Christmas on Stage in Metro Vancouver
This original 2019 story first appeared on Inside Vancouver
It’s that time of year when I put on my Santa hat, speckle my beard with holly berries and eat mince pies like a Yule-crazed Cookie Monster. But, more importantly, it’s also the time when I dive headfirst into creating the latest edition of my Vancouver Christmas Guide, a pop-up annual site celebrating all the festive season activities you can do in and around the city.
And while the 2019 edition already has more than 100 tinsel-tastic happenings to consider, it’s the live stage shows that many people can’t wait to hear more about. From pantomimes to comedies and from holiday heart-warmers to stirring orchestral events, there’s something for everyone here this year.
Keen to add some chestnut-warming magic to your 2019 festive calendar? Check out the sparkling live shows below––plus all the others on our fully updated site (ticket giveaways included). Then, start booking: some events sell out quicker than a fast-moving Christmas pudding careening down a ski slope (don’t try this).
You’ll giggle like a tickled elf at this year’s Vancouver TheatreSports production on Granville Island. Their 2019 holiday improv show is called Merry Kissmass––A Royal Romance and, as ever, it’s shaped by audience suggestions. Parodying the fertile field of holiday rom-coms, this year’s story features a fairy tale romance between Prince Rudolf and Meaghan Sparkle. Will they or won’t they? And just how surreal can those audience suggestions get?
Comedy is also on the cards at East Vancouver’s York Theatre, where the Cultch’s seventh annual East Van Panto hits the stage. The perfect combination of kid-friendly show with plenty of belly laughs for parents, this year’s production is Pinocchio and, as ever, there will be a dizzying array of satirical local references––plus lots of reasons for that naughty nasal feature to keep on growing.
Perfect for kids
Traditional pantomimes are a Christmas must-do for many festive-loving families. And if you’d love to take the kids to a warm and welcoming old-school production––complete with shiny heroes, boo-able baddies and smile-triggering sing-alongs––don’t miss the 35th consecutive holiday show at the city’s charming Metro Theatre. This year’s production is Alice in Wonderland.
That’s not the only show to whisk the family to this season. Consider Carousel Theatre’s Peter Pan as well as the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s live-music screening of The Polar Express at the Orpheum Theatre. Especially young kids are also fully encouraged to check out the VSO’s Tiny Tots: Holiday Hooray event, a 45-minute festive music party with singing and live instruments.
The VSO has several additional festive options in 2019––including their popular Traditional Christmas concerts––but it’s the Arts Club Theatre Company that many locals and visitors turn to for their annual slice of seasonal cheer at this time of year.
Vancouver’s biggest theatre company has three shows coming up: a sure-to-be-popular production of The Sound of Music at the Stanley Theatre; a new Canadian comedy with songs (and a ghostly grandmother) called It’s a Wonderful Christmas-ish Holiday Miracle at the BMO Theatre Centre; and, returning after last year’s highly successful run, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, a droll festive sequel to Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
But the hottest ticket in 2019 could be your final chance to catch Bah Humbug! at SFU’s downtown Fei & Milton Wong Experimental Theatre. Concluding its celebrated 10-year run, this fusion of professional and community actors––plus musician Jim Byrnes in the title role––is a unique Eastside version of A Christmas Carol. It’s not Scrooge’s only local stage appearance this year, though. Pacific Theatre is also serving-up an intriguing one-man production, starring Ron Reed as 44 different characters!
Alongside at least two versions of The Nutcracker––including one from Goh Ballet and another from Alberta Ballet––there are also several irresistible Metro Vancouver concerts coming up this year that are guaranteed to warm you like a flagon of steaming glühwein with its very own candy cane umbrella.
Consider the soaring Christmas with Chor Leoni: Angels Dance shows in which Vancouver’s celebrated male choir is joined by performers from the Arts Umbrella Dance Company. And save time for Christmas with the Bach Choir at the Orpheum Theatre as well as the uplifting Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir’s Good Tidings! show at Christ Church Cathedral, with this year’s guest vocalist Katherine Penfold.
Craving an alternative? Main Street’s Heritage Hall is the luminous venue for the sixth annual Music for the Winter Solstice concert, while medieval costumes and instruments feature at this year’s sumptuous Winter Harp shows in Vancouver and beyond. A little too traditional? Why not go for the VSO’s orchestra-accompanied screening of Home Alone instead? It’s the perfect way to catch a nostalgic old Christmas movie in a cool new way. Don’t forget to wear your ugliest vintage Christmas sweater for the full effect.