If a one-man “Carol” strikes you as mere humbug, try the relative luxury of Jack Thorne’s “A Christmas Carol” at the Old Vic, directed by Matthew Warchus. (A version played on Broadway two winters ago.) In this production, livestreamed from an empty theater, Andrew Lincoln stars as Scrooge. Thirteen other actors assist in his transformation (oldvictheatre.com, through Dec. 24). Or consider the wizardry of Manual Cinema, which tells the tale with hundreds of paper puppets and silhouettes (manuelcinema,com, through Dec. 20). Or close your eyes as the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future appear via audio in “A Christmas Carol on Air” from the American Conservatory Theater, which takes the theater’s beloved holiday production and adapts it for radio (act-sf.org, on demand through Dec. 31).
Holiday Tales, Retold
This season, many companies have retrofitted familiar tales to better reflect the themes of an unfamiliar year, offering comfort or its opposite. Let’s start with what a story like “Twas the Night Before Christmas” leaves out. Do you really think it’s jolly Saint Nick who sorts out how to distribute all the presents? As a gentle corrective, North London’s Little Angel Theater, offers a free online puppet show, “Mother Christmas,” in which Mrs. Claus organizes the package delivery (available on YouTube). Prefer a darker vision of the Christmas story? Try “Krampusnacht,” a live immersive virtual reality experience that promises to reveal horror beneath that red suit (krampusnachtvr.com, through Dec. 27).
Elsewhere, the visionary director Mary Zimmerman reinvents Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” for a wordless, enchanting livestream, hosted by the Lookingglass Theatre Company (lookingglasstheatre.org, through Dec. 27). And Kitchen Zoo and Northern Stage rework another Andersen tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” into a cockles-warming holiday story of two fashion-conscious con artists (northernstage.co.uk, through Dec. 31).
The Christmas-industrial complex is mighty, but for those looking for some Hanukkah counterprogramming, Untitled Theater Company has reworked its children’s theater show “Playing Dreidel with Judah Maccabee” for remote performance. Via Skype, Zoom or phone, an actor will connect with a young person in your household for a time-traveling, dreidel-playing adventure (untitledtheater.com, through Dec. 20).