If you live outside Portland or will be traveling this holiday season, you can catch many of your favorite traditional — and untraditional — holiday performances around Oregon and southwest Washington. The producers of Oregon Art Beat have compiled a selection of classic favorites and new events you won’t want to miss.
(And if you’ll be in Portland and are looking for some shows suitable for all ages, find out where OPB’s Geneva Chin likes to take her family.)
We’ll be updating this list as the season continues, so keep checking back as you make your holiday plans.
The Santaland Diaries
Derek Sitter returns to recount a New York temp worker’s stint as Crumpet the Elf at Santaland in Macy’s department store. David Sedaris’ acclaimed essay about comic yet soul-destroying encounters during the fever-pitch holiday season was adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello as a one-man, one-act performance. Sitter works in front of a 16-foot cinema screen onto which is projected a series of over 150 slides.
December 4-20, Volcanic Theatre Pub, Bend
Oregon East Symphony: Home For The Holidays
Oregon East Symphony community musicians and alumni visiting for the holidays offer a program of chamber music. A brass quintet, a chamber orchestra and string quartets perform, and the presentation includes opera arias. The symphony will debut composer-in-residence Neal Facciuto’s Headwaters of The Umatilla, a nine-musician piece inspired by the movement of river waters at the base of the Blue Mountains during winter.
December 27, the Vert Club Room, Pendleton
Wishes and Candles Holiday Concert
The 50-member Central Coast Chorale, whose members are drawn from Lincoln City and nearby coastal communities, sets a festive tone with its annual holiday concerts. Representing a variety of styles, works range from Hodie Christus natus est by J.P. Sweelinnk to Irving Berlin’s Snow from the movie White Christmas and much more. Ringers from the CCC Handbell Choir will perform at the Newport event.
December 12, Waldport Community Presbyterian Church, Waldport
December 14, Newport Performing Arts Center, Newport
A Holiday Celebration
The Portland Gay Men’s Chorus will sing, dance and rap its way through a range of Christmas, Hanukkah and winter solstice music at a benefit for the Clatsop Community College Performing Arts Center. The family-friendly program includes works by Handel, Rachmaninoff and Irving Berlin, new compositions by chorus members and a seldom-performed song by Sir Paul McCartney. Complementing the “wall of sound” will be the chorus’s dance troupe, the Locomotions, and its classical a cappella ensemble, Cascade.
December 13, Astoria High School, Astoria
Winter Holiday Band Concert
The Pacific Coast Wind Ensemble community concert band, made up of wind and percussion players from Lincoln and coastal Lane counties, will perform a mix of holiday music, show tunes and classical transcriptions. The program will include many medleys, drawing from favorites like A Christmas Auld Lang Syne, A Fireside Christmas, A Christmas Interlude, Sleigh Ride, A Christmas Festival and ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas on the Coast (a variation on the Clement Moore classic), with narration backed by the band.
At 5 p.m., ensemble members will reconvene at the Alsea Bay Bridge Interpretive Center to accompany the audience in singing carols at “Christmas in Waldport.”
December 13, Yachats Commons, Yachats
North Coast Chorale: Holiday Traditions
Clatsop Community College’s North Coast Chorale will draw from music celebrating Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, winter solstice, Santa Lucia and the Eastern Orthodox tradition in its annual holiday concert. The chorale will be joined for some pieces by the 18-voice Clatsop County Children’s Chorus. The 7- to-12-year-olds will also perform a musical skit about the legend of the poinsettia and a Christmas cartoon celebration, accompanied by the chorale.
December 13 and 14, Clatsop Community College Performing Arts Center, Astoria
Scrooged in Astoria
The Astor Street Opry Company presents a melodramatic adaptation of the timeless classic A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This is the eighth season of the family-friendly production, mixing sentimental holiday tunes and Scandinavian traditions. With a cast of 30, miserly Max Krooke Jr. is guided by the ghosts of Christmas Past (the Big Krooke), Present (Miss Yul Macie) and Future (Saint Lucia) to learn the errors of his ways.
