The holidays are many things, but one thing is certain — the month of December is easily the most artful time of the year.
It’s a time when local performing arts companies and organizations go all out to present classic stories and perform traditional music that have become as much a part of this time of year as lights on the trees and Santas in the shopping malls.
From dance to dramas, concerts to cinema, there are many ways one can celebrate the season — and support the city’s creative community — through the arts.
One new way to sample much of what the arts in Tulsa has to offer is at the first Art in the Park holiday festival, 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, being presented by Arts Alliance Tulsa at the Guthrie Green, 101 E. Reconciliation Way.
This free event will feature live performances by some of the 39 Tulsa-area performing and visual arts organizations supported by Arts Alliance Tulsa, the city’s united arts fund, as well as hands-on activities to create one’s own bit of holiday art, complimentary holiday food and drink (while supplies last) and more, all designed to introduce children of all ages to live arts experiences in an informal, family-friendly atmosphere encouraging them to forge a connection with the arts and their hometown.
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The event is made possible through collaborations with community partners that include Big Brothers & Sisters of Tulsa, Gaining Ground, Food on the Move, Hunger Free OK, FC Tulsa, LIFE Senior Services, Youth Services of Tulsa, Emergency Infant Services, The Sanford & Irene Burnstein Foundation, KOTV channel 6 and KHTT (106.9 FM).
Here are some more ways to celebrate the holidays through the arts.
Tulsa Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”
Multiple performances Dec. 9-23 at the Tulsa PAC, 101 E. Third St.
$27-$110. 918-749-6006, tulsaballet.org
Last year, Tulsa Ballet unveiled its long-awaited new production of “The Nutcracker,” a collaborative creation by the company’s former resident choreographers, Val Caniparoli and Ma Cong, with sets and costumes by the award-winning New Zealand designer Tracy Grant Lord.
While the new production returns the story to its E.T.A. Hoffmann origins, beginning with a holiday party at a family home in 19th century Germany that soon unfolds into a fanciful journey through a magical kingdom, and the choreography is resolutely rooted in classical styles, the “Nutcracker” is filled with unique elements and subtle touches that give it a contemporary feel, as well as making it a truly Tulsa creation.
After all, how many ballets can claim to feature dancing Golden Drillers at one point in the action?
In addition to the full companies of Tulsa Ballet and TBII, Tulsa Ballet’s “Nutcracker” will include dozens of young dancers during the run of the ballet, as well as the beloved Tchaikovsky score performed live by the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra.
The Tulsa World described Tulsa Ballet’s new “Nutcracker” as “a crowd-pleaser from start to finish, captivating everyone from the booster-seat crowd to seen-it-all cynics.”
South Tulsa Children’s Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”
Multiple performances Dec. 3-4, at the Jenks High School PAC, 205 E. B St.
$30. 918-461-0222, southtulsachildrensballet.org
This year marks the 21st anniversary of this company, which provides young dancers with a variety of dance training, as well as staging several shows that feature its students.
The one constant through its history has been its annual traditional-style production of “The Nutcracker,” created and directed by the company’s founder, Pamela Farry.
Dance Maker Academy’s “The Nutcracker”
Multiple performances Dec. 10-11, at the Constantine Theater, 110 W. Main St., Pawhuska
This is the sixth year that Dance Maker Academy has presented its own version of “The Nutcracker,” choreographed by Jenna Smith LaViolette, after a version created by Romanian dancer-choreographer Pavel Rotaru, and set to Tchaikovsky’s classic score.
Christmas with Amy Grant & Michael W. Smith
8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, at Tulsa Theater, 105 W. Reconciliation Way
Two legendary stars of contemporary Christian music, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, will be drawing from their extensive back catalog of holiday music for their holiday Christmas tour. Grant has released five Christmas-themed albums, including the platinum-selling “A Christmas Album” and “Home for Christmas,” while Smith has put out four holiday discs. Joining them as opening act will be Michael Tait of the Newsboys.
7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2; 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at Saint John’s Episcopal Church, 4200 S. Atlanta Place.
