We Have 14 Ideas to Help You and Your Family Get Into the Holiday Spirit

Photo courtesy Cheyenne Boivin Photographe

The annual Christmas extravaganza “The Magic of Christmas” reunites singer-dancer alumni from The Young Americans, the innovative troupe that originated in Orange County in the early ’60s. The blockbuster show features more than 250 performers, 30 scene changes and thousands of costumes.

So you’ve got all kinds of time on your hands between now and New Year’s Day and are looking for something to do, right?

Not! Most of us are swamped during this time of year. But so many holiday events of every conceivable type are on hand, and on January 1 you won’t want to look back and realize you missed out on something. So here, listed chronologically, starting with the day after Thanksgiving, are a few suggestions for you to help enjoy and celebrate the holidays, courtesy Arts & Culture of Voice of OC.

The Alley Cats

Christmas with the Alley Cats

Nov. 29-Dec. 1: Tight four-part harmony and delightful onstage antics are what The Alley Cats are known for. Their clowning lightens things up, but their music is what keeps audiences coming back, and their annual appearances at Brea’s Curtis Theatre have become a holiday tradition. The Alley Cats have repeatedly been invited back to appear as the opening act for comics like Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld and Joan Rivers, have performed in concert the world over alongside such groups as The Beach Boys and The Coasters and to entertain U.S. military troops, and were featured on the PBS-TV fundraising special “Pop, Rock and Doo-Wop.”

For tickets and information: 714-990-7722, curtistheatre.com

Julie Leopo/VOC

Hal Landon Jr.

“A Christmas Carol”

Nov. 30 – Dec. 24: Get details about this production and read our story about Hal Landon Jr.’s final year playing Scrooge at South Coast Repertory.

Handel’s “Messiah” Singalongs

Dec. 1, 2, 7 and 8: The 1741 oratorio is among the most famous works ever composed, and its Christmastime performances draw huge crowds. If you want to sing along to the “Hallelujah” chorus, here are the concerts that encourage audience participation.

On Dec.1, the Yorba Linda Arts Alliance will perform at Crosspointe Church in Anaheim. They will also perform it flash mob-style as a “Random Act of Culture” at South Coast Plaza

DATE UPDATED: On Dec. 2, the Global Harmony Symphony will perform it at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods. At this performance, musicians are also invited to play along.

Photo courtesy of the Meistersingers

Brian Dehn conducts the Meistersingers

On Dec. 7 and 8, conductor Brian Dehn will lead the Meistersingers in “Messiah and More,” a program of the famed work plus other seasonal music played on period instruments, including a Hallelujah Chorus singalong. Claremont United Church of Christ hosts the Dec. 7 performance and the Dec. 8 event is at Anaheim United Methodist Church.

And if you just want to just listen and not sing, the Pacific Chorale and Pacific Symphony perform the piece on Dec. 8 in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

Photo courtesy of Lythgoe Family Panto

The pirates of “Peter Pan and Tinker Bell: A Pirate’s Christmas.”

“Peter Pan and Tinker Bell: A Pirates’ Christmas”

Dec. 4-29: Get the details about this production and read our story about Laguna Playhouse’s annual offering of the Lythgoe Family Pantos.

“A Very Merry Unscripted Christmas”

Dec. 5-22: Right before your eyes, on the stage of the Modjeska Playhouse, the Modjeska Unscripted Theater (MUT) cast creates an original play, completely improvised on-the-spot. You, the audience, provide the ideas – then the actors create a story based on the made-for-cable Christmas movies that air on the Hallmark Channel every holiday season. Each play brims with Christmas magic, a festive spirit and a touch of romance, and no two shows are the same.

To line up your tickets: mphstage.org/tickets

The Magic of Christmas

Dec. 6-15: Starring The Young Americans, this annual blockbuster features a gargantuan cast of more than 250 singer-dancers, using state-of-the-art 45-foot LED walls with sophisticated video projection, animation and backgrounds, more than 30 scene changes and more than 6,000 costumes to turn La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts into a winter wonderland.

