December 1st, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Quasimodo and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" are ringing in the holidays.

Quasimodo and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” are ringing in the holidays.

Authors: Amy Finley and Eric Olson
Photography: Courtesy of La Jolla Playhouse
Information Provided by: Riviera San Diego

If you’re like us, the arrival of family for the holidays brings equal parts bliss and butterflies. How will you entertain Aunt Agatha for a week? Our solution? Take in a show. Sometimes, a few hours side-by-side in the dark is the perfect version of family togetherness. Here’s five productions that are not to miss.

  1. La Jolla Playhouse’s staging of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (tickets from $15) is magical—just what you’d expect from a show in special arrangement with Disney Theatrical Productions. Based on both the animated film and Victor Hugo’s 19th century novel, it’s darker than Disney, pulling no punches in its depiction of the tortured relationship between hunchback Quasimodo and his pious “protector,” Frollo, the Archdeacon of Notre Dame. Musical numbers soar, especially with the addition of S.D. chorus SACRA/PROFANA, and the heartbreaking conclusion includes spectacular theatrics deserving of their inevitable standing ovation. Through Dec. 14.
  2. Family foibles are fodder for The Second City’s Nut-Cracking Holiday Review, starting its run Nov. 28 at the La Jolla Playhouse (tickets from $15). If you’ve watched Saturday Night Live in the last century, you’ve likely seen an alum of the legendary Second City comedy troupe, an institution in sketch comedy that churns out the top in TV and movie comedians. The troupe’s twisted take on the holidays leaves no sensitive area safe with original sketches, songs and comedy that will make your most ribald office-party hijinks look tame in comparison. Through Dec. 21.
  3. An audience full of kitted out mini mes, on the other hand, testifies to the family-friendly appeal of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, a seasonal tradition at The Old Globe in Balboa Park (tickets from $24). Cindy Lou Who and a cast of Whovillians warble and romp on the Globe stage while the Grinch and his two-sizes-too-small heart attempt, unsuccessfully of course, to thwart Christmas. This feel-good show makes every San Diegan proud to call Theodore Geisel—Dr. Seuss himself—one of their own. Through Dec. 27.
  4. It’s undeniably one of the biggest stage sensations since the Andrew Lloyd Weber era, and Wicked doesn’t disappoint—dazzlingly theatrical with gorgeous costuming, kaleidoscopic sets and chill-inducing musical numbers. The story of prickly Elphaba’s calamitous years in Oz—pre Wicked Witch transformation—includes showstoppers like “Popular” and “Defying Gravity.” (We dare you: try to make it out of Civic Theatre without their buoyant melodies stuck in your head). Seeing this show is a right of passage for modern theatergoers hooked on musical comedy. Through Dec. 7.
  5. And finally, we close with a concert. We’ve been smitten with Chrissie Hynde since the 1980s, when the shaggy-haired rocker fronted the Pretenders. Now, with her first ever solo album, Stockholm, getting rave reviews, the original cool girl takes to the stage at Balboa Theatre (tickets from $32.50) Nov. 29 for a one-night show. Sure, we’re looking forward to all the new hits. But with relatives in tow at the end of a (long) holiday week, there’s also a certain Pretenders lyric that comes to mind. “I went back to Ohio…”


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