Easily the world’s most famous oratorio, this performance will feature the complete work, performed on period instruments, and with soloists Meray Boustani, Whitney Hollis and Afton Mancini, sopranos; Nicholas Garza, countertenor; Steven Soph, tenor; and Jason Awbrey, bass. Zachary Malavolti will conduct.
“For Unto Us: A Celebration of Handel’s ‘Messiah’”
7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at the ORU Mabee Center, 7777 S. Lewis Ave.
This production of Handel’s oratorio will feature the Oral Roberts University concert choir and orchestra along with musicians from the Tulsa community. Admission is a new, unwrapped toy to benefit the Salvation Army of Tulsa.
“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”
8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at Studio 308, 308 S. Lansing Ave.
The Retro Rockets, the self-described “time traveling troubadours of space-age rock ‘n’ roll,” will open up a Santa’s bag full of classic holiday tunes of the early rock ‘n’ roll era.
Grady Nichols Christmas Show
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, at Mabee Center, 7777 S. Lewis Ave.
$25-$55. 918-495-6000, mabeecenter.com
Saxophone master Grady Nichols again joins forces with vocalists Andy Crisman and Kelly Ford for an evening of upbeat, fun, funky, original and familiar Christmas songs. Proceeds will assist the Oklahoma chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association in providing support, education, resources and information to those with Parkinson’s disease in Oklahoma.
“This Celestial Season”
8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6 and Thursday-Friday, Dec. 8-9, at Fellowship Congregational Church, 2900 S. Harvard Ave.
The Council Oak Men’s Chorale will present an evening of holiday music that reaches for the stars, with songs such as “Stars Shall I Find,” “To a Dancing Star,” “I Cannot Count the Stars” and seasonal favorites of “Winter Wonderland,” ”Silver Bells” and “I Saw Three Ships.”
Tulsa Festival Bell Ringers
11:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7 at the Tulsa PAC, 110 E. Second St.
Ring in the holiday season, quite literally, with the Tulsa Festival Bell Ringers, which each year offers free performances as part of the Tulsa PAC Trust’s Brown Bag It series. Those attending are encouraged to bring a sack lunch to enjoy along with the music.
“Voctave: Sounds of the Season”
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Broken Arrow PAC, 701 S. Main St., Broken Arrow
$29-$54. 918-259-5778, brokenarrowpac.com
Voctave is an 11-member a cappella group whose members have roots in musical theater, contemporary Christian music, barbershop, pop and choral music. The group has released two collections of holiday music, “The Spirit of the Season” and “Snow.”
Red Dirt Family Christmas
2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11, at the Woody Guthrie Center, 102 E. Reconciliation Way.
Celebrate the season with a festive afternoon of red dirt music with the Red Dirt Rangers for a special family-friendly holiday concert.
7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 16-17, at the VanTrease PACE, 10300 E. 81st St.
$35-$125. 918-595-7777, signaturesymphony.org
This year’s version of the Signature Symphony at Tulsa Community College’s traditional holiday concert, the first under the direction of new artistic director Scott Seaton, will feature the Tulsa Opera Signature Chorale joining the orchestra for an evening of classical and contemporary holiday music.
The concert will feature selections such as the “Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s “Messiah,” Vince Garibaldi’s score to the film “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Carol of the Bells” and the Larry Dalton composition “Christmas in Tulsa.” The orchestra will also play “A Musicological Journey Through the Twelve Days of Christmas,” which features arrangements in the styles of Mozart, Sousa, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi and Wagner.
“David Phelps: It Must Be Christmas”
7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16, at the Lorton Performance Center, 550 S. Gary Ave.
Celebrate the holidays with one of the world’s best tenors as the TPAC and the University of Tulsa partner to present “David Phelps: It Must Be Christmas.”
Phelps is an Emmy and Dove award-winning artist who gained fame as the tenor in the Gaither Vocal Band. His three-plus octave vocal range, coupled with his gift for communicating a song, has brought him critical acclaim across musical genres. The Tulsa area has often been a stop on his annual holiday tours, but this will be his first time to perform at the Lorton Performance Center on the University of Tulsa campus.
Multiple performances Dec. 9-23 at the Tulsa PAC, 110 E. Second St.
