The days are short. The holidays are long. And, you need time to cool down after an avalanche of obligations. Have some fun with family, friends or just by your delightful self, this dark and lovely season. Emmy Award-winning arts and entertainment critic Joyce Kulhawik has curated a winter wonderland of ways — just for us.
Settle Into A Dark Theater
See Tina Fey’s Tony-nominated musical “Mean Girls” at the Boston Opera House, January 28-29, or watch Sally Field and Bill Pullman in Arthur Miller’s classic “All My Sons” broadcast live from London’s Old Vic on January 17 up at Rockport’s Shalin Liu Performance Center.
But the biggest catch of the season? “Moby-Dick: A Musical Reckoning,” a world premiere based on Herman Melville’s whale of a tale still holding America in its wake 200 years after the birth of its author and set in New Bedford, Massachusetts. You can thank Rachel Chavkin and the creative team at American Repertory Theater in Cambridge; it runs December 3 through January 12.
Celebrate with Your Favorite Divas
“Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol” (without Dolly, alas) lights up the Emerson Colonial Theatre December 3-29. Darlene Love — back-up singer extraordinaire-turned-solo artist and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer — will “Rock The Holidays” up at The Cabot in Beverly on December 6.
Mariah Carey sweeps into the Boch Center Wang Theatre with her “All I Want For Christmas Is You” tour on December 13. A day later on December 14, Martina McBride brings “The Joy of Christmas” to the Lowell Auditorium.
Revel in the Tenors, Too
“The Ten Tenors” arrive from Australia at The Cabot on December 4, singing classical crossover tunes from Down Under. From Ireland, the lilting melodies of Brian O’Donovan’s “A Christmas Celtic Sojourn” can be heard all over New England, from Rockport to Providence, December 11-22.
Not to be outdone, three tenors from Italy called Il Volo take the stage at the Wang Theatre on February 3, crooning their own savory blend of pop and opera music, which they call “popera.” We’re not making this up.
Listen to a Tale Well Told
Sit back and hear real-life tales of sudden love, kooky coincidences, hilarious escapades, and an assortment of mini-epics spanning the human condition and recounted by regular folks onstage. It’s like taking a mini-vacation into other people’s lives.
We can’t resist “The Moth” story slams, which draw folks from all over New England. There’s a “Traditions”-themed slam at CitySpace on December 11 and at Oberon in Harvard Square December 17-18.
Check out Massmouth, a Boston-based nonprofit that hosts events where people tell stories on stages across the region. The “Who Knew” slam takes place at Trident Booksellers Café on January 14 and a “Labor of Love” happens in time for Valentine’s Day on February 11.
Indulge Your Sweet Tooth
Cozy up with a cup of tea at Boston Public Library. Who knew they had, not one, but two, different tea rooms and services? Depending on the day, there might be a tea leaves reading, a fashion show, live music from conservatory students or cocktails in the Map Room.
Set out for “Pie Town, USA” a.k.a. Rockland, Maine, in search of our favorite dessert. This year’s 16th annual Pies on Parade gala runs over three days, January 24-26, at 20 venues, featuring 45 varieties of pie — sweet and savory, apple to shepherd’s. Proceeds go to the Area Interfaith Outreach Food Pantry.
Don’t miss the ongoing Harvard Square Chocolate Tour, and this year’s Taste of Chocolate Festival, January 24-26. What better time to indulge in chocolate than winter — when it only melts in your mouth.
Kick Up Your Heels
Tony Williams’ “Urban Nutcracker,” a modern take on the Tchaikovsky classic packed with tap, hip-hop and flamenco, jazzes up your holidays at the Shubert Theatre, December 19-28. Then, there’s “Dancing with the Stars” at the Wang, January 16-17.
But, if you want to get out there on the dance floor yourself, head for “CRASHFEST: A Global Music Celebration” with three stages, 10 bands, and a feast of food trucks selling global street food. All this at the House of Blues on February 22.
Find Some Quiet Time
Stroll through the Peabody Essex Museum’s 40,000-square-foot expansion with light-filled atrium, 13 new galleries and a 5,000-square-foot garden. It just opened this fall.
Get lost in the world of “Make Believe” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, through January 20. The exhibit focuses on enchanted realms and fantastical scenes for the camera, created by two female artists who draw on folk and fairy tales to address real life issues in Muslim women’s lives, from the fears of adolescence to female identity and agency.
Finally, warm up indoors at The Botanical Center in Providence’s Roger Williams Park, where greenhouses host 150 species of plants across 12,000 square feet at the largest public display gardens in New England. Can summer be far away …?