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Nutcracker2_bySharenBradfordHoliday shows are thick on the ticket-buyer’s table in December, when venues lay out their yummiest confections for the family to savor.

Santa Fe Opera puts on a distinctly New Mexican pageant with Shoes for the Santo Niño at the National Hispanic Cultural Center on the first weekend and The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis on the second weekend. This 40-minute children’s opera is based on the story by Peggy Pond Church out of Northern New Mexico Hispanic and Native American folklore. Composer Stephen Paulus and librettist Andrea Fellows Walters were commissioned by the University of New Mexico to write this work first performed in 2011, and Kathleen Clawson stage directs.

Dec. 1-2,, 505.724.4771; Dec. 8-9,, 505.986.5900

Popejoy Hall serves up a yummy assortment of treats for your pleasure each December. Any one of these selections would brighten my holiday—all of them together would leave me exhausted in January, but with a smile on my face. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder was the 2014 Tony Winner for Best Musical and the touring company kicks off the month. As far as I can tell, it has not much to do with Christmas, which recommends it in itself. Then Mannheim Steamroller Christmas and Mariachi Christmas appear, each an annual sell-out among fans. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol does a one-nighter just before the holiday, and we are left with plenty of time for last-minute shopping and private feasting.

Dec. 7-22, see separate listings for above shows,, 505.925.5858

Meow Wolf is the perfect place to escape December’s frenzy with Goth-and-gang duo Prayers and their synth-pop warm-up, Go Dark. Both groups conjure an atmosphere as real as an American X-mas and surreal-er than Halloween. The weather inside will be frightful, Virginia.

Dec. 15,, 505.603.8134

REBELS ON POINTE 01_Keyart_Image courtesy Icarus FilmsIndulge in Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s The Nutcracker at The Lensic this year. Traditional, yet always surprising (the Arabian Dance will be an aerial masterpiece this year), their spectacular choreography and character costuming make indelible memories for delighted audiences.

Dec. 16-17, The Lensic Performing Arts Center,, 505.988.1234

Santa Fe Desert Chorale celebrates their 35th Anniversary Winter Festival with Home for the Holidays at various venues in Santa Fe, Los Alamos and Albuquerque. Check this estimable group’s schedule of Christmas cheer and stellar acoustics.

Dec. 16-23,, 505.988.2282

For a bracing palate cleanser, The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s Ultimate Christmas Show runs through mid-December at Adobe Rose Theatre. Expect corny, slapstick lunacy from three fruitcakes playing all the parts.

Through Dec. 17,, 800.838.3006

Chamber music speaks “quiet reflection” to me, a desired state in this New Year. Chamber Music Albuquerque presents the Takács Quartet, who have not performed on regular tour for 10 years. I don’t mean to say they’ve been sitting around, quietly reflecting. The Takács, formed in Hungary in 1974 and now resident at U.C. Boulder, have taken on all manner of innovative projects and recordings, and are the subjects of the book Beethoven for a Later Age: The Journey of a String Quartet. The upcoming concert will include Mozart, Bartok and Brahms.

Jan. 21, Simms Center for the Performing Arts,, 505.886.1251

In January, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, presented by Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, will wipe all memory of nutcrackers from your mind. Do not miss this night of serious dance from some very funny (tall, hairy, tattooed) ballerinas. The Ballet Trock sends up classic ballet and modern dance with men in toe shoes and tutus. Yet even these world-class athletes need backstage oxygen in our high-desert environment, so clap even louder for these “Rebels on Pointe” (presented by Aspen Santa Fe Ballet).

Jan. 23, The Lensic Performing Arts Center,, 505.988.1234

Albuquerque’s got the theatrical intrigue you crave this month, near all of the good restaurants you’ve been meaning to try. ABQ Solo at the Aux Dog Theatre is an annual offering of one-actor monologues written, acted and directed by local theaterfolk. FUSION Theater Company is doing something new: New Works, as a matter of fact, to be selected and announced shortly. Albuquerque Little Theatre does their annual suspense play in January, and this year it’s Wait Until Dark, which I saw on Broadway with Lee Remick and Robert Duvall when I was 14 and had no filter when it came to screaming out loud in public. I’ll behave.

Aux Dog Theatre Nob Hill, Jan. 12-28,, 505.254.7716

FUSION Theatre Company, Jan. 25-28,, 505.766.9412

Albuquerque Little Theatre, Jan. 26-Feb. 11,, 505.242.4750

News flash: Want to be a theater critic? In the new year, the energetic folks at the Santa Fe Playhouse are adding a Youth Benchwarmers contest for high schoolers in Santa Fe. Benchwarmers are plays and readings chosen from blindly judged submissions; audience members participate in a post-show talkback with the playwrights. “It’s fun for the audience members and super-valuable for the authors, because they get to see how their works play in front of people,” says Vaughn Irving, artistic director. No date is set for the new endeavor. Not only will they warm up next-gen playwrights, but Santa Fe Playhouse hopes to produce a 24-Hour Play Festival in 2018 in which new works are written, directed and produced within one day. Whew. To hop on the carousel, call them.

Santa Fe Playhouse,, 505.988.4262

Story by Stephanie Hainsfurther

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