Looking for a holiday show? We've got some suggestions

Cast members of Christmas on the Ranch.
Cast members of Christmas on the Ranch.
Photo by Paul Nixdorf
As the final weeks of 2012 count down on the calendar, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate the religious holiday of your choice, the upcoming solstice, or just making your way to the end of another year.

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For example, James Rocco wanted to share the celebration with listeners, so the Ordway Center artistic director recorded a two-song EP, Cold Enough 4U?, that has just been released. Rocco, who started his career in pop music before shifting to theater, made waves last year with a CD, It's Between Us, and a charting adult contemporary single, "And the Night Stood Still."

"The CD went really well, and I became the poster child for 'Don't give up on your dreams,'" Rocco says. "So I'm continuing the journey."

Rocco recorded the two songs -- "Cold Enough to Snow" and "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" -- at Wild Sound with Raymond Berg. The band features Berg, Mark Lenander on guitar, and Randy Schmeling and Jill Mikelson on backing vocals. The songs can be purchased online at cdbaby

"I'm planning my next move. Who wouldn't want to retire and be a singer?" Rocco says.

Looking for a holiday show? We've got some suggestions
Elf, image by Joan Marcus

Speaking of the Ordway, the theater's holiday offering, Elf: The Broadway Musical, continues through December 30. The foot of snow we got a couple of weeks back meant I couldn't fit the show into my schedule, but it got solid notices from my critical comrades.

If you are looking for something a bit out of the ordinary, and don't mind heading out to the "wilds" of Plymouth (really, it's just a few minutes out of Minneapolis on Highway 55), Plymouth Playhouse's offering, Christmas on the Ranch, is a real delight. The show takes us to North Dakota in the early 1960s for a country-style holiday celebration. The real attractions here are lead vocalist Monica Heuser and the contributions of old-time players Tree People. The show, running through January 13, gives you what you want out of a show like this: warm feelings and solid, wall-to-wall entertainment. 

Open Window Theatre celebrates the great American author O. Henry with musical adaptations of two stories in An O. Henry Christmas, now through December 30 at the company's own theater in Minneapolis. The show features two famous pieces: "The Gift of the Magi" and "The Last Leaf," both directed by Joy Donley.

Finally, you can find plenty of holiday programming -- and counter-programming -- at the Bryant-Lake Bowl. One that hasn't come up yet in these virtual pages is God Rest Ye Scary Gentlemen: Christmas Ghost Stories from Steve Schroer of Hardcover Theater. For the show, a trio of holiday-tinged ghost stories are on tap to be presented in a reader's theater format. The company's shows are always worth a look.

For our complete schedule of holiday listings and recommendations, click here.

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