The flurry of holiday arts performances is upon us, so here’s some information on a couple of festive happenings this week and next in Northeast Ohio.
• Apollo’s Fire, Cleveland’s baroque orchestra, will be busy beginning Wednesday with eight local performances of Sacrum Mysterium: A Celtic Christmas as well as its dramatic interpretation of the Christmas favorite Handel’s Messiah. Sacrum Mysterium, which weaves elements of a Scottish medieval Vespers service with Celtic folk tunes and carols, will begin performances at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1250 W. Exchange St., Akron.
Sacrum Mysterium is returning for a second year after selling out six dates last year. Performances will continue through Dec. 11 in Cleveland Heights, Olmsted Falls and Cleveland. See www.apollosfire.org for details.
Soprano Meredith Hall will sing in all eight Sacrum Mysterium and Messiah performances, along with the Apollo’s Singers, a 16-voice professional chamber chorus.
Apollo’s Fire, which has been delving into the secrets of Handel’s Messiah for 15 years, will perform the work at Westminster in Akron at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17. Earlier Messiah performances will be Dec. 14-16 in Cleveland Heights and Rocky River.
Tickets for either show start at $26. Those ordering tickets for both concerts receive $10 off each ticket. Students attending Akron shows are admitted free, thanks to the GAR Foundation. Call 216-320-0012 or 800-314-2535.
Holiday CDs from both programs are available.
• Kick off the holiday season Saturday with free holiday tours of the festively decorated theaters at PlayhouseSquare in Cleveland. The tours, which start at 10 a.m. and leave every 15 minutes from the State Theatre lobby (1510 Euclid Ave.), include backstage glimpses, interesting facts and fun anecdotes about the largest performing arts complex outside New York City. The last tour will leave at 11:30 a.m. Groups of 10 or more are asked to call ahead at 216-640-8531.
Guests will receive a collectible Princess of the Palace holiday ornament, holiday cookies and a commemorative PlayhouseSquare 90th anniversary pin. Parking is $2 for arrivals from 9:30 to 11 a.m. in the PlayhouseSquare Parking Garage at Chester Avenue and East 15th Street.
Fans can vote for their favorite local actor, actress, director, ensemble, choreographer, costume designer, scenic designer and more through Dec. 31 in the BroadwayWorld Cleveland Regional Awards, http://cleveland.broadwayworld.com. As of this writing Tuesday, John Hedges, executive director of Weathervane Community Playhouse, was in third place for best Equity actor in a play for his role as Michael in God of Carnage at Dobama Theatre in Cleveland last spring. Hedges had returned to acting for the first time in nearly five years.
In the Akron area, numerous actors and directors from Actors’ Summit and Porthouse Theatre were nominated. The late, great Stephen Brockway ranked third for best Equity actor in a musical or revue for his part in the revue I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change at Actors’ Summit, the last role he played before his death in June.
Also from Actors’ Summit, Aubrey Caldwell was in third place for best Equity actress in a musical or review for her comical, multi-character turn in Five Course Love, and Mary Jo Alexander ranked first for best Equity actress in a play as Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest.
Finally, Sean Morrissey was in third place for choreography for And The World Goes ’Round at Porthouse Theatre, Terri Kent was in third for best director for Damn Yankees at Porthouse Theatre, and the Akron Symphony Orchestra held third for best special theatrical event for the 100th anniversary staging of the musical Titanic.
‘Debbie Does Dallas’
For a decidedly non-holidayish option, the one-year-old company Blank Canvas Theatre says it’s offering a break from the typical holiday shows with the Cleveland premiere of Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical. The show opens at 7 p.m. Friday and runs through Dec. 22, with a special midnight performance Dec. 15.
The musical began off-Broadway and was produced by the Araca Group, whose principals, Matthew and Michael Rego and Hank Unger, come from the Cleveland area. It tells the coming-of-age story of small-town sweetheart Debbie Benton, who dreams of becoming a Texas Cowgirl cheerleader. The musical parody, based on the 1978 pornographic film, contains no sex or nudity.
In Cleveland, the show stars Miss Ohio first-runner-up Leslie Andrews and is directed by theater founder Patrick Ciamacco, whom Akron audiences have seen in Weathervane’s 3 Guys Naked from the Waist Down and The Full Monty.
Cost is $15. The theater is at the 78th Street Studios, 1305 W. 78th St., Suite 211, Cleveland. See http://blankcanvastheatre.com.
Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.