This week, Jared Bowen takes us behind the scenes of The Gift, previews A Blue Heron Christmas Special and reviews A Christmas Carol.

"The Gift," Virtual performances from Boston Ballet December 17-27

The Gift Boston Ballet
Soloist Chyrstyn Fentroy in BB@yourhome: "The Gift"
Brooke Trisolini, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet presents an original take on The Nutcracker with The Gift. Inspired by Duke Ellington’s “Nutcracker Suite,” seven Boston Ballet company dancers have choreographed unique dances set to Ellington’s jazzy score. The company prepared for this program for months — dividing into small groups and hosting socially-distanced rehearsals over Zoom.

“I think one of the hardest things about working virtually is the slight delay in music,” says soloist Chyrstyn Fentroy. “If I were to play music in my studio, and I was trying to play it for someone else in a different room, it would look like they were dancing two counts behind the music because there's a slight delay from the internet. But it's pretty fun, I think.”

"A Blue Heron Christmas Special," presented virtually by Blue Heron on December 19 at 7:30pm EST

blue heron xmas 2020_07.jpg
A still from the recording of "A Blue Heron Christmas Special"
Courtesy of Blue Heron

Every year around the holidays, the Renaissance music group Blue Heron explores classical music from various parts of the world, usually 15th – 17th century Europe. This year, Blue Heron brings us a virtual ensemble of holiday performances, with new recordings and world premieres of previously unreleased concerts in addition to highlights from past Christmas programs. Additionally, A Blue Heron Christmas Special will also present the world premiere performance of “Puer nobis nascitur” by the Chicago-based composer Kevin Allen.

“One of the reasons that Kevin was such an ideal choice for this is that he's very much influenced by Renaissance techniques,” says Blue Heron Artistic Director Scott Metcalfe. “A lot of the techniques that he's using have their origins in the 15th and 16th century...but then it’s all taken into his own style.”

"A Christmas Carol Live," streaming via the Huntington Theatre Company website and theaters across the country through January 3

A Christmas Carol Live
Tony Award-winner Jefferson Mays stars in the one-man production of "A Christmas Carol Live"
Courtesy of "A Christmas Carol Live"

Based on the acclaimed 2018 production that started at Los Angeles’ Geffen Playhouse, this one-man version of Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas tale features Tony Award-winner Jefferson Mays as all the characters — from Ebenezer Scrooge to Tiny Tim to the peripatetic ghosts! This virtual performance of A Christmas Carol Live is being streamed by theaters across the country, and proceeds will be split amongst the participating venues. Local theaters participating in and benefitting from this streaming event include the Huntington Theatre Company and the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, Massachusetts.

“From the chilling darkness of a rageful Marley to the festive, frolicking Fezziwigs to Scrooge’s deep-rooted redemption, this is an A Christmas Carol that should rank among the best," says Jared.

Which holiday programs are you enjoying virtually this year? Tell Jared about it on Facebook or Twitter!