Holiday arts preview: Theater picks

Vincent Ernest Siders and Caitlin Gjerdrum will appear in “A Christmas Carol” at Central Square Theater.
Vincent Ernest Siders and Caitlin Gjerdrum will appear in “A Christmas Carol” at Central Square Theater. (A.R. Sinclair)

A CHRISTMAS CAROL An intriguing cast is lined up for this production, including the one and only Jeremiah Kissel as Scrooge, the miser who turns benefactor after he’s scared out of his wits and his greed; Ramona Lisa Alexander as Scrooge’s ill-fated partner, Marley; Brooks Reeves as beleaguered Cratchit; and Vincent Ernest Siders as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Adapted and directed by Debra Wise, this “Christmas Carol’’ will feature puppetry, live music, and dancing. Nov. 23-Dec. 30. Coproduction by Nora Theatre Company and Underground Railway Theater at Central Square Theater, Cambridge. 617-576-9278 ext. 1, www

MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY The prolific and witty Lauren Gunderson (“I and You,’’ “Silent Sky’’) teamed up with Margot Melcon to write this sequel to Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.’’ Set in 1815, “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley’’ revolves around a host of romantic misunderstandings and mixups that ensue when Elizabeth Darcy (Alexis Bronkovic) and Fitzwilliam Darcy (Jesse Hinson) play host to Elizabeth’s family at Christmastime and are joined by a surprise — as far as Elizabeth is concerned, anyway — guest. Directed by Bridget Kathleen O’Leary and featuring Amanda Collins, Vichet Chum, Veronika Duerr, Kaite Grindeland, Victoria Grace, and Shawn K. Jain. Nov. 28-Dec. 23. Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Lowell. 978-654-4678,


IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE Pushed to the brink of despair, George Bailey gets a chance to see what the world would have been like if he had never been born. Answer: Not so great. Producing artistic director Weylin Symes adapted Frank Capra’s classic 1946 film for the stage. Featuring Stewart Evan Smith as George, Marge Dunn as Mary, Margaret Ann Brady as Potter, and William Gardiner as Clarence, the guardian angel who opens George’s eyes. Also featuring Bob Mussett as Uncle Billy and Jenna Lea Scott as Cousin Tilly. Codirected by Tonasia Jones and Tyler Rosati. Nov. 29-Dec. 23. Greater Boston Stage Company, Stoneham. 781-279-2200, www.greater

A NIGHTMARE ON ELF STREET Kiki Samko directs Ryan Landry’s musical sendup of 1980s slasher flicks (such as the one that inspired Landry’s title). Students at the Elf Street Academy, all of them members of Santa Claus’s flight team, are being slain, one after another, putting Christmas itself in jeopardy. So Detective Shirley Holmes (Landry) and Dr. Jodi Watley (Qya Cristal) set out to unravel the mystery and save the holiday. Nov. 29-Dec. 23. Ryan Landry and the Gold Dust Orphans. At Machine, Boston.


A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS LIVE ON STAGE His seasonal spirits at low ebb, Charlie Brown sets out to direct the neighborhood Christmas play, only to encounter mockery when he selects a bedraggled fir tree as the production’s centerpiece. But with the help of that sage soul Linus, Charlie and the rest of the Peanuts crowd eventually learn the true meaning of Christmas. Eric Schaeffer adapted the beloved 1965 animated TV special for the stage. A three-piece ensemble will perform Vince Guaraldi’s jazzy score, and the Peanuts characters will sing holiday carols. Nov. 29-Dec. 2. Boch Center Shubert Theatre, Boston. 866-348-9738,

A CHRISTMAS CAROL It’s another milestone for the indefatigable David Coffee, starring as Scrooge for the 25th time in North Shore Music Theatre’s annual production of the musical adaptation of the Charles Dickens story. This year also represents a notable anniversary for the versatile Cheryl McMahon, portraying Mrs. Dilber for the 25th time (McMahon also plays Mrs. Fezziwig). Directed and choreographed by Kevin P. Hill. Dec. 7-23. North Shore Music Theatre, Beverly. 978-232-7200,


CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE Created and directed by Neil Goldberg, this strangely intriguing show is built on the premise that Christmas tree ornaments somehow come to life, then tell their own stories via circus performances that feature aerialists, acrobats, contortionists, jugglers, and wheel spinners. When “Cirque Dreams Holidaze’’ played at the Shubert in December 2016, my review described it as “a full-on sensory immersion in which Las Vegas meets family entertainment meets musical theater meets acid trip, with elements of Santa’s Workshop and an old-time TV variety show thrown into the mix.” Dec. 4-9. Boch Center Shubert Theatre, Boston. 866-348-9738,

BLACK NATIVITY Now in its 48th year, this production of Langston Hughes’s song-play — which melds scripture, verse, music, and dance to tell the Nativity story — is invariably a highlight of the holiday season, both spiritually and musically. Directed by Voncille Ross, who is also in the cast, along with Marilyn Andry, Betty Hillmon, Desiree Springer, and the Honorable Milton L. Wright, among others. Dec. 7-23. National Center of Afro-American Artists. At Robert J. Orchard Stage, Paramount Center, Boston. 617-824-8400, www.emerson

THE SNOWFLAKE MAN We all know that no two snowflakes are alike, right? Well, one of the pioneering figures we have to thank for that knowledge is Wilson (Snowflake) Bentley, a self-taught Vermont farmer and scientist who figured out a way to photograph snowflakes — which he described as “tiny miracles of beauty’’ — before they melted. Created and performed by Sarah Frechette, a UConn grad who is founder and artistic director of the puppet company Puppetkabob, “The Snowflake Man’’ takes spectators on a journey to the 1920s to meet Bentley. Dec. 13-16. Puppet Showplace Theater, Brookline. 617-731-6400,


THE CHRISTMAS REVELS: A NORDIC CELEBRATION OF THE WINTER SOLSTICE This year’s edition begins in Sweden in the early 20th century, where young Sven is brooding over the recent death of a beloved uncle while his family prepares to host a party for Scandinavian dignitaries. After receiving three unusual Christmas presents, Sven is transported into an alternate realm where he is reunited with his late uncle and encounters superheroes, witches, and snakes. Also featuring the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance; Susan Cooper’s poem “The Shortest Day’’; and the climactic event of the Revels, “Lord of the Dance.’’ Directed by Patrick Swanson, with music direction by Megan Henderson. Dec. 14-29. Sanders Theatre, Cambridge. 617-496-2222,

Don Aucoin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter@GlobeAucoin