Love 'em or hate 'em, there's no avoiding the holidays, and that's true on local stages as well as the shopping malls. But even the Scroogiest of souls could find something to celebrate in the gifts of theater, dance, and music offered up this season by companies large and small throughout the region. Here are some options ranging from traditional to irreverent, classical to pop.
"A Christmas Carol": Often credited with forming our ideas of what a traditional Christmas means, stage versions of Charles Dickens' 1843 novella occupy pride-of-place in the holiday theatrical pantheon. The indispensable Larry Yando returns to the Goodman Theatre as Scrooge, and many other versions — for kids, crooners, and Klingons — are also warming up the Yule log.
Goodman Theatre, through Dec. 29; Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, Arlington Heights, Nov. 23-Dec. 24; Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook Terrace, Nov. 23-Dec. 22 (kids' version); Theatreworks USA (kids' version), The Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University, University Park, Nov. 30-Dec. 1 and Pfeiffer Hall, North Central College, Naperville, Dec. 2; "A Christmas Carol (Abridged)," Dream Theatre Company, Dec. 15-Jan. 6
"The Q Brothers Christmas Carol Project:" The hip-hop duo behind "Funk It Up About Nothin'" present a work-in-progress take on Ebenezer and his posse of ghosts. Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park; Dec. 14-16
"Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol": Tom Mula, himself a former longtime Scrooge at the Goodman Theatre, penned this re-telling of the tale from Marley's point of view. Meiley-Swallow Theatre, North Central College, Naperville; Dec. 13-15
"Scrooge the Musical": Leslie Bricusse's musical version, adapted from the 1970 film starring Albert Finney. Steel Beam Theatre, St. Charles; through Dec. 23
"A Klingon Christmas Carol": Commedia Beauregard's Trekkie version goes to a distant galaxy — OK, it's really Edgewater. Raven Theatre; Dec. 1-30
"Charles Dickens Begrudgingly Performs 'A Christmas Carol.' Again.": Blake Montgomery reprises his solo show-within-a-show in which a disgruntled Dickens performs his greatest hit — and rediscovers its magic. The Building Stage; Nov. 29-Dec. 24
"The Cricket on the Hearth": Or you could explore another Dickens Christmas tale about domestic woes and the redemption of love, as adapted and directed by Edward Kuffert. City Lit Theater Company; Dec. 21-Jan. 6
"The Chimes": Make it a hat trick and see yet a third Dickens Christmas tale — this one adapted and performed by Remy Bumppo artistic director Nick Sandys. Greenhouse Theater Center; Dec. 15-23
"A Mark Twain Christmas": Richard Henzel delivers holiday-centric tales from the Twain canon. Richard H. Driehaus Museum; Dec. 1
"The Christmas Schooner": The Rouse Simmons sails again with its load of evergreens headed for Chicago. This year's production marks the 100th anniversary of its last voyage and includes a tribute to composer/lyricist Julie Shannon, who died this past September. Mercury Theater; Nov. 23-Dec. 30
"James Joyce's The Dead": Joyce's famous tale of a wistful holiday gathering, musicalized by Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey, returns to Court, where it had its first area appearance, with an all-star local cast. Court Theatre; through Dec. 9
"Joy to the World": Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre offers a matinee-only celebration of seasonal songs. No Exit Café; through Dec. 23
The Second City: Various iterations of The Second City's irreverent take on holiday themes play around the area, plus the annual "The Second City That Never Sleeps: Letters to Santa" 24-hour music and improv marathon benefiting Onward Neighborhood House.
"The Second City's Nut-Cracking Holiday Revue," UP Comedy Club, through Dec. 31; "The Second City's Holidays in the Heights," Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, Arlington Heights, Nov. 23-Jan. 4; "The Second City Dysfunctional Holiday Revue," Fox Valley Repertory, Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles, Dec. 7-21 and Copley Theatre, Aurora, Dec. 13-23; "The Second City That Never Sleeps: Letters to Santa," The Second City e.t.c.; Dec. 18-19
"It's a Wonderful Santa Land Miracle Nut Cracking Christmas Story ... Jews Welcome": Street Tempo Theatre's multimedia, family-friendly, nondenominational extravaganza. Stage 773; through Dec. 30
"Hannukatz the Musical": The rock-and-roll Hanukkah show, featuring a hepcat, returns for a second year. National Pastime Theater; Nov. 29-Dec. 30