Recipe for a ‘Capitol’ Holiday

Take six parts theatrical spectacle, add a dash of distinctive cuisine, fold in a trip to one of many unhidden gems — and what do you have? All the ingredients for a delectable visit to Wheeling.

Treat this article as a menu to order up just the right dish of holiday entertainment that’s sure to hit the spot. Might I begin by recommending our specials: six shows being performed in the storied Capitol Theatre. Then consider a meal at one of our featured restaurants as your side dish. And for dessert, check out a Wheeling hotspot for shopping and experiences to top off your trip.

I spoke with whom you might call the chef in this situation, Denny Magruder. He’s the booking manager extraordinaire who has coordinated events at The Capitol Theatre and WesBanco Arena for the past several decades.

Before highlighting the holiday shows that The Capitol Theatre will host this year, Denny took me back to the recent history of the theater. From 2006 to 2009, the theater was closed. Some feared for good. Renovations and diligent work by theater staff and community partners, however, saw The Capitol open its doors once again.

“When the theater reopened, there was a sense that people believed in this community again,” Denny said. And the theater certainly has been a venue for community and culture ever since, hosting everything from rock concerts to Broadway shows to religious celebrations, and of course, serving as the home for the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra.

Denny also proudly told me, “The people own the theater, not corporate America.” In 2005, a consortium of local non-profits and municipal organizations met to consider undertaking the theater’s ownership and operation. In 2009, the Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau purchased the theater. That is, rather than risking the theater being sold to less attentive ownership, the CVB — an organization devoted to the betterment of the city and its citizens — took over stewardship of The Capitol.

Then we got on to the main event, well, events plural really — the shows coming up this month and next.

“The Moscow Ballet will do more than put on their ‘Great Russian Nutcracker,’” Denny explained. “Members of the group will also hold workshops with Oglebay Institute dance students.” He also said no one should miss Roger Hoard, who he considers “one of the best guitarists in the country.” Hoard will perform as a part of the Dec. 14 show, “A Family Christmas.” And finally, Denny told me he’s heard people express over the years that it only really feels like Christmas when they see B.E. Taylor’s holiday show; B.C. Taylor continues his late father’s tradition this year on Dec. 22.

Now that you’ve heard the chef’s specials, make your selections and tuck into a “fine dining experience” with Wheeling’s arts, culture and cuisine.

Capitol Performances

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker: 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19

Experience the thrill of a world-class ballet company performing The Great Russian Nutcracker, travel to the “Land of Peace and Harmony” and don’t miss the two-person “Dove of Peace” costume.

In 1993, Moscow Ballet toured the Great Russian Nutcracker to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Syracuse, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, New Haven, Reading and Charleston (W.Va.) for the first time and to critical acclaim. Directed and choreographed by Stanislav Vlasov, former soloist with the Bolshoi Ballet, and well known as a “Grand Dance Artist,” the inaugural six-week tour starred principal ballerina Lillia Sabitova. Since then, the annual tour has increased to include about 100 performances to cities from San Juan to Calgary, and from New York to California, traveling with two simultaneously touring companies of 40 dancers each.

Get in the holiday spirit with this unique 25th-anniversary tour performance.

Motortown All-Stars’ A Motown Christmas!: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30

This show will warm your soul with timeless grooves and Christmas classics. The Motortown All-Stars bring together former members of staple Motown groups — The Temptations, The Miracles and The Capitols. You’ll hear hits from artists such as The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. You’ll see the snazzy attire and smooth dancing that defined Motown.

The Motown Sound was called the sound of young America, but it became the soundtrack of the lives of generations around the world for more than 50 years. The Motown catalog includes some of the most enduring songs in popular music, with the most universal appeal of any musical form. Motown music has such strong musical hooks that it has repeatedly been used in everything from movie soundtracks to commercials for the last 50 years, providing some of the most recognizable songs in music history.

Wheeling Jamboree Christmas: 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1

Get out of the cold for a holiday edition of the iconic Wheeling Jamboree as The Capitol Theatre welcomes Jamboree favorite Teena Goans along with Nashville entertainer Tim Atwood, best known as the longtime piano player from the Grand Ole Opry. Joining the celebration will also be Jamboree Stars Larry Efaw and his Bluegrass Mountains.

