A guide to KC’s wonderland of arts and entertainment for the 2019 holiday season

Milking Christmas at the Living Room. // Photo by Brian Paulette

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Through December 29
The Coterie Theatre
Crown Center, 2450 Grand

A stage adaptation based on the television special of the same name, this Charles Schulz classic finds Charlie Brown on a mission to bring out the true spirit and meaning of Christmas. A live jazz trio plays along, and Snoopy meets up with the Red Baron in a “special encore.”


The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Through December 28
Theatre for Young America
H&R Block City Stage
Union Station, 30 West Pershing Road

Adapted by Barbara Robinson from her book, this humorous Christmas show features the boisterous Herdman kids, who have their own ideas about the church Christmas pageant in which they’ve been cast.


Christmas in Song
Through December 22
Quality Hill Playhouse
303 West 10th Street

Quality Hill goes the way of cabaret for its annual celebration of Christmas music. Pianist and emcee J. Kent Barnhart accompanies vocalists Lindsey McKee, LeShea Wright, and Tim Noland in a revue that spans multiple musical styles.


A Christmas Carol
Through December 29
Kansas City Repertory Theatre
Spencer Theatre, 4949 Cherry

It wouldn’t feel like Christmas at KC Rep without this Dickens classic, staged here at the holidays for going on decades now. This year’s extensive cast includes Gary Neal Johnson reprising his role as Ebenezer Scrooge, plus Walter Coppage, Peggy Friesen, Taylor Harlow, Shanna Jones, Victor Raider-Wexler, Matthew Rapport, John Rensenhouse, Vanessa Severo, Rusty Sneary, Jake Walker … and more.


Scrooged and Marley
Through January 1
Martin City Melodrama & Vaudeville Co.
702 East Blue Ridge Extension, Grandview

A comedic take on Dickens, featuring a holiday revue and something called the Water Glass Symphony.


Milking Christmas
Through December 23
The Living Room Theatre
1818 McGee

Friend Dog Studios and Ryan McCall stage the third annual production of this musical comedy at the Living Room. It’s an upside-down Christmastown, where Macey Maid-a-Milking is seeing an increase in defective toys and a higher-than-usual amount of coal. What’s up?


TubaChristmas 2019
Noon, December 2; noon, December 6
Kansas City Symphony
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
1601 Broadway

Hundreds of area tuba and euphonium players band together for this free concert, a holiday-season lunch-hour tradition celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. (Advance registration is required to perform, but just a reservation is needed to attend.)


December 4-29
Unicorn Theatre
3828 Main

World-famous French actress Sarah Bernhardt, of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, took on many roles in her time, including Hamlet. We learn all about that Shakespearean undertaking in this full-length comedy, a non-Christmas show at the Unicorn that gives KC audiences a decidedly different option.


Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis: Big Band Holidays
December 5
Harriman Jewell Series
Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
1228 Main

Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and his group of jazz musicians are joined by singers Denzal Sinclaire and Alexis Morrast. For this Harriman Jewell Series program, at the Midland, they’ll play original melodies along with cherished seasonal songs.


Kansas City Chorale “Wintersong”
December 5
The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art
4525 Oak

The Kansas City Chorale returns to Rozzelle Court to perform its annual Wintersong Gala Concert.


KC VITA’s Festive Fundraising Gala
December 5
Simpson House
4509 Walnut

New songs by contemporary composers, food, drink, a silent auction, and performances by the KC VITAs ensemble make this fundraising gala a highly anticipated holiday event.


A Spectacular Christmas Show
December 5-22
Musical Theater Heritage
Crown Center, 2450 Grand

A few of MTH’s favorite things, according to its website, are singing, dancing, show tunes, and Christmas. This annual seasonal show promises all of these, with holiday-themed songs from the musical-theater repertoire as well as classics.


KC Ballet’s The Nutcracker. // Photo by Brett Pruitt and East Market Studios

The Nutcracker, Kansas City Ballet
December 5-24
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
1601 Broadway

The ballet’s annual Nutcracker has become nearly synonymous with Christmas-season celebration. Tchaikovsky’s score, performed by the KC Symphony, accompanies the dance troupe—including the Nutcracker Prince, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and a girl named Clara—as they tell this 19th-century story.