$22-$40. 918-596-7111, tulsapac.com
American Theatre Company’s production of “A Christmas Carol” returns for its 45th annual production, although longtime fans of this version of Charles Dickens’ classic ghost story will notice some major differences this year.
The company is in the midst of a capital campaign to build a new set for the show, as the Richard Ellis-designed set it has used for years needed to be replaced. Director Laurie Carlson said this year’s production will be more minimalist, with an even stronger focus on the story and its characters.
Leading those characters will be Karl Krause, who returns to his signature role as Ebenezer Scrooge, and Sean Patrick Rooney, who will again embody the Ghost of Christmas Present.
Other cast members include Nick Bushta as Bob Cratchit, Andy Axewell as Jacob Marley, Nicholas Bradford as Fred Burnett, Paige Dickey as the Ghost of Christmas Past and Rowan Butler as Tiny Tim.
“Christmas in My Hometown”
Multiple performances Dec. 2-11 at the Broken Arrow Community Playhouse, 1800 S. Main St., Broken Arrow
$15-$20. 918-258-0077, bacptheatre.com
This original holiday musical by Broken Arrow residents Steve Cowen and Scott Brister tells the story of five families over the course of three Christmases, and how a neighborhood door-decorating contest turns out to be a way of revealing the various emotions that are stirred by the holiday season, and how people can come together to find hope and forgiveness.
“The Enchanted Bookshop”
Multiple shows Dec. 2-11, at the Spotlight Theatre, 1381 Riverside Drive.
$10-$12. 918-587-5030, tulsaspotlighttheater.com
A charming fantasy about the joy and power of reading, “The Enchanted Bookshop” is about a small bookstore in which characters from the books on the shelves come to life once the owner has left for the day. But when a pair of burglars, in search of a valuable necklace, break into the store, characters including Dorothy Gale, Robin Hood, Pollyanna, Sherlock Holmes, Heidi and Tom Sawyer must work together to save the day.
“A Wicked Christmas Carol”
Multiple performances Dec. 9-18, at Theatre West, 4501 W. Edison St.
This mix of L. Frank Baum and Charles Dickens recounts how the Wicked Witch of the West is whisked away by a ghostly figure, who takes her on a journey through her past, present and future so she may find a second chance on Christmas Eve.
“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”
Multiple performances through Dec. 18, at the Broadway Theatre, 720 S. Kenosha Ave.
Green Country Children’s Theatre presents an adaptation of the first in the series of children’s stories by C.S. Lewis that make up “The Chronicles of Narnia.” “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” tells of the four Pevensie children who discover a passage to the magical, if dangerous, world of Narnia, and how they must face down the evil White Witch, with the help of the noble lion Aslan.
7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at the Tulsa PAC, 101 E. Third St.
$20-$64.50. 918-584-3645, tulsapac.com
Take that “Elf” off the shelf and put it on the big screen where it belongs, as the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra presents “Elf in Concert.”
Will Ferrell stars in this 2003 film about Buddy, who as an infant ends up in Santa’s bag and whisked back to the North Pole. There, he is adopted by the rest of the elves working for Santa, but it soon becomes apparent that Buddy is definitely not an elf. He sets out to find his real family, which leads to all sorts of misadventures as the innocent Buddy is confronted with all the clamor and meanness of the modern world.
The Tulsa Symphony will perform the John Debney score as the movie is shown on a large screen above the Tulsa PAC’s Chapman Music Hall stage.
“White Christmas Sing-A-Long”
Multiple performances Dec. 9-23 at the Circle Cinema, 10 S. Lewis Ave.
$10-$20. 918-585-3504, circlecinema.org
If you’ve been dreaming of a chance to croon along with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in “White Christmas,” the Circle Cinema has a gift for you. It will also be hosting “The White Christmas Sing-A-Long,” with showings of the classic holiday film starring Crosby, Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.
Jody Jill McIntyre, Circle Cinema Membership Manager, serves as host for these showings, which include pre-show trivia, sing-a-long props, holiday music played on Circle’s restored 1928 theatre organ, festive photo-ops, carolers in the lobby at select shows and more.