Friday, 16 December 2011 15:13

Christmas In New Orleans: Cirque, Nutcracker, JPAS

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TrumpeteerON THE BOARDS:

Some Great Holiday Shows You Won’t Want to Miss!

By Dean M. Shapiro

It’s “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” for many things: the holiday cheer, the spirit of giving, the colorful decorations and the opportunities for families to get together and enjoy the camaraderie that comes with the season.

It’s also a time for great music and entertainment and, right here in the New Orleans area we have plenty of it. Starting this weekend and running through the Christmas holiday some great shows are lined up.

Here, in chronological order, are just a few of the best holiday shows coming up over the next two weeks:

Jefferson Performing Arts Society Presents “A Celtic Christmas”

December 17-18

Westwego Performing Arts Theatre

Slip back in time and learn how Christmas has been traditionally celebrated on the “Emerald Isle” from a world-renowned performer who lives and embodies the Gaelic spirit and culture. Join Danny O’Flaherty and a host of local performers as they celebrate “A Celtic Christmas” with mesmerizing music and song, fiery dance and tantalizing storytelling that harkens back to life on “The Auld Sod.”

Performing with O’Flaherty are noted local singers and actors Janet Shea, Misha Kachkachishvili, Michael Cahill, Amy Alvarez and Shawna Murphy. Approximate run time is 90 minutes and there will be no intermission.


Performances are at 7:30 Saturday and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. The Westwego Performing Arts Center is located at 177 Sala Avenue in the Salaville Historic District of Westwego, about 10 miles west of New Orleans on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish.

For tickets and information call 885-2000 or visit the JPAS website at

Caroling in Jackson Square

Sunday, December 18


This great New Orleans holiday tradition is a wonderful time for friends and strangers alike to get together and join in the holiday spirit.

Free and open to the public, Jackson Square is the place to be at 7:00 on the last Sunday before Christmas. Song sheets are given out, along with candles, and everyone is welcome to sing along. The songs are familiar ones everyone knows and you don’t have to be a great soloist to sing along with everyone else. It’s great fun for all and, if you’ve never done this before, you’re invited to come out and join the merry throng. You may find yourself doing this every year thereafter!

Jackson Square, for any newcomers reading this, is directly in front of St. Louis Cathedral on the edge of the French Quarter, between the Cathedral and Decatur Street. Four gates, one on each side of the square, will be open.

Broadway Across America Presents “Cirque Dreams Holidaze”

December 20-24

Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts

Renowned director Neil Goldberg, creator of the groundbreaking Broadway hit Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, re-imagines the holiday season with Cirque Dreams Holidaze.

An international cast of over 30 multi-talented and brilliantly costumed artists come to life and perform astonishing feats of disbelief. You will experience gingerbread men flipping mid air, toy soldiers marching on thin wires, snowmen daringly balancing, icemen powerfully sculpting, penguins spinning, puppets dancing and reindeer soaring high above a landscape of holiday wonderment.

An original music score and some seasonal favorites accompany hundreds of spectacular costumes and holiday dreams in a setting of gigantic gifts, colossal candy canes and 30-foot towering soldiers. This is a show you will never forget.

Ornaments on TreeShow times are Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster, The Mahalia Jackson Theater is located in Louis Armstrong Park; enter from Basin Street.

Delta Festival Ballet PresentsThe Nutcracker”

December 22-23

Dixon Hall, Tulane University

One of the most anxiously awaited holiday events in the New Orleans area is the annual performance of “The Nutcracker” by the Delta Festival Ballet. Tchaikovsky’s timeless classic is performed flawlessly by this local company founded in 1969 by brother and sister Joseph and Maria Giacobbe.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Delta’s presentation of this holiday classic in New Orleans and a long tradition of making the beauty of this ballet available to audiences outside the New Orleans area. Delta’s “Nutcracker” is widely acclaimed for its professionalism and beauty – a beauty that begins with the dancers, including guest artists from national and international ballet, and extends to every detail from props and costumes to scenery and lighting.

The performances are enriched by the accompaniment of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom Delta has enjoyed a decades-long partnership.

Performance times are 7:00 p.m. on Saturday the 22nd and 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Sunday the 23rd. Martha Chamberlain and Jonathan Stiles are the lead dancers. For tickets and information call Delta at or call 888-0931.

Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker”

December 29

Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts

“Knock-out dancer, thrilling” The New York Times; “Aristocratic” Cleveland Plain Dealer; “Breathtaking” Charleston Today; “Spellbinding” San Francisco Stark Insider; “Astounding” DC’s These are just a few of the superlatives used by reviewers to describe the Moscow Ballet’s touring performance of “The Great Russian Nutcracker.”

Making a stop in New Orleans for one performance only with 40 top Russian dancers, this performance of Tchaikovsky’s timeless family Christmas story featuring lavish costumes, Russian puppets and nine, hand-painted backdrops. Ballet master is Andre Litvinov and featured performers are Alexandra Elagina and Anatolie Ustimov as the principal dancers. The performance starts at 7:30 p.m.

For tickets go to or call the theater box office at 287-0351.

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