The holidays are nearing full swing, and that’s the perfect time to take a break from shopping and wrapping and eating to enjoy some theater. These productions have mastered entertaining kids and adults alike, so you won’t just grin and bear it, you’ll grin and enjoy right along with your little theater buffs. Here are 8 shows that range from holiday to classic to movie inspired monsters you won’t want to miss.

retroholidayphoto: Creating Arts Company

Retro Holiday Show II
If your crew is obsessed with retro holiday characters (and let’s face it, you probably introduced them to it all), this one hour interactive musical is just the thing. Kids receive a music maker upon entering the theater and are encouraged to cheer on the heroes, boo the villains and sing along. This shows rolls all the best into one: Santa Claus is missing and Rudolph, Frosty, Kris Kringle and their friends go on the search before Christmas is ruined. It wouldn’t be a retro show without running into the Grinch and friends who are determined to put Christmas to an end. Never fear—a superhero and princess are not far behind. This one is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Good to know: This “mini-musical” is recommended for ages 3 & up.
Runs November 28-December 20, 2015

It’s a Wonderful Life
If you have older theater-goers, this show is just the thing to get into the holiday spirit. Introduce them to a classic with a journey through George Bailey’s life as he learns just how much he has impacted the world and loved ones around him. This story of life, love and the strength of the human spirit hits all the right notes for holiday reflection. This musical is also filled with songs, interactive and 90 minutes with a 10 minute intermission, so it’s perfect for elementary school kids.

Good to know: This “Jr. Broadway” interactive show is recommended for ages 5 & up.
Runs November 15-December 20, 2015

Creating Arts
3112 Pennsylvania Ave.
Santa Monica
310-804-0223
Online: creatingarts.org

008_PETER_PAN_Ad_V1[2]photo: Pasadena Playhouse

Peter Pan and Tinkerbell: A Pirates Christmas
If your family is obsessed with the “boy who would never grow up” or has a bit of a Brit fixation, this is the show for you. This musical holiday production is performed in the style of a classic British Panto—think encouraged audience response and singing along with the cast (perfect if you have an antsy guy or girl on your hands). Join Tinkerbell and the Lost Boys as they attempt to crush the pirates plans to deliver Peter Pan to Captain Hook as the ultimate Christmas gift. From magic, dancers from So You Think You Can Dance and contemporary music, this show has a little something for everyone.

Good to Know: Pasadena Playhouse does not generally allow little patrons under 6.
Runs December 9, 2015-January 3, 2016

Pasadena Playhouse
39 S. El Molino Ave.
Pasadena
626-356-7529
Online: pasadenaplayhouse.org

emperorphoto: Theatre West

The Emperor’s New Clothes
Theatre West takes your wigglers seriously by providing interactive experience through the Storybook Theater series. If you need a break from the holidays this winter, head west to see The Emperor’s New Clothes. This classic fairy tale is full of music, laughter and unabashed “two-cents” from its young audience members. Sit alongside your littles and enjoy this tale of the clothes-obsessed and slightly foolish Emperor who is tricked by local bandits to wear invisible clothes. Kids are encouraged to march in the fashion parade, laugh at the bandits and even warn the Emperor that he is wearing nothing but a silly pair of undies! Everyone is sure to get in a good laugh and lesson.

Runs through February 27, 2016

Theatre West
3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West
Universal Studios
818-761-2203
Online: theatrewest.org

Shrek-4photo: Morgan-Wixson Theatre

Shrek: The Musical
Laughter, magic and a definite twist on some of your favorite fairy tale characters—it’s all waiting for you with Shrek: The Musical at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica. The show is based on the Dreamworks Animation hit that began when an unsightly (yet lovable) green ogre, Shrek, shows up to rescue a feisty princess (who probably doesn’t need rescuing).  The whole family will be able to get behind the humor, music and movement behind this production.

Runs through December 12, 2015

Morgan Wixson-Theatre
2627 Pico Blvd.
Santa Monica
310-828-7519
Online: morgan-wixson.org

All About Santa
Ho-ho-hop on over to the Santa Monica Playhouse for something entirely new with this original show. It’s holiday time at the North Pole and things are looking as cheerful as ever, when who should appear on the scene, but Mr. Bottom from the bottom of the world.  Who is this mysterious stranger? He’s Santa’s long lost twin brother, bringing with him a host of mischievous plans to destroy the love and sharing of the season.  This is a heart-warming Victorian yuletide musical filled with Mr. Bottom’s hijinks, but, with the help of the audience, brotherly love conquers all.

Runs December 5 – December 20.

Santa Monica Playhouse
1211 4th St.
Santa Monica
310-394-9779
Online: santamonicaplayhouse.com

A Christmas Carol
If your crew is in need of a classic, hit the Glendale Centre Theatre for their annual presentation of A Christmas Carol. While most productions in town can be a bit dry for kids, at this show the whole family can soak in the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his visits from three ghosts that help him realize love and humanity are greater than money and greed. Though not an interactive play the music, set and pure enchantment of the story should draw most people in (though littles under 4 may have a hard time focusing). This space is intimate with a vintage charm and there is not a bad seat in the house. Go ahead and start a new family tradition.

Runs November 27-December 24, 2015

Glendale Centre Theatre
324 N. Orange St.
Glendale
818-244-8481
Online: glendalecentretheatre.com

photo: Lee Tonks

Debbie Allen’s Hot Chocolate Nutcracker
It’s always a treat to take in a show at the Music Center downtown and this spin on the Nutcracker Tale is just the ticket. In this rendition, the great Christmas Eve party scene takes place in 1928-era New Orleans. Kara Johnson receives a nutcracker filled with hot chocolate and upon falling asleep is transported to a land of wonder by a trio of mischievous mice. This spin includes an original score by Mariah Carey, young LA dancers who are all students of the Debbie Allen Academy and Debbie Allen herself. Treat your family to this not-so-classic adventure.  But if you’re looking for a more classic production of The Nutcracker, check out our list that’s sure to have the perfect version for your little ones..

Good to know: This is a limited two-day engagement.
Runs December 18-19 2015

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
135 N. Grand Ave.
Downtown LA
213-972-0711
Online: musiccenter.org

What show can’t you wait to see this season?  We’d love to hear about your holiday thespian adventures in the comment section.

—LeTania Kirkland