Holiday shows

Highlights from around the nation

A Christmas Story, the Musical

Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, New York, (877) 250-2929

Improbably, this adaptation of Jean Shepherd’s memoir turned 1983 family film bucked Broadway’s tradition of holiday-themed schlock, winning near-universal rave reviews. Singled out for praise was the quirky score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, as well as 12-year-old Johnny Rabe, playing a boy of the 1940s who will stop at nothing to get a BB gun for Christmas. Through Dec. 30.

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Profiles Theatre, Chicago, (773) 549-1815

Creatures are definitely stirring in Will Kern’s Christmas Eve–set play—in fact, a few are outright menacing. This 20th-anniversary production features a cast of 34, most playing the varied backseat passengers—including drug addicts, a racist, and an accordion-playing milkmaid—who stream in and out of a cabbie’s Chicago taxi across one long, frostbite-inducing shift. Through Jan. 27.

A Commedia Christmas Carol

Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C.,

There are a few twists to the ubiquitous Yuletide tale here. For one, the Faction of Fools troupe transforms Dickens’s parable about generosity into a farce in the commedia dell’arte tradition, complete with fanciful masks, pratfalls, and a buffoonish, Pantalone-styleScrooge. The cast, composed of hearing and deaf actors, performs in spoken English and sign language. Through Dec. 23.

Hansel and Gretel

The American Repertory Theater, Cambridge, Mass., (617) 547-8300

Harvard’s resident theater company takes on the Brothers Grimm in a music- and puppet-filled account of two hungry children who encounter the gingerbread house of their dreams. Young audience members are invited to help the title characters, played by Robert Torres and Sarah Beth Roberts, avoid being trapped by the devious homeowner witch. Through Jan. 6.

Coney Island Christmas

Geffen Playhouse, Los Angeles, (310) 208-5454

What happens when a Jewish girl gets the part of Jesus? That’s the conundrum of the young heroine in this new play from Pulitzer winner Donald Margulies. A first-generation American living in 1930s Brooklyn, Shirley (Isabella Acres) tries to reconcile her theatrical flair with her heritage when she’s assigned the lead in a Christmas pageant. Through Dec. 30


ACT Theatre, Seattle, (206) 292-7676

Wielding a sacrilegious, adults-only script and a score that jumps from klezmer to hip-hop and mariachi, this musical comedy is a decidedly surreal take on Christmas. Three lawyers—Goldberg, Frankenstein, and Murray—fight an evil Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and, yes, the pope, in a high-profile paternity battle. Through Dec. 22

A Civil War Christmas

New York Theatre Workshop, (212) 279-4200

Pulitzer winner Paula Vogel’s play is set one month before the events captured in the feted new film Lincoln. But the 16th president’s Christmas provides only one of several narrative threads: runaway slaves, ragged Confederate soldiers, and Walt Whitman also figure in this snapshot of Christmastime in a divided nation. Through Dec. 30.

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