With more than 250 companies, Chicago is known across the world for its innovative and vibrant theater scene. Add a performance (or two) to your Chicago itinerary – plus, experience many shows on a budget with half-price theater tickets from Hot Tix! From Broadway musicals and world premieres to intimate dramas and sidesplitting comedies, you could fill every night of your visit with a front-row performance.

Here are 10 top plays and musicals — both traditional holiday favorites and main stage headliners — with discount tickets during the month of December.

The Nutcracker 2017 - Joffrey Ballet

1. The Nutcracker

Joffrey Ballet at the Auditorium Theatre
50 E. Congress Parkway in the South Loop
Now playing through December 30, 2017

Journey inside Chicago's 1893 World's Fair with Christopher Wheeldon's critically acclaimed holiday masterpiece. When young Marie and her mother, a sculptress who is creating the fair's iconic Statue of the Republic, host a holiday party, a surprise visit from the charming Great Impresario sets off a Christmas Eve dream of whirlwind romance and adventure. A must-see tradition boldly reimagined for a new generation.
Check for half-price tickets at Hot Tix!

Holidazed - Second City

2. The Second City’s Holidazed & Confused Revue: Mandatory Merriment

The Second City at UP Comedy Club
230 W. North Ave. in Old Town
Now playing through December 31, 2017

All-new for 2017! Take the edge off your pre-holiday hangover by laughing your jingle bells off, compliments of The Second City’s legendary flurry of sketch comedy and improv. It’s naughty! It’s nice! It’s mandatory!  Suggested Rating: R.
Check for half-price tickets at Hot Tix!

3. The Christmas Schooner

Mercury Theater Chicago
3745 N. Southport Ave. in Lakeview
Now playing through December 31, 2017

The whole family will enjoy this heart-warming story of the first Christmas tree ship and the family who risked their lives to fill Chicago with the Christmas spirit. The production features a powerful, moving story, an exquisite score of original music, and traditional holiday favorites.
Check for half-price tickets at Hot Tix!

It's a Wonderful Life

4. It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!

American Blues Theater at Stage 773
1225 W. Belmont Ave. in Lakeview
Now playing through January 6, 2018

For 16 years, the American Blues Ensemble has treated Chicago audiences to a live 1940s radio broadcast. The incredible cast recreates the entire town of Bedford Falls with Foley sound effects, an original score, and holiday carols. Critics call this “perfect Christmas theater” and “first-class holiday fare.” It is recommended for ages 6 and up, and after each performance, the cast serves milk and cookies.
Check for half-price tickets at Hot Tix!

Beautiful: The Carole King Story

5. Beautiful – The Carole King Musical

Broadway In Chicago at the Cadillac Palace Theatre
151 W. Randolph in Chicago’s Theater District
Now playing through January 28, 2018

Long before she was chart-topping music legend Carole King, she was Carol Klein, Brooklyn girl with passion and chutzpah. Beautiful tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, and ultimately to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Recommended for ages 11 and up.
Check for half-price tickets at Hot Tix!

6. Violet

Griffin Theatre at The Den Theatre
1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park
Now playing through January 13, 2018

Based on the short story, The Ugliest Pilgrim, by Doris Betts, this award-winning musical fuses a powerful rock, folk and gospel score. With a ticket, a suitcase and a heart full of expectation, Violet Karl, facially disfigured since childhood, boards a bus and travels across the deep south in 1964 to see if a faith healer can transform her life. Along the way, she forms unlikely friendships with her fellow passengers, who teach her about beauty, love and courage, and that it’s the journeys you take in life that help you to discover who you are.
Check for half-price tickets at Hot Tix!

Hard Times at Lookingglass Theatre

7. Hard Times For These Times

Lookingglass Theatre Company
821 N. Michigan Ave. along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile
Now playing through January 14, 2018

This award-winning, circus-infused show returns to the Lookingglass Theatre's stage. A Dickensian carnival of characters inhabit the streets of smoke-choked Coketown: Grim Mr. Gradgrind’s school churns out joyless students, poor Stephen Blackpool toils in the nearby mines, and mill-owner Mr. Bounderby, full of bluster and bombast, presides over it all. Only when a traveling circus alights nearby, and young orphan Sissy Jupe enters their world, does a ray of hope shine through. Recommended for ages 10 and up.
Check for half-price tickets at Hot Tix!

Red Velvet - Chicago Shakespeare

8. Red Velvet

Chicago Shakespeare Theater
800 E. Grand Ave. on Chicago’s Navy Pier
Now playing through January 21, 2018

This multi-award-winning play transports audiences to the turbulent backstage world of London’s Theatre Royal in the mid-1800s. Edmund Kean, the greatest Shakespearean actor of his age, collapses on stage while performing the lead in Othello. He is replaced by a young, black actor, Ira Aldridge — a first for the role on London’s West End. As a bill in Parliament promoting the abolition of slavery sends shock waves through the streets, how will London react to his performance? Gary Griffin stages this fascinating true story of a pivotal figure in theater history.
Check for half-price tickets at Hot Tix!


Steppenwolf Theatre Company
1650 N. Halsted Ave. in Lincoln Park
Now playing through January 28, 2018

After an unsavory wake-up call, Octavia decides to put off her troubles and have one last turn up with her friends. In poet Aziza Barnes’ ingenious portrait of a day in the life of four young black women discovering life’s uncomfortable truths in New York City, BLKS explores the joy and anguish of growing up and out. Riotously funny and distinctly rendered, Barnes’ playwriting debut marks the arrival of a truly original contemporary American voice.
Check for half-price tickets at Hot Tix!

Puff: Believe it of Not

10. Puff: Believe It Or Not

Remy Bumppo Theatre Company at the Greenhouse Theater Center
2257 N. Lincoln Ave. in Lincoln Park
Now playing through January 7, 2018

An honorable and romantic cavalry officer returns to the salon society of 1840s Paris to find his countrymen addicted to exaggeration, dissimulation, fakery, and just downright lying. French master Eugène Scribe’s forgotten gem, in a brilliant new translation by Ranjit Bolt, is packed with elegant plotting, quirky characters, and sharply barbed wit, delightfully skewering the worlds of letters, politics, and finance.
Check for half-price tickets at Hot Tix!


Note: Schedules are subject to change; visit the Hot Tix website for up-to-the-minute dates and half-price ticket availability. Visit to find other exciting productions on stage while you're here, and get insider guides to all things performing arts and the Chicago theatre scene to create your Chicago itinerary.


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