Season’s greetings, theatre lovers! Warm a mug of hot cocoa and have yourself a merry little read of this list of festive plays and musicals that were written with the holiday season in mind.
Consider gifting a script or ePlay to a loved one, or start dreaming up performance options for your theatre’s next holiday season. There’s no better time for live, meaningful gatherings than wintertime.
It’s Christmas Eve, 1943, and the Feddington Players are now broadcasting from a hole-in-the-wall studio in Newark, NJ, and set to present their contemporary take on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Whether it’s the noisy plumbing, missed cues, electrical blackouts, or the over-the-top theatrics of veteran actor, but radio novice, William St. Claire, this radio show is an entertaining excursion into the mayhem and madness of a live radio show.
High School Musical lyricist Faye Greenberg and composer David Wohl have written four delightful period songs for the Feddington Players, and swing arrangements of many Christmas standards. Seamlessly combining drama and comedy, heartbreak and hope, A 1940’s Radio Christmas Carol will sing its way into your heart.
Balls by George Cameron Grant (US)
This short dramatic comedy – a hilarious conversation among five very eccentric, multi-colored Christmas ornaments – explores what happens when the ornaments, tucked snugly in a box, discover just how fragile their existence really is.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson (US)
In this hilarious Christmas classic, a couple struggling to put on a church Christmas pageant is faced with casting the Herdman kids – probably the most inventively awful kids in history. You won’t believe the mayhem – and the fun – when the Herdmans collide with the Christmas story head on! This delightful comedy is adapted from the best-selling Young Adult book, and has become a holiday staple for groups across the United States. Features plenty of great roles for children and adults, a few favorite Christmas carols, and a lot of laughs!
A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Jeremy Brooks, Adrian Mitchell and Dylan Thomas (UK)
This enchanting play with music, adapted from the short story by Dylan Thomas, uses a variety of carols and well-known Welsh songs to conjure up the pure magic of Christmas for audiences of all ages. On Christmas Eve, young Dylan and the Thomas family host their relatives for a holiday celebration. Apart from a potentially major hiccup, when the turkey catches fire, the traditional Yuletide festivities are enjoyed by all.
A Christmas Carol
Concord Theatricals offers several versions of Charles Dickens’ immortal novel:
A Christmas Carol by Sheldon Harnick and Michel Legrand (US/UK)
Academy Award-winning composer Michel Legrand teamed with Sheldon Harnick, one of the theatre’s most celebrated Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning librettists, for this glorious adaptation.
A Christmas Carol by Alan Harris (UK)
Set in North Wales, this version of the Dickens classic explores a living, breathing Victorian community in a funny, immersive family show filled with music and mystery.
A Christmas Carol by Michael Paller (US)
In Michael Paller’s clever adaptation, Dickens’ friends and family gather on Christmas Eve in 1843, each taking a part in the telling of his most famous tale.
A Christmas Carol by Lynn Stevens (US)
Adaptor Lynn Stevens incorporates traditional carols throughout this charming version of the Victorian classic.
Farndale Avenue … Christmas Carol by David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin, Jr. (UK)
In a festive mood, the ladies of the Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society mount another assault on the classics with their stage version of A Christmas Carol.
Humbug by John Wooten (US/UK)
A non-musical Christmas Carol with a modern-day twist, Humbug follows the story of Eleanor Scrooge, a ruthlessly ambitious Wall Street executive who has an aversion to Christmas and an insatiable appetite for power.
Scrooge! by Leslie Bricusse (US/UK)
In 1970, renowned writer/composer/lyricist Leslie Bricusse (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) adapted A Christmas Carol into the hit screen musical Scrooge! Later adapted into a stage musical, this sure-fire audience pleaser is available in two versions: a full-length two-act and a fifty-five-minute adaptation.
A Twisted Christmas Carol by Phil Olson (US/UK)
It’s Christmas Eve in a small west Texas town, and cantankerous barbecue joint owner Buford Johnson gets hit by a twister, setting off a Dickensian adventure with a Texas twist.