Buddy Holly’s Jolly Christmas
December 5-8
Musical Theater Heritage
Crown Center, 2450 Grand
Zachary Stevenson returns to MTH with his Buddy Holly tribute show, filled with Holly and holiday classics.


The Soul of Santa Presents Christmas on 18th and Vine
December 6
Jazz District
1615 E 18th

The Soul of Santa aims to present just that: expressing kindness and faith through soul music. Traditionally Christian or not, this one of a kind experience aims to bring holiday cheer to African American communities by embodying family and divine love.


KU Vespers on the Road 2019
December 6
Johnson County Community College
12345 College Boulevard, Overland Park

The KU School of Music’s Holiday Vespers, featuring KU choirs and the KU symphony orchestra, take their Christmas show on the road for a free concert at JCCC’s Carlsen Center (but tickets are required).


Home for the Holidays
December 6-14
Olathe Civic Theatre Association (OCTA)
500 East Loula, Olathe

A family-themed musical variety show, written by Shelly Stewart Banks and Peter Leondedis, features an “ever-changing cast,” with something a bit different every night. General admission is just $10.


Handel’s Messiah, Kansas City Symphony
December 6-8
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
1601 Broadway

This oratorio (written for orchestra and voices) premiered back in 1741. Nowadays it’s a KC Symphony holiday staple. Nearly 200 musicians, including the KC Symphony Chorus, grace the stage in Helzberg Hall for the acoustic Christmas treat.


The Nativity
December 6-8
Mesner Puppet Theater
Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral
415 West 13th Street

A cast of 40-plus puppets, including some that are 7 feet tall, enact this annual pageant with live music and choral singers.


Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Christmas Eve and Other Stories
December 7
Sprint Center
1407 Grand

Progressive-rock band TSO reimagines its original show from 1999 with new staging and special effects. “Over the top,” founder Paul O’Neill calls it.


A Christmas Carol at KC Rep. // Photo by Cory Weaver

Winter Soulstice
December 7
Pilgrim Chapel
3801 Gillham

The Kansas City Chamber Choir presents a holiday choral performance at the intimate Pilgrim Chapel, home to a gorgeous stone exterior, stained glass, wooden pews, and exposed ceiling beams—excellent ambiance for an unforgettable winter-themed performance. A limited amount of tickets are free and available through the Eventbrite website.


Making Spirits Bright, Heartland Men’s Chorus
December 7-8
Folly Theater
300 West 12th Street

The (approximately) 150-member chorus, which has grown from 30 singers at its founding in 1986, performs a wide-ranging Christmas concert that swings from classic to contemporary.


The Fish Fry Holiday Extravaganza
December 8
Knuckleheads Saloon
2715 Rochester Avenue

Chuck Haddix, host of KCUR 89.3’s The Fish Fry, emcees this holiday celebration featuring the Funky Butt Brass Band, a group that pays homage to the sounds of New Orleans, St. Louis, Memphis, and other American funk and soul hubs.


Musica Sacra Presents a Baroque Christmas
December 8
Rockhurst University, Arrupe Hall Auditorium
5351 Forest

Rockhurst’s ensemble-in-residence performs sacred works by Giacomo Puccini the Elder, plus popular Christmas carols. Timothy L. McDonald, musical director and conductor, gives program notes at 6:45 p.m. before the 7:30 p.m. concert. Admission is free, but register in advance at rockhurst.edu/baroquechristmas.


Opus 76 Quartet Holiday Special
December 8
Old Mission United Methodist Church
5519 State Park Rd, Fairway

A free, family-friendly performance of holiday songs featuring the Danish String Quartet playing “Woodworks”, a piece inspired by Scandinavian folk music. No tickets necessary.


Peace and Joy
December 8 & 9
Our Lady of Sorrows, 2552 Gillham, KCMO
Village Presbyterian Church, 6641 Mission, Prairie Village

This second annual Christmas concert will feature pieces by local contemporary composers, classic carols, and world premieres by Ed Frazier Davis and Geoff Wilcken. Tickets to the event are available via the Te Deum website or online, depending on which performance you plan on attending.


