The best things to do this Month in KC: December 2023

The Nutcracker. Courtesy photo.

High Note

Photography provided by Allegro Choirs.

This month, two of KC’s top youth choirs will perform at the Kauffman Center during the Kansas City Symphony’s Christmas Festival.

The festival started 24 years ago in Overland Park with just 30 youth singers. Now, the Allegro Choirs of Kansas City, currently headquartered in Bonner Springs, boasts more than 200 singers organized into five choirs, representing over 50 public and private schools from first grade through high school. Christy Elsner, creative director and founder, is proud of the work they do. “We are the only nonprofit youth arts organization in Wyandotte County,” Elsner says.

The choirs have sung at New York’s Carnegie Hall and St. Peter’s Basilica in Italy and for former President and First Lady Obama in the White House. This year, they will again be performing a number of shows in Washington D.C. and singing the National Anthem at local sporting events. Additionally, the choir’s artistic director, along with two singers, will be traveling to Kenya with other choral educators to help develop choir programs in the Nandi Hills. 

This holiday season, the choirs will be not only performing at the Kauffman Center but also singing at the candlelit Winter Blessings concerts at Visitation Catholic Church.
—Ryan Reed

Dirty Dancing in Concert 

December 1. 8 pm.

Revisit why “nobody puts Baby in a corner” in this new spin on the ’80s classic. In this live film-to-concert experience of Dirty Dancing, the digitally remastered film will be shown on a full-sized cinema screen while a live band and singers perform the film’s iconic soundtrack. Attendees can stay after the movie is over to continue singing along and dancing to the live band’s renditions of favorite songs from the film. December 1. 8 pm. Kansas City Music Hall. 

The Phil Collins Experience

December 1. 8 pm.

Experience the legendary performances of Phil Collins in The Phil Collins Experience, performed by Kansas City magazine’s 2020 Best Male Vocalist, Terry Adams Jr. Adams is a British-born drummer who has mastered the drums left-handed—just like Collins—for a truly authentic concert experience. The Phil Collins Experience is a multimedia production featuring a full band with backup singers and a horns section to take audiences back in time to experience Phil Collins in his Genesis and solo-career prime. December 1. 8 pm. Uptown Theater.

Handel’s Messiah 

December 1–3

With over 150 musicians and voices performing, this Baroque-era oratorio creates a triumphant two-hour musical spectacle. Messiah, a once-elaborate opera production originally composed for Easter, is now a cherished Christmas classic and regarded as a choral masterpiece—including the iconic “Hallelujah Chorus,” sure to inspire some holiday spirit. December 1 & 2, 7 pm; December 3, 2 pm. Helzberg Hall. 

The Amen Corner

December 1–3 and 6–9. 7:30 pm.

The second show in the new season at KC Melting Pot Theatre, a professional theater company based in KC, is James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner. KCMPT’s new season explores what author and activist W.E.B. Du Bois called the “problem of the color line” with social relations in America. “Our season will examine the ways in which race, gender, sexuality and class shape how we understand equality and our capacity to affirm those unalienable rights during such a fragile socio-historic moment in time,” says Linda Williams, KCMPT’s general manager. Baldwin’s first work written for the stage in 1954 tells the story of a Black female pastor in Harlem who must grapple with the social, cultural and gender limitations of pastoring a church when she is confronted by the secular life that she left behind. December 1–3 and 6–9. 7:30 pm. Just Off Broadway Theatre.

The Nutcracker 
Photography courtesy of the Kauffman Center.

December 1–24.

Clara and the Nutcracker prince are once again taking center stage at the Kauffman Center in The Nutcracker. Watch snowflakes, sugar plum fairies and toy soldiers come to life this holiday season in this heartwarming ballet choreographed by Devon Carney, with Tchaikovsky’s legendary score played by the Kansas City Symphony. December 1–24. Times vary. Kauffman Center.

Grupo Frontera

December 3. 7 pm.

Six-member Texas-based Mexican cumbia group Grupo Frontera was playing and recording locally in border towns in Texas only last year, but their collaboration with global superstar Bad Bunny earlier this summer landed them on the coveted Coachella stage, and the song landed them their first top five hit on the Billboard Hot 100. The band’s success is considered by many to be integral to the recent mainstream popularity of the regional Mexican genre. December 3. 7 pm. The Midland Theatre.

A Charlie Brown Christmas Featuring Lee Langston

December 5. 7 pm. 

The timeless jazz music of Vince Guaraldi has become a staple in households for half a century thanks to the Charlie Brown cartoons. The classic arrangement of selections from A Charlie Brown Christmas will now be delivered live with a big band for the first time ever. The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra with guest vocalist Lee Langston create new spins on the beloved holiday songs. December 5. 7 pm. Helzberg Hall.