Christmas Crackers by John Godber (UK)
In this dramatic comedy, it’s Christmas time and early morning outside a hospital A&E department. Security guard Keith sees a cross-section of patients come and go, including a street-girl, a clown and a drug addict, but his thoughts are with recently widowed nurse Kath. Kath finds two plane tickets to Prague in her handbag and decides to take a younger nurse, Hollie, with her on a festive getaway. The central two acts show Keith’s fantasy of reinventing himself as an urbane university lecturer who meets Kath and Hollie in Prague and sweeps Kath off her feet. In the final act, he’s brought back to earth; it’s still morning in East Yorkshire, and Kath doesn’t know him other than by his nickname… Scary Keith.
Are you looking for something different for Christmas this year? Well, this is the script for you: eight reindeer dishing about the real Santa. All those rumors you’ve heard about him and the elves? About Rudolph’s little secret? About Vixen’s story that was leaked to the press? All true. Yes, the reindeer finally speak up and – believe us – they do not hold back! This comic collection of monologues is a huge hit with schools and young performers.
The Gift of the Magi
Concord Theatricals offers several versions of the O. Henry story:
The Gift of the Magi by Richard Adlerand Wilson Lehr (US/UK)
Richard Adler, co-composer/lyricist of Broadway hits like Damn Yankees and The Pajama Game, created this musical version of O. Henry’s short story for a 1958 telecast. Set in 1905, the stage musical is a full-length, two-act adaptation of the tale, featuring two newlyweds and a flexible ensemble of supporting roles. Both festive and poignant, The Gift of the Magi includes the holiday gem, “Christmas In Your Heart.”
Gift of the Magi by Brainerd Duffield (US)
This short play is a beautiful, sympathetic and warmly human account of O. Henry’s well-known story.
An O. Henry Christmas (Musical) by Peter Ekstrom (US/UK)
This holiday favorite, set in turn-of-the-century New York City, features two heart-warming one-act musicals based on the classic O. Henry stories, each capturing the true spirit of giving: The Gift of the Magi and The Last Leaf.
A Good Old Fashioned Redneck Country Christmas: The Musical by Kris Bauske (US)
What if the three wise men weren’t really all that wise? What if they were just three ordinary guys, avoiding conflicts at home, who happened upon the greatest story ever told?
Now add some country western music, set the entire story in modern-day America, sprinkle in a little redneck humor, and you have this smash musical comedy. In this 90-minute tuner, Bill, Dave and Jimmy leave their wives on Christmas Eve for a little hunting and a lot of beer. It’s gonna take a Christmas miracle to get these redneck families back together – thank God one just came to town!
The Great Santa Kidnap by Roy Chatfield (UK)
It is Christmas Eve and Fergus, Santa Claus’s Chief Forebrownie, is bustling about preparing Santa’s sleigh. However, three goblins – Sneergripe, Snottle and Bug – are plotting to kidnap Santa Claus and hold him to ransom! The goblins stage the kidnap and it is up to Tommy and Anna to find Santa and safeguard Christmas for the children of the world.
Hanukkah Holiday by Rosalind Friedman (US)
Hanukkah Holiday features nine original songs that tell the exciting, touching and timeless story of Hanukkah. While a teacher is relating the story to the children in her classroom, a student named Judah scoffs at the tale. Left alone to study and write a report, Little Judah is visited by a costumed Judah Macabee, who relates his deeds and sacrifices. In song and speech, this hero helps the past come alive, and Little Judah’s report is praised. This lovely, informative play runs thirty minutes in length and can be performed by children or adults. It has been met with overwhelming praise by both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences, in synagogues and churches, and in private and public schools.
In this stage adaptation of Irving Berlin’s perennial classic, a hoofer named Jim leaves the bright lights of show business to settle down in his farmhouse in Connecticut. Of course, Jim can’t resist the urge to put on a show, so he markets the inn as a holiday getaway, featuring musical spectaculars for each celebration through the year. The guests thrill to songs like “Easter Parade,” “Blue Skies,” and “Heat Wave,” but the beating heart of the show is Berlin’s yuletide masterpiece, “White Christmas.”
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know,
Where the treetops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.
Irma La Douce by Alexander Breffort, Marguerite Monnot, Julian More, David Heneker and Monty Norman (US/UK)
This 1956 romantic comedy was originally written in French and then translated to English for its hit West End and Broadway runs. Nestor, a poor Parisian law student, falls for “Sweet Irma,” a successful call girl, and assumes the disguise of a wealthy older gentleman to win her over. After plenty of crazy antics, the story concludes during the holiday season. A baby is born on Christmas day, leading the ensemble to sing this lovely ballad:
Fortune smiles on the Christmas Child
Who is born in the joyful season.
