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It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the performance theaters in the Myrtle Beach area, where the holiday celebration begins earlier than anywhere else on the Grand Strand. While the unofficial kickoff of the Christmas shopping season is the “Black Friday” after Thanksgiving, the theatrical crowd gets started even earlier with the Christmas showcases getting under way in early November and running through the end of the year. Several theaters are also hosting touring concerts and shows throughout the holiday season to mix things up a bit. Here’s a list of the top five shows on the Grand Strand you don’t want to miss this winter:
* Alabama Theatre: The annual production of "The South's Grandest Christmas" has become a holiday tradition in the Myrtle Beach area for both locals and visitors. This award-winning showcase puts even the biggest Scrooges in the holiday mood with a talented cast performing classical and contemporary Christmas songs, dance and comedy. The 2,000-seat theater at Barefoot Landing hosts shows virtually every night through New Year's Eve. Other featured performances include the Carolinas Beach Music Awards (Nov. 9) and an Eddie Miles tribute to Elvis and Christmas (Dec. 7). Tickets and show times are available online or at the box office.
* Carolina Opry: The Carolina Opry 's annual Christmas spectacular transforms the already beautifully decorated theater and lobby into a winter wonderland as even the audience get into the act when snowflakes begin to fall throughout the facility. This showcase of off-Broadway singers and dancers features all the Christmas classics performed by a star-studded cast, including the Carolina Opry’s own Calvin Gilmore, Rocky Fretz and Bibis Ellison. The Christmas Special takes the stage at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. virtually every day and night through Jan. 3. To purchase advanced tickets, visit the web site or call 843-913-4000.
* Legends In Concert brings artists from the past back to life year-round, but the tribute performance pulls out all the stops for the holiday season with its production of "Christmas with the Rat Pack with Special Guest Marilyn Monroe." Featuring spot-on tribute artists playing the roles of late legends Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Frank Sinatra, along with Monroe, this showcase delivers great musical and comedic performances. The Rat Pack performs through Jan. 3 at the Broadway at the Beach complex. Visit the web site for ticket prices and show times.
* Palace Theatre: The crown jewel of the Grand Strand’s theater lineup goes the extra mile to provide a great Christmas show and atmosphere. The 1920s-style lobby is decked out in holiday decorations and the currently running show “Jersey Nights,” featuring the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, gets a holiday makeover for the “Jersey Nights Christmas Special.” Experience the sound of Christmas classics performed in the Philadelphia doo-wop style. Unlike the other local shows that run through the New Year, this show runs through Dec. 20 so catch it before it's too late. Visit the web site for show times and ticket prices.
* Pirates Adventure: What says Christmas more than pirates? OK, lots of things. But let show producer Dolly Parton give the show a woman’s touch and this rough-and-tumble cast manages to put on an excellent Christmas performance that the kids will enjoy as much as the grownups. Walk the plank into a sea of song, dance and laughter at this unique show, which opens Nov. 6 and runs through Jan. 3. To purchase tickets or check show times, visit the web site.