Theater & art

Holiday critic’s picks: Theater

Jessica Barstis and Paul Vincent Melendy in the Gold Dust Orphans’ “It’s a Horrible Life.”
Michael von Redlich
Jessica Barstis and Paul Vincent Melendy in the Gold Dust Orphans’ “It’s a Horrible Life.”

THE MAGIC SOUP AND OTHER STORIES  Puppeteer Brad Shur plays a young man who hunts for a family recipe only to discover that his suddenly enchanted kitchen is alive with characters from the traditional Jewish folk tales he heard in his childhood. Nov. 29-Dec. 1. Puppet Showplace Theatre, Brookline. 617-731-6400,

MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET William Gardiner portrays Kris Kringle, a department store Santa Claus who insists he is the actual Santa. Featuring real-life married couple Marianna Bassham and Jesse Hinson as Doris Walker and Fred Gailey, and Sydney Newcomb as 8-year-old Susan Walker, the role played by Natalie Wood in the 1946 film version. Directed by Ilyse Robbins. Nov. 29-
Dec. 29. Stoneham Theatre. 781-279-2200,

A TUNA CHRISTMAS  A sequel to “Greater Tuna,’’ set in the fictional community of Tuna, Texas, where a vandal known as the “Christmas Phantom’’ is disrupting the annual Christmas Yard Display Contest. Also in jeopardy: a production of “A Christmas Carol.’’ And you just can’t have too many of those. Mitch Kyle and Bob Karish, both of Salem, will portray more than 20 characters. Dec. 5-21. Salem Theatre Company, Salem. 866-811-4111,


IT’S A HORRIBLE LIFE  Something tells us this won’t be angelic or wholesome. Call it a hunch. The Frank Capra-Jimmy Stewart holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life’’ gets the satirical-musical Ryan Landry treatment, with direction by James P. Byrne, costumes by the always-resourceful Scott Martino, and sets by Windsor Newton. Dec. 5-22. Ryan Landry and the Gold Dust Orphans. At Machine, Boston.

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE  Joe Landry’s adaptation of the Frank Capra film takes a play-within-a-play approach, as the cast and crew of a 1940s New York radio show prepare to tell the story of George Bailey, Clarence the angel, and the people of Bedford Falls. Featuring Dan Bolton as George. Cast also includes the stellar likes of Barlow Adamson (as Clarence), Liz Hayes, and Johnny Lee Davenport. Directed by Wendy Lement. Dec. 13-22. Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston.

BLACK NATIVITY  More than 50 cast members, including children, enact a song-play that blends music, scripture, dance, and the poetry of Langston Hughes to recount the story of the Nativity. Based on the Gospel of St. Luke. Dec. 13-22. Presented by the National Center of Afro-American Artists. Blackman Auditorium, Northeastern University, Boston. 800-514-3849,

Informed by Fate that his days are numbered, a character called “Everyman’’ — played by storyteller Jay O’Callahan — sets out on a trip to Finistere, the end of the earth, to be there for the shortest day of the year. An 80-member ensemble performs Spanish and Galician music and dances along with traditional favorites like “The Sussex Mummer’s Carol” and “Lord of the Dance.” Directed by Patrick Swanson. Dec. 13-27. Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, Cambridge. 617-496-2222,

THE EIGHT: REINDEER MONOLOGUES Jeff Goode’s very dark comedy about the uproar that ensues and the revelations that emerge after one of Santa Claus’s reindeer accuses him of sexual harassment. Directed by Mikey DiLoreto and Lizette M. Morris, who are also in the cast. Dec. 17-22. Happy Medium Theatre. At Factory Theatre, Boston. 617-549-9854,


A CHRISTMAS CAROL The always-watchable Fred Sullivan Jr. portrays Scrooge in the 37th annual production of this holiday favorite, adapted by Adrian Hall and Richard Cumming from the novella by Charles Dickens. Directed by Tyler Dobrowsky and peppered with musical numbers, it clocks in at an intermission-less 90 minutes. Through Dec. 28. Trinity Repertory Company, Providence. 401-351-4242,

CHRISTMASTIME A cast of 200 is backed by a full orchestra in the 31st production of this song-and-dance-filled holiday show, which features the Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, the Living Nativity, Victorian Christmas, Santa’s Workshop, and the Teddy Bears’ Nutcracker. Dec. 6-15. Reagle Music Theatre, Waltham. 781-891-5600,

Don Aucoin can be reached at