Holiday Theater (and Your Best Beer Bets Nearby)

By Juliana Bryarly

A look at the many seasonal theater offerings and the best beer bets nearby

Long lines, present purchasing, and marketing madness can instigate that holiday havoc. Avoid stressing over the small details and remember to enjoy the season by dedicating an afternoon or evening for a live holiday performance and a beer. Whether an outing with the kids and extended family, or an adults’ night out, the Twin Cities theater scene provides ballet, comedy, drama and musicals that put a lighter step in the holiday season. And, as always, beer is an appropriate pairing option. Here are some of the best winter performances around town, and the choicest beer bars nearby.


The Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker —
Orpheum Theater, 910 Hennepin Ave. S., Fri, Dec. 7 and Sat, Dec. 8.
Lavish costumes, Russian puppets, elaborate hand-painted backdrops and 40 of Russia’s top dancers perform Tchaikovsky’s classic Christmas ballet.

Trailer Park Boys Dear Santa Go F*ck Yourself —
State Theater, 805 Hennepin Ave. S., Friday, Dec. 14.
Those same endearing, dysfunctional characters from the Canadian comedy mockumentary television series, Trailer Park Boys, return on the stage with this brand new Christmas show.

Don’t Hug Me Christmas Carol —
New Century Theater, 615 Hennepin Ave. S., Ste. 145, Nov. 23-Dec. 31.
This performance in the newest Hennepin Theater Trust venue, is a Minnesota spoof of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Set in fictional Bunyan Bay, grumpy Gunner Johnson, falls through the ice while snowmobiling across the lake and falls into a coma. In a dream, Gunner is taken on a spiritual journey similar to Scrooge’s.

All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 —
Pantages Theater, 710 Hennepin Ave. S., Dec. 19-22.
Performed by Theater Latte’ Da and featuring Cantus, one of the country’s most accomplished vocal ensembles, All Is Calm tells the true story of the Christmas Eve truce proclaimed by the Allied and German soldiers fighting in the trenches in WWI.

Fifty Shades of White: A Minnesota XXXmas —
Brave New Workshop, 824 Hennepin Ave. S., Nov. 8-Jan. 12.
With a title based on the recent hot-selling sizzling summer read, this holiday production marks the 278th comedy revue by the BNW and promises to mix a little bit of naughty with some seasonal Minnesota Nice.

Miss Richfield 1981 “2012: We’ll All Be Dead by Christmas” —
Illusion Theater, 528 Hennepin Ave. S., Nov. 30-Dec. 16.
December 21, 2012–the end of the world–means we have have even fewer days than normal to enjoy this holiday season. Miss Richfield shares her annual holiday traditions as we approach impending Armageddon.

Nearby beer bars:

Eating and drinking options abound in this vibrant area of downtown. Here are three beer-centric places to grab a pint and maybe a bite: Gluek’s, Rock Bottom Brewery, and MacKenzie Pub. Part of the Minneapolis beer scene for over 70 years, Gluek’s woody, German beer hall interior can lift even Scrooge into happy holiday spirits. The beer list helps, too. Even Old Uncle Ole, who doesn’t like that “weird kind of beer,” will find a brew to suit him. Rock Bottom, a national chain brewpub, is always a crowd pleaser with a solid and varied beer list. MacKenzie, the “American bar with a Scotch flavor,” takes its beer list seriously and simply can’t disappoint the beer lover.

A Christmas Carol —
Guthrie Theater, 818 S. 2nd St., Nov. 13-Dec. 29
Generations of Minnesotans hold the Guthrie’s production of A Christmas Carol as a cherished holiday tradition. Now in its 38th year, the Guthrie strives to keep the show fresh with a new adaptation by Crispin Whittell. The lush, detailed sets, costumes and top-notch acting keep this production a tops in holiday traditions.

Nearby beer bars:

Perhaps Ebeneezer wouldn’t be such a crotchety old geezer had he imbibed a decent brew. You can keep your holiday spirits high within walking distance from the Guthrie at The Crooked Pint and Grumpy’s Downtown. If you’re out with the kids and the grandparents, The Crooked Pint is the crowd-pleasing option. The menu is broad and reliable and the beer list includes a solid craft beer selection plus the macros. Grumpy’s, with its grittier and more urban hip atmosphere, also offers food for all ages and boasts an 18-tap beer selection plus more in bottles. Ask about the beer of the month.

Christmas Impossible —
Bryant Lake Bowl, 810 W. Lake, Nov. 23-Dec. 9.
A family friendly performance presented by Comedy Suitcase, puts Santa in the position of secret agent on a mission to foil an evil conspiracy of puppets from stealing the world’s toys.

Nearby beer bars:

Just stick around the BLB for a wide selection of tasty taps. If you prefer a change of venue, step over to Lyndale Avenue to visit Lyndale Tap House, Muddy Waters, or Herkimer Brew Pub. Choose from over 30 taps at both Muddy Waters and Lyndale Tap House (which stand next door to each other). If you can’t find a beer to suit you at either of these spots, then you just don’t like beer. Herkimer offers its own brews on tap ranging from lagers, pilsners to malty dunkels – perfect for the holiday chill.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas —
Children’s Theater Company, 2400 3rd Ave. S., Nov. 6-Dec. 30
This full-blown musical of the classic, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” by Dr. Seuss, illuminates the full story of the Grinch’s attempts to destroy Christmas for the Whos down in Whoville.

Nearby beer bars:

Odds are you’re accompanying at least one young one on this trip to the theater, and that means it’s time to find that happy place where the beer and the crayons arrive simultaneously. Jasmine 26 carries several of the locals, Bells brews, and a pleasant selection of Asian beers. The Black Forest Inn features a strong selection of German and Austrian beers, as well as local stand-bys Summit EPA, Grain Belt and Schell’s.

St. Paul

Elf —
Ordway, 345 Washington, Dec. 5-30
Elf The Broadway Musical is the on-stage remake of the 2003 family holiday movie, “Elf,” the tale of Buddy, an orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag and is transported to the North Pole. He eventually embarks on a journey to New York City to discover his true identity and help New Yorkers rediscover the true meaning of Christmas.

Tuna Christmas —
Cabaret Theater at Camp Bar, 490 Robert St., Nov. 30-Dec. 30.
Produced by the Actors Theater of Minnesota, Tuna Christmas is based in the fictional tiny town of Tuna, Texas. As per all the Tuna productions, two actors portray all 24 of the eccentric, endearing dwellers of Tuna, as they deal with small-town drama in this irreverent holiday comedy.

Nearby beer bars:

You’ll have no problems finding a decent beer in downtown St. Paul. The theater at Camp Bar serves beer, but mostly local staples. Burger Moe’s and the Eagle Street Grille can more than satisfy your beer desires with their long rotating lists of craft beer on tap and in bottles, while Senor Wong doesn’t waste any of its small tap selection and offers an extensive bottle list. Then there’s Great Waters Brewing where they offer their own brews with up to four on cask and six pushed.

Ballet Minnesota’s Nutcracker —
The O’Shaughnessy, 2004 Randolph, Dec. 12-16.
It’s the Twin Cities’ quintessential, traditional performance of the classic Nutcracker.

Nearby beer bars:

Beer and ballet? Why not! Several cozy neighborhood pubs await you around St. Catherine’s and nearby Highland Park. The Groveland Tap and Tiffany Sports Lounge both offer a friendly neighborhood vibe, as well as a plethora of rotating beers on tap and in bottles. The Chatterbox, with its retro Atari games, sports its own microbrewed tap list as well as a small, but strong bottle selection.


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