date published: December 3, 2007

This month, you could sit home and watch the Grinch steal Christmas for the millionth time, or you can get bundled up in your holiday finery and head out onto Boston’s lauded theater scene to enjoy some suitably joyous and entertaining holiday productions. Whether your taste ranges from the sacred to the playful, from pipers piping to lords a-leaping, it’s a safe bet that Santa’s got something in his bag for any theater lover to enjoy. For complete show dates, times and ticket information, refer to holiday events listings.

A Multicultural Christmas
A Christmas Celtic Sojourn at Cutler Majestic Theatre: We all want to be home for Christmas, but that doesn’t mean one can’t take a little sidetrip to Ireland along the way—especially when that “trip” involves an evening of the best Christmas music, dancing, poetry and stories the Auld Sod has to offer. This staged version of Brian O’Donovan’s popular PBS TV special unites Celtic musicians like Solas and Alasdair Frasier with Irish dancers and a flurry of fiddles, flutes, harps and pipes for a show that will make your holiday as green as a Christmas wreath.

Black Nativity at Converse Hall: On a stage filled with children, professional dancers, colorful costumes and the sounds of intoxicating drumbeats, the National Center of Afro-American Artists presents Black Nativity. Now in its 38th year, this annual Boston tradition unites 160 performers in the world’s longest-running performance of Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes’ beloved song-play based on the Gospel of St. Luke.

The Xmas All-Stars
As much a traditional part of the holiday season as stockings under the mantle, presents under the tree and mistletoe over the doorway, these seasonal classics are time-tested and Santa-approved.

White Christmas at the Wang Theatre: Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye may be in that cozy Vermont inn in the sky, but Irving Berlin’s classic White Christmas lives on in an acclaimed stage show that delighted Hub audiences in 2005 and returns this December. The tale of two Army buddies-turned-entertainers is packed full of classic Berlin songs, including everybody’s favorite titular carol.

Miracle on 34th Street at Stoneham Theatre: Take a break from your own Macy’s shopping spree to learn the true meaning of Christmas in this classic family favorite about a department store Santa who just might be the real thing. Stoneham Theatre’s version of the classic that puts “Kris Kringle” on trial, yet ends up restoring a whole city’s belief in the magic of Christmas, is like getting the perfect gift this holiday season.

This Wonderful Life at Lyric Stage Company: It just wouldn’t be Christmas without Frank Capra’s uplifting tale of family man George Bailey and the residents of Bedford Falls. This year, though, feel free to skip Jimmy Stewart’s version of It’s a Wonderful Life and enjoy the delightfully dynamic Neil A. Casey bringing everyone from George to Clarence the Angel to Old Man Potter to life in his one-man tour-de-force, This Wonderful Life.

What the Dickens?
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has probably seen more versions and remakes than any holiday tale outside of the Nativity. Still, the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his journey from miser to benefactor never fails to awaken that joyful optimism in us all.

A Christmas Carol at New Repertory Theatre: New Rep revives its popular musical adaptation of Dickens’ holiday classic, augmenting the production with pre-show caroling concerts, lavish costuming and the added twist of cast members accompanying themselves on over a dozen musical instruments. After all, when was the last time you saw Tiny Tim singing to the beat of his own drum?

Cue the Dancing Mice...
December is the time that one of the world’s most cherished ballets—Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker—takes center stage. Here in Boston, lovers of toy soldiers and midnight balloon rides have several unique and creative ways to enjoy this holiday favorite.

Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker at the Opera House: Each year, Bostonians count down the days to what many consider to be the definitive version of the original “Toy Story” on their home stage at the opulent Opera House. Boston Ballet’s internationally acclaimed dancers plie, pirouette and show off their grace and delicate beauty in the city’s most favored holiday show.

Jose Mateo’s The Nutcracker at Brandeis University: This Cambridge-based dance troupe presents a Nutcracker that places greater emphasis on the dancing and less on the grandiose theatrics of some other productions. Dedicated to community outreach, the Mateo production offers all the thrills of this timeless tale, a cast of more than 200 local children and affordably priced tickets that won’t cut into your Christmas bonus.

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