Tina: The Tina Turner Musical 

December 5–10.

Fresh off Broadway, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical tells the inspiring story of rock ‘n’ roll legend Tina Turner set to some of her biggest hits, including “Proud Mary” and “What’s Love Got to Do with It.” Listen to the true story of this musical force of nature while enjoying electrifying dance numbers and powerful vocals. December 5–10. Times vary. Kansas City Music Hall.

Million Dollar Quartet Christmas

December 7. 7:30 pm.

Inspired by the hit musical Million Dollar Quartet, this holiday reimagining brings together soon-to-be legends Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley for a musical celebration featuring a nostalgic string of chart-topping favorites as they reflect on past and future Christmases at a historical moment in time when the fate and future of rock ‘n’ roll was yet to be determined. December 7. 7:30 pm. Yardley Hall.

It’s a Wonderful Life: Live Radio Play

December 7–10, 14–17, 20–23.

The 1946 Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life has been viewed millions of times across the globe, so it was time to put a new spin on this beloved, feel-good holiday film. In this new telling, the film has been reimagined as a radio play. Instead of a traditional play, actors will stand in front of microphones and deliver the performance as if it were broadcast on the radio. With holiday music, live sound affects and an ensemble cast, this new twist on the holiday standard is sure to excite and inspire. December 7–10, 14–17, 20–23. Times vary. Music Theater Heritage. 

What If Puppets: Animal Amigos

December 8–9

For over 30 years, What If Puppets has captivated young minds through puppets, which range from glove puppets to marionettes to shadow puppetry, using humor and heart in stories that connect to the complex social-emotional experiences of young audiences. In Animal Amigos, the audience gathers around the Tree of Life for a bilingual retelling of two Mexican folktales: “Tío Conejo” and “Medio Pollito.” December 8, 6 pm; December 9, 10 am. Polsky Theatre.

The Muppet Christmas Carol in Concert

December 8–9

Revisit the beloved holiday classic in a new format as The Muppet Christmas Carol film is screened while the musical score is performed live. Join The Muppets gang for a lighthearted, family-friendly rendition of this classic Charles Dickens holiday tale. Scrooge, played by Michael Caine, receives visits from spirits of three Christmases—past, present and future—to show him the error of his selfish ways, just in time for Christmas. December 8, 7 pm; December 9, 1 pm. Helzberg Hall.

Heartland Men’s Chorus Presents A Very Merry Christmas Pageant

December 10. 3:30 pm.

Heartland Men’s Chorus brings audiences the most fabulous and competitive holiday extravaganza ever as they compete in a pageant that promises to be the event of the holiday season—complete with drama and laughter through vocal performances, high-energy dance numbers and tons of holiday spirit. December 10. 3:30 pm. Yardley Hall.

A Magical Cirque Christmas

December 12. 7:30 pm.

Taking elements from Cirque du Soleil’s beloved acrobatic performances, this national tour is coming to KC for one night only. A Magical Cirque Christmas promises to be an unforgettable holiday variety show experience where entertainers will take audiences on an immersive winter wonderland journey, dazzling with their incredible talents. December 12. 7:30 pm. Kansas City Music Hall. 

Christmas Festival

December 14–17. 

The KC Symphony and Symphony Chorus, in collaboration with the Allegro Choirs of Kansas City, present the Christmas Festival this winter season. Guest conductor Caleb Young and vocalist Blaine Krauss showcase their unique musical arrangements of cherished carols, seasonal songs and a family sing-along, plus an early visit from Santa to get audiences in the holiday spirit. December 14–17. Times vary. Kauffman Center.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

December 14–17. 7 pm. 

With Jason Seber as the guest conductor, witness Tim Burton’s celebrated classic The Nightmare Before Christmas like never before. The KC Symphony plays the darkly charming score by Danny Elfman while the movie is projected, creating an unforgettable cinematic symphony. December 14–17. 7 pm. Kauffman Center.

This Is Important Podcast Live!

December 15. 8 pm.

Adam Devine, Anders Holm, Blake Anderson and Kyle Newacheck, co-creators and stars of Comedy Central’s uber-popular (with millennials) Workaholics, host their podcast live in front of an audience. The boys will dive deep into serious discussions surrounding hot-button topics like grown men fighting children, bowel movements and so much more.  December 15. 8 pm. The Midland Theatre.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Photography courtesy of the T-Mobile Center

December 16. 2:30 & 7:30 pm.

Ultimate winter rock band Trans-Siberian Orchestra has dominated the super-niche holiday-progressive metal genre for almost 30 years. With their unassuming instruments like guitar, drums and strings, the huge powerhouse group is an anomaly. TSO is the first major rock band to go straight to theaters and arenas—they have never played at a club, never had an opening act and never been an opening act. December 16. 2:30 & 7:30 pm. T-Mobile Center.

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