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Live Holiday Shows Adapt in the Age of Coronavirus

Live Holiday Shows Adapt in the Age of Coronavirus

For some, the show must go on, even if it’s virtual

CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images

One of the many casualties of the coronavirus pandemic is the live holiday theater events that typically happen all across the country. With many cultural mainstays closing for the safety of their casts, crews and beloved patrons, annual holiday shows may look a lot different this year. Here’s what’s happening with some of the country’s most well-known Christmas or holiday-themed theatrical events and how they plan to adjust to the coronavirus pandemic — or if the show will go on at all.

‘Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes’

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Since 1933, the famous “Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes” has dazzled audiences at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Sadly, this year, the show won’t go on. “We are disappointed for everyone involved with the show, as well as for the many fans who make the Christmas Spectacular a cherished part of their holiday tradition. We look forward to welcoming audiences back for the 2021 production, which is on sale now,“ the show’s website says. Refunds are currently being offered for the 2020 production.

‘Hot Chocolate Nutcracker’

‘Hot Chocolate Nutcracker’

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, Debbie Allen and her eponymous Debbie Allen Dance Academy have been at the forefront of virtual dance classes and celebrations, including a livestream that raised money for several foundations in the wake of the pandemic. Now, the studio’s famed all-Black “Hot Chocolate Nutcracker” is heading to Netflix this holiday season. The documentary takes viewers behind the scenes of the making of the production and features interviews with Debbie Allen and many of her dancers. “Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker” premieres on the streaming platform on Nov. 27.

Joffrey Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’

Joffrey Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’

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One of Chicago’s staple holiday productions, the Joffrey Ballet’s rendition of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” is being canceled this year. The company announced the cancellation of “The Nutcracker,” choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, in June 2020.

‘Jingle Ball’

‘Jingle Ball’

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iHeartRadio’s “Jingle Ball” will happen via livestream on Dec. 10 at 9 p.m. EST. The star-studded holiday concert lineup includes Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, Shawn Mendes, Doja Cat, Sam Smith and Dua Lipa.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will be migrating its entire winter season, which runs through the month of December, to a virtual format. The performances will be free and open to the public, including matinee shows and programming for families as well as a celebration of the 60th anniversary of Alvin Ailey’s quintessential work “Revelations.”

Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil

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In light of the pandemic, Cirque du Soleil, which is based out of Canada and has shows across the United States and Europe, has canceled all of its resident and touring shows until further notice. “Our teams are currently working to develop the protocols and security measures that will be set in place when we can resume our operations. Those protocols and measures will be communicated in due course,” Cirque du Soleil announced on its website.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s ‘Christmas Eve & Other Stories’

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The Trans-Siberian Orchestra will be bringing its well-known show “Christmas Eve & Other Stories” straight to fans’ homes with a livestream on Dec. 18. “Although this is the first holiday season in over twenty years that Trans-Siberian Orchestra isn’t touring – and we’ll miss seeing each of you out on the road – we’re excited to keep the TSO tradition alive in a new way through this 90-minute livestream special,” the band wrote on its website.

Broadway shows

Broadway shows

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New Yorkers and the city’s regular winter visitors will have to miss their annual holiday theater shows as all of Broadway is going dark until spring 2021. “With nearly 97,000 workers who rely on Broadway for their livelihood and an annual economic impact of $14.8 billion to the city, our membership is committed to re-opening as soon as conditions permit us to do so. We are working tirelessly with multiple partners on sustaining the industry once we raise our curtains again,” Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin said in a statement.

West End shows

West End shows

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London’s version of Broadway, the West End, is taking a multifaceted approach to theater as it awaits another lockdown. Certain shows, such as the upcoming adaptation of “The Great Gatsby,” will go on in-person as planned. In the case of “The Great Gatsby,” which goes up at the Immersive LDN theater, the show is being staged as an “art deco masquerade ball” to meet COVID-19 requirements, with audience members wearing “compulsory face coverings and gloves to complement their fabulous attire.” Other musicals like the show “Six” are also tentatively planning to go on while requiring attendees to wear masks and limiting theater occupancy.

Mannheim Steamroller

Mannheim Steamroller’s annual concert tour

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Mannheim Steamroller, another holiday musical concert heavyweight, has decided to cancel its annual concert tour with no plans to go virtual. “This decision was difficult, but an abundance of caution is necessary during this time of uncertainty. Bringing the holiday spirit to you each year is essential to everyone on the Mannheim Steamroller team. We will be back soon when we can again all celebrate the music and traditions of Christmas, safely, together,” the band announced on its website.

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

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The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., remains closed through April 25, 2021. However, a few parts of the center are open to tourists, including the John F. Kennedy Memorial, The REACH Theater and Victura Park. The Kennedy Center is offering a variety of digital content, with daily new releases. In addition, the annual Kennedy Center Honors, which typically take place before Christmas and air on television before New Year’s Day, are being rescheduled to the spring and will feature “an unconventional, hybrid format featuring a mix of virtual tributes and small-capacity, in-person live performances,” according to a press release.

American Ballet Theatre

American Ballet Theatre

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The American Ballet Theatre (ABT) is putting up a digital season — titled “Offstage” — in celebration of the company’s 80th anniversary. This season will feature classes, performances by the ABT Studio Company and events specifically for ABT subscription members.

Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting

Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting

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The beloved Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center has already received some not-so-positive attention in 2020. Though the tree-lighting ceremony will not be open to the public as it was in previous years, television viewers can still experience “Christmas at Rockefeller Center” and the tree can still be visited by locals.

Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dance Theatre of Harlem

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Dance Theatre of Harlem hosted its first virtual Sunday matineé event with a Nov. 15 performance. The predominantly Black company, which was founded by Arthur Mitchell, also has DTH on Demand, a virtual season of classes, archival performances and other programming.

Disney on Ice

Disney on Ice

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Fans of Disney’s ice skating extravaganza Disney on Ice can still catch its latest show, “Dream Big,” throughout December in San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth and Hidalgo, Texas, as well as Des Moines, Iowa. To ensure customer wellness, Disney on Ice is requiring pod seating, which allows patrons to buy groups of seats, or pods, that can be shared between them and the guests they bring with them to attend the show. These pods cannot be divided or shared with other patrons.

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