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Holiday theater: 11 SoCal shows to celebrate the season

Beyond "A Christmas Carol": Roundup of L.A. theater to celebrate the season

As the holidays barrel ahead, break from the pressures with the many arts pleasures of the season. It's impossible to list everything, but we've organized samplings into three categories: theater, dance and music. This week we start with theater. Check back later for dance and music.

"Handle With Care": Experience a Christmas Eve like few others -- in a seedy motel room as an unlikely love story unfolds between a young Israeli woman and an awkward young American man in this West Coast premiere of what is being dubbed "A Jewish Christmas story." The Colony Theatre, 555 N. 3rd St., Burbank. Times vary, through Dec. 14, $25-$49, (818) 558-7000, www.colonytheatre.org

"A Christmas Carol": You know it, and you love it (even if you won't admit it). Charles Dickens' holiday tale comes alive at theaters this, and every, year. Two possibilities: A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, times vary, through Dec. 23, starting at $48, (626) 356-3100, www.anoisewithin.org; and South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, times vary, through Dec. 27, starting at $21, (714) 708-5555, www.scr.org

"Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin": Canadian pianist, actor and composer Hershey Felder has played George Gershwin, Frederic Chopin, Leonard Bernstein and Franz Liszt. Now he is taking on Irving Berlin, the man behind 232 top-10 hits and 25 No. 1 singles including "White Christmas." In this world premiere, Felder plays his way through Berlin's life story. Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., L.A., times vary, through Dec. 21, starting at $39, (310) 208-5454, www.geffenplayhouse.com

"La Vispera": This uniquely American world premiere features stories of sacrifice and joy shared by local immigrants with professional theater artists. Performances are in Spanish with subtitles. 24th Street Theatre, 1117 W. 24th St., L.A., 3 p.m. Dec. 6-14, 24 cents, (213) 745-6516; www.24thstreet.org

"Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas": The holiday tale about the harrowing events in Whoville, now in its 17th year. The Old Globe, 1363 Old Globe Way, San Diego, times vary, through Dec. 27, starting at $68, (619) 234-5623, www.theoldglobe.org

"Sleeping Beauty and Her Winter Knight": Lucy Lawless and Disney recording artist Olivia Holt star in this re-imagining of the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale told in the style of a traditional English panto. Short for pantomime, panto was performed as family holiday entertainment and generally incorporated interactive music and dance. This show, produced in association with Lythgoe Family Productions, is no exception. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino, times vary, Dec. 10-Jan. 4, starting at $34, (626) 356-7529, www.pasadenaplayhouse.org

"A Little House Christmas": This cheerful production features plenty of seasonal songs and is based on the "Little House on the Prairie" books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, times vary, Nov. 28-Dec. 23, $28, (626) 355-4318, www.sierramadreplayhouse.org

"A Tuna Christmas": The rapid-fire comedy about the third-smallest town in Texas features two actors in myriad roles, including radio personalities who narrate the hectic holiday activities in this colorful place. Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura, times vary, Dec. 3-21, starting at $47, (805) 667-2900, www.rubicontheatre.org

"Into the Woods": The Oregon Shakespeare Festival's version of this Tony Award-winning musical comes to L.A. for a 24-performance run. Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim come to life through storybook characters including Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Jack (of the beanstalk) in this modern take on Grimm fairy tales.Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, times vary, Dec. 2-21, starting at $29, (310) 746-4000, www.thewallis.org

"Love Noël: The Letters and Songs of Noël Coward": This cabaret production written by Coward aficionado Barry Day follows the playwright-songwriter's life with particular interest paid to the women who passed through it. It stars three-time Tony-nominee Harry Groener. Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, times vary, Dec. 5-21, $70 (or $90 for a premium ticket that includes that holiday favorite, an open bar). (310) 746-4000, www.thewallis.org

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