Oh, the virus outside is frightful, but online holiday options are so delightful. And since we’ve no place to go, let it steam, let it stream, let it stream! 

American Blues Theater presents “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!” adapted from Frank Capra’s classic film. But now the annual production will be streamed live. “At American Blues, we miss so much of the experience of live theater, including its energy, social nature and ephemeral quality,” says Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside. “This year has been filled with so much uncertainty, but the one thing audiences can count on is the holiday tradition of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’”

Viewers can experience the 90-minute production (as well as 15 minutes of live interaction before the show) through January 2. Each performance features a Healthcare Hero Tribute; Santa is scheduled to make an appearance on December 24, and the cast will celebrate Kwanza on December 27. Complimentary tickets are offered to CPS teachers, the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (Illinois chapter), and American Indian Center. Other tickets ($25-$55) can be ordered at AmericanBluesTheater.com.

Lookingglass Theatre Company is streaming its popular version of “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” through December 27. Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story about a toy that never gives up, the lavish production includes design work by Todd Rosenthal (scenic) and Ana Kuzmanic (costume) with original music by Ensemble Member Andre Pluess and Amanda Dehnert.

“I’m very glad that our little Tin Soldier managed to march his way into the hearts of so many, and that he’ll be coming back again in the holiday season steadfast as ever. We wanted to make something that was visually and emotionally overpowering—as well as very funny—and do that with no spoken language at all,” says Ensemble Member Mary Zimmerman, who adapted and directed the work.

“I’m thrilled that people of all ages and from around the world will be able to watch the show and feel it all the same, no English required,” Zimmerman continues. “I think the silence of the characters—and the beautiful music that accompanies their adventures—allows older members of the audience to fall into a private, younger part of themselves; and for children, they are watching something in the manner they are used to: gathering up the story through the intensity of their earnest attention, through their intelligence which has no words.”

To access the show ($25 for Livestream and On Demand), visit LookingGlassTheatre.org.

The Auditorium Theatre is offering a “Celtic Family Christmas At Home with Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy” through December 31 with video replay. The hour-long performance showcases family and farming via MacMaster and Leahy’s music, Irish culture, and festive traditions. “As we begin to expand our virtual offerings, we are pleased to present another family-friendly performance for the holiday season,” says Auditorium Theatre CEO Rich Regan. Tickets ($20 per household) are sold on Homeplay, an online entertainment streaming platform. For more information, visit AuditoriumTheatre.org.

Home audiences are encouraged to coordinate remote listening groups with friends and family while watching Theatre in the Dark’s live online performances of “A Christmas Carol In The Dark” through December 24. Visit TheatreInTheDark.com for tickets ($25-$30 or pay-what-you-can) to the play directed and adapted by Mack Gordon from the novella by Charles Dickens.

Through January 3, McAninch Arts Center (MAC) is bringing Christmas On Demand into homes with a variety of streamed shows, such as the New Philharmonic’s “Holiday Sing-Along with the Symphony,” a performance of “A Million Dollar Christmas” live streamed from Belushi Performance Hall, and a new production of “A Christmas Carol” which has been reimagined for Zoom viewings.

“We are thrilled to offer a full selection of holiday favorites to keep family Christmas traditions alive in this crazy time of COVID-19. When we began planning for the holidays this past fall, we knew we were going to have to think differently so we set about the task to make that happen,” says MAC Director Diana Martinez.

The virtual event also includes a pre-recorded digital performance of Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker” through January 1. According to Martinez, the Russian adaptation “delivers America’s favorite family Christmas tradition replete with magical toys, falling snow and growing Christmas trees.”

Christmas On Demand donations support the MAC’s ongoing efforts to provide creative and thought-provoking programming. For additional information visit AtTheMAC.org.

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Image of “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” by Liz Lauren, courtesy of Lookingglass Theatre Company.

Janet Arvia

Ms. Arvia is an online columnist and critic; entertainment ghostwriter reaching nine million visitors per month; award-winning artist; grant-winning filmmaker; and Janet-of-all-trades. Press releases on...