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Activities For Families Abound Now Until The
End of December

Detroit News
by Ursula Watson
November 17, 2011

It's time to start decking the halls, but don't forget to make time for yuletide cheer with those you love.

The holidays offer a bounty of family-centric activities designed to bring one and all together, like stage productions "A Christmas Carol" at the Meadow Brook Theatre, Saturday through Dec. 23. Or enjoy a little bit of country and a little bit of rock 'n' roll during "Donny & Marie: Christmas in Detroit" at the Fox Theatre, Nov. 29-Dec. 4.

When the brother and sister duo visited Detroit in April, they revealed the show would include a nine-piece band and eight dancers and feature such hits as Donny Osmond's "Yo-Yo," an Osmond rendition of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way," and Marie Osmond singing a variety of operatic selections.

There also will be parts of the show custom-built for the Motor City, says Donny Osmond by phone from Las Vegas. How do iconic entertainers like the Osmonds plan to tackle the iconic music of Motown?

"You don't. You go parallel with it," says Osmond. "It's more than iconic, it is who we are. You look at the music and it defines so much. It defines what the country is. Motown is so influential."

And while the show is about fun, the Osmonds say they will have a moment of seriousness as well when they play a short video montage showing the harsh realities of the world.

"We have so many issues in the world. There's economic problems, there's unemployment. … We come out and say, 'Stop,'" Osmond says. "We can't change the world, obviously, but for two hours we can get away from it. We can enjoy the holiday spirit."

If dance and classical music is more your style, you can get a double helping and see "The Nutcracker" performed by the BalletMet Columbus at the Detroit Opera House, Nov. 25-27, and the Moscow Ballet's "Great Russian Nutcracker" at the Fox Theatre on Dec. 11.

Parents wanting to infuse a bit of academia into their children's holiday vacation might enjoy Wild Swan Theater's stage adaptation of the classic novel "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott, Dec. 8-11.

The play chronicles the lives of the March sisters — Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth — as they grow up in Civil War-era New England. While the story isn't really a holiday classic, it is filled with themes folks can appreciate, says Michelle Trame-Lanzi, who plays the girls' mother, Marmee.

"The relationship that the March girls have with each other is one that I think many can relate to, and for some, they wish that type of relationship existed in their own families," says Trame-Lanzi. "At the holidays it is nice to remember the importance of family."

For the very young theatergoer in your life, there's "Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical" at Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday. The play is about a toddler named Trixie who has a beloved stuffed bunny that she misplaces. You can only imagine the horror.
Now, there are those of us who are already suffering from holiday-overload and need to get away from people in Santa suits and the endless droning of Christmas music. The holiday-weary may find a refreshing respite at the Detroit Institute of Arts, which offers a variety of activities, including drop-in workshops, an undersea puppet ballet and exhibits such as "Once Upon a Time: Prints and Drawings that Tell Stories," Dec. 21-June 24. See David Hockney's etchings of the Brothers Grimm's "Six Fairy Tales," a volume of Moby Dick with illustrations by Norman Rockwell and more.

If holiday avant-garde is more your style, get lost in "Cirque Dreams Holidaze" at the Fox Theatre, Dec. 13-18. Watch as gingerbread men flip and penguins spin.

If music is more your thing, totally rock out with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at The Palace of Auburn Hills, Dec. 17.
Last but never least, there's a show for crestfallen basketball fans with no NBA games to watch. Get a dribble fix when the 2012 rookie crew of the Harlem Globetrotters plays Dec. 26 at The Palace. Now let the jingle bells rock.

Family Holiday

"A Christmas Story: The Musical" at Fisher Theatre, 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit. The 1983 classic movie comes to life on stage. Now-Nov. 27. $29-$79. Call (800)745-3000 or visit

Wayne CountyLightfest, Hines Drive and Merriman Road, Westland. Wayne County boasts it's the Midwest's longest drive-through holiday light display. 7-10 tonight through Dec. 31 (closed on Dec. 25). $5 per car. Call (734) 261-1990 or visit

"Christmas Wonderfest" at Campus Martius, 800 Woodward Ave., Detroit. The event kicks off with the city tree-lighting ceremony. Stock up on gifts at this international marketplace with vendors sellinggifts items from countries across the globe. Plus there is a Ferris wheel and a carrousel and more. Friday-Nov. 27. Call (313) 962-4054 or visit

"A Christmas Carol" at Meadow Brook Theatre, 207 Wilson Hall, Oakland University, Rochester. Watch as Ebenezer Scrooge finds his humanity. Saturday-Dec. 23. $25- $40. Call (248) 377-3300 or visit

