Winter Arts Guide: Philly is chock full of unique and creative performances

Pennsylvania Ballet
'The Nutcracker' will be playing at the Academy of Music from Dec. 10-31.
Alexander Iziliaev

Philadelphia is a city full of stages.

Whether it’s a curtain rising on a new play, an audience cheering for a comedian or setting your eyes on some incredible dance performances—there’s quite a lot going on in the City of Brotherly Love. To help maneuver the many opportunities that the winter season offers in Philly, we have narrowed down some must-sees in almost every category. 

‘Skeleton Crew’ at the Bristol Riverside Theater 

At the Bristol Riverside Theatre, their 35th anniversary season is continuing on with the production of Tony Nominee Dominique Morriseau’s timely play about four Detroit auto workers, ‘Skeleton Crew.’ The play, which first premiered at the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York in 2016 is the third installment to her Detroit Project—a three-play cycle that includes ‘Paradise Blue’ and ‘Detroit ‘67’—and is officially on stage now through Nov. 21. The official description of the show states that it follows four Detroit auto workers who begin to panic as rumors that their factory is closing circulate through the tight-knit work community. With their futures unknown, each of the workers must make difficult choices about loyalty to each other, the company, and themselves. With this show by Morisseau, who also spent three seasons as a co-producer of Showtime’s ‘Shameless’, audiences go back to the start of the Great Recession where one of the last auto stamping plants in Detroit is on shaky ground. Each of the workers has to make choices on how to move forward. Subscriptions for the 2021-22 season at BRT are still available starting at $124, and single tickets are also on sale starting at $43. 


120 Radcliffe St., Bristol,

Pennsylvania Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’

When the holidays begin to approach, there are a few shows that genuinely get everyone in the festive spirit. ‘The Nutcracker’ is a classic and has that nostalgic holiday feel that audiences crave, and this year the Pennsylvania Ballet promises not to disappoint. Over a million people have seen the holiday staple over the past 50+ years in the City of Brotherly Love and the performance of ‘The Nutcracker’ soon became a tradition for many Philadelphians; they would come with their families and friends every year to celebrate the holidays and enjoy the show. The tale of ‘The Nutcracker’ follows Marie and the Prince; together the duo battle a Mouse King, dance in a glistening snowfall and celebrate in the land of sweets to create a magical journey that looks just as beautiful as it sounds. Every detail is exquisite from the costumes to the sets; audiences feel as though they are completely transported to another land, and the iconic Tchaikovsky score is performed live by the Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra. ‘The Nutcracker’ will be playing at the Academy of Music from Dec. 10 to 31. Tickets are now available online. 

240 S. Broad St.,

Sebastian Maniscalco

Comedy is back on stage after a long hiatus. This winter season is full of opportunities to check out some of the top comedians around the country, including Sebastian Maniscalco. The comedian, author and actor has spent the last few years being mighty busy releasing a best-selling memoir, ‘Stay Hungry’; and landing a role in ‘Green Book’, which won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Maniscalco also has five television comedy specials under his belt (for Netflix, Showtime and Comedy Central), and as a release states, has scaled new rating heights prompting NBC’s Nightly News to dub him “comedy’s new superstar.” His most recent special was filmed in 2018 during a run of five sold-out shows at Radio City Music Hall. Now, Maniscalco is coming to Philadelphia for a one-night-only performance at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday, Nov. 24 – the night before Thanksgiving – as part of his “Nobody Does This” tour. Tickets are now available online. 

Sebastian ManiscalcoPeggy Sirota

3601 S. Broad St.,

1812’s ‘The Carols’

This specific performance is a bit different in the stage category because it can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home. ‘The Carols’ will be performed by the 1812 company and will kick off in December, it’s the perfect option for those still nervous going into crowds. For 1812, sporting comedic performances and shows highlighting improv comes as no surprise: This experimental gem of an organization has produced more shows by gathering a group of artists in a room and playing— improvising, experimenting and writing together—than most. The official description for their holiday show reads: “It’s Christmastime in 1943. War is raging on the other side of the Atlantic and, here at home, a group of neighbors gather at the VFW to make the most of what they have.” An audience favorite show from 1812’s vast library of original work, ‘The Carols’ has gone on to regional productions along the East Coast, with future productions already scheduled into 2022. Performances will begin to stream Dec. 20 and will run until Jan. 2.

‘The Little Mermaid’ at Walnut Street Theatre

Whether it’s from the classic Hans Christian Andersen story or the beloved Disney film, we’ve all either heard or seen the popular tale of a mermaid who trades her voice in for legs to experience life in another world above the sea, and to also have a chance at true love. This story features timeless characters, songs and moments and for their version of Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid,’ Philadelphians will have ample time to see the show at the WST with previews starting Nov. 16, opening night on Nov. 24, and the shows continuing through Jan. 2, 2022 on the Walnut’s Mainstage. This particular production at the Walnut Street Theater will be directed by Glenn Casale and choreographed by John MacInnis. Tickets are now available online. 

Walnut Street Theatre

825 Walnut St.,


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