Charlie Blum has been booking shows for Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville for 23 years.
As the theater's CEO and talent buyer, Blum is responsible for finding just the right names to grace the stage that feels like an entertainment "home away from home" for audiences for more than 30 years.
After three decades of audience applause, Blum has mastered the art of finding just the right "ticket" for scheduling holiday shows with stage appeal.
Over the years, the Star Plaza Theatre stage has hosted holiday shows performed by repeat favorites like Andy Williams, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Mathis and Rosemary Clooney.
And of course, Perry Como, who brought his holiday show to the Merrillville venue three times. In fact, one of Como's claim-to-fame cardigan sweaters is even enshrined in a case in the theater lobby.
In recent years, Blum has maintained "tradition is best" when it comes to booking a holiday show, which is why he continues to bring the Oak Ridge Boys, who perform this weekend, for a return visit year after year as his gift to Northwest Indiana fans.
"For years, we had the Oak Ridge Boys as our annual New Year's Eve concert," Blum said.
"But a few years ago, we began bringing them in earlier for a holiday run and audiences love it."
On Dec. 2, the Star Plaza spotlight is on a Motown Christmas concert starring members of The Contours, The Miracles and The Temptations.
As for adding a dash of spice for something new, Blum decided to book a "bonus" for audience's holiday enjoyment.
Just two weeks ago, after a tour date suddenly opened up, Blum was able to book "Celtic Woman: A Christmas Celebration The Symphony Tour" for Dec. 7.
"The tickets just went on sale Monday and are moving great," Blum said.
"We've had the Celtic Woman perform here before, but never the Christmas show."
Valerie Wotkun of Griffith said she loves holiday entertainment as a ticket tradition. One of her favorite picks this year is "Plaid Tidings," the comedy and Christmas music revue at Theatre at the Center in Munster.
"I saw 'Plaid Tidings' on Tuesday and it was wonderful from start to finish," Wotkun said.
"I did see 'Forever Plaid' years ago, but this show was awesome. It had its quirky moments, but that was what made it fun. I am not ready for the holidays, but this show made me think a little differently."
Here are just a few of the many holiday stage performances from around the region for 2012. Continue to check out The Times and our calendar listings for great holiday entertainment this season.
• "The Nutcracker" performed by Salt Creek Ballet ($15-$50), returns to Governors State University Center for Performing Arts, 1 University Parkway, University Park, Ill., at 1 and 5 p.m. Dec. 8 and "A Christmas Carol" ($12-$17) is presented 11 a.m. Dec. 5. FYI: centertickets.net or (708) 235-2222.
• Holiday Pops Concert by the Northwest Indiana Symphony and conductor Kirk Muspratt ($10, $25, $65) 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville. FYI: (219) 836-0525 or NISOrchestra.org.
• "A Fabulous 50s Christmas-Swank 60s Christmas"at Towle Theatre, 5205 Hohman Ave., Hammond ($17) opens today through Dec. 18. The 10th annual performance, this run is always a sell-out and tickets go fast. FYI: (219) 937-8780 and towletheater.com.
• "The Sound of Music" by Chicago Street Theatre, 154 W. Chicago St., Valparaiso today through Dec. 16. FYI: (219) 464-1636, Ext. 1 and chicagostreet.org.
• "A Memorial Opera House Christmas," 104 Indiana Ave., Valparaiso 8 p.m. Dec. 20 and 21, ($14-$16) featuring Christmas carols and live music. FYI: (219) 548-9137 or mohlive.com
• "The Joffrey Ballet Nutcracker" celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Robert Joffrey's production ($31-$132) in a 22-performance engagement at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway, Dec. 7–27. FYI: (800) 982-2787 and joffrey.org.
• "A Christmas Carol" 35th Anniversary ($69-$84) at Goodman Theatre, 170 North Dearborn St., Chicago. now until Dec. 29. FYI: (312) 443-3800 and GoodmanTheatre.org.
• "The Kenny G Holiday Show" ($55-$73.50) at The Venue at Horseshoe Casino, 777 Casino Center Dr., Hammond 8 p.m. Dec. 20. FYI: (219) 473-7000 or horseshoehammond.com