
Portland Center Stage: The Santaland Diaries
Based on David Sedaris’ true-life experience as Crumpet the Elf during a memorable holiday season, this humorous Portland holiday tradition has Darius Pierce returning as Crumpet.
Through December 29, Ellyn Bye Studio, Portland
Oregon Cabaret Theatre: It’s A Wonderful Life — A Live Radio Play
A piano, sound effects and five actors tell the classic George Bailey tale in a live radio play production. It’s a tried-and-true way to step back into the golden age of radio.
Through December 31, Cabaret Theatre, Ashland
Stumptown Stages: It’s a Wonderful Life
A new musical adaptation of Frank Capra’s classic film is directed by Tony Award-winner Corey Brunish. The Stumptown original was nominated for several PAMTAs after it debuted last year.
Through December 22, Brunish Hall, Portland
Portland Center Stage: Twist Your Dickens
A comedic sendup of A Christmas Carol from the improvisational troupe The Second City, this show has characters of the classic tale finding themselves mixed up in zany holiday sketches.
Through December 22, Main Stage, Portland