All Star Holidays, The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra
December 10
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
1601 Broadway

The KC Jazz Orchestra swings into some seasonal tunes with the assistance of musician, singer, and dancer Lonnie McFadden, composer and trombonist Jason Goudeau, and singer Molly Hammer.

kcjo.org, kauffmancenter.org

Magnificent Holidays
December 10
Old Mission United Methodist Church
5519 State Park Rd, Fairway

The KC Chamber Orchestra and Musica Vocale have teamed up to present J.S. Bach’s Magnificat and Telemann’s Concerto for Oboe d’amore along with other Baroque era classics. No tickets are necessary for this event.


Ceremony of Carols , Kansas City Chorale
December 10
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
11 East 40th Street

December 13
Rolling Hills Presbyterian Church
9300 Nall, Overland Park

December 15
Country Club United Methodist Church
400 West 57th Street

The KC Chorale presents its Christmas songs the old-world way, belting out British composer Benjamin Britten’s medieval-based carols in Middle English, accompanied by harp. Also on the program: “Fantasia on Christmas Carols” by Vaughan Williams. Tickets are available online at the KC Chorale website.


Jingle Jamboree
December 11-28
Mesner Puppet Theater, Mesner Studio
1006 East Linwood Boulevard

Chipmunk Randall P. Nutbutter is getting ready for the big Christmas jamboree. But he and his cohorts — with audience help (and some singing along) — must find out who’s making off with all the holiday decorations, cookies and presents.


Straight No Chaser
December 12
Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
1228 Main

The a capella men’s choir Straight No Chaser shot to fame after a YouTube clip of the nine-vocalist act performing “The 12 Days of Christmas” went viral. The group performs popular songs of all kinds and will be doing both current and classic hits as well as favorite holiday tunes at this performance.


The Tallis Scholars
December 12
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
12th and Broadway, KCMO

Friends of Chamber Music present The Tallis Scholars, sometimes referred to as “the rockstars of Renaissance vocal music”. Directed by founder Peter Phillips in 1973, this group is considered the premiere group of Renaissance vocal music. The selections for this event will span centuries and offer a unique perspective on choral performance.


Tenth Avenue North: Decade the Halls Tour
December 12
Folly Theater
300 West 12th Street

This Christian band from Florida performs traditional holiday favorites plus songs from its Christmas album Decade the Halls, in which it explores the popular musical styles of each decade of the past 100 years. With costumes to match.


Bobby Rush’s A Very Merry Booty Christmas
December 13
Knuckleheads Saloon
2715 Rochester Avenue

Rush, a Grammy-winning blues and funk singer, has been playing for nearly 70 years now. He’ll be in town with his band The Paladins and opener Vanessa Collier.


Sounds of the Season
December 13 & 14
Atonement Lutheran Church
99th and Metcalf, Overland Park

The Kansas City Civic Orchestra presents seasonal music, carols, and a special guest conductor. Donations are always welcome, but the concert is free and open to the public.


Big Band Christmas 2019
December 14
Liberty Hall
644 Massachusetts, Lawrence

KPR and Liberty Hall team up to host the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra for an evening of very brassy holiday cheer.


Christmas Show with Wynonna and Tanya Tucker
December 14
Uptown Theater
3700 Broadway

Country music legends Wynonna Judd and Tanya Tucker celebrate the season with a holiday jamboree.


TubaChristmas at the Kauffman Center. // Photo by Eric Williams

Central Standard Presents Holiday Harmonies, Central Standard Men’s Chorus
December 14
Folly Theater
300 West 12th Street

The local, 50-member a cappella choir—an official member of the Barbershop Harmony Society—brings its award-winning vocal stylings to a Christmas concert of holiday songs.


Holiday Pops
Kansas City Chorale
December 14
1900 Building
1900 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Mission Woods

The choral group takes a lively approach to holiday favorites (“Jingle Bells,” “White Christmas,” “Silent Night,” etc.), with a light and spirited Christmas program.


Messiah Singalong
December 14
Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral
415 W 13th Street

Join conductor Dr. Paul Meier, featured choral soloists, and the Kansas City Baroque Consortium in their annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah. Bring your own score or purchase one online to join in the booming chorus. Admission to this event is free.


