For most of the year, live theater revues are second-tier attractions on the Grand Strand. For the run-up to the holidays, however, the shows are what pull visitors to the Myrtle Beach area.
The granddaddy of them all - now in its 26th year - is Carolina Opry's "Christmas Special," featuring a wide array of holiday tunes. For the show, the theater often spotlights performers who've proven popular over the seasons, and back again is bass singer Moses Braxton and pianist Rocky Fretz. New to the cast is Nathan Herron, who sang on both "American Idol" and CMT's "Can You Duet." The venue (www.thecarolinaopry.com) is at the northern junction of U.S. 17 Bypass and U.S. 17 Bypass.
At Barefoot Landing, Alabama Theatre's "The South's Grandest Christmas Show" (www.alabama-theatre.com) mixes Vegas-style production numbers with holiday classics and comedy routines. This year brings new costumes and a few changes in the song list.
For the second year, "Christmas on Ice" will be staged at the Palace Theatre, at Broadway at the Beach (www.palacemb.com). It features singers and dancers mixed in with skating numbers by world-class pros.
All three productions are prime for all-age audiences.
Tightly focused shows more aimed at grownups will be mounted by Legends in Concert (at Broadway at the Beach; www.legendsinconcert.com) and the 2001 Entertainment Complex's StarLight Room (just north of Myrtle Beach on Lake Arrowhead Road; www.dinostvvarietyshow.com).
Legends features top-notch tribute artists, and through the end of the year, holiday tunes will be offered by lookalike/sound-alike performers channeling Elvis, Liberace, Marilyn Monroe4, Buddy Holly and Tim McGraw.
"Dino's TV Christmas Special" at the StarLight Room is a yuletide riff on the regularly offered re-creation of Dean Martin's 1960s-vintage variety show. It is alternating with "The Marvelous Wonderettes - Holiday Prom." In it, the usually-offered production of the off-Broadway comedy hit set in the 1950s has a plot retooled for the season.
Admission: Tickets start around $38 apiece. "Dino's TV Christmas Special" and "The Marvelous Wonderettes - Holiday Prom" start at $29; $39-$49 for dinner-show packages. Reservations strongly suggested.
Target audience: Families or (Legends and StarLight Room shows) adults.
Travel time from Charlotte: Four hours.