"Barney Live in Concert: Birthday Bash" at Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. The singing and dancing purple dinosaur celebrates his 20th year making children wiggle and giggle. Saturday and Sunday. $12-$65. Call (800) 745-3000 or visit

"Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical" at Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, 350 Madison St., Detroit. Toddler Trixie misplaces her beloved stuffed bunny while on a trip to the Laundromat with her father. 4 p.m. Sunday. $7-$17. Call (313) 887-8501 or visit

America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit, Woodward Avenue route from Mack Avenue to Downtown. Enjoy marching bands, old and new floats and Santa. 9:05 a.m. Nov. 24. Visit

BalletMet Columbus' "The Nutcracker" at Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway St., Detroit. Toy soldiers, sugar plum fairies and the handsome prince dance to Tchaikovsky's score played by the Michigan Opera Theatre Orchestra. Narrated by Sir Roger Moore. During family matinees, get a photo with Santa, see a live reindeer and more. Nov. 25-27. $29-$61. Call (313) 237-7464 or visit

The 40th annual Holiday Walk at Meadow Brook Hall, 480 S. Adams Road, Rochester. Peruse classic toys such as Lincoln Logs, step inside a playhouse and decorate yummy holiday cookie and more. Nov. 25-Dec.22 $5-$20. Call (248) 364-6200 or visit

"A Winter Fantasy" fundraiser with the Michigan Opera Theatre Children's Chorus at the Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway St., Detroit. 6 p.m. silent auction and raffle; 7 p.m. concert. Nov. 28. $15 (ages 16 and younger), $28 adults, free for children 4 and younger. Call (248) 914-1966 or visit

"Donny &Marie: Christmas in Detroit" at Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Star siblings Donny and Marie Osmond bring their special brand of holiday cheer to Motown. Nov. 29-Dec. 4. $30-$100. Call (800) 745-3000 or visit

Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford, 20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn. Ice skating, carolers, carriage rides and Model Ts will whiz by. 6:30-10 p.m. Dec. 2-3, 9-10, 16-23 and 26-27. $15-$17; free for children 4 and younger. Call (800) 835-5237 or visit

Noel Night at Midtown Detroit's Cultural Center area, around Woodward and Warren avenues. Enjoy more than 60 venues (including museums and galleries), live music, holiday shopping, family arts and crafts, and more. 5-9:30 p.m. Dec. 3. Free. Call (313) 420-6000 or visit

"Too Hot to Handel" at the Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway St., Detroit. Holiday musical celebration that incorporates classical, jazz and gospel. Features the Rackham Symphony Choir, tenor Rodrick Dixon (formerly of the "Three Mo' Tenors"), soprano Alfreda Burke and alto Karen Marie Richardson. 2 p.m. free pre-concert chat with the artists, 3 p.m. concert Dec. 4. $18-$65. Call (800) 745-3000 or visit

"Wicked" at the Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway St., Detroit. Learn how those famous witches of Oz came to be. Dec. 7-31. $39-$154. Call (800) 745-3000 or visit

"Little Women" at the Wild Swan Theater, Towsley Auditorium, Morris Lawrence Building, Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor. Louisa May Alcott's classic novel is adapted to the stage. Dec. 8-11. $10-$15. Call (734) 995-0530 or visit

MASS Ensemble at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, 350 Madison St., Detroit. The Ensemble is not only a musical group, its members are inventors, sculptors, digital artists and acrobats who engage audiences visually and aurally. 8 p.m. Dec. 10. $30-$50. Call (313) 887-8501 or visit

Moscow Ballet's "Great Russian Nutcracker" at Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. The beloved story of a girl who falls in love with a Nutcracker Prince. 3 p.m. Dec. 11. $28.50-$122. Call or (800) 745-3000 or visit

"Cirque Dreams Holidaze" at Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. See penguins spinning, puppets dancing and gingerbread men flipping in mid-air. Dec. 13-18. $20.50-$65. Call (800) 745-3000 or visit

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra's "Home for the Holidays" at The Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Leonard Slatkin conducts. Dec. 16-18. $19-$71.50. Call (313) 576-5111 or visit

Trans-Siberian Orchestra at The Palace of Auburn Hills, 6 Championship Drive, Auburn Hills. A rocking holiday musical celebration. 3 and 8 p.m. Dec. 17. $32-$62. Call (800) 745-3000 or visit

"Once Upon a Time: Prints and Drawings that Tell Stories" at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave.,Detroit. Dec. 21-June 24. $5-$8; free for children 5 and younger. Call (313) 833-7900 or visit

The Harlem Globetrotters at The Palace of Auburn Hills, 6 Championship Drive, Auburn Hills. Check out the 2012 rookie class of Globetrotters. 7 p.m. Dec. 26. $17-$41.50. Call (800) 745-3000 or visit



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