Welcome to the latest edition of Plum Viewing, my weekly roundup of arts and culture to view online. Happy viewing!
Well, dear readers, we have come to that time of year; the season of Mariah Carey. Yep, it’s here. And, while it’s fair to say that many of our usual routines are, shall we say altered this year, we can also count on Mariah to be there for us.
I know things will certainly not be the same this year but there are a few traditions I am looking forward to keeping. Watching It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve and crying at exactly the same part (every. single. year.) Then, on Christmas Day, getting all gussied up with Mr Fairs, pouring ourselves a French 75 and watching Casablanca (“best last line of a movie ever”, which incidentally is another Fairs’ fav — When Harry met Sally).
So, with that in mind, here are a few holiday picks to get us all in the spirit!
A Christmas Carol has literally been performed by everyone. And, yes, I do mean everyone, even the Muppets! And, I have to say, in a year when so much is uncertain, I am looking forward to enjoying at least one of these classics. Here are a few to choose from: Toronto’s Soulpepper can be counted on each year to deliver a wonderful performance. I first saw this production about seven years ago and it really is lovely. On Thursday, December 17 at 7 pm ET, Soulpepper is hosting a special cast reunion, celebrating this incredible story, and raising funds for Toronto’s Fred Victor Regent Park Food Security Program. You can RSVP here.
The wonderful folks at 59E59 are hosting a virtual reading of A Christmas Carol with Raúl Esparza as Scrooge. This will indeed be special! The live reading is happening on Wednesday, December 16, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. ET, followed by a post-show virtual reception. And, from Thursday, December 17–20, 2020 you can watch the recording in your own time. The production is free but you need to register here.
Minneapolis’ beautiful Guthrie Theatre is also hosting a virtual reading of A Christmas Carol. Beginning on Dec 19 and running until Dec 31, you can purchase a ticket for $10 per household and watch as many times as you like. Here’s the link.
The Irish Rep Theatre is getting into the holiday spirit with Meet me in St. Louis. This new digital production is an abridged version of the 1989 Broadway musical, based on the 1944 film starring Judy Garland, and runs online from December 11 to January 2. It screens for free but there is a recommended donation of $25. You can reserve a ticket here.
What would the holidays be without at least one rendition of Handel’s Messiah. Well, the TSO and Against the Grain Theatre have teamed up to give us Messiah with a bit of a twist, Messiah/Complex. Here let me quote their description of the show, “The daring, 70-minute performance of Messiah/Complex, filmed against iconic Canadian landscapes, will showcase multilingual translations, and feature a diverse cast of soloists and choirs representing every province and territory across Canada, accompanied by the exceptional sounds of the TSO and conducted by Johannes Debus (Canadian Opera Company).” Okay, now this sounds wonderful!!
I have been lucky enough to see a number of performances by Against the Grain and I can hand on heart say, they are exactly that — against the grain. The artistic director and founder Joel Ivany is a bit of a genius and the performances are always so engaging and just fun. I strongly suspect Messiah will be no exception. I’m in! The performance runs from Sunday, December 13 — Saturday, December 26, 2020. Tickets are pay what you can and can be purchased here.
And, really what says Christmas more than drag queens and cabaret! Here we go back to Joe’s Pub for Good Morning Midnight, It’s Christmas! starring Justin Vivian Bond, Matt Ray, Nath Ann Carrera, and Claudia Chopek, performing songs by The Monkees, Peter Allen, Jimi Hendrix, Dolly Parton, Ricki Lee Jones, David Bowie and Bing Crosby. So, pour yourself a cup of eggnog and enjoy! It’s streaming on Dec 20 and you can find it here.
Plum Viewing is going to take a short little holiday break but we’ll meet again in January to enjoy more wonderful performances together. I can not thank you enough for indulging me every week and for your wonderful suggestions — keep them coming!
Let me leave you with this — my favourite Christmas song. It is not without its controversies I know but I do love it and insist on playing it many, many times each year (sorry Mr. Fairs!). Here are The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl singing Fairytale of New York.
And, and ask: While we’re enjoying these wonderful performances, let’s remember that for the arts organizations producing this incredible content, this is their livelihood; not a hobby. If we can, now is our time to continue to support our incredible arts community!
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