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IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY In Joe Landry's adaptation of the classic Frank Capra film as a 1940s radio drama, five actors cluster around microphones to give voice to dozens of characters. Nael Nacer plays George Bailey, who learns what the world would have been like had he never been born, and Celeste Oliva plays Mary Hatch. Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian. Nov. 25-Dec. 20. Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Lowell. 978-654-4678,

CHRISTMAS ON THE AIR During a live radio broadcast on Christmas Eve in 1949, a married couple struggles to present their annual holiday show while coping with a massive snowstorm and a new employee's surprise revelation. Songs include "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town'' and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.'' Directed by Shana Gozansky. Nov. 27-Dec. 27. Stoneham Theatre, Stoneham. 781-279-2200,


SISTER'S CHRISTMAS CATECHISM: THE MYSTERY OF THE MAGI'S GOLD Nun turns sleuth and forensic investigator as Sister, portrayed by Barbara Hunt, engages in a "CSI''-style reconstruction of the Nativity scene, with the help of audience members, to try to figure out what happened to the Magi's gold. Written by Maripat Donovan ("Late Nite Catechism") and directed by Marc Silvia. Nov. 28. Citi Shubert Theatre. 866-348-9738,

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: THE MUSICAL This stage adaptation of the well-known TV special returns to Boston to tell the tale of the reindeer with the shiny schnozz and his valiant efforts to help Santa Claus make his deliveries of toys in the face of an epic blizzard. Also on hand: Rudolph's buddy, Hermey the Elf, as well as Clarice, Yukon Cornelius, the Abominable Snow Monster, and, of course, the Island of Misfit Toys. Dec. 1-6. Citi Shubert Theatre. 866-348-9738,

RETURN OF THE WINEMAKER: AN IRISH CHRISTMAS COMEDY An irreverent musical comedy depicts Jesus Christ as the resident winemaker for the pubs in a small village in County Galway, Ireland. When God asks Jesus to return to heaven, the panicky townspeople pull out all the stops to persuade him to stay. Starring Derry Woodhouse as Jesus and Stephen Russell as God. Also featuring Nancy E. Carroll and Colin Hamell. Written by Bernard McMullan ("Jimmy Titanic") and directed by Carmel O'Reilly. Dec. 2-20. Tir Na Productions. At Davis Square Theatre, Somerville. 617-308-6075,


A LITTLE ORPHAN TRANNY CHRISTMAS Bet your bottom dollar that it will be difficult to see a certain plucky, optimistic orphan the same way again after you experience Ryan Landry's musical sendup, which features the return of the deliciously villainous Hermione P. Grinchley, played by Landry, along with Jessica Barstis in the title role. Dec. 3-20. Gold Dust Orphans. At Machine nightclub.

BLACK NATIVITY It's the 45th annual production of this spirited retelling of the Christmas story, based on a script by Langston Hughes and built on a blend of gospel songs, carols, and expressive dance. Directed by Voncille Ross, whose involvement with the production stretches four decades, to when she began singing in the children's choir. Dec. 4-20. National Center of Afro-American Artists. At Paramount Center Mainstage. 617-824-8000,

A CHRISTMAS CAROL A 25th-anniversary production of North Shore Music Theatre's music-laden adaptation of the Dickens story, directed and choreographed by Kevin P. Hill, and once again starring David Coffee as Ebenezer Scrooge. Dec. 4-23. North Shore Music Theatre, Beverly. 978-232-7200,


ALL THE KINGS MEN HOLIDAY SHOW! The all-female comedy troupe that specializes in gender-bending performances presents a holiday-themed show that includes Santa Claus, the Grinch, and Jesus among the characters in more than two dozen numbers, which will also showcase divas, boy-band members, grandmothers, nuns, and figures from pop culture. Dec. 6. American Repertory Theater, at Oberon, Cambridge. 617-496-8004,


With a 100-member cast including David Coffin and Cristi Catt, this year’s Revels take a journey of the imagination to a mining village in south Wales in the early 20th century, exploring Welsh anthems and Celtic legends, including tales of dragons and spectral white horses. Billy Meleady portrays famed Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (child actors play young Dylan), and, in keeping with Revels tradition, the show will also include a rendition of the Sussex Mummer’s Carol, a reading of “The Shortest Day,’’ and, of course, “The Lord of the Dance.’’

Dec. 11-27. At Sanders Theatre, Cambridge. 617-496-2222,

Don Aucoin can be reached at