Northwest Indiana features “Christmas Carols,” “Nutcracker”

A cherished holiday tradition for many families is gathering together for a performance of the classic A Christmas Carol or The Nutcracker. Plan your trip with this list of performances in Northwest Indiana.

In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, an old curmudgeon named Ebenezer Scrooge is haunted by ghosts in an attempt to get him to change his ways before it’s too late.

It’s a seasonal classic for a reason. Even with updates and twists, the flesh of the story still rings true today.

The Theater im Zentrum in Münster invites the audience to reinterpret the Christmas classic. Dickens Christmas Carol Dinner Show is a fast-paced, entertaining tribute to A Christmas Carol that runs December 1-11. Chicago’s Philip Potempa, a Post-Tribune columnist, and Hammond’s Jeannie Rapstad will provide the voices for more than two dozen characters appearing in the story.

They will be joined by WJOB radio personality Tony Panek from East Chicago, who will be creating all the old-time Foley sounds and effects.

“I play the female roles as well as the narrator,” Rapstad said. ‘These include Scrooge’s niece, the Ghost of Christmas Past, Mrs Fezziwig and Mrs Cratchit. It makes a lot of fun.”

It is her first appearance as a comedian and actress in this production. She prepared by studying different accents online.

“I spent a lot of time working on my accent,” she said. “At the end of the show, I play a really funny … woman who robs Scrooge of his nightgown and his bed on fire and everything, but then he averts this catastrophe by changing his behavior. It’s a very funny scene, so I enjoyed developing my Cockney accent, which I don’t use very often.”

She was thrilled to get the role. She is personally a fan of the book.

“I’m a fan of Dickens; I think he’s a brilliant writer,” she said. “The things that he covered in his lifetime – the poverty, the lack of understanding of the upper class… I think he made a great social contribution in developing programs for people who have the opportunity to change their lives. He has brought these issues into the spotlight. “A Christmas Carol” also shines a spotlight on people with money like Scrooge who don’t want to share if they could with other people who don’t have money.”

The Foley sound effects will be a big part of the performance, she said. “The wind machine, the fog machine, the big bells – all these wonderful things. It’s going to be a lot of fun for the audience,” she said. “I encourage people to come and start their holiday season with this version of ‘A Christmas Carol.'”

Set to a glorious score by Russian composer Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker is about a girl named Clara who is given a nutcracker doll by her godfather, Mr. Drosselmeyer, at a Christmas party. Her brother Fritz is jealous and breaks the doll. Drosselmeyer has him bandaged and Clara falls asleep with him in her arms under the Christmas tree and when midnight strikes the Nutcracker comes to life and fights the evil Mouse King.

When Clara helps defeat the mouse, the nutcracker transforms into a prince and leads them to the land of snow, where they are greeted by dancing snowflakes. They meet the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Land of Candy, where they are rewarded with several dances depicting candies. including the Arabic Dance, the Mirliton Dance and the Waltz of the Flowers. The sugar fairy and the cavalier dance one last pas de deux and Clara wakes up.

Gloria Tuohy, Founding Director and CEO of Indiana Ballet Theater with locations in Merrillville, DeMott and Valparaiso. The Indiana Ballet Theater has performed The Nutcracker in the area for 25 years, 20 of them at the former Star Plaza Theater in Merrillville. After it came down, they performed it at locations in the region.

This year all performances will be at the Indiana University Theater Northwest in Gary.

“IUN seems very open to us being there and really encouraging it, so we’re doing all seven shows there this year,” she said. This includes performances for Gary school children.

Every year the show is a little different, she said.

“We’re trying to give people something new and exciting,” she said. “We have several dancers, male dancers, from New York and Chicago and (other) areas. Our dancers can also dance with these professional dancers.”

This year’s performance will mark the return of the traditional pas de deux dance after two years of dancing, she said.

“We are happy about that.”

The Pas De Deux is the duet between the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Prince and includes elevators.

“This is the first year back to some of the fabulous dances we love,” she said.

She thinks people love The Nutcracker because of its tradition.

“It gets everyone excited and ready to go shopping and celebrate Christmas,” she said. “It puts a (bow) in the Christmas holidays.”

Here are some performances of “A Christmas Carol” and “The Nutcracker” to get you in the mood.

“Dicken’s Christmas Carol Dinner Show”: 2 p.m. 1st-3rd and 7th-10th December; 7 p.m. December 3 and 9-10; and 3 p.m. on December 4 and 11 at the Center for Visual and Performing Arts, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster. Admission tickets are $30. 219-836-3255; Add a meal for $25 plus tax and tip; For reservations call 219-836-1930 ext. 2.

The Center’s outdoor theater and atrium lobby will be decked out for Christmas with the Festival of Trees exhibition in December. The show is presented as a radio performance, with three actors doing all the voices and sound effects. Several performances offer dinner.

M&M Productions Presents Scrooge! The musical”: 7:30 p.m. on November 24 and December 1-3 and 3 p.m. on December 4 at the Reinhart Auditorium, 276 E. 68th Place, Merrillville. Tickets cost $9 to $12. 219-947-4922;

M&M Productions and Ross Music Theater organize the annual production of the fast-paced, musical version of “A Christmas Carol”. The show was first presented by Jerauld J. Reinhart in 1982 and bits and pieces from that first production are still used today.

LaPorte Little Theater Club “A Christmas Carol”: 2nd-3rd and Dec 9, 7:30 p.m., Dec 4, 10-11 Dec., 2 p.m. at the LaPorte Little Theater Club, 218 A St., LaPorte. Tickets cost $13 to $17. 219-362-5113;

Founded in 1925, this community theater tells the story of a curmudgeon who changes his behavior after a paranormal experience around Christmas time.

“Scrooge! A Bah Humbug Musical”: 5:30 p.m. 3rd, 10th and 17th December. At the Family Christian Center, 340 W. 45th St, Munster. Tickets range from $9 to $25. 219-922-6500;

An adaptation of A Christmas Carol presented as a musical featuring dancers, actors, animals, pyrotechnics and aerial stunts.

Indiana Ballet Theater Presents The Nutcracker: 8th-9th December 7 p.m., December 10 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., and December 11 3 p.m. at the Indiana University Theater Northwest, 3415 Broadway, Gary. Tickets cost $20 to $25.

“A Seussified Christmas Carol”: 7:00 p.m. 9th-10th December, 2:00 p.m. December 11 at Woodland Park, 2100 Willowcreek Road, Portage. Admission tickets are $10. 219-841-9545;

dr Seuss meets Dickens in this whimsical reinvention that promises more delightful couplets and less Victorian London.

Annie Alleman is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.