A Festive Bevy of Christmas Carols, OC to Pasadena

Ebenezer Scrooge is again going to have his day in the sun -- er, snow.

The fact, come December, is this: You're gonna get your Dickens on, by Cratchit. You're just gonna.

But how, is the question, and where, is another question, and in what form, is a third question, and will the tone by somber or silly, is one more. Oh, and the fifth? Does it star the Muppets?

Surely there's some intrepid bah-humbuger among us who has committed to seeing every "A Christmas Carol" staged or screened around Southern California during the yuletide season, but, if that's not you, and you must only choose one or two, consider...

South Coast Repertory: The Man Who Would Be Scrooge, Hal Landon, Jr., has only scowled -- then smiled, natch -- his way through the iconic role for over two decades. This is one of the region's big, lavish, classic "Carols," if that's what you're looking for. The ghosts are good, too, but we have a sweet spot for the GoCF. The Ghost of Christma Future is The Man. (Uh, the GoCF is a man, right? We won't make assumptions.) Spooky, consider-your-path stuff.

A Noise Within: One obviously wants the most famous of all reflect-repent-and-be-redeemed stories to come shot through with a ridiculous amount of whimsy, because otherwise it becomes far too ponderous for what should be a semi-light Christmas bon bon. Does a ghost take to a swing in this Pasadena production? Are the costumes gorgeous? Is everything gorgeous? Yes times three. It's on through Dec. 22.

Center Theatre Group: The title tells all -- "Twist Your Dickens" -- or so you think. Second City players are the merry fools behind this zinger-laden hot toddy, a show that starts, stops, and upends the classic story at every possible juncture. Jokes are plentiful, actual audience misdeeds are revealed, and a surprise star makes a nightly cameo. You know the best mistletoe is a little spiky, right? Get your chortles flowing at the Kirk Douglas through Dec. 29.

The Muppets: The Hammer is screening the Henson-happy 1992 lollipop on Sunday, Dec. 8. Four words: free, Kermit, Michael Caine. That's it, all we can say, and if anything further needs to be said beyond that, then you probably can't be convinced.

We can only hope a kindly ghost shows in your bed chamber tonight to gently show you the error of your ways. Good luck, fair reader.

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