Fifty years ago, what was then known as Tulsa Civic Ballet presented its first full-length production of “The Nutcracker.”

The company bought in two stars from New York City Ballet to dance the principal roles, a practice that would continue until 1978, when Tulsa Ballet staged its first “Nutcracker” to feature only Tulsa performers.

This year, Tulsa Ballet is celebrating 50 years of “The Nutcracker,” even as the company is preparing to premiere a completely new version of this holiday classic in 2021.

Tulsa Ballet’s current “Nutcracker,” choreographed by artistic director Marcello Angelini, is set in 1920s Paris, and is the story of a young girl named Marie who received a nutcracker doll as a Christmas present. After an eventful party with family and friends, Marie falls asleep — and dreams up a world of adventure, excitement and romance, as her nutcracker toy becomes the prince of her dreams.

All performances will be accompanied by the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, led by Peter Stafford Wilson.

Look for a full story on Tulsa Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” in the Wednesday, Dec. 4, Weekend section.

Performances: 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7 and Friday, Dec. 13; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8; Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 14-15; and Sunday, Dec. 22; 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, at the Tulsa PAC, 101 E. Third St.

Tickets: $30-$108. 918-749-6006, tulsaballet.org

SCHIFF TO ACCEPT HELMERICH AWARD

Stacy Schiff, author of award-winning biographies of Cleopatra, and Vera Nabokov as well as the best-selling “The Witches: Salem, 1692,” will be in Tulsa to receive the 2019 Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award.

Schiff will receive the award — a $40,000 cash prize and an engraved crystal book — at a black-tie gala Friday, Dec. 6, at Central Library, Fifth Street and Denver Avenue.

Schiff will also take part in a free public event, 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, also at Central Library. She will take part in an on-stage interview, respond to questions from the audience, and sign copies of her books, which will be available for purchase.

The Helmerich Award is presented by the Tulsa City-County Library and the Tulsa Library Trust, and is presented annually to give formal recognition to internationally acclaimed authors who have written a distinguished body of work and made a major contribution to the field of literature and letters.

Past award winners have included Nobel laureates Toni Morrison and Saul Bellow; Man Booker prize winners Dame Hilary Mantel, Kazuo Ishiguro and Ian McEwan; Pulitzer Prize-winning novelists Norman Mailer, John Updike, William Kennedy, Larry McMurtry and Michael Chabon; thriller writers John le Carre, Alan Furst and John Grisham; poets Billy Collins and Wendall Berry; and playwright Neil Simon.

WHIFFENPOOFS

As with any number of college traditions, the Whiffenpoofs of Yale began in a bar.

The story goes that on a frosty night in 1909, five members of the Yale Glee Club convened at a local watering hole in New Haven, Conn., and began regaling the clientele with song.

This grew into weekly songfests at Mory’s Temple Bar, and soon the ensemble was performing under the name The Whiffenpoofs — a name that came from a joke making the rounds at the time.

Since then, each year a new group of performers is chosen to carry on the musical mantle of the Whiffenpoofs. The group’s signature song has become a standard covered by such artists as Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley and Slim Whitman. And in recent years, the Whiffenpoofs have begun to include female performers among their ranks.

Choregus Productions is bringing the 2019 ensemble to Tulsa for an evening that will feature a wide range of music performed a cappella, concluding — as is the tradition — with “The Whiffenpoof Song.”

Performance: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, at All Souls Unitarian Church, 2952 S. Peoria Ave.

Tickets: $25. 918-688-6112, choregus.org.

CHRISTMAS ON STAGE

Several area theater companies are breaking out their holiday shows.

One of the city’s longest-running holiday traditions — now in its 39th year — is Clark Youth Theatre’s annual production of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson. The Herdmans never go to church, so how did they end up with the lead roles in the Christmas play? Chance, intimidation, and maybe a little Christmas magic help bring the Herdmans, as well as the rest of the town, to a new understanding of the holiday season.

Performances: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 5-7 and 12-14, 2 p.m. Sunday Dec. 8 and 15 at Henthorne PAC, 4825 S. Quaker Ave.

Tickets: $10-$13. 918-596-1412, clarkyouththeatre.com

The classic holiday film “It’s a Wonderful Life” gets a musical update in “Miracle in Bedford Falls,” by Broken Arrow Community Playhouse. George Bailey, the owner of a struggling building and loan business, get caught up in a series of personal and professional crises that push him to consider suicide. It’s only the intervention of a bumbling angel named Clarence to show George what value his life has to himself and his community.

Performances: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6 and 13; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday Dec. 7 and 14; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8 and 15, at the Broken Arrow Community Playhouse, 1800 S. Main St., Broken Arrow

Tickets: $22-$25. 918-258-0077, bacptheatre.com

Sapulpa Community Theatre is presenting “The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge,” a comedy by Mark Brown. Less than a year after his miraculous visitations various Christmas spirits, Ebenezer Scrooge has returned to his miserly ways — which includes taking the ghost of Jacob Marley and his other visitors to court.

Performances: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 6 and 13, and Saturday, Dec. 7; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8 and 15, and Saturday, Dec. 14, at Sapulpa Community Theatre, 124 S. Water St., Sapulpa.

Tickets: $5-$12. sapulpatheatre.org.

The Council Oak Men’s Chorale, led by Elizabeth Smith Curtis, will decorate holiday songs from “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” to “African Noel” with sophisticated, fun and jazzy stylings that will get audiences into the spirit of the season.

Performances: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday-Friday, Dec. 3, 5-6, at Fellowship Congregational Church, 2900 S. Harvard Ave.

Tickets: $20. counciloak.org


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James D. Watts Jr.

918-581-8478

james.watts@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: watzworld