Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Take the Kids: Nutcracker, Cinderella, Rudolph, more holiday classics light up Triangle stages

Posted November 14, 2019 8:48 p.m. EST
Updated November 15, 2019 9:05 a.m. EST

Carolina Ballet's The Nutcracker runs at DPAC Dec. 9-10 and at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium Dec. 15-24. Courtesy: Carolina Ballet

Editor's note: This annual post is updated for the 2019 holiday season!

Live performances - from the classic Nutcracker to the zany Cinderella to the long-running A Christmas Carol - have become Christmas traditions for many families across the Triangle.

We are lucky to have so many options at a variety of different price points, making a trip to see something affordable for many families.

Before we get started on the list, I'll answer a common question that I get about these shows: What's the best age recommendation for these? My answer: It depends on the child. My younger daughter sat through the entire Nutcracker at age 3 completely mesmerized. I know not every three-year-old could do that.

Some questions to ask yourself about your child before you get the tickets: Are you OK if your child doesn't sit through the entire show or gets too tired to take part in all of the activities, especially considering the expense of some of the tickets? For evening performances, does your child do well past her bedtime?

Here's a good rule of thumb for live shows that a producer of family shows shared with me years ago: If your child is able to quietly sit through an entire movie of about 90 minutes to two hours, he's probably ready to sit through a live show.

Here's the rundown of live performances in the region. Some of these will sell out. Be sure to get your tickets!

Raleigh Little Theatre's Cinderella

This long-time Raleigh favorite, a tradition for the community theater, runs Dec. 6 to Dec. 22. It's a holiday-themed show with the big ball set during Christmas. And it's hilarious. The stepsisters are played by men. The cast comes out into the audience to try on Cinderella's slippers. The fairy godmother is both kind and witty. My kids love this show, which runs 90 minutes with no intermission. Tickets are $31 each for most shows. Tickets will sell out! RLT's website has the details.

Sarah Winter as the fairy godmother in Raleigh Little Theatre's 2013 Cinderella

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

This family favorite returns to the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts in Raleigh for shows from Nov. 29 to Dec. 24. Tickets start at $16. This show, which is faithful to the TV holiday special classic, is great for younger children.

'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' to play in Raleigh

Disney on Ice Road Trip Adventures

The 2019 show runs Dec.11 to Dec. 15 at the PNC Arena. While it's not a full-on holiday show, it's definitely a seasonal favorite that families look forward to this time of year. Tickets start at $13.

Moana is a star of Disney On Ice's Dare to Dream

Theatre in the Park's A Christmas Carol

Now in its 45th year, the show runs on select days from Dec. 11 to Dec. 22, starting at the Duke Energy Center in Raleigh and wrapping up at the Durham Performing Arts Center. Tickets start at $37. This show, which runs about 2.5 hours with a 20-minute intermission, is a holiday tradition for many around here.

A Snow White Christmas with NC Theatre

Lythgoe Family Productions is bringing this musical comedy to the Raleigh stage at the Duke Energy Center. It stars Michael Campion of Netflix's Fuller House, recording artist Michelle Williams and actor and Tony Award winner Neil Patrick Harris, who will appear on screen (and not live) during the show. Shows run Nov. 30 to Dec. 8 at the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts. Tickets start at $25.

Irving Berlin's White Christmas

The show, based on the popular Christmas movie, runs Dec. 3 to Dec. 8 at Durham Performing Arts Center. Tickets start at $32.50. Kids under the age of 6 are not allowed in the performance.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Cary Players will present this Christmas classic about a couple who has to direct a group of unruly siblings in the church Christmas pageant from Dec. 6 to Dec. 9 at the Cary Arts Center. Tickets start at $18.

Black Nativity

We have two productions of the Black Nativity, a celebration of Jesus' birth based on Langston Hughes’ version of the Christmas story. The Justice Theater Project's Black Nativity is in Raleigh on Dec. 12 and Dec. 14 at the NC Museum of Art and Dec. 15 through Dec. 17 at Stewart Theater on the campus of NC State. The Triangle Performance Ensemble stages this classic at Durham's Hillside High School from Dec. 20 to Dec. 22. 

And we have lots of Nutcrackers!

Carolina Ballet's Nutcracker

Performances run on select days from Dec. 7 to Dec. 29 this year. It moves quite a bit around the Triangle, starting at Memorial Hall at UNC-Chapel Hill, moving to Durham Performing Arts Center and, finally, landing at Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts in Raleigh. In addition to the dance, costumes and story, special magic during the party scenes of the first act make this production very kid friendly. Ticket prices depend on where you see it, but they generally start around $30 each (plus fees) and go up.

Hip Hop Christmas

The show returns to to the Durham Performing Arts Center for two shows on Nov. 30. The Hip Hop Nutcracker, according to DPAC's website, is a contemporary dance spectacle set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless music. A unique and joyful event, this production is performed by a supercharged cast of a dozen all-star dancers, a DJ, a violinist, and MC Kurtis Blow, one of hip hop’s founding fathers, who opens the show with a short set. Tickets start at $35.

City Ballet's Nutcracker

The company will present its 26th annual performance of The Nutcracker on Dec. 13 and Dec. 14 at Stewart Theater at N.C. State University. Tickets start at $15. The production features students from the City Ballet along with professional dancers from the Carolina Ballet.

Triangle Youth Ballet's Nutcracker

The company will present The Nutcracker on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at East Chapel Hill High School. It moves over to the Carolina Theatre in Durham on Dec. 14. Tickets start at $19.

Cary Ballet Company's Nutcracker

Cary Ballet will present the classic with shows Dec. 20 to Dec. 22 at the Cary Arts Center. A special one-hour performance called The Nutcracker Suite is scheduled for 11 a.m., Dec. 20. And there's also a Nutcracker Ballerina Tea. The company's website has more information. Some shows are almost sold out.

Also ...

Infinity Ballet in Apex will present Dances from The Nutcracker Suite on Dec. 6, Dec. 7 and Dec. 8 at the Halle Cultural Arts Center in downtown Apex.

Taylor Academy of Dance will present The Nutcracker on Dec. 14 at Wakefield High School in north Raleigh. Tickets start at $15 in advance.

Destiny Dance Institute and Wake Forest Civic Ballet will perform A Winter Gala at Heritage High School in Wake Forest on Dec. 20 and Dec. 21. It includes a modified version of The Nutcracker.

Barriskill Dance Theater in Durham presents The Nutcracker on Dec. 13 to Dec. 15 at Reynolds Theater on the campus of Duke University.