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Justine "Icy" Morale as Ghost of Christmas Past and Craig Wallace as Ebenezer Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol" at Ford's Theatre. (Image: Scott Suchman)
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Theater Tuesday: 4 must-see shows in December

It's that time of year when you see holiday decorations and hear holiday music all around you. Whether you are ready or not, the holiday season is here. If you are looking for the perfect gift to get that special someone during the holidays, consider the gift of theater. Live, memorable experiences make the best presents.

If you want to go the traditional route, there are a few versions of A Christmas Carol worth seeing, in particular Ford's Theater, The National Theatre and Olney Theatre Center. But if you want to see something a little different, here are a few holiday-themed shows around town.

A CIVIL WAR CHRISTMAS

  • 1st Stage at Tyson's Corner, 1524 Spring Hill Rd., Tyson's Corner, VA
  • Written by Paula Vogel and directed by Deidra LaWan Starnes
  • Running now - December 23
  • Tickets: $15 - $39

It’s 1864 and Washington, D.C. is settling down to the coldest Christmas Eve in years. “History lessons and holiday warmth sit cozily alongside each other” (The New York Times) in this pageant of carols by Paula Vogel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of "Indecent." Stories of many intertwining lives– spanning from the battlegrounds of Northern Virginia to the halls of the White House– demonstrate that the gladness of one’s heart is the best gift of all.

CHRISTMAS AT THE OLD BULL AND BUSH

  • MetroStage, 1201 N. Royal St., Alexandria, VA
  • Written and directed by Catherine Flye
  • Running now - December 30
  • Tickets: $34 - $55

The Old Bull and Bush Public House is alive with British music hall songs and carols, corny jokes and funny sketches, tuneful melodies sing-a-longs AND sausage rolls! Celebrate the holidays with Florrie Forde, the most famous music hall star of the era and her eccentric troupe of British performers.

ELF THE MUSICAL

  • Olney Theater Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Sping Road, Olney, MD
  • Book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin and directed by Michael J. Bobbit
  • Running now - January 6, 2019
  • Tickets: $40 - $84

Based on the hit Will Ferrell movie, "Elf" has quickly entered the pantheon of holiday classics, and for good reason. This warm-hearted family musical tells the story of Buddy, a human accidentally transported to the North Pole as a baby who grows up believing himself to be an elf, despite his large size and sub-par toy-making. Upon learning the truth from Santa, Buddy journeys to New York to find his father and helps the jaded city folk rediscover the wonder and joy of the Christmas season. The humor of the original film is boosted by a carol-inflected score and lots of dancing to guarantee plenty of smiles and laughter for the whole family.

NOTE: Elf the Musical contains dry ice fog, haze, an artificial snow effect and many bright and flashing lights.

AN IRISH CAROL

  • Keegan Theatre, 1742 Church St. NW
  • Written by Matthew Keenan and directed by Mark A. Rhea
  • Runs December 12- 31
  • Tickets: $36-$46

Told with a quintessential Irish charm, "An Irish Carol" pays homage to the classic holiday tale "A Christmas Carol." Written by Dublin native and Keegan company member Matthew J. Keenan, the play follows one evening in the life of David, a wealthy Dublin pub owner who's lost touch with his own humanity in the interest of self-protection and material success. But this Christmas Eve, David's life may change forever when he's challenged by a voice from the past, provoked by those in the present and faced with the reality of a lonely future. The show, which has played to sold-out audiences for the past several years, is a modern fable told with all the biting humor and incisive candor of its Irish playwright. Experience this fresh take on a holiday tradition.

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