Stars will shine for the Christmas Child
They will guide him in love and reason.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis and Glyn Robbins (UK)
This stage adaptation of the C.S. Lewis classic is a perennial holiday favorite. Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy travel through the wardrobe to a magical adventure in the wintry land of Narnia. There they encounter several characters, including Father Christmas; the White Witch, representing the forces of evil; and Aslan the lion, representing all that is good and right. In the end, the forces of good to triumph over evil in the play’s bittersweet, inspirational conclusion.
This blockbuster musicalization of Auntie Mame features one of the most famous Christmas songs of all time: When the stock market crash takes its toll on Auntie Mame and young Patrick, Mame declares “We Need A Little Christmas,” and the entire household joins in celebration. Jerry Herman’s holiday classic has been recorded by hundreds of artists, including original Mame Angela Lansbury, Johnny Mathis, Percy Faith and The Muppets.
Haul out the holly;
Put up the tree before my spirit falls again.
Fill up the stocking,
I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now!
This charming classic about a middle-class family and the 1904 World’s Fair boasts several hits by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, including “The Trolley Song” and “The Boy Next Door.” But one song stands out above all the others. Considered by many to be the greatest of all Christmas songs, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” was first sung by Judy Garland in the 1944 MGM feature film.
Interestingly, Hugh Martin originally wrote a much darker lyric to the song: “Have yourself a merry little Christmas / It may be your last / Next year we may all be living in the past.” Yikes! Fortunately, he was talked into making the song more hopeful, and the final MGM version was much more optimistic. When Frank Sinatra recorded the song years later, he convinced Martin to sweeten the tone still further, changing the “muddle through” line to “hang a shining star upon the highest bough.” The Broadway production returned to the MGM lyrics, with one minor alteration.
Here’s the end of the lyric as it’s sung in the licensed stage version:
Someday soon we all will be together,
Should the Lord allow.
Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow.
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.
My Big Gay Italian Christmasbrings the holidays into the mix for the continuing adventures of the Pinnuziato family. This time, it’s Christmas and on the menu is a bisexual love triangle, heated political conversations run amuck, over-the-top characters, and a crushing snow storm… all of the perfect ingredients for a hilarious night out.
The Little Sisters of Hoboken are back! They’ve gathered in the studios of WCON-TV Hoboken – formerly known as Mt. Saint Helen’s Convent Basement – to tape their brand-new Christmas TV Special, which features songs like “Santa’s Little Teapot,” “Twelve Days Prior To Christmas,” and “Santa Ain’t Comin’ To Our House.” Dan Goggin’s hilarious holiday tuner, featuring the show biz-loving sisters and a slightly tipsy Father Virgil, will keep everyone’s Christmas merry and bright. After all, “Christmas Time Is Nunsense Time!”
Christmas time is Nunsense time
At Mount Saint Helen’s School.
Christmas time is fun-sense time
When joy is the rule!
A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas by Ralph Covert and G. Riley Mills (US)
The classic E.T.A. Hoffman tale has been brought into the Xbox age in this rockin’ holiday treat from Ralph Covert of “Ralph’s World” and Jeff Award winning playwright G. Riley Mills. A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas is a fun, fresh holiday spectacular for the entire family. This contemporary adaptation follows Fritz and the Nutcracker through Christmas Wood. When trouble arises with the dastardly Mouse King, Fritz and Nutcracker must save the day, and young Fritz will learn there’s more to life than just boys playing video games!
Promises, Promises by Neil Simon, Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond, Burt Bacharach and Hal David (US/UK)
A musical adaptation of Billy Wilder’s The Apartment, this musical romantic dramedy features a groove-tastic score from Burt Bacharach and Hal David. (“I’ll Never Fall In Love Again,” recorded by Dionne Warwick, reached #1 on the Adult Contemporary charts.) The show is set in the corporate world during the holiday season—in fact, all of Act Two takes place on Christmas Eve. At the big office party, three secretaries put on a little show and sing “Turkey Lurkey Time.” (In the original Broadway production, Michael Bennett’s choreography, featuring Donna McKechnie, Baayork Lee and Margo Sappington, stopped the show.)
