Now through Dec. 29 – ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’: A live radio play
The Orlando Shakespeare Theater invites us to share the holiday cheer of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” performed as a 1940s radio broadcast, running through Dec. 29. Inspired by the legendary film, “Wonderful Life” includes an ensemble of five actors who bring to life a dozen characters in a radio broadcast complete with commercial jingles. Orlando Shakes invites us to fall in love all over again with George Bailey and the angel who saves his life on Christmas Eve. Call 407-447-1700 or visit orlandoshakes.org
Dec. 12 to 22 – Breakthrough Theatre presents ‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever’
In this hilarious Christmas classic, a well-intentioned couple struggles to put on their church Christmas pageant with a cast that includes the Herdman kids, the most inventively awful kids in history. Its fun and mayhem as the Herdman kids collide head-on with the Christmas story! Running from Dec. 12 to 22, place your ticket reservation by calling 407-920-4034. The Theatre is at 419A W. Fairbanks Ave. in Winter Park.
Dec. 13 through Jan. 5 – ‘Bookish’ sculptures at A&H Museums – Maitland
With an opening reception on Dec. 13, the A&H’s Maitland Art Center will present new sculptures by Dawn Rosendahl, an A&H Artist-In-Action. In her exhibit – “Ex Libris” – Rosendahl transforms books into sculptures, ‘resurrecting’ the books like blocks of wood, rendering them into fascinatingly surrealist works of art. Call 407-539-2181 or visit ArtandHistory.org
Dec. 13 – Free Fridays at the Morse Museum
While all Fridays are free at the Morse Museum (after 4 p.m.), the evening of Dec. 13 will be extra special with Victoria Schultz performing on the harp, docent-guided family tours beginning at 5:15 p.m., an art demonstration by author and illustrator Mark Wayne Adams at 6 p.m., and a curator tour of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Laurelton Hall at 7 p.m. It’s all free at the Morse Museum in Winter Park. Call 407-645-5311 or visit morsemuseum.org
Dec. 13 and 14 – McRae Artists’ Holiday Open House
The 21 artists at McRae Art Studios in Winter Park will welcome art lovers and collectors to a Holiday Open House on Dec. 13 from 6 to 9 p.m., and Dec. 14 from 4 to 9 p.m. The annual event is an opportunity for the public to walk through the artists’ studios, visit with artists and purchase original works of art from the more than 1,000 available artworks. The Studios are at 904 Railroad Ave. in Winter Park, and the event is free and open to the public. Visit mcraeartstudios.com or call 407-682-2740.
Dec. 14 – ‘Clare and the Chocolate Nutcracker’
It’s an up-tempo “Nutcracker” when Clare ‘lives’ her enchanted dream, traveling with the Chocolate Nutcracker to the Kingdom of Toys. Visiting Candy Land and New Orleans (Clare’s birthplace), they arrive in time for Mardi Gras. This “Nutcracker” is performed in ballet, jazz, modern, swing, gospel and hip hop as Tchaikovsky and Duke Ellington are fused to bring us a very contemporary version of the holiday classic. Call 407-403-5519 or visit clareandthechocolatenutcracker.net
Dec. 14 – A boat parade for the history books …
The Rotary Club of Winter Park will present the ninth annual Winter Park Boat Parade & Ski Show on Dec. 14 on Lakes Virginia and Osceola in Winter Park. The on-the-water Parade features holiday-lighted boats along the lakes’ shorelines. Events begin at 3:30 p.m. with a water ski show, followed by a move to the Polasek Museum, home of the official viewing station. A sculptural Christmas tree by sculptor Amy Wieck will also be unveiled. The Parade will pass the Polasek Museum at 6:30 p.m. Call 407-647-6294 or visit wpboatparade.com
Dec. 14 and 15 – Eat, Drink & Be Merry with the Orlando Gay Chorus
Who better to Eat, Drink & Be Merry with than the Orlando Gay Chorus as they present their Holiday Concert at the Plaza at 425 N. Bumby Ave. in Orlando. At this celebration of “Faith, Fun and Festivity,” the OGC will sing and dance to the music that captures the festive heart of the Holidaze. Performances are set for Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 4:30 p.m. Please bring a new, unwrapped toy to support Toys For Tots! Visit orlandogaychorus.org
Dec. 14 and 15 – Bach Festival Society presents ‘A Classic Christmas’
The Bach Festival’s most popular performances – in the beautiful Knowles Chapel at Rollins College – are the Classic Christmas performances that find the Choir and Orchestra performing holiday classics and choral masterworks. With only two performances – Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 2 p.m., these much-loved choral concerts exemplify the holiday season. Visit bachfestivalflorida.org or call 407-646-2182.
Dec. 15 – Maitland Symphony free holiday concert
The Maitland Symphony Orchestra invites everyone to their annual free holiday concert on Dec. 15 beginning at 7:30 p.m. Including music from “The Nutcracker” and familiar melodies of the Christmas season, a special feature will be the Florida premiere of a work by Michael Mahadeen called “Winter Lights.” Performing Arts of Maitland invites the whole family to dream together with music from the past, from the heavens and into the New Year. At the Maitland Presbyterian Church, call 321-303-1404 or visit pamaitland.org
Dec. 15 and 22 – Breakthrough Theatre’s Cabaret Sunday goes ‘Holidaze’
Winter Park’s Breakthrough Theatre will present a special two-night-only cabaret called the “Breakthrough Family Christmas” on Sundays, Dec. 15 and 22, at 7 p.m. With a huge cast of Breakthrough alumni singing favorite Christmas songs and sharing stories of Christmas-past, this event-from-the-heart is the perfect way to put you and your family in the Christmas spirit. For reservations, call 407-920-4034.
Dec. 17 and 18 – Andrea McArdle’s ‘Sounds of the Season’
Broadway’s “Original Annie” – Andrea McArdle – will celebrate the holiday season at The Abbey with “Sounds of the Season,” with performances on Dec. 17 and 18 at 8 p.m. The show business legend will offer traditional holiday favorites along with beloved Broadway hits from “Oliver” and “Annie.” McArdle was the youngest performer ever nominated for a Tony Award (in 1977) for the title role in “Annie” and has since appeared in countless musicals and cabarets. For tickets, visit ticketweb.com
Dec. 17 and 18 – The Winter Park Playhouse's Cabaret Series
That powerhouse duo – Heather Alexander and Laura Hodos – will perform their newest cabaret, “Happy Hour,” at the Winter Park Playhouse on Dec. 17 and 18. “Happy Hour” celebrates the lighter side of life with comedic and uplifting songs, ranging from musical theatre to standard hits, all of which is extra special as rendered by the charming, comedic, and always spontaneous – Heather and Laura. Call 407-645-0145 or visit winterparkplayhouse.org for reservations.
Dec. 18 to 23 – ‘Dickens by Candlelight’ – with tea and cookies
Of all the ways to experience Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” my favorite is the production called “Dickens by Candlelight.” While candlelight is in the title, the production brings us into the action by seating us at tables where we are served tea and homemade cookies as the extraordinary three actors (who play all the parts) ‘act’ among us. And this year is extra special to have Robin Olson, who created “Dickens by Candlelight” in 1997, return to the cast along with audience favorites John DiDonna and Monica Tamborello. Running Dec. 18 to 23, call 407-222-7669 or visit Dickensbycandlelight.com