Stage Rites

Chicago theaters take on tradition this December.

December is not just any month. The last month of the year is designated for gathering with friends and family to partake in age-old traditions, such as attending midnight mass, lighting the menorah and making the trek to your great Aunt’s annual cookie exchange.

From Sedaris to Irving Berlin, this December brings ritual holiday performances as well as new shows that theatergoers might wish were annual traditions.

American Theatre Company’s “It’s A Wonderful Life: The Radio Play”
November 25-December 24
1909 W. Byron Street, Chicago

Marking the 10th anniversary of the production, ATC’s version of the Frank Capra classic has undoubtedly become part of the fabric of the Windy City’s holiday traditions. Skip Jimmy Stewart this year and take in a live version of this perennial favorite.

Theater Wit’s “The Santaland Diaries”
November 25-December 31
1229 W. Belmont, Chicago

If you prefer your rituals to include gut-busting laughter, look no further than Theater Wit’s seventh annual production of “The Santaland Diaries.” Written by famed humorist David Sedaris and starring Mitchell Fain, this play, adapted from Sedaris’ account of working as an elf at Macy’s during the Christmas rush, sells out fast.

The Chicago Theatre’s “A Christmas Story, The Musical!”
December 14-30
175 N. State St., Chicago

Find the perfect mix of familiarity and hilarity in this adaptation of the classic film, produced by Peter Billingsley, a.k.a. Ralphie Parker. With a cheery holiday score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and a book by Joseph Robinette, this new take will leave you feeling far from fra-gi-le.

Marriott Theatre’s “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas”
October 19-January 1
10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire

In the spirit of bringing the silver screen to the stage, Marriott Theatre breathes new life into this holiday classic. The song-and-dance film about love and snow in Vermont lends itself well to live performance and won’t leave you dreaming of a white Christmas.

Piven Theatre Workshop’s “Cities of Light”
November 7-December 11
927 Noyes St., Evanston

Though stories of snow and Santa may take center stage this month, there is more than just Christmas in the mix. Piven Theatre Workshop opens their 40th season with the world premier of “Cities of Light.” This journey through the cabarets of Berlin, Paris, Yiddish Warsaw and Tel Aviv in the 1930s highlights the Jewish storytelling tradition through song and humor.