HOLIDAY GUIDE 2013: Dozens more shows for the season

"Merry Christmas! (Stranger Things Have Happened)": Gift Theatre's house improv troupe, Natural Gas, turns the heat up on the holiday spirit in this company-written sketch show. Gift Theatre, Dec. 5-14

"Christmas Bingo: It's a Ho-Ho-Holy Night": "Late Nite Catechism" maven Vicki Quade adds another game card to the mix of interactive nun comedies. And yes, you can actually win prizes. Royal George Theatre, Nov. 29-Jan. 5

"Winter Pageant": Redmoon celebrates its new home in Pilsen with the return of its annual celebration of the season of hope and good will. Inspired by Farid ud-Din Atta's 12th-century Sufi poem "The Conference of the Birds," the show features artists from the Kalapriya Center for Indian Performing Arts and punk-rock surf band San Andreas Fault. Redmoon, Dec. 13-22

"HoliDAZE": Some stocking-stuffer one-acts by local playwrights Lisa Dillman, Tate Geborkoff, Nambi E. Kelley, Joshua Rollins and Steve Simoncic. Athenaeum Theatre, Nov. 30-Dec. 22

"Happy Holly-daze:

A Drinking Game Performance": No, you're not seeing double — though you might be if you take in Corn Productions' annual mix of sketch comedy and bibulous diversions. At the Cornservatory, Dec. 12-29

"The Snow Queen, or When Christmas Freezes Over!": Piccolo Theatre's family-friendly British-style "panto" takes on Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale and fractures it as surely as the title monarch's mirror. Evanston Arts Depot, Evanston, through Dec. 21

"Burning Bluebeard":

A grimmer take on a holiday panto returns in Jay Torrence's fantasia about the performers who were onstage during the horrific Iroquois Theatre Fire on Dec. 30, 1903. Originally staged by the Neo-Futurists, it returns under Halena Kays' direction for The Ruffians. Theater Wit, through Jan. 5

"The Seafarer": Conor McPherson's dark Celtic comedy, produced by Seanachai Theatre Company, features a pair of squabbling Dublin brothers and the mysterious stranger who arrives to play cards for extremely high stakes on Christmas Eve. The Den Theatre, Nov. 27-Jan. 5

"El Stories: Holiday Train": Waltzing Mechanics brings back the holiday version of trials and tribulations of public transit. (Coal in the Ventra stocking, anyone?) Greenhouse Theater, Nov. 30-Jan. 11

"The People's A Christmas Wish": Quest Theatre Ensemble's new musical (with puppets) by Andrew Park and Scott Lamps finds Dasher stuck in a taxidermy shop and in need of a real holiday miracle, stat. The Blue Theater, Nov. 22-Dec. 22

"Those Silly Reindeer": A less-fraught reindeer musical for kids finds the crazy caribou desperately seeking snow to take off for the big night. J. Preddie Predmore and Jenny Lamb created this piece for Li'l Buds Theatre Company. Rivendell Theatre, Dec. 12-29

"Holiday Spectacular!": The burlesque ladies of the Kiss Kiss Cabaret burst out of their holiday stockings and lead the audience in an all-kazoo medley of seasonal songs. Greenhouse Theater Center, Nov. 22-Dec. 20

"That's Weird, Grandma: The Holiday Special": Barrel of Monkeys offer a seasonal version of its Monday night showcase of stories by Chicago Public Schools students, such as "Santa and Taco Bell." Neo-Futurarium, Dec. 9-Jan. 13

"Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Goose": Arthur Conan Doyle's Christmastime caper, adapted by Michael Menendian and John Weagly. Raven Theatre, Dec. 12-29


"The Nutcracker": Nearly as ubiquitous as "Christmas Carol," and just as beloved, is the story ballet about Clara and her adventures with the wooden toy that comes to life. The Joffrey Ballet, Auditorium Theatre, Dec. 6-28; Dance-Along Nutcracker, Chicago Cultural Center, Dec. 1; Ruth Page Civic Ballet, Northeastern Illinois University Auditorium, Dec. 7-8, and College of Lake County, Grayslake, Dec. 21-22; Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker, Rosemont Theatre, Dec. 8; Hyde Park School of Dance, Mandel Hall, University of Chicago, Dec. 14-15

"Duke It Out": Tchaikovsky and Ellington/Strayhorn go toe-to-toe in this doubleheader featuring traditional and jazz dance versions of "The Nutcracker Suite," with live music by Axiom Brass and Quintet Attacca. Nichols Concert Hall at Music Institute of Chicago, Evanston, Dec. 7

"Tidings of Tap!": Chicago Tap Theatre's annual celebration of all things winter includes traditional and lesser-known songs of the season. University of Illinois at Chicago Theater, Dec. 13-15