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Christmas plays that aren't done every year

It's the same every year: theatre companies often producing plays (and sometimes musicals) that are Christmas-themed. You'll likely find your local community group doing It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, or some other well-known entity.

But did you know there are enough other, worthy Yuletide plays that could fill Santa's sack, as well as please audiences?

Here are only some of our favorites that might be lesser-known but just as good as anything you've seen before.

1. Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) by Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald, and John K. Alvarez -- This play seems to think the same way we do; instead of performing A Christmas Carol yet again, the characters tear through the entire catalogue of Christmas plays in record time. The appeal of this play is not only the Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)-vibe, but its inclusion of Yuletide traditions from around the world that it shares with its audience.

2. Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol by Tom Mula -- Still want to do something Dickensian, but with a spin? Take a gander at this black comedy of a play, told from the point-of-view of Scrooge's deceased business partner. Interesting, this show is available in several versions: full cast, or solo performance, making it a versatile piece that can be adapted to a theatre company (or single actor's) specific needs.

Despite the title, there is very little (if anything) on these pages to do with The Bard. Instead, it's a collection of four, 10-15 minute clever and hilarious Christmas-themed plays that can be either performed individually or as a whole. Our personal favorite: "The Elf Rebellion," about Santa's little helpers unionizing after being overworked and underpaid for centuries.

4. Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus (Radio Play) by Andrew Fenady -- Radio plays are often easy and fun to produce, costing a fraction of a staged show. This is a classic in the decked halls of Christmas plays, based upon the famous teleplay about a girl who writes to a newspaper asking if Santa is real, and the assigned reporter's quest to answer it (even if the title gives it away). Even though this is a hugely popular, family-friendly play, you won't often find it performed; hopefully that will change!

5. One Christmas Eve at Evergreen Mall by Lynne Halliday, James Hindman, Arlene Hutton, and Craig Pospisill -- Another collection, but one with a tying thread between all the scenes; a varied cast of characters assembles at the shopping center on the night before Christmas, and antics ensues, as expected. This cast includes actors of all ages, and reminds us all of the true meaning of the holidays -- each other.

6. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical by Jahnna Beecham and Malcolm Hillgartner -- You may be familiar with the straight play version of this Christmas crowd-pleaser, and you'll just as likely enjoy the musical version. Once again, trouble-making teens throw the annual pageant into turmoil, but the first-time director finds a way to impart the meaning of the holiday to the terrified cast and irksome kiddos.

You can find many, many more wonderful holiday plays (including ones for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Diwali) by doing some simple Google searches (particularly on, Dramatist Play Service, and others). So give yourself, and your audiences, the gift of some new plays that can be added to the holiday theatre rotation.

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