Chorale Family Christmas
December 14
St. Michael the Archangel
14251 Nall Avenue, Leawood

This one-hour concert features 200 high school honor choir students joining the Kansas City Chorale to sing classic holiday music.


Sheku Kanneh-Mason
December 15
The Folly Theater
300 W 12th Street

Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason won the 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year award, performed on Britain’s Got Talent, and was a featured musician for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. He’s 20. Though not holiday themed, this show offers a (free!) opportunity to see his awe-inspiring talent in person.


Candlelight, Carols & Cathedral
December 15 & 20
Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, 415 W 13th Street
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 12th and Broadway

The 50-voice a capella choir Festival Singers will be joined by Victoria Botero, Kansas City Bronze, Canon John Schaefer, and director Denise Trawicki for traditional carols, holiday favorites, and readings. Tickets are available through the Festival Singers website, but arrive early for the best seats.


Drag Queen Christmas—The Naughty Tour
December 17
Folly Theater
300 West 12th Street

Starring contestants from VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race—Shea Couleé, Thorgy Thor, Latrice Royale, Lady Bunny, Manila Luzon, and Shuga Cain—and hosted by Nina West, this “extravaganza” promises stunning holiday costumes, holiday songs, backup dancers and “drag queen shenanigans.”


A Magical Cirque Christmas
December 17
Music Hall
301 W. 13th Street

A stew of acrobatics, illusions, juggling, and dancing set to Christmas music and themes, this show from the producers of Broadway’s “The Illusionists” promises to be one of the top spectacles of the KC holiday season.


Cocktails & Candy Canes
December 18
1520 Grand Blvd

A local showcase from Center Cut Records, this celebratory performance features KC artists Calvin Arsenia, The Black Creatures, and Fritz Hutchison.


Dickens Carolers in Concert
December 18-20
Chestnut Fine Arts Center
234 North Chestnut Street, Olathe

A group of professional Christmas carolers offers three performances chockablock with holiday songs.


A Charlie Brown Christmas at The Coterie Theatre. // Photo by Erin Stricker and courtesy of the Coterie Theatre

Handel’s Messiah, Spire Chamber Ensemble and Baroque Orchestra
December 20
Grace Episcopal Cathedral
701 SW Eighth Avenue, Topeka

December 21
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
11 East 40th Street

December 22
St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Parish
14251 Nall, Leawood

Since 2010, this group of choral singers and musicians has come together from around the country to perform musical programs in KC. For the holidays this December, they bring period instruments to candlelit churches for Handel’s Messiah.


A Crooner Christmas
December 20-22
Musical Theater Heritage
Crown Center, 2450 Grand

Les Lankhorst sings it Sinatra-style, blending holiday tunes and Sinatra standards for this three-performance Christmas show—one of three holiday options at MTH.


Christmas Festival, Kansas City Symphony
December 20-23
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
1601 Broadway

On the program at this annual holiday celebration, designed for the entire family, are choirs, carols and seasonal songs. Added bonuses: a special “visitor from the north” and a jewelry prize giveaway from Helzberg Diamonds.


Lorna Kay’s One Night Stand Country Christmas
December 21 & 22
The Brick
1717 McGee

A band featuring local musicians Lauren Krum, Fritz Hutchison, Claire Adams, Mike Stover, and Jon Kraft takes a honky-tonk spin on holiday classics and more.


Carols of Darkness and Light
December 21 & 22
St. Peter’s Parish, 815 E Meyer Boulevard
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 6401 Wornall Terrace

Focusing on imagery of light, Kantorei premieres “The Longest of Nights” and offers readings of medieval as well as modern poetry about Christmas.


Nace Brothers
December 23
Knuckleheads Saloon
2715 Rochester Avenue

Local blues stalwarts the Nace Brothers perform a Christmas benefit concert for Jan Faircloth.


Christmas Eve with The Soul Visionaries
December 24
The Granada Theater
1020 Massachusetts Street, Lawrence

A 12-piece band performs the music of Aretha, Stevie, and more soul icons. Merry Christmas, Lawrence!


Categories: A&E