For tickets: 714-994-6310, lamiradatheatre.com

Photo courtesy of Soka PAC

Eric Rigler

A Celtic Christmas

Dec. 8: If you like bagpipes and pennywhistles, this concert is for you. Soka Performing Arts Center brings back Eric Rigler – the bagpiper of “Titanic” and “Outlander” fame – and his friend Dirk Freymuth. The afternoon will feature traditional Celtic music, themes from Rigler’s film and television soundtracks, and songs from the Christmas tradition.

Tickets can be purchased at: soka.edu or 949-480-4278

Photo courtesy of Musco Center

Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles

Nochebuena: Christmas Eve in Mexico, and A Southern California Christmas

Dec. 11 and Dec. 14-15: Musco Center for the Arts launches the holidays with two major celebrations: Nochebuena and A Southern California Christmas.

The festive evening of Nochebuena features the music, dance, and costumes of two distinguished performing ensembles, the famed Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles and Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar, in a cultural celebration of musical traditions from across Mexico that will resonate with many cultures within the many communities of Orange County – traditions celebrated on Christmas Eve in a country where Christmas is not just one day but an entire season.

A Southern California Christmas holiday stage spectacular has been called “a grand spectacle of big choirs, brass and ballet” and is now a two-day event. More than 150 musicians, singers, and dancers from Orange Community Master Chorale, Anaheim Ballet, Southern California Brass Consortium and the Southern California Children’s Chorus will bring many of the world’s favorite Christmas carols, songs and stories to life.

Tickets to both events are available online at muscocenter.org or by calling 844-626-8726

Dana Point Symphony Orchestra

Dana Point Symphony Orchestra’s Third Annual Holiday Concert

Dec. 13: Dana Point Symphony Orchestra fills the lovely St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Dana Point with a complete holiday program that includes the Hallelujah Chorus, Lord Nelson Mass and other seasonal favorites.

For tickets: danapointsymphony.com

A scene from American Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker”

American Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker”

Dec. 13-22: With Tchaikovsky’s timeless score performed by the Pacific Symphony, American Ballet Theatre generates holiday magic as the work of celebrated choreographer Alexei Ratmansky, artistic director Kevin McKenzie and a cast of more than 100 performers bring the classic ballet to life. International ballet stars Misty Copeland, Daniil Simkin, Stella Abrera, Sarah Lane, Hee Seo and Cory Stearns will rotate into the production throughout the run. They are backed by Tony-winner Richard Hudson’s dazzling sets and costumes. For tickets: scfta.org

Las Posadas Festival at Bowers Museum

Las Posadas Festival

Dec. 15: The Bowers Music will present a free festival celebrating the traditional Mexican Christmas re-enactment of the story of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter for the birth of the Baby Jesus. The evening will include performances by Rhythmo Mariachi Kids and Folklorico RaÍces de Mexico, as well as face painting, art projects, Mexican hot chocolate and pan dulce.

For more information, go to bowers.org

Christmas with The Celts

Dec. 22: Popular demand brings the PBS show “Christmas with The Celts” back to La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in a high-stepping show that features lush string arrangements of modern Christmas hits and lively Irish carols combined with traditional Irish dancing and spontaneous humor.

For tickets: 714-994-6310 and lamiradatheatre.com

Hooray for Hanukkah

Dec. 22-30: Pretend City Kids Museum in Irvine hosts a special series of events designed to teach children about the Hanukkah miracle and the importance of many of the holiday’s traditions. Kids will spin the dreidel, light the Menorah, and enjoy games, rhymes, art projects and activities while learning all about Hanukkah.

For information, go to pretendcity.org or call 949-428-3900

Kwanzaa Celebration

Dec. 26: Kids can learn about the principles and traditions behind the lively celebration that honors African-American culture and heritage. They bring out the Kinara and create art using corn, which during Kwanzaa symbolizes children and the promise of their future.

For information, go to pretendcity.org or call 949-428-3900

Eric Marchese is a contributing writer for Arts & Culture at Voice of OC. He can be reached at emarchesewriter@gmail.com.