Dazzling Holiday Shows that Will Add Heaps of Cheer to 2020

Editor’s Note: As of press time, these shows were scheduled to take place as listed. Please inquire directly as to any changes prior to booking, as a couple are still listed as in-person events. 

Here’s an idea for the holidays . . . yes, it really is time to plan for them. Start loading up the calendar with shows that fill your home with holiday spirit. Many have moved to an online format this year, which just means you get to stay in your cozy PJs and sip hot cocoa as you watch. Catching a play, ballet or musical performance is an unforgettable experience for kids—and this season’s Christmas shows in Chicago are real memory creators. Start a new family tradition and check out our picks for the top kid-friendly holiday shows and plays in and around Chicago.

Marriott Theatre's The Four C Notes

The Four C Notes are the midwest's only tribute dedicated to recreating the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Their nationally recognized Chicago-based act performs hits beloved by all ages, including Sherry, Can't Take My Eyes Off of You, Rag Doll, Let's Hang On, Working My Way Back to You and many more!

Virtual performances Nov. 15 & Dec. 31. More details

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As we begin rehearsals for A CHRISTMAS CAROL––AN AUDIO PLAY, we pause to mourn the passing of actor Bradley Mott, whose warmth and infectious spirit epitomize the values of which Charles Dickens wrote. Brad’s career encompassed roles at every major Chicago theatre and many regional companies, as well as a variety of film and television appearances; his Goodman credits included such landmark productions as Michael Maggio’s Sunday in the Park with George and Robert Falls’ Galileo. But it was his appearances as the Ghost of Christmas Past and Mr. Fezziwig in several editions of A Christmas Carol that are perhaps his most enduring legacy--outsized and hilarious yet sensitive, caring, passionate and wise. Seldom has an actor been better matched with the characters he was playing; both onstage and off, Brad exuded joy, optimism, and an unalloyed love for his “fellow man”––his castmates, his audiences––and finally, his beloved family and friends. Our world is a great deal sadder without Brad’s incomparable presence––but filled with the joyous memories of his life and his work.

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A Christmas Carol

There are always a few versions of Marley’s thought-provoking caper across town during the holidays. The one that’s everlasting (and truly tear-jerking) is at The Goodman Theatre, which was first staged there more than 40 years ago. There is something about this timeless story, combined with the world-class actors of The Goodman, that keeps the “bah-humbugs” away. Due to COVID, A Christmas Carol will be available via free audio streaming. Hear the voices you love from this timeless Christmas show and the signature soundscape surrounded by the love of family at home.

Virtual performances Dec. 1-31. More details

photo: Joffrey Ballet

Pulling Back the Curtain on The Nutcracker

The Joffrey Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker is a beloved holiday tradition for many families. Unfortunately, in-person performances have been canceled for 2020, but they invite you to kick off the holiday with a virtual celebration. Get a glimpse like never before with behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with the Joffrey artists and delightful surprises to celebrate the magic of this story.

Virtual Performance Nov. 7. More details

photo: Studebaker Theatre

Art Deco Nutcracker

Set in 1920s America, Alexei Kremnev's The Art Deco Nutcracker is an upbeat yet traditional take on the much-loved Christmas favorite and guaranteed entertainment for all. Familiar favorites The Sugar Plum Fairy, Mother Ginger and the Nutcracker Prince will all be on stage to tell the tale.

Dec. 5 & 6, Studebaker Theatre, 410 S. Michigan Ave., The Loop; Event details.

Eleanor's Very Merry Christmas Wish - The Musical

Bring a sprinkle of holiday magic to your home with Eleanor's Very Merry Christmas Wish - The Musical. Enjoy the story of a rag doll named Eleanor who lives in the magical world of The North Pole, but dreams of a best friend and a home of her very own. Realizing that wishing alone is not enough, she writes to Santa, which opens the door to many questions and a journey that leads to her wish coming true.

Virtual performances Nov. 27-Dec. 27. More details


Cirque du Soleil shows offer an escape from the everyday routine and invite into a world of delight and whimsy. While in-person performances aren't a possibility, their CirqueConnect programming gives you access to awe-inspiring show footage and fan-favorite videos. Sit back on the couch and let them transport your family.

Available on their website all season long. More details

photo: Dennis Watkins via Collin Quinn Rice

Christmas on Demand at The MAC

Chicagolands McAninch Art Center (MAC) is giving Santa a little competition this year by bringing Christmas on Demand into homes with a variety of streamed festive shows. Purchase tickets and then view a show from the premiere date through Jan. 3. The programming includes COD College Theater's A Christmas Carol, New Philharmonics Holiday Sing-Along with the SymphonyPresley, Perkins, Lewis & Cash: A Million Dollar Christmas, Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker and New Philharmonic's New Year's Eve Concert. Tickets to the award-winning magician Dennis Watkin's hit The Magic Parlour at Home can also be purchased. 

Virtual programming beginning Nov. 27. More details

photo: American Blues Theater

It's a Wonderful Life, Virtual Show

American Blues Theater has been transporting Chicagoans back to the “Golden Age of Radio” to experience the story of George Bailey for over 19 years in their wildly popular interactive It's a Wonderful Life performance. In addition to the heart-warming story, the production includes 1940s-style commercials from actual local sponsors, holiday carols, and telegrams from the audience read live on the stage. While the performance is hosted via Zoom this year, the wholesome fun and holiday cheer will still shine through.

Virtual performances Nov. 12-Jan. 2. More details.

— Maria Chambers & Amy Bizzarri


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