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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: November 24, 2015

Arts & Theater holiday planner: From “Magic of Christmas” to “The Nutcracker”

Written by: Bob Keyes
The Theater at Monmouth cast.

The Theater at Monmouth cast.

Enjoy your turkey and stuffing. Things are about to get busy.

With four weekends between now and Christmas, our celebrations and traditions are compressed. We’ve rounded up the highlights to help organize an entertainment strategy.

Ready, set, go.

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Weekend of Nov. 26

“Every Christmas Story Ever Told … (and then some!),” Theater at Monmouth. Cumston Hall, Nov. 26-Dec. 6. The theater hopes to begin a new tradition with this irreverent look at holiday classics and traditions. The play begins as “A Christmas Carol” then moves into “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the Grinch and Rudolph as the cast decides to perform every Christmas story ever told. James Noel Hoban, Ian Kramer, and Grace Bauer star. Dawn McAndrews directs. It’s recommended for audiences 13 and older. Preview at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 26; 7:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Nov. 27-29; and Dec. 3-5; 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 28-29; and Dec. 5-6; $25; 207-933-9999 or

The Nutcracker comes to life under a bridge of swords made by Toy Soldiers in scene 2 of Maine State Ballet's production of the Nutcracker. Press Herald file photo

The Nutcracker comes to life under a bridge of swords made by Toy Soldiers in scene 2 of Maine State Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker. Press Herald file photo

“The Nutcracker,” Maine State Ballet, Merrill Auditorium, Portland. This is the traditional version of the classic ballet; 2 and 7 p.m. Nov. 28; 2 p.m. Nov. 29; 7 p.m. Dec. 4; 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 5; 2 p.m. Dec. 6; $15 to $60; 842-0800 or

“Share the Wonder,” Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28. In conjunction with Rockland’s Festival of Lights, the Farnsworth opens its celebration across the museum campus with free events and family activities. The seasonal display at the Wyeth Center continues through December.

“A Christmas Carol” presented by Good Theater at the St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St., Portland. Will Rhys performs all the characters in his one-man version of the Dickens classic; 7:30 p.m. Friday; 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; $20; 207-885-5883 or

“Stories on the Staircase,” Victoria Mansion, Portland, 10 a.m. Saturday, and Dec. 5, 12 and 19. The magnificent museum and historic home hosts a holiday story hour for children between ages of 3 and 5. Because of space, only one adult can accompany each child; 207-772-4841 or

Weekend of Dec. 3

“Broadway at Good Theater,” 7 p.m. Dec. 2-3; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4; 3 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5; and 2 p.m. Dec. 6, St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St., Portland. This concert of mostly show tunes appeals to many because it’s not over-the-top with the holidays. This year’s concert includes music by Rodgers and Hart, the Gershwins, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, among others. $27 to $40; 207-885-5883 or

Copper Beech Tree Lighting, Portland Museum of Art, 6 p.m. Dec. 4. Portland Poet Laureate Gibson Fay-LeBlanc and writers from The Telling Room share seasonal poems, and the Waynflete School Chorus will sing carols. Free.

Rock My Soul

Rock My Soul

“Rockin’ Holiday Concerts” by Rock My Soul, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4 at Kittery Dance Hall; 4 p.m. Dec. 6 at One Longfellow Square, Portland; and 5 p.m. Dec. 20 at St. John’s Methodist Church, Dover, New Hampshire. This 25-member choir specializes in lively gospel music. $15 advance, $20 at the door; 207-703-2083 for Kittery; 207-761-1757 for One Longfellow Square; 207-450-8016 for Dover.

“Christmas at the Cathedral” presented by Choral Art Society, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 307 Congress St., Portland. This program helps set a sacred and celebratory tone for the season. Noon and 8 p.m. Dec. 5, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6; $15 for preview at noon Dec. 5, $10 to $37 for other performances;

“The Snow Queen,” Dec. 4 though Dec. 24, Portland Stage Company, 25A Forest Ave. Portland Stage continues its every-other-year retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen tale; $15 to $45; 207-774-0465 or

Anne Dodson and Friends, 7 p.m. Dec. 6, First Congregational Church, 55 Elm St., Camden. Continuing a long tradition, Dodson and team of talented friends — the Quasimodal Chorus, among them — mark the holidays with a concert that celebrates life, love, loss and general silliness. $13 advance, $15 at the door for adults, $6 advance and $7 at the door for ages 6 to 12; 207-236-9576.