Family Service Upper Ohio Valley Presents A Family Christmas: 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14

Open your ears and your heart for this annual fundraising event featuring The Ron Retzer Trio and the 1170 Band. All proceeds benefit seniors in the area by providing in-home care, home-delivered meals, transportation and an activity center. FSUOV also provides meals for children during the school year through the Head Start Program. The show is a family-friendly Christmas concert featuring all genres of music. 

Cirque Dreams Holidaze: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19

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Prepare to be dazzled by soaring acrobatics, gravity-defying feats and extravagant theatrical production numbers. Broadway director Neil Goldberg has searched the world to assemble a unique cast of incomparable cirque artists and theatrical talent to wow audiences nationwide. Over 300 imaginative costumes, 20 world-class astonishing acts, the finest singers, original music and seasonal favorites celebrate Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas and New Year’s in a two-hour, breathtaking pageant of bodies in motion.

Feel the Love Celebrating a B.E. Taylor Christmas

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22

Cap off the holiday season as B.C. Taylor, the band’s drummer, vocalist and tour leader builds a new tradition that carries on the legacy his father left. This is sure to be a fun-filled night of music and entertainment that the entire family will enjoy.

Gustatory Delights

Later Alligator

Crepes distinguish this eatery, with savory and sweet options presented in a playful menu. Try the Guac Around the Clock or Banna-Fo-Fanna. Plus, the walls are adorned with keepsakes of Wheeling’s history as a glass and steel manufacturer.

Sarah’s On Main

Start your morning like a Parisian with bread and pastry created by master chef Sarah who’s studied in Europe. The salted baguettes are renowned around town.

Metropolitan City Grill

Consider The Metro for upscale dining or a late-night cocktail in a swanky setting.

Vagabond Kitchen

Here you’ll find handcrafted food rooted in the heart of downtown Wheeling. You’ll see why chef Matt defines his place as a new American restaurant with dishes like duck wings and garlic truffle fries.


Try a Wheeling take on the taco with a Thanksgiving-inspired Winner-Winner, complete with chicken, gravy, celery, stuffing and cranberry jelly, or a Bay of Pigs with pork and pickles. Have one of the local, craft beers on tap to wash ’em down.

Try out the new 3-D glasses — “Sleigh Bans” — when riding (not driving!) through Oglebay’s Festival of Lights. (Go for the reindeer ones!)

Holiday Hotspots

Oglebay’s Winter Festival of Lights: Through Jan. 1

Drive through 90 lighted attractions boasting more than one million energy-efficient LED lights. And try the new 3D experience, as holographic eyewear transforms every point of light into a magical display.

Symphony on Ice: 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29

Professional skaters, area figure skating clubs, and a choir of local middle and high school student voices will join the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra for one of Wheeling’s favorite holiday traditions, Symphony on Ice at WesBanco Arena.

Happy Goat Yoga

Take some respite from the holiday rush or ease seasonal depression with a class at this studio in historic North Wheeling. Happy Goat offers hot yoga, restorative sessions and even live music accompaniment — all led by a cadre of certified instructors.

Wheeling Artisan Center

Peruse fine art, crafts and food in a unique space just above River City restaurant. This marketplace of locally produced craft-goods invites you to buy local, shop small and discover one-of-a-kind gifts for the holiday season.

Stifel Fine Arts Center Festival of Trees/Holiday Art Show & Sale: Through Dec. 1/Through Dec. 29

Come see this spectacular mansion decked for the holidays with dozens of trees, wreaths and garlands. All items are for sale and proceeds support Oglebay Institute’s art, nature and cultural programs. While admiring the trees, take time to shop the Holiday Art Show & Sale, which also can be visited at the Schrader Center at Oglebay.

A Mickey Mouse tree at the Stifel Fine Arts Center.

Oglebay Institute’s Mansion Museum: Through Dec. 31

A beloved holiday tradition, the Mansion Museum, which was the summer home of wealthy industrialist and philanthropist Earl W. Oglebay, is trimmed for the holidays in the theme “Holiday Magic.” Along with touring the lovely mansion, guests can attend several special events including “The Nutcracker,” Dec. 2, 9 and 16, and community carol singing on Dec. 14.

Helpful websites to navigate your way around town:

Ryan Norman hails from a suburb of Cleveland and earned an English degree at Wheeling Jesuit University. He lives in East Wheeling where you might find him listening to Gustav Mahler or Keith Jarrett, reading David Foster Wallace or Dave Eggers, and thinking along with Martin Heidegger and Roger Scruton. Ryan is also a chorister at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church and a member of The Prosers, a group that performs original poetry and prose at Towngate Theatre.