Welcome the Yuletide

Top seasonal shows, from most conventional to quirkiest


The Nutcracker

It wouldn’t be the holidays without this big-budget tradition. December 5 to 28. $32–$134. Auditorium Theatre.


Sounds of the Season

These period-dressed carolers let you come to their front porch. November 22 at 3 p.m. Free. Driehaus Museum.


Dave Koz & Friends

Get your dose of holiday cheese with these smooth-jazz versions of Christmas tunes. December 13 at 8 p.m. $36–$96. Chicago Theatre.


The Santaland Diaries

David Sedaris’s crotchety Macy’s elf celebrates 11 years at the Wit. November 21 to December 28. $25–$36. Theater Wit.


Tidings of Tap

Holiday classics adapted for a merry band of hoofers. December 12 to 14. $22–$35. UIC Theatre.


A Q Brothers’ Christmas Carol

Dickens gets a dash of dancehall, reggae, and dubstep. Through December 28. $30–$48. Chicago Shakespeare Theater.


24th Annual Winter Solstice Concerts

Some Eastern Empire flair for those who’ve heard “Jingle Bells” one too many thousand times. December 21 to 23. $25. Constellation.


Dee Snider’s Rock & Roll Christmas Tale

It’s a Wonderful Life with a satanic spin. (For more on Snider, see “Keep Up with the Kooks,” below.) Through January 4. $30–$90. Broadway Playhouse.


Twist Your Dickens, or Scrooge You!

This Second City and Goodman production throws Scrooge in the mix with the Peanuts crew. Through December 28. $15–$45. Goodman Theatre.


A Very Merry Mother F@#*ing Christmas

Leave Santa’s little helpers at home for this R-rated variety show. December 20. $12. Gorilla Tango Theatre.


Keep Up with the Kooks

Dee Snider
Dee Snider Photo: Photo: Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP

You may know Dee Snider from his rock anthems with Twisted Sister (“We’re Not Gonna Take It,” “I Wanna Rock”), his short stint on Donald Trump’s The Celebrity Apprentice, or his famous frizzy do. Now Snider, 59, adds a musical to his well-padded résumé. Here, he reveals three secrets to his success.

He started as a classical singer. “In high school I made all-state choir and the All Eastern Seaboard Choir. Did glee club, barbershop, madrigals, church choir, concert choir—all of it. When I auditioned for college concert choir, they were like, ‘Yeah, you’re great, but stop singing like you’re in a rock band.’ ”

He keeps his hair well coifed. “It’s important to comb it from the bottom. If you comb it from the top down, you’ll get breakage.”

He penned a tune for Celine Dion. “I wrote this Christmas song for my wife in the late ’90s. One of Celine Dion’s producers heard the demo and told me she wanted to record it. I was stunned. ‘The Magic of Christmas Day’ turned out to be a huge seller. My family and I are living in the house Celine Dion built.”


Download These

Mavis Staples, Chicago's beloved gospel icon, offers a playlist of her holiday favorites

Mavis Staples
Mavis Staples Photo: Amy Harris/Corbis

“This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway

“This one never gets old. It perks you up and gets you ready for Christmas.”

“Silent Night” by The Staple Singers

“This was the first Christmas song our family sang together.”

“Joy to the World” by Nat King Cole and “Winter Wonderland” by Emeli Sandé

“I grew up with these songs. They’re just so bright; they make you smile and keep you in the holiday spirit.”

“Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt

“It's playful. She’s telling Santa all these things she wants for Christmas, but we all know she’s not going to get them. She’s certain she’s a good little angel, and I can relate!”

“Go Tell It on the Mountain” by Mahalia Jackson

“I love this one because it’s more of a gospel song.”