Top theatre to see in New York in December
Read our picks for must-see Broadway and Off-Broadway theatre in December 2021.
2021 is drawing to a close, but plenty of New York shows are opening in December before the year is up. The past months saw a celebration of the return of live theatre, and that celebration continues with multiple Broadway shows making their long-awaited debuts that were originally scheduled for 2020. Plus, with the holidays in full swing, December is filled with Off-Broadway shows that celebrate the magic of the winter season. Check out the top holiday shows in New York here.
Whether you're planning your holiday vacation to the city or are a local looking to squeeze in some more theatregoing before 2021 ends, check out our list of Broadway and Off-Broadway theatre to see in December 2021.
After nearly two years on pause, one more Tony-winning Broadway show from before the pandemic is reopening alongside three new shows: a brand-new jukebox musical, a play debuting on Broadway after meeting success across America, and the star-studded revival of a Golden Age musical classic.
Dear Evan Hansen
Anybody have a map with directions to the Music Box Theatre? The six-time Tony Award-winning Dear Evan Hansen restarts Broadway performances on December 11, with Jordan Fisher returning to the title role. In the musical, the anxious high school outcast Evan Hansen pretends to be friends with a classmate that died to comfort the classmate's parents. His lie eventually propels him to popularity as he starts a social movement for inclusion, but he has to figure out how to eventually share the truth.
Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad stars in the Broadway premiere of Skeleton Crew, written by Ain't Too Proud librettist Dominique Morrisseau. A group of colleagues at Detroit's only operating auto plant are like a family to each other — they're fiercely loyal and always stand up for their fellow blue-collar workers. Soon, however, they get word that their plant is on the brink of closure, and their loyalties are put to the test as their jobs and livelihoods are put on the line.
MJ The Musical
The new bio-musical about the King of Pop is set to be a thriller. MJ The Musical follows Michael Jackson's career from his childhood in the Jackson 5 to his adulthood as a chart-topping solo act. The show includes all of Jackson's greatest hits, like "Bad," "Smooth Criminal," "Man in the Mirror," and more, together with a book by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage. Tony Award winner Christopher Wheeldon directs and choreographs, and there's sure to be plenty of moonwalking.
The Music Man
Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster lead the big parade that is The Music Man's return to Broadway. Meredith Willson's classic musical centers on a con man, Professor Harold Hill (Jackman), who poses as a music instructor. He sells uniforms and instruments to local bands and promises them music lessons, but disappears from town the minute he gets paid without teaching a single note. When he arrives in River City to enact his con, the local librarian, Marian Paroo (Foster), finds him out. Her plans to stop Harold, however, are thrown off when she starts to fall for him.
Catch plenty of holiday-centric entertainment off Broadway, including operas for all ages and the stage adaptation of a beloved TV classic. A Saturday Night Live star also headlines the revival of a Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning play.
The Metropolitan Opera is opening three productions in December, beginning with Tosca, Puccini's classic opera featuring one of the genre's "quintessential" fictional divas. The titular singer, Floria Tosca, is in love with the painter Mario Cavaradossi, but the corrupt police chief Scarpia wants Tosca for himself. He conspires to get Cavaradossi convicted of a crime to get him out of the way. The drama is set during Napoleon's impending invasion of Italy, upping the stakes so the characters are as concerned with the country they love as they are with the future of the people they love.
Cinderella, a new opera production of the classic fairytale, is the second show in the Met's holiday series for families. A young housemaid dreams of attending an elegant ball thrown by a handsome prince, but her stepmother and stepsisters won't let her. With the help of her fairy godmother, however, Cinderella gets a glamorous makeover and attends the ball. But once the temporary transformation wears off, the prince must find his way back to her with only the help of a single glass slipper.
The Magic Flute
The Magic Flute, along with Cinderella, continues The Metropolitan Opera's annual tradition of presenting abridged, English-language operas around the holidays to bring in family audiences. The opera starts off like many classic fairytales, with a prince sent by a queen to rescue a princess in distress. He's helped along in his quest by the titular charmed instrument, which turns sadness into joy when he plays it. Once he rescues the princess, however, the two realize her captor is actually kind and wise, and it's the queen that needs to be defeated.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
See the classic Peanuts TV special come to life in A Charlie Brown Christmas. From December 21 - 24, see Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Sally, and the rest of the gang discover the true meaning of Christmas. The show includes all the original dialogue from the TV show and all its famous moments, including Charlie Brown's Christmas tree search, Snoopy's decorated doghouse, and the Christmas play the Peanuts put on. At the end, the audience gets to join the cast in singing classic Christmas carols.
'Twas the Night Before... by Cirque du Soleil
For the second time, Cirque du Soleil brings its high-flying holiday circus spectacular to the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. At the center of 'Twas the Night Before... is an adolescent girl named Isabella, who believes herself too old for all the hype around the holiday season. When her dad tries to read her the classic Christmas poem A Visit From St. Nicholas (better known as 'Twas the Night Before Christmas) and she refuses to listen, she's whisked away to a world where the poem's characters come to life with acrobatics, hula hooping, rollerblading, a snowball fight, and more.
The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe
Saturday Night Live star Cecily Strong takes over a role made famous by Lily Tomlin in Jane Wagner's solo show. In The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, Strong plays 12 women who share vignettes from their lives and an abridged history of the women's movement, covering multiple generations of the female experience. Their characters are all united under the persona of the "bag lady" Trudy, who is explaining the state of the world to aliens from outer space.