Holiday Guide '07 

Hot tickets to Atlanta's winter wonderland

It ain't New York, but Atlanta during the holidays provides plenty of little winter chills and thrills that have everyone hoping to warm up for the season. Here's a look at just 10 top events to enjoy. (Check out this issue's Flicks, Music, Food & Drink and Arts sections for even more options.)


Perhaps you're used to spending Christmas at Atlanta playhouses in the company of Ebenezer Scrooge, Crumpet the Elf, the WWII-era gang at Aurora Theatre's Christmas Canteen or the Sanders Family Singers at Theatre in the Square's Sanders Family Christmas. But you've never celebrated the season with Patience the Apple Lady, Jingle the Dancing Bull or the other characters that populate Christmas at Sweet Apple at Theatre in the Square's Alley Stage. Playwright Phillip DePoy penned the hit follow-up to his adaptation of Celestine Sibley's memoir Turned Funny, which presents a charming little seasonal story from the writings of the late, beloved Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist. The cast includes Allen O'Reilly, Rob Lawhon and Erin Considine as Sibley. $7-$35. Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 and 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m. Theatre in the Square's Alley Stage, 11 Whitlock Ave., Marietta. 770-422-8369. – Curt Holman


When 10-year-old Hannah gets stuck spending the night with her grandmother and a nerdy fourth-grader called "Martin the Martian," she unexpectedly experiences a magical adventure that illuminates the Jewish Festival of Lights in Hula Hoopin' Hannah & Her Hanukah Adventure at Jewish Theatre of the South. Atlanta playwright Janece Shaffer wrote the Hanukah-themed family show. Barbara Cole Uterhardt directs a cast that includes Patti French, Pat Bell and Rachel Whiteman as Hannah. $18-$30. Wed.-Thurs., 7 p.m.; Sat., 7 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. Jewish Theatre of the South, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. 770-395-2654. – Curt Holman


If the pressure of the holiday season is getting to you, The Santaland Diaries offers a terrific release valve. For the ninth year, Harold M. Leaver returns to Horizon Theatre for the theatrical adaptation of David Sedaris' classic 1992 NPR segment about being a professional elf at Macy's "Santaland" in New York. Marcie Millard and Enoch King play multiple roles as Leaver's elf, named "Crumpet" (and occasionally "Blisters"), turns his withering sensibility on Christmas commercialization. Still, a smidgen of yuletide spirit manages to peek through. $27-$33. Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 8:30 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m. Horizon Theatre, 1083 Austin Ave. 404-584-7450. – Curt Holman


You don't need snow on Stone Mountain to make a very special holiday season. The Stone Mountain Christmas flurries onward this season; it cranked up Nov. 10 and will go strong through the very end. And if you thought you might find this year's event lacking, guess again; this year visitors will be treated to a "4-D" version of the computer-animated film The Polar Express, shown on the attraction's theater screen. There's also twice the number of Christmas lights (now up to 2 million), and a new Christmas Lasershow with fireworks set to favorite Christmas tunes. $17 adults, $14 kids ages 3-11. Fri., 4-10 p.m. (Dec. 15-23, 3-10 p.m.); Sat.-Sun., 3-9 p.m. (Closed Dec. 24-25.) Stone Mountain Park. U.S. 78 East, Exit 8, Stone Mountain. 770-498-5690. – David Lee Simmons


Versions of A Christmas Carol dominate the area, including the Shakespeare Tavern downtown, Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville, ART Station's A Broadway Christmas Carol in Stone Mountain and even a gay version, A Queer Carol, at Theatre Decatur. For sheer spectacle, however, none quite measures up to the Alliance Theatre's 18th annual production of the Dickens classic, which blends traditions of English Christmas with diversity of color-blind casting and gospel-inflected songs. For his 15th year, Chris Kayser returns to the role of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge and leads a 23-actor cast that includes Crystal Fox, Neal A. Ghant, powerhouse singer Bernardine Mitchell and six children. $30-$50. Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 and 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Alliance Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St. 404-733-5000. – Curt Holman


You can't spell "celebrate" without "celebrity" – well, almost – so Savage Tree Arts Project gets in the spirit with its lighthearted spoof of the old-fashioned, wholesome holiday TV specials from the likes of Andy Williams. The Wink Davidson Christmas Spectacular finds Wink Davidson and his family enjoying the yuletide season in Ireland at the home of pro golfer Rory Burns – with some surprise celebrity guests stopping for songs, jokes and good cheer! Playwright Robert Sanders directs a cast that includes Erin Greenway, John McLean, Angela Porter, Steve Banks and Brian Bannon. $20-$24. Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m. Savage Tree Arts Project, Theatre Decatur, 430 W. Trinity Place, Decatur. 404-373-5311. – Curt Holman


This school concert isn't the type that will leave your ears ringing. In fact, you can enjoy this student holiday gala even if you're not related to one of its budding musicians. The 10th anniversary Gala Holiday Family Concert features more than 200 student and faculty performers from Georgia State's School of Music, including members of the University Symphony Orchestra, choral, brass and percussion ensembles showing off their musical know-how and holiday spirit. The concert includes classic holiday carols and klezmer songs. $19-$45. Rialto Center, 80 Forsyth St. 404-413-9800. – Emily Hansen


So many things come to life that shouldn't in Peter Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker that it's easy to imagine the 115-year-old ballet as a creepy horror movie where Clara is eaten by the evil Rat King. The Atlanta Ballet's production of the classic ballet, however, is a little less grim, starring dancing snowflakes, sugar-plum fairies and pink pigs in point shoes all nestled together on a winter wonderland set. The traditional performance at the Fox Theatre features more than 250 dancers taking on the iconic story. Go on; let the sugar plums dance in your head. $15-$85. 2 p.m. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. 404-881-2100. – Emily Hansen


Unfortunately Georgia didn't win the Eastern Division title and a trip to the Georgia Dome to face Western Division champ LSU. But seeing as how this game has been sold out for a while, as hip entertainment folks we'd be remiss in not focusing on all the fun to be had around the Dome. Everyone loves the SEC FanFare celebrations (Nov. 30, 1-9 p.m.; Dec. 1, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.) at the Georgia World Congress Center (halls C1, C2 and C3) with interactive games and attractions. $8 adults, $4 kids under 4 feet tall. 4 p.m. Georgia Dome, 1 Georgia Dome Drive. 404-249-6400. – David Lee Simmons


The word "gospel" may invoke images of Bible-thumpers preaching the gospel of John, but the word itself stems from the old English "god spell," meaning "good tidings." This December, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra brings those good tidings to you and all your friends with its annual ASO Gospel Christmas. Under conductor Chelsea Tipton, the performance features Atlanta's leading gospel singers belting out classical hymns and spirituals as well as a mix of contemporary Christmas titles. $12-$33. Symphony Hall, 1280 Peachtree Road. 404-733-4955. – Emily Hansen

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