Forget “The 12 Days of Christmas:” Anybody who sends a partridge in a pear tree every day for nearly two weeks is a stalker, not a true love.
Think instead of the 12 plays and concerts and ballets – no, make that 18 – of holiday arts events that roll around with eggnog regularity in Charlotte. “Messiah” comes again, “Nutcrackers” clack away, and carols ding-dong merrily from stages and chancels. Here’s a guide to traditions worth observing, from the kinda-naughty to the oh-so-nice:
Theatre Charlotte has done various faithful versions of “A Christmas Carol” for 12 years; the current one comes from Julius Arthur Leonard and runs Dec. 7-16 at 501 Queens Road. Details: 704-376-3777 or theatrecharlotte.org.
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PaperHouse Theatre opened in 2012 with Chris Weikel’s spoof “Penny Penniworth.” It will revive this “tale of the trials and tribulations of a young innocent in jolly old Victorian England” Nov. 29-Dec. 15 at Frock Shop, 901 Central Ave. The immersive experience will be as much party as play, with mulled wine and hot apple cider. www.paperhousetheatre.com/pennypenniworth.
Starving Artist Productions now seems to do only one show a year, but it’s powerful: “The Birth,” a combination of dramatic performance, dance and live music that adapts Frederick Buechner’s writings to embody the Christmas story. It runs Dec. 19-22 at Duke Energy Theater in Spirit Square, 345 N. College St. blumenthalarts.org.
Hark! The unheralded devils sing in “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical.” Children’s Theatre of Charlotte presents this story of the Herdman family and the town that comes to realize kindness and understanding can convince selfish, misunderstood kids to share in the holiday spirit. Through Dec. 23 at ImaginOn, 300 E. Seventh St. 704-973-2828 or ctcharlotte.org.
The older “Nut”
Charlotte Youth Ballet has presented “The Nutcracker” for 37 years with choreography by founder Gay Porter and her daughter, Bridget Young. It runs Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at Halton Theatre, 1206 Elizabeth Ave. Guest star Remy Young (Bridget’s daughter) comes down from the corps of American Ballet Theatre in New York. charlotteyouthballet.org.
The newer “Nut”
Charlotte Ballet now does 17 performances of choreographer Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux’s “The Nutcracker,” this year from Dec. 7-23 -- not to mention the “Night at the Nutcracker” party Dec. 9 that turns Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St., into the Land of Sweets and offers a glimpse of the full show there. 704-372-1000 or charlotteballet.org.
The not-exactly “Nut”
Caroline Calouche & Co. makes an annual event of “Clara’s Trip: A Cirque and Dance Nutcracker Story.” It follows Clara to a party where she breaks an ankle and goes home to dream of fantastical things. Tchaikovsky’s music inspires the action, both earthbound and aerial, Dec. 7-9 at Booth Playhouse, 130 N. Tryon St. 704-372-1000 or carolinecalouche.org.
The hip-hop “Nut”
Christmas is a 12-day season. So “The Hip-Hop Nutcracker” (Dec. 26-29 at Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St.) fits into it, as lovers go back in time to the moment her parents met in a 1980s club. A dozen versatile hip-hop dancers, a live DJ, an onstage electric violinist and Tchaikovsky’s score intermingle, with Kurtis Blow as guest MC. 704-372-1000 or blumenthalarts.org.
Messiah (you sing)
The Chancel Choir of Providence United Methodist Church will lead its free, semi-annual sing-along of Part 1 of Handel’s “Messiah” Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. (Soloists come from the choir.) Bring your own score, or borrow one at the door. Adam Ward will direct, accompanied by Andrew Pester. The church is at 2810 Providence Rd. providenceumc.org/music.
Messiah (you don’t sing)
Charlotte Master Chorale, the group renamed by conductor Kenney Potter as the Charlotte Symphony Chorus moves toward independence, will join the N.C. Baroque Orchestra in all three parts of “Messiah”Dec. 7-8 at First United Methodist Church in Charlotte (501 N. Tryon St.) and Dec. 9 at First Baptist Church of Gastonia (2650 Union Rd.). charlottemasterchorale.org.
Rock the halls
The Tosco Music Holiday Party offers the autumn’s most diverse approach to the season of celebration Dec. 8 in McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square, 345 N. College St. The Tosco concert tradition brings out more than a dozen performers and plenty of singalongs — not just of Christmas carols but songs for Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, too. blumenthalarts.org.
A singing Broadway tour
Watching “A Christmas Story,” the 1983 movie adapted from Jean Shepherd’s wry stories, has become a tradition these days. “A Christmas Story: The Musical” comes to Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd., Dec. 4-9 in the Broadway Lights season. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“La-La Land,” “Dear Evan Hansen”) wrote the songs. 704-372-1000 or blumenthalarts.org.
A singing human “tree”
Carolina Voices does its “Singing Christmas Tree” (humans on risers amid foliage) for the 64th time Dec. 8-9 at Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St., but with a twist: A big band joins Miller Street Dance Academy and guest artists, making the rafters ring with swing as well as song. There are “Singing Christmas Tree for Kids” matinees Dec. 8-9, too. 704-372-1000 or carolinavoices.org.
Vocal splendor, part 1
The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra promises an all-new “Magic of Christmas” Dec. 14-23 at Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St., with Christopher James Lees conducting. Expect the Charlotte Symphony Chorus to sing, the audience to join in, Santa to appear and “snow” to descend. A carol has been written specifically for this show, too. 704-972-2000 or charlottesymphony.org.
Vocal splendor, part 2
The Charlotte Civic Orchestra promises 350 performers in “Christmas Extravaganza,” including soprano Cynthia Harris, Charlotte City Ballet, Encore Dancers, Holiday Singers and the combined choirs of South Mecklenburg and Butler high schools. It happens just once, at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 25 in Halton Theater, 1206 Elizabeth Ave. (704) 330-6534 or charlottecivicorchestra.org.
Vocal splendor, part 3
The 75 members of The Charlotte Singers perform at 5 p.m. Nov. 24 at Ballantyne Resort Hotel, 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway; 7 p.m. Dec. 2 at Providence Presbyterian Church, 10140 Providence Church Lane; and 7 p.m. Dec. 9 at St. Stephen Methodist Church, 6800 Sardis Road. (The first includes a tree-lighting midway through.) Carols and works by composers-arrangers Meredith Willson, Robert Shaw, John Rutter and Norman Luboff will be included.
Carolina Pro Musica’s “Christmas at St. Mary’s” may be the gentlest of local musical offerings at the holidays: tunes from medieval and Renaissance times (played in period attire), readings for the season, carols for all to sing. Bob Sweeten, Max on “The Bob and Sheri Show,” tells the Christmas story. See it Dec. 15 at St. Mary’s Chapel, 1129 E. Third St. carolinapromusica.org.
Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte makes its semi-raunchy ritual visit to Armadillo Acres, the Texas locale of “The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical.” Songs such as “My Christmas Tin Toy Boy” and “Christmas in My Mobile Home” get dropped among the cat-fightin’ and chair-throwin’. Dec. 5-23 at Hadley Theatre, 2132 Radcliffe Ave. 704-342-2251 or atcharlotte.org.