By Thomas Consolo
Well, we’re in the thick of it now: the weeks when the world will force you into holiday cheer through the sheer volume of seasonal programming. If last week’s bounty didn’t quite do it, this week should bring you to critical mass. (Just don’t explode from it.) Maybe you’re already a cultural gourmand who says simply “more.” Either way, we’ve got you covered.
Krohn Conservatory | 1501 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-421-5707
Monday, Dec. 17, through Sunday, Dec. 23, 5 p.m.: Krohn by Candlelight
The Krohn holiday show already is a beautiful experience. Starting Monday, though, it ramps up with twilight activities during extended evening hours. Besides enjoying the exhibit by the light of holiday twinkle, there will be live music, special programs and visits with seasonal characters, including Santa on some nights.
Cincinnati Ballet | 1555 Central Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45214; 513-621-5282
Opens Thursday, Dec. 13: “The Nutcracker”
The holiday spectacle that has served as a family tradition – and a first arts experience for two generations of Cincinnatians – is here at last. When young Clara goes to bed after a family Christmas party, the nutcracker she was given comes to life and leads her on a wondrous, magical tour. It’s all the more so thanks to Tchaikovsky’s sparkling score. There are 15 performances, all in Music Hall (1243 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202), including an added, final show at 1 p.m. Christmas Eve.
City Flea | 1230 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
Saturday, Dec. 15, 4-9 p.m.: Holiday Flea
The region’s largest, curated, urban flea market is making its annual winter cameo – just for you. Yes, you. You know who you are, you folks who haven’t yet done your Christmas shopping. I know; you were just waiting for this very opportunity to pick up those last creative items. Maybe you’ll see me there, too, fellow procrastinators.
Esquire Theatre | 320 Ludlow Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45220; 513-281-8750
Sunday, Dec. 16: “It’s a Wonderful Life”
Hello, old movie house! It’s one of the greatest Christmas movies made, and one you’ve probably seen a few dozen times – on TV. Don’t miss this chance to see it the way it was intended, on the silver screen, and (bonus!) in a restored, neighborhood cinema that would have looked right at home on Main Street in Bedford Falls. Made in 1946, with World War II just ended, it’s no coincidence that characters in this heartwarming tale have to go to some dark places to find their value in the world. Watch Clarence get his wings one more time.
The Mini Microcinema | 1329 Main St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
Sunday, Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m.: “Open Screen”
What’s “open screen,” you ask? It’s like open mic night, but with films. This year’s is The Mini’s fifth “Open Screen” event, featuring a mix of short films in varying genres by local film and video makers. The filmmakers also will be on hand to present their work.
Bach Ensemble of St. Thomas | 100 Miami Ave., Terrace Park, OH 45174; 513-831-2052
Monday, Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m.: Sing-along “Messiah”
You might recall my “Messiah”-related comments from last week – including that it was intended as an Easter piece. The easiest way to fix that is to perform only Part I, which is, in fact, all about Christmas. Even more fulfilling, of course, would be to sing along. BEST’s annual “Messiah” sing-along takes care of both of those by inviting you to sing the choruses of Part I (plus the “Hallelujah” chorus from Part II), accompanied by the Bach Ensemble. Great music is better when you’re part of it. Here’s your chance to find out how that feels for yourself. Vocal scores will be provided if you can’t bring one of your own.
Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra | 3187 Linwood Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45208; 513-280-8181
Thursday, Dec. 13, 7 p.m.: “Jingle Jazz: Nutcracker Remix”
“The Nutcracker Suite,” Duke Ellington’s jazz take on Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” music (with some arranging help from Billy Strayhorn) debuted in 1960, making it old enough now to be a classic in its own right. With a tip o’ the cap to Cincinnati Ballet (whose production debuts the same night), CCJO offers its twist on Ellington/Tchaik, along with additional bonbons like Count Basie’s “Jingle Bells.” It’s part of the Big Band at the Redmoor series.
No Promises | 719 Race St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
Friday, Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m.: “Christmas with No Promises”
This local, professional, a cappella ensemble is giving a few performances of its Christmas program. Friday’s brings live performance back to the Garfield Theater, now home of Cincinnati World Cinema and former home of Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.
Vocal Arts Ensemble | 1225 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-381-3300
Saturday, Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m.: “Candlelit Christmas”
Stephanie Nash, VAE’s assistant conductor, leads the chorus and special guests Cincinnati Collaborative Ringing Project in the professional chorus’s annual, intimate, holiday musical tradition. Handbells and the harmonies of the VAE will warm up a cold night with the spirit of the season. You can stop by and say hello to Thom Mariner, Movers & Makers co-publisher; he’ll be on the Memorial Hall stage. Program repeats 4 p.m. Sunday.
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company | 1195 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-381-2273
Opens Friday, Dec. 14: “Every Christmas Story Ever Told”
It’s CSC’s lucky 13th season for this irreverent romp through quick takes on holiday stories from Dickens to Dr. Seuss. After several rollicking years in the courtyard of Arnold’s, one wonders if the more traditional setting of the Budig Theater may dampen the show’s spirit. We’ll just have to go and find out.
Middletown Lyric Theatre | 1530 Central Ave., Middletown, OH 45044; 513-425-7140
Friday and Saturday, Dec. 14 and 15, 8 p.m.: “Miracle on 34th Street”
With “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Miracle on 34th Street” is one of the great Christmas stories on film. MLT takes the tale of a department-store Santa who turns out to be the real deal off the silver screen and puts it simultaneously on stage and in the radio studio – thanks to a 1948 broadcast on the legendary Lux Radio Theater. That script was adapted for this production. Repeats Dec. 21 and 22.
Manifest Gallery | 2727 Woodburn Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45206; 513-861-3638
Opens Friday, Dec. 14: “Tapped”
The student-professor bond can be powerful in any field, but especially so in the art world. Manifest’s ninth annual show of works by students and their teachers includes 14 artists from nine states; the works include paintings, printmaking, drawings, sculptures and photographs, all presented in pairs. Preview reception is 7 p.m. Thursday.
Also opening Friday are two Regional Showcase exhibitions, “New England” and “Gulf South.”
Also on Thursday, the ninth annual Manifest Prize, a $5,000 award, will be announced. The winner will be chosen from 927 works by 296 artists from 40 states and 14 countries.