Let us make a wish
And may all our wishes come true!
A snowy, blowy Christmas,
A mistletoe-y Christmas,
A Turkey Lurkey Christmas to you!
The perfect sequel! A year after the events of A Christmas Carol, the four ghosts (Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future) return with a new goal: to reunite the new and improved Ebenezer Scrooge with his long-lost first love, Belle. All of Dickens’ familiar characters return in this romantic and festive follow-up to the perennial classic. The charming score, with lyrics by Kellen Blair and music by Larry Grossman (Snoopy!!!, Goodtime Charley), features the songs “You’re Safe With Me,” “The Hours In Between” and “Carol (Like A Person In Love).”
Let every star burn bright this Christmas,
Let every home ring forth with laughter,
Let every heart feel light this Christmas,
Light as a person in love!
In Alan Ayckborn’s wry, cynical comedy, petty and not-so-petty squabbles break out at Neville and Belinda’s intimate Christmas gathering. When a young writer named Clive arrives, trigger-happy Harvey mistakes him for a burglar, with comical results. Other hilarious highlights include a chaotically incompetent puppet show and a midnight love scene that sets off a fearful din from some mechanical Christmas toys.
Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ The Musical by Sue Townsend, Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary (US/UK)
Based on the classic bestselling novel by Sue Townsend, this critically acclaimed West End musical brings Britain’s best-loved spotty teenager’s story to life for a new generation of theatregoers. With dysfunctional parents, ungrateful elders and a growing debt to school bully Barry Kent, Adrian Mole’s life simply couldn’t get any worse! Though the show isn’t all Christmas-focused, it does contain one hilarious Nativity scene.
Times Square Angel by Charles Busch (US)
Charles Busch’s hilarious and heartwarming spoof of early Hollywood’s brand of holiday fare continues to delight audiences year after year. In New York, 1948, Irish O’Flanagan is the tough-as-nails redheaded headliner of the Club Intimé. A lifetime of hard knocks has left her bitter and with a chip on her shoulder the size of Mount Rushmore. In the spirit of film fantasies like A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life and The Bishop’s Wife, an angel in the form of a sexy vaudeville magician named Albert comes down to show Irish error of her ways. Albert takes Irish on a journey involving a corrupt senator, his beautiful daughter, a notorious gangster named Chick LaFountain and a bittersweet Hollywood ending.
A Tuna Christmas by Ed Howard, Joe Sears and Jaston Williams (US)
In this hilarious sequel to Greater Tuna, it’s Christmas in the third-smallest town in Texas. Radio station OKKK news personalities Thurston Wheelis and Arles Struvie report on various Yuletide activities, including the hot competition in the annual lawn-display contest. In other news, voracious Joe Bob Lipsey’s production of A Christmas Carol is jeopardized by unpaid electric bills. Many colorful Tuna denizens, some you will recognize from Greater Tuna and some appearing here for the first time, join in the holiday fun. A Tuna Christmas is a total delight for all seasons, whether performed by two quick-changing comedians, as it was on Broadway, or by a cast of 20 or more.
“’Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” But wait! A mouse is stirring – because Santa missed his house last year. Before you can say “Merry Christmas,” we’re off on the wild adventures of a mouse, an elf, and a spunky little girl who just won’t take no for an answer. Don’t miss this joyful tribute to the holiday season, from the two-time Olivier Award-winning author of Lend Me A Tenor, Moon Over Buffalo, and the stage version of Murder on the Orient Express.
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas by Irving Berlin, Norman Krasna, Norman Panama, Melvin Frank, David Ives and Paul Blake (US/UK)
Based on the beloved, timeless film, this heartwarming musical adaptation features seventeen Irving Berlin songs and a book by David Ives and Paul Blake. Veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis have a successful song-and-dance act after World War II. With romance in mind, the two follow a duo of beautiful singing sisters en route to their Christmas show at a Vermont lodge, which just happens to be owned by Bob and Phil’s former army commander. The dazzling score bursts with well-known standards like “I Love A Piano,” “How Deep Is the Ocean” and the iconic title song.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.
With every Christmas card I write,
“May your days be merry and bright,
And may all your Christmases be white.”
On behalf of everyone at Concord Theatricals, Happy Holidays to all!
Header Image: A 1940s Radio Christmas Carol (William A Cotton)