Maine Jewish Film Festival shows the movie “Belle and Sebastian” at 2 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Portland Museum of Art. It is set in the French Alps during WWII, and tells the story of a resourceful and his dog; $15 adults, $10 ages 8 to 15;

Weekend of Dec. 10

“White Christmas” presented by Ogunquit Playhouse at the Music Hall, 28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Dec. 9-20. Broadway actors Jeffry Denman and Joey Sorge star in this musical adaptation that includes the Irving Berlin songs “Blue Skies,” “How Deep Is the Ocean” and “White Christmas.” $30 to $92; 603-436-2400 or

Portland Symphony Orchestra Magic of Christmas (Courtesy Photo)

Portland Symphony Orchestra Magic of Christmas (Courtesy Photo)

“Magic of Christmas,” Portland Symphony Orchestra at Merrill Auditorium, Dec. 11-20. The PSO’s annual holiday concert, now in year 36, features the Magic of Christmas Chorus and guests from Cirque de la Symphonie. $25 to $70, 207-842-0800 or

“Fire + Ice!,” 5 to 10 p.m. Dec. 11-12, The Nonantum Resort, 95 Ocean Ave, Kennebunkport. Bonfires, ice carvings, food and drink. Sounds like fun. $30; 207-967-4050 or

“A Christmas Carol,” The Public Theatre, Lewiston, 7 p.m. Dec. 11; 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 12; and 2 p.m. Dec. 13. Six actors and fiddler stage the Dickens’ classic, directed by Christopher Schario. $5 to $20; 207-782-3200 or

The Victorian Nutcracker at Merrill Auditorium in Portland. Press Herald file photo

The Victorian Nutcracker at Merrill Auditorium in Portland. Press Herald file photo

“The Victorian Nutcracker” by Portland Ballet, 2 p.m. Dec. 12-13, Westbrook Performing Arts Center and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at Merrill Auditorium, Portland. This version of the ballet includes scenes, storylines and people from Victorian Portland. $39 and $45 for Westbrook, $23 to $58 for Merrill; 207-842-0800 or

Downeast Singers, Camden Opera House, 2 p.m. Dec. 13. Harpsichordist Virginia Flanagan and pianist Jennifer McIvor join conductor Anthony Antolini and the singers for a seasonal concert. $20, 18 and younger free. 207-236-7963 or

Weekend of Dec. 17 (through Christmas)

“Songs of the Season” presented by 317 Main Community Music Center, 7 p.m. Dec. 18, First Parish Congregational Church, 116 Main St., Yarmouth. This concert is part of the larger townwide Hometown Holidays celebration.

“The Nutcracker” by Bangor Symphony Orchestra, 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 19 and 3 p.m. Dec. 20, Collins Center for the Arts, University of Maine-Orono. Bangor Area Children’s Choir and the Robinson Ballet join the symphony and conductor Lucas Richman and the orchestra. $11 to $37; or

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

“Christmas with Renaissance Voices,” 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19 and 2 p.m. Dec. 20, Cathedral of St. Luke, 143 State St., Portland. Harold Stover directs the 20-voice acappella choir in a concert of old and new music. $15 at the door, $12 in advance at Starbird Music and Longfellow Books in Portland and at The Book Review in Falmouth, or $5 students. The program also will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at the Sanford-Springvale Historical Society; 207-342-2797.

Organist Ray Cornils. Press Herald file photo

Organist Ray Cornils. Press Herald file photo

“Christmas with Cornils,” 7:30 p.m. Dec. 22, Merrill Auditorium. Municipal organist Ray Cornils leads his annual holiday program from the bench of the Kotzschmar Organ. $28.50 to $46.50; 207-842-0800 or

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