Princeton traditions

These events help make the holiday season special

By Anthony Stoeckert, Packet Media Group
    We are smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, and chances are you’ve been pretty busy.
    There’s shopping to do, parties to go to and the kids have rehearsals for their holiday pageant or a basketball game to play. And you still haven’t sent out your holiday cards or figured out what you’re going to serve on Christmas.
    Well, it’s time to take a break from it all and enjoy one of the many traditions that take place in Princeton at this time of year. There are all sorts of great things to do that are designed to get you in the holiday spirit. Here are five festival fun things to do this weekend.
    “A Christmas Carol” at McCarter Theatre.
    I am always amazed when I meet people from the area who haven’t seen this. It’s the Princeton equivalent of New Yorkers who have never visited the Statue of Liberty.
    I have written so much about this show, but I’ll write a little more. This is a perfect adaptation of Charles Dickens’ perfect Christmas story. It’s funny, scary and uplifting. Graeme Malcolm returns as Scrooge, and he’s always brilliant in the role.
    The show also has some great special effects, singing and dancing. It’s on stage through Dec. 28, and if you haven’t seen it, just go already.
    McCarter Theatre is at 91 University Place, Princeton. For tickets and information, go to www.mccarter.org or call 609-258-2787.
    Nutcrackers at Kelsey.
    I’ve written about “The Nutcracker” almost as much as I’ve written about “A Christmas Carol.”
    There are no shortage of dancing mice and sugar plums in this area, but Kelsey Theatre in West Windsor offers different takes on the show.
    Dec. 13, Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre is returning with “El Sueno: A Cultural Holiday Celebration,” a “Nutcracker” with live music and featuring flamenco, gypsy, Spanish regional dances and dances from other Latin American Cultures. Tickets cost $18, $16 seniors, $14 students.
    And next weekend, you can take the kids to see The New Jersey Youth Ballet’s narrated, hour-long version of “The Nutcracker.” It’s a great way to introduce little ones to live performance while celebrating the season. Tickets cost $16, $14 seniors, students, children.
    Kelsey Theatre is on the campus of Mercer County Community College, 1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor. For more information, go to www.kelseyatmccc.org or call 609-570-3333.
    Morven’s Festival of Trees.
    Morven Museum and Garden is hosting its annual Festival of Trees through Jan. 4.
    The festival showcases trees decorated by local businesses, garden clubs and organizations. It’s a great place to walk around in a peaceful setting and get in the holiday mood. You’ll also be amazed at the creativity that goes into these trees.
    Morven is at 55 Stockton St., Princeton. Hours are Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. For more information, go to www.morven.org or call 609-924-8144.
    Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s “Holiday POPS!” concert.
    Each year, PSO offers a great way to introduce kids to orchestral music while also getting people in the spirit of the season.
    This year’s concert is set for Dec. 13, beginning at 4 p.m. at Richardson Auditorium on the campus of Princeton University, and will feature festive music played by soloists from every section of the orchestra.
    Conducted by PSO Music Director Rossen Milanov, the concert will feature works by Mendelssohn, Robert Shaw, Paul Dukas, Vivaldi, and Mozart. The Princeton High School Choir will join the orchestra on selected pieces, performing a cappella, and leading the annual carol sing-a-long, an arrangement of traditional favorites by Leroy Anderson.
    And no PSO “Holiday POPS!” concert is complete without Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” and its vivid depiction of neighing horses and cracking whips. Mendelssohn’s “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and Robert Shaw’s “The Many Moods of Christmas Suite II” will be performed by the Princeton High School Choir with orchestral accompaniment.
    Tickets cost $40, $25 students. For more information, go to www.princetonsymphony.org or call 609-497-0020.
    Princeton Singers’ “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.”
    This local holiday favorite features the Princeton Singers singing traditional carols while a narrator shares Dylan Thomas’ classic Christmas story of misrule and mayhem in the life of a country boy in rural Wales.
    This year, the concert takes place at 6 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 13, at Trinity Church, Princeton, and the audience can expect to see and hear the Princeton Singers joined by actor Christopher Coucill taking on the role of narrator.
    Everything from “In Dulci Jubilo” to “March of the Toy Soldiers” from The Nutcracker will be sung during the concert.
    Trinity Church is at 33 Mercer Street, Princeton. Tickets cost $25, $10 for students and can be ordered by calling 866-846- 7464. The program is recommended for children ages 10 and older. For more information, visit princetonsingers.org. 