Yuletide Gems – Holiday Theatrical Offerings Are NOT To Be Missed

Bill Beggs
Events, Holiday Guide, Holidays, Tourism Times

What to do once the kids or grandkids, nieces and nephews are finished performing in the school holiday show or church Christmas pageant? Cue up Miracle on 34th Street (or Christmas Vacation…), again, and settle in for a long winter’s nap?

You don’t get out much, do you? But you should. There are plenty of theatre and musical offerings all season long throughout ILLINOISouth.

Belleville and Edwardsville have a full slate of holiday offerings, and smaller towns hither and yon have special holiday performances scheduled. Here’s just a sampling of events confirmed for the season. (In many cases, holiday shows had not been finalized by the time we went to press.)

The Belleville Philharmonic Society is an orchestra of volunteers who comprise the second-oldest continuously performing symphony in the country. (The first concert was held in 1866, a year after the Civil War ended.) This season, listeners will be blessed with several classics, from Vivaldi’s Gloria to the Nutcracker suite and ballet.

Besides the aforementioned baroque offering from the society’s chorale and chamber orchestra, the “Christmas Wonders” concert will feature Rutter’s Magnificat. Tchaikovsky’s opus Nutcracker will include several professional soloists joining the dancers of the Belleville School of Ballet.

In Edwardsville there will be about as many offerings as there are visions of sugar plums dancing in children’s heads. Not too many these days? Well, the lovingly restored Wildey Theatre is a sugar plum in its own right, and has plenty on the slate to keep children and adults entertained. Along with a production of Nutcracker, there’ll be a showing of the beloved Bing Crosby movie White Christmas.

Kids can enjoy the Elves’ Workshop at the Wildey, where participants can work on nine separate craft projects for wrapping and giving as gifts to family and friends.

If you haven’t seen the Wildey, last refurbished in 2011, you must check out this fine 325-seat theatre that has featured the likes of Dave Mason, Judy Collins and Leo Kottke. “Everyone leaves here an ambassador,” says Rich Walker, who heads up Friends of the Wildey, the group that promotes the theatre.

In Lebanon, they’ll give you the Dickens. Looking Glass Playhouse will perform the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, which might scare the you-know-what out of some kids under 12… and even some adults who have been living more like a Scrooge than a Crachit of late. Some people are scared they’ve been too bad for Santa. Others fear being visited by three ghosts on the night before Christmas.

Two events are scheduled in Mt. Carmel at Wabash Valley College. “Mind & Spirit of Christmas” features the college’s chorale backing Gina Moore, Red Wick and friends for a medley of holiday classics. Also on the performing arts calendar, at Brubeck Arts Center, is “New Odyssey Christmas,” which spotlights the group New Odyssey – 3 Guys, 30 Instruments. Intrigued? Jerry Bayne, performing arts director at WVCC, is a true believer in this act. He says, “These guys have been hitting home runs for years.”

And in Olney, the city’s art council is showcasing the Olney Central College choir for a holiday concert at John Stull Performing Arts Center; the orchestra and chorus will be joined by several professional soloists.

So bundle up, get out, and let it snow!

CLICK HERE to find information on these performacnes and other great holiday events on our online claendar!

This information originally appeared in the Tourism Times Holiday Guide. Click here and sign up to receive our annual Visitors Guide at no cost!

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