Theater

Lisa Gauthier

A Christmas Carol

Indiana Repertory Theatre

Directed by Priscilla Lindsay

Through Dec. 24

A Beef & Boards Christmas

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre

Directed by Eddie Curry

Through Dec. 31

The IRT's annual 'A Christmas Carol' runs through Dec. 24.

Christmas theater can easily become just as much of a holiday tradition as The Nutcracker. The Indiana Repertory Theatre opened its annual offering, A Christmas Carol, and Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre also began the run of its annual A Beef & Boards Christmas last weekend.

Tom Haas' adaptation of A Christmas Carol is just as lovely this year as in years past. The IRT Mainstage, blanketed in snow, reveals its secrets one by one, whether they are hidden props or the gradual redemption of a man. Charles Goad is, again, the quintessential Scrooge, backed up by many familiar Carol actors, as well as a few new faces.

Granted, the ticket prices are steep ($49 for adults and $24 for children), but if theater is a once-a-year splurge (as The Nutcracker often is for non-regulars to the ballet), this is your best family-friendly and elegant bet.

A Beef & Boards Christmas is an annual tradition for B&B, as well as many families. This year, however, you won't be regaled by Santa and his misses. Instead, longtime B&B stapes Kenny Shepard and Deb Wims run the show. The bad jokes, an acknowledged part of the festivities, somehow manage to get even worse - but the banter is kept to a bare minimum this year.

Also new, Santa appears on screen via "satellite" from the North Pole before making a personal appearance. The concept is cute, and the kids loved it. We loved the creepy Jingle the Elf.

The vast majority of the song-and-dance show is just that: songs and dances. Little ones could get edgy.

Exceptional in the cast is Gerald Atkins on songs such as "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and "Santa's Back." Also of note is Lauren E. Robinson on "Christmas Blues" and "Jesus." Other cool numbers include actors on roller blades for "Silver Bells" and a humorous twist on "Silver and Gold."

A Christmas Carol runs through Dec. 24 at the IRT, 140 W. Washington St., 317-635-5252, www.indianarep.com, while A Beef & Boards Christmas continues through Dec. 31. Tickets ($27.50-$49.50) at 317-872-9664, www.beefandboards.com, 9301 N. Michigan Road.

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