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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Holiday highlights include ‘A Christmas Story,’ ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ ‘The Nutcracker’

In the bridge scene from Spokane Civic Theatre’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” George Bailey, played by Joshua Baig, left, speaks with Clarence, played by Chad Herrmann. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Holiday lights are strung up all over the city, and Christmas shows are lighting up local stages. Just this week, the offerings run the gamut from the circus and ballet to stage and screen classics, including the sold-out screening of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” featuring star Chevy Chase tonight at the Fox.

Here are some other highlights:

‘Cirque Dreams Holidaze’

Fresh on the snowshoe tracks of “Cirque Musica: Holiday Wishes 2019” at First Interstate Center for the Arts on Monday night, “Cirque Dreams Holidaze” takes the stage at FICA four evenings later and also for one performance only.

According to FICA’s website, “Cirque Dreams Holidaze” is an “electrifying and reimagined live family holiday spectacular” that is perfect for the season. The “critically acclaimed extravaganza is a Broadway musical and new Cirque adventure wrapped into the ultimate holiday gift for the entire family.”

If you go: 7:30 p.m. today, First Interstate Center for the Arts, 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.; tickets are $38-$68; available through

‘A Christmas Story’

This musical that received rave reviews on Broadway is based on the 1983 film classic that has become a Christmas tradition on continuous TV loop. Set in Hohman, Indiana, in the 1940s, the musical follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker and his quest for the Holy Grail of Christmas gifts: an Official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot Range Model air rifle.

Rebuffed at every turn, Ralphie plots to secure the BB gun. Iconic scenes from the film are here: Ralphie’s friend, Flick, getting his tongue stuck to a flagpole; his brother, Randy, getting dressed in his snowsuit; the bullies Scut Farkus and Dill; the leg lamp award; the bunny suit; and more.

The score includes “Ralphie to the Rescue!,” “A Major Award,” “Sticky Situation” and “Up on Santa’s Lap.”

If you go: Opens tonight and continues through Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, Lake City Playhouse, 1320 E. Garden Ave., Coeur d’Alene; tickets are $23-$25; available through

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

In American culture, “It’s a Wonderful Life” has become a Christmastime staple alongside Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and the movie’s story is a natural for a stage adaptation.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is the story of George Bailey, the Everyman from the small town of Bedford Falls whose dreams of escape and adventure have been quashed by family obligation and civic duty.

His guardian angel must descend on Christmas Eve to save him from despair and remind him – by showing him what life would’ve been like without him – that his life has been wonderful after all. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is being performed on the Margo and Robert Ogden Main Stage.

If you go: Opens tonight and continues through Dec. 22, 7:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, Spokane Civic Theatre, 1020 N. Howard St.; tickets are $35 adults, $30 seniors/military, $25 students and $15 children; available through

‘’Twas the Night Before Christmas’

’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house … In this performance, it is four days before Christmas, and the New York Evening Post needs a holiday feature story, as President James Monroe is counting on reading it to his family on Christmas Day.

But writer Clement Moore has writer’s block. On top of that, Moore must work at home among his five children who are very anxious, of course, for Jolly Old St. Nicholas to arrive with presents aplenty aboard his sleigh.

Moore’s frustration mounts, but then the magic begins. The sounds of bells, moving toys and visions of sugar plum fairies conspire to help Moore as the events from the classic poem come to life. Doors open 30 minutes before show time, and some performances are already sold out.

If you go: Opens tonight and continues through Dec. 22, 4 p.m. Fridays and 2 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays, Spokane Children’s Theatre, 2727 N. Madella Ave.; tickets are $16 adult, $15 senior/military and $12 children ages 12 and younger; available through

‘The Spokane Symphony: The Nutcracker’

Definitely a different production than Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker” at FICA earlier this month, this “Nutcracker” features Morihiko Nakahara as conductor and State Street Ballet led by Rodney Gustafson, artistic director.

Gustafson, the main choreographer of this production, knows “The Nutcracker” well, as he once danced in Mikhail Baryshnikov’s PBS special “The Nutcracker.” The Spokane Symphony will be performing the music live with Nakahara at the helm.

E.T.A. Hoffman’s story of Clara and the Nutcracker Prince is brought to life by the Santa-Barbara, California-based State Street Ballet and more than 75 young local dancers. The magical holiday tradition is now in its 41st year.

If you go: Opens Thursday and continues through Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Dec. 8 and 2 p.m. Dec. 7-8, Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, 1001 W. Sprague Ave.; tickets are $19.50-$49; available through and