All I Want for Cleve-mas, Part 1: Onstage This Holiday Season


This year, Santa comes early to Cleveland with plenty of onstage holiday action - from theatre like the Cleveland Playhouse's Game's Afoot to concerts like the Cleveland POPS at PlayhouseSquare. (graphic from

Each year, holiday preparations seem to start earlier and earlier (I was floored when I saw Christmas decorations on some shelves before Halloween). But although I’m not quite ready to bust out the decorations, I think it’s never too early to start planning my gift giving, as well as my own wishlist.

Last November, I shared my “All I Want for Cleve-mas” round-up of holiday shows in Cleveland. It’s time for the 2011 edition — my top 5 gift suggestions for the Cleveland theater-phile in your life.

Ken Ludwig's The Game's Afoot (or Holmes for the Holidays), 11/25-12/18 (photo from

Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot (or Holmes for the Holidays)

For their holiday show, the Cleveland Play House is bringing a world premiere to the Allen Theatre.

In the Game’s Afoot, acclaimed actor of the 1930s, William Gillette, invites his Sherlock Holmes co-stars to his eccentric Connecticut mansion for a Christmas Eve celebration. When one of the guests is murdered, Gillette employs the persona of the master detective he’s made famous on the stage.

I’m most excited for this show – not just because I enjoy all things Sherlock Holmes and murder mystery comedies (love Murder by Death!), but also because it’s directed by Aaron Posner. Posner is the founder and former artistic director of one of my favorite Philadelphia theatres — the Arden Theatre. He also was the adapter of Chaim Potok’s The Chosen and My Name is Asher Lev (both of which have been staged at Cleveland Play House).

Nov. 25-Dec. 24 / Buy tickets here.

Conni's Avant Garde Restaurant, 12/1-12/18 (photo from

Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant: Home for the Hollandaise

Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant is back after last year’s sold-out run at CPT.  If you’re curious about this show filled with crazy cabaret, improv comedy, death and a mighty tasty five-course meal, you can read my full review here.

It’s definitely a unique, thoroughly entertaining and appetizing twist on the holidays while exploring motherhood, rock n’ roll fame and the art of bussing a table. Plus ChefChef BonBon (from Bonbon Bake Shop) is back to cook up a delicious menu.

Dec. 1-Dec. 18 / Buy tickets here.

A Christmas Carol, 12/1-12/23 (photo from

A Christmas Carol

A Cleveland holiday tradition returns to Great Lakes Theater when the family classic A Christmas Carol appears on the Ohio Theatre stage for its 23rd year.

Longtime GLT artistic company member Sara Bruner, will stage former Artistic Director Gerald Freedman’s heartwarming adaptation of A Christmas Carol. During this story within a story, the fictitious Cleaveland family gathers in its Victorian-era parlor on Christmas Eve to read Mr. Dickens’ book. GLT actor Aled Davies returns for his fourth season in the role of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge.

Dec. 1-Dec. 23 / Buy tickets here.

Cleveland Orchestra's Holiday Festival, 12/2-12/23 (photo from by Roger Mastroianni)

Cleveland Orchestra Holiday Festival

The Cleveland Orchestra and Choruses join forces for nine concerts of traditional Christmas favorites during The Cleveland Orchestra’s 2011 Holiday Festival. The seasonal programs will include “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah, and “Sleigh Ride,” “Scenes from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.”

 Academy Award-winning songwriter Randy Newman who wrote music for Toy Story among many other songs (including my favorite – the theme to Monk) will be performing a holiday concert on Dec. 3 with the Orchestra.

The PNC Holiday Musical Rainbow series will also celebrate Chanukah and Kwanzaa with music and stories.

Dec. 2-Dec. 23 / Learn more and buy tickets for all of the events here.

Santaland Diaries, 11/25 -12/17 (graphic from

Santaland Diaries & Cleveland POPS at PlayhouseSquare

PlayhouseSquare’s theatres will also play host to a few other holiday shows.

The Cleveland Public Theatre will present David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries, Nov. 25-Dec. 17. Based on the best-selling author’s own hilarious holiday experiences, it’s the story of a 33-year-old slacker who takes a job as Crumpet, a Macy’s Christmas elf, dealing with thousands of children and their parents as they pay a visit to Santa.

On Nov. 27, the Cleveland POPS and Conductor Carl Topilow will be joined by Fox 8 TV personalities including Todd Meany, Tracy McCool, Wayne Dawson, and Dick Goddard. During their Old-Fashioned Christmas Show, the Cleveland POPS will play favorite Christmas songs and carols and local shelters will be there with adoptable puppies and kittens.

And because I like saving money, I’ll be on on Nov. 28 for their Cyber Monday specials. Last year, they had a different special for each hour — from no ticketing fees to parking and food vouchers to PlayhouseSquare gift cards. 

Santaland Diaries: Nov. 25-Dec. 17 / Buy tickets here.
Cleveland POPS Concert: Nov. 27 / Buy tickets here.


While these may be my top 5, Cleveland is fortunate to have a number of professional and community theatres that call it home. So if you haven’t found the perfect gift here, keep an eye on those last 2 links for more options of what’s onstage this holiday season!

For more ideas when shopping local for the holidays, check out:

6 thoughts on “All I Want for Cleve-mas, Part 1: Onstage This Holiday Season

  1. Pingback: All I Want for Cleve-Mas: Local Holiday Shopping in Cleveland « Clue Into Cleveland

  2. Pingback: All I Want for Cleve-Mas, Part 3: Lost in a Good (Cleveland) Book « Clue Into Cleveland

  3. Pingback: Enter to Win a Dolce Gusto Piccolo Coffee Machine « Clue Into Cleveland

    1. Beth Joseph

      I shopped local this season at Room Service and Dredger’s Union for unique home accessory gifts. I also bought tickets for the play Memphis at the Playhouse Square. I ate at local restaurants such as Crop Bistro, Flying Fig and Lucky’s Cafe. I always bring my out of town family to the West Side Market for food and people watching.

  4. Pingback: All I Want for Cleve-Mas, Part 4: Fighting Cabin Fever « Clue Into Cleveland

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