December 5-21, The Astor Street Opry Playhouse, Astoria
A Christmas Carol the Musical
Craterian Performances’ Teen Musical Theater of Oregon sets Charles Dickens’ immortal classic A Christmas Carol to music by Academy Award-winning composer Alan Menken. On Christmas Eve, a bitter and stingy Ebenezer Scrooge receives a frightening visit from the ghost of his late associate, Jacob Marley. Condemned to wander the earth in chains eternally for his greedy and selfish life, Marley hopes to save Scrooge from the same fate by sending the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future to accompany Scrooge on a transformative, poignant journey toward redemption.
December 12-20, Craterian Theater at the Collier Center for the Performing Arts, Medford
Oregon Cabaret Theatre: It’s A Wonderful Life — A Live Radio Play
Five actors, supported by clever sound effects and a piano, present the classic holiday drama in a fresh and engaging way. Cast and crew re-create Christmas Eve, 1946, at WBFR in New York City. The production includes snippets of classic Christmas radio broadcasts and songs, nostalgic commercial jingles and a holiday sing-along. Be part of the studio audience and revisit Bedford Falls on the most important evening of George Bailey’s life.
Through December 31, Cabaret Theatre, Ashland
Big Horn Brass Holiday Show
The 16-member Big Horn Brass ensemble spreads cheer through a mix of holiday favorites, from traditional carols to popular songs. Guest vocalist Shirley Nanette’s seasonal repertoire includes Ding Dong Merrily On High, particularly noted for the Latin refrain “Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis! [Glory! Hosanna in the highest!].” Members of Big Horn Brass come from symphonies and brass bands around the area. Proceeds from the performance benefit the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
December 13, Lloyd Auditorium, Washington School for the Deaf, Vancouver
School Choirs at the Capitol
More than 100 school choirs from around the state perform in the state Capitol Rotunda in December. Many of the students’ parents and even some of their grandparents performed at the Capitol in a tradition dating back many decades. Groups will include Albany’s Memorial Middle School Bell Choir, the Sheridan Japanese Charter School Choir and the Salem Filipino Heritage Choir. Visitors can enjoy the music as an American Flyer model train circles a miniature village under Oregon’s official holiday tree.
December 3-20, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday, Oregon State Capitol Rotunda, Salem
Eugene Ballet Company: The Nutcracker
Hundreds of young dancers will join the Eugene Ballet Company to tell the story of young Clara’s fantastic adventure on Christmas Eve, when her nutcracker comes to life beneath the grand family tree. After the army of toy soldiers battles the Mouse King and his henchmice, Clara and the transformed Nutcracker Prince are transported through an enchanted pine forest and on to the Land of Sweets for the grand suite of dances. Toni Pimble choreographed the ballet and the 65-member orchestraNEXT performs Tchaikovsky’s score.
December 19-21, Hult Center for the Performing Arts, Eugene
Candlelight & Carols
Up to 50 members of the Corvallis Repertory Singers, which includes many Oregon State University alumni, offer a holiday program sampling different musical styles. Artistic director Dr. Steven Zielke leads the group in Part I of Handel’s Messiah, along with other classical selections and seasonal carols. Lighted candles will line the aisles of the sanctuary during the performance.
December 20, First United Methodist Church Sanctuary, Corvallis
Victorian Carolers: Sing We Now Of Christmas
Festival Chorale Oregon’s annual family holiday program includes a variety of well-known carols from the Victorian era, such as Joy to the World, Here We Come a Caroling and a humorous rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas. The Festival Carolers ensemble, in period attire, will also sing lesser-known Christmas songs of the period. Words will be projected onto a screen for an audience sing-along and children will be invited on stage for a reading of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas.
December 21, Historic Elsinore Theatre, Salem
Christmas with the Ensemble
The Ensemble of Oregon’s seasonal concert offers a cappella Christmas music from the last 100 years. Works by living composers include the premiere of a piece by Linda Kachelmeier. Maurice Duruflé’s Tota pulchar es, Frank La Rocca’s Ave Maria, Kenneth Leighton’s A Hymn of the Nativity and Frank Ferko’s The Snow Lay on the Ground will also be performed.
December 27, Central Lutheran Church, Eugene