Top 3 Seattle holiday shows for kids, adults, and families in 2023
Whether you’re into theater, ballet, burlesque, or just looking for an enjoyable holiday-themed experience, there is a show in the Seattle area for you.
If you feel a little overwhelmed by the growing number of show announcements, you’ve come to the right place. Here are my top three holiday show picks, along with a rundown of the performance. Honorable mentions below.
A Very Die Hard Christmas, Seattle Public Theater (adults)
This is exactly what it sounds like: A Christmas-themed "Die Hard" spoof! I’m not here to debate whether or not the 1998 film featuring legendary action star Bruce Willis is or is not a Christmas movie. This hilarious production finds our star John McClane in LA visiting his estranged wife, when European bad-guys attempt to take over the building. What ensues is a comedic, musical farce, with all the action, theatrical explosions, and '80s references that you can handle. Presented by The Habit, the sketch-comedy group that recently produced "Titanish," a hilarious spoof of the Titanic, this Christmas-themed action/comedy/musical is at the top of my must-see list this year.
The Nutcracker, Pacific Northwest Ballet (family)
This classic production is a local staple for ballet lovers in our region. I went last year with my family, and our kids loved it. This show has everything, from recognizable tunes (that are the soundtrack to almost every Christmas commercial on TV), to an oversized Christmas tree that grows so large on stage that in its final, giant form it seems to be 100 feet tall! There are kids on stage dancing. The costumes and stage design are stunning — there's a point in the show where they dance in the snow. If you're looking for a show the whole family will enjoy, you can’t go wrong with "The Nutcracker."
A Very Electric Christmas, Seattle Children’s Theatre (kids)
I’ve really enjoyed the direction the Children’s Theatre has gone under artistic director Idris Goodwin. When I interviewed him last year, he mentioned that plays can be aimed at kids, but still have messages that resonate for adults. This vision of the Children’s Theatre providing productions for everyone has worked. I enjoyed watching “The Boy Who Kissed the Sky,” “Carmella Full of Wishes,” or the “Wizard of Oz,” at SCT just as much as my kids did.
This holiday show, “A Very Electric Christmas,” is not based on a book or a story that I’m familiar with, but based on SCT's recent body of work, I’m willing to bet this will be a good one. The story follows a bird named Max who is on a journey to find his family. Using a completely dark stage and performers wearing illuminated glow-in-the-dark costumes, dancers on stage will appear to be larger than life. The soundtrack for this production includes holiday classics from Nat King Cole, Mariah Carey, and more.
Honorable Seattle holiday mentions
"Black Nativity," Broadway Performance Hall
The fact that this production is directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton was enough for me to secure my tickets. She’s a legend. I could give you the credentials, but instead I’ll just say that she has directed some of the best local theater I saw this year and that is not out of the norm for her. This new reimagining of the Langston Hughes musical will feature vocalists, dancers, actors, a full gospel choir, and opportunities for the audience to sing along.
"A Christmas Carol," ACT Theatre
This pick doesn’t need much of an intro. With Scrooge, ghosts, and Tiny Tim, most people know the story. This classic by Charles Dickens has become a holiday tradition for so many people, including myself. This year marks the 48th annual performance at ACT.
"Snowed In," Arts West
This is a new production. It follows four artists on a retreat trying to write the perfect holiday musical. A blizzard traps them and things get intense as they scramble to survive the chill and complete their show in time for the holidays. While most of my picks are cozy holiday classics, I like to see productions that take a chance. This is essentially a play about writing a play, which is a familiar device, but putting this new idea on stage during the holidays is risky. I’m curious to see how these four characters survive the snow, and themselves, and if they are able to create a play-within-a-play that can become a real-life holiday tradition.
"Scott Shoemaker’s War on Christmas!" Theatre off Jackson
This just sounds fun! It’s a variety show that combines comedy, singing, dancing, video, and partial nudity — all in effort to find out who’s attacking Christmas and why. This show will be a great time, but it is billed as being “on the naughty list,” so you may want to leave the kids at home.
"Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker," Triple Door
Seattleites are really into burlesque, and this holiday roundup wouldn’t be complete without tantalizing your sweet tooth. This award-winning show has graced Seattle stages for the holidays since 2006. All of your favorite characters are back again with a night of live music, ballet, striptease, and good times.