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(From left to right) Alejandro Saucedo, Cherish Robinson, Gloria Vivica Benavides, and Jovane Caamaño are the entire cast of Scrooge in Rouge at Stage West. Photo courtesy Evan Michael Woods

Spare a thought for the live theater professionals in our area, who have had to find other work during this pandemic. After all, there’s no chance that Leonardo DiCaprio or the guy moving furniture around on his movie set will infect you with the coronavirus. However, as long as you and the folks on stage have their shots, you should be safe as you attend the shows that our theater troupes are putting on this season.

In previous times, we’d be much less interested in troupes that were producing the tried-and-true plays for the holidays, but this year, it’s hard to begrudge them those plays when they’re trying to woo audiences back to the house. Even Texas Ballet Theater’s yearly production of The Nutcracker is going to be comforting to see in times like these. Casa Mañana Theatre has Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, adapted from the Rankin-Bass Christmas TV special, and your kids can sign up for socially distanced photos with Santa. Artisan Center Theater is running the same show as part of its children’s theater season, though their main stage will be occupied by Scrooge the Musical, with songs by the late Leslie Bricusse. And Stolen Shakespeare Guild stages Holiday Inn, with its Irving Berlin songs and homespun tale about show business professionals bringing a bit of Hollywood to their small town.

If you’d rather see something new when you go out, Stage West is doing the regional premiere of Scrooge in Rouge, which is about a troupe of actors who are trying to put on A Christmas Carol when most of the company falls ill, leaving three actors to play all the roles. The English music hall-style show was actually written in 2017, so it’s not a reference to the pandemic, although I wouldn’t put it past the production to squeeze in a few contemporary jokes. Lots of drag acts and musical numbers will be a surer bet.

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In the outer cities, Onstage in Bedford is doing a show that’s certain to be safe for the COVID era: One Christmas Carol is Douglas H. Baker’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novella that has a single actor portraying 35 different roles. Ben Phillips will be that busy actor. Meanwhile, instead of one guy playing multiple roles, Runway Theatre’s Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some) will jam a whole bunch of holiday entertainments into one fractured fairytale, as three frustrated actors tell their version of Dickens’ story that includes Rudolph, Charlie Brown, George Bailey, and the Grinch.

Maybe the most special production is at Jubilee Theatre, because it runs only during the weekend of Dec. 10. A Phunk Dr.’s Christmas is a musical revue written and directed by the troupe’s own D. Wambui Richardson, with songs and comedy sketches celebrating the festive season. Only three performances of this show will be held at the downtown venue, so be sure to catch one of them. Like the holiday season itself, the concert will be over before you know it.

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