Celebrating the Holidays: Tucson offers a variety of traditional events this season

By Laura Latzko

The holidays can be a good time to experience the traditional or the unconventional. Tucson has activities for those interested in a more old-fashioned ballet or concert experience or a unique blending of different art forms.

Reveille Men’s Chorus’ Island Of Misfit Toys

In Rudolph’s story, the Island of Misfit Toys was a place where the bullied reindeer found others like himself and discovered his true purpose. In the Reveille Men’s Chorus’ annual show The Island of Misfit Toys, a family learns to love and accept each other while on the island. The show, which blends holiday and toy-centered music, will feature 65 members of the men’s show choir. The chorus will bring the story to life through gospel, pop and barbershop numbers with full props and costumes.

Leo Rich Theater, 260 S. Church Avenue, 304.1758, reveillemenschorus.org, 7:30 p.m. Friday, November 30, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, December 1, 2 p.m., Sunday, December 2, $20 to $25.

Holidays around the World and Throughout Time

The warmth of the holidays manifest in different ways around the world. The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures will explore these traditions from November 20 to January 6 as a dozen exhibits are transformed into holiday scenes from different countries and eras. The museum’s Holidays around the World and Throughout Time will bring feelings of nostalgia with miniature exhibitions themed around a 1930s New Year’s celebration, German and Danish Christmases, a Texas home adorned with holiday lights, an Edwardian holiday scene, a Hanukkah celebration and a retail store experience. The miniatures are scaled replicas made out of wood, metal, porcelain and textiles materials.

Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures, 4455 E. Camp Lowell Drive, 881.0606, theminitimemachine.org, Tuesday, November 20, to Sunday, January 6, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m. Sundays, $9 general admission, $8 seniors and military, $6 children 4 to 17 and students, free children 3 and under.

Ballet Tucson’s Sugar Plum Tea

Often, a little pomp and circumstance can make the holidays more memorable. Ballet Tucson will give audiences a chance to dress up in their winter best for its annual Sugar Plum Tea fundraiser on December 2. The event will give audiences a holiday experience with harp music from Christine Vivona, a duet by Jeff Haskell and Katherine Byrnes, a holiday-themed market, high tea, a Ballet Tucson performance with scenes from The Nutcracker and a silent auction.

Tucson Marriott University Park Hotel, 880 E. Second Street, 903.1145, ballettucson.org, 1 p.m. Sunday, December 2, $75.

Ballet Tucson’s The Nutcracker

Adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet The Nutcracker has become a holiday convention for people around the world. Tucson Ballet will bring a traditional version of the show, filled with snow, dancing sweets and toy soldiers, during its annual production of The Nutcracker from December 7 to December 9. The production brings ballet dancers from around the world. Jenna Johnson, the company’s prima ballerina for the last 15 years, will play the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Vasily Boldin, a guest artist from Russia, will portray the Sugar Plum Fairy’s Cavalier. The 70 children in the cast range from 6 to 18 years old.

Tucson Music Hall, 260 S. Church Road, 1.800.745.3000, ballettucson.org, 7:30 p.m. Friday, December 7, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, December 8, 1 p.m. Sunday, December 9, $30 to $58 general admission, $26 to $40 for students and military, $19 to $31 for groups.

Arts Express’ Production of A Christmas Carol and Dickens Festival

Charles Dickens and his beloved story of Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim have become a fundamental part of the holidays. Arts Express will honor the writer and his work with its production of the musical version of A Christmas Carol from December 7 to December 16. Based on Charles Dickens’ story, Alan Menken’s, Mike Ockrent’s and Lynn Ahren’s musical presents a similar message of redemption and kindness toward others. The Tucson performance will have music from a live orchestra and star Christopher Younggren as Ebenezer Scrooge. Two hours prior to each performance, Old London will come to life as part of the Dickens festival, a celebration of Victorian England complete with photos with Father Christmas, chances to meet Charles Dickens, characters dressed in Victorian costumes and holiday vendors.

Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway Boulevard, 319.0400, arts-express.org, Friday, December 7, to Sunday, December 16, $20-$25 general admission, $15-$20 for seniors and military, $10-$15 for children 12 and under, $5 additional for Charles Dickens meet-and-greets.

Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s Production of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah

Inspired by Biblical stories, George Frideric Handel’s Messiah made its debut in Dublin in 1742 and continues to resonate with audiences over 250 years later. Like symphonies around the world, the Tucson Symphony has made the work part of its holiday repertoire. The symphony will perform the oratorio with the Hallelujah Chorus and soloists on December 15 and December 16. Tucson Symphony Orchestra Chorus Founding Director Bruce Chamberlain will conduct the piece, which will spotlight soprano Kathryn Mueller, alto Sarah Barber, tenor Trey Smagur and baritone Troy Cook.

Catalina Foothills High School, 4300 E. Sunrise Drive, 882.8585, 4 p.m. Saturday, December 15, 2 p.m. Sunday, December 16, $45 to $55, tickets 50 percent off for children under 18.

In the Christmas Mood: A Holiday Music Spectacular

During the 1960s and ’70s, Andy Williams’ Christmas specials helped to bring the magical feeling of the holidays into homes around the country. Khris Dodge Entertainment’s In the Christmas Mood: A Holiday Music Spectacular concert on Friday, December 21, will have a similar old-fashioned holiday feeling. The concert will showcase local singers Crystal Stark, Katherine Byrnes and Chach Snook and a six-piece band led by Khris Dodge, who will perform beloved classics such as “Jingle Bells,” “Sleigh Ride” and “The Christmas Song.” The Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus, New-York-based vocalist Brian Levario and 94.9 MIX FM Morning Mix will also make special appearances. Attendees are encouraged to bring diapers for a holiday drive benefiting the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona.

Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress Street, 547.3040, 7:30 p.m. Friday, December 21, tickets begin at $22.

A Cirque Holiday with Troupe Vertigo

The combination of divergent art forms can make a holiday experience even more unforgettable. During A Cirque Holiday with Troupe Vertigo, the Tucson Symphony will perform with acrobats, aerialists and contortionists from Troupe Vertigo, a Los Angeles-based circus, dance and theater performance group. The program will have a classical twist, with excerpts from The Nutcracker, Victor Herbert’s operetta Babes in Toyland, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera The Snow Maiden and David Hamilton’s arrangements of the “Angels We Have Heard on High Overture” and “Little Drummer Boy.”

Tucson Music Hall, 260 S. Church Street, 882.8585, 4 p.m. Saturday, December 22, 2 p.m. Sunday, December 23, tickets start at $30, 50 percent discount for children under 18.