Whether you prefer your holiday tunes secular or sacred, many of the greatest songs ever penned revolve around this festive time of year. Along with perennial favorites like The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol, keep these local shows in mind as you fill out your holiday-season dance card.
With 1961’s Black Nativity, poet/playwright Langston Hughes reimagined the Nativity story with all-Black casts singing gospel classics, Christmas carols, and original songs. For A Gospel Black Nativity at Jubilee Theatre (506 Main St, 817-338-4411), which celebrates its 43rd year performing works reflecting the African-American experience, brilliant performers belt out soulful arrangements of familiar tunes. The first act follows the birth of Jesus in the manger while the second takes place in a present-day Black church. The prerecorded soundtrack is colorful and complements the vocalists wonderfully. Visit JubileeTheatre.org.
For more than 300 years, Handel’s Messiah has been a perennial favorite oratorio around the world. In the vocal and orchestral work, Handel quotes the King James Bible and sacred texts by Charles Jennens, the 18th-century librettist and a personal friend of Handel’s. Saturday’s performance at Bass Performance Hall (525 Commerce St, 817-212-4280), conducted by Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra associate conductor Taichi Fukumura, features vocalists Blythe Gaissert (mezzo-soprano), Madison Leonard (soprano), Matthew Plenk (tenor), and Efrain Solis (baritone). Visit FWSymphony.org.
One of the country’s most famous and venerable boys’ choirs has called Fort Worth home for several decades. The Texas Boys Choir is based at the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts and tours and performs extensively. Their most popular events are the Christmas concerts. On Tue, Dec 19, Broadway Baptist Church (305 W Broadway Av, 817-336-5761) hosts the boys for an evening of carols, nostalgic tunes, and new arrangements, all under the direction of Todd Prickett. This year’s lineup includes “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” “We Three Kings,” and A Charlie Brown Christmas, among other popular sacred and secular works. The boys’ pristine, award-winning vocals will be accompanied by pianist Kyung Hyun Kim and guest percussionists. Visit ArtsAcademics.org/choirs/texas-boys-choir.
Hailed as a best new play by both the L.A. Drama Critics Circle and American Theatre Critics Association in 2022, Poor Clare retells the story of St. Clare of Assisi, a relatable teenager in medieval Italy living a fashionable and materialistic life until she meets Francis, who teaches her the meaning of generosity. Running thru the middle of December at Stage West (821 W Vickery Blvd, 817-784-9378), Poor Clare, said the company’s executive director, Dana Schultes, is a prescient reminder that this time of year should be one for reflecting on the less fortunate and resolving to help them. Visit StageWest.org.
Now through Sat, Dec 23, at Casa Mañana (3101 W Lancaster Av, 817-332-2272), The Best Christmas Pageant Ever follows the story of the “worst kids in the history of the world.” The Herdmans are known for their bullying antics and chicanery. As with any good Christmas story, they find a path toward redemption when they sign up for a Christmas pageant (based on the lure of free snacks) and learn about working toward a bigger goal under the mentorship of play director Grace. Visit CasaManana.org.
Get ready to shake, rattle, and roll Saturday as award-winning Elvis tribute artist Al Joslin plays the Arlington Music Hall (224 N Center St, 817-226-4400). Joslin, who has performed throughout the United States and overseas for the past 13 years, is famed for capturing The King’s voice, looks, and mannerisms. Visit ArlingtonMusicHall.net.
The renovation and expansion of The Reid Cabaret Theatre at Casa Mañana demonstrates the profound impact the unique space has had on patrons since its opening. Read more in Around Fort Worth.