This season’s lineup of regional theater holiday shows treats playgoers to more twists than there are in a box of peppermint striped candy canes. Here are productions that make merry with tradition, in classic and unconventional ways.
'Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol'
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Dec. 13, 14, 20 and 21 and 3 p.m. Dec. 15 and 22, Vanderbilt Museum’s Carriage House Theater, 180 Little Neck Rd., Centerport
INFO $20, $15 seniors and ages 11 and younger; 516-557-1207, carriagehouseplayers.org
THE GIST A retelling of Dickens’ 1843 novella retains the spirit of the original with one significant change.
THE TWIST Marley, Scrooge’s dead but still clanking ex-business partner, gets the back story and the ghost of a chance at redemption. “He’s an antihero, but we see that circumstances turned him into a bad guy,’ said Marley portrayer Andrew Murano, 31, of Deer Park.
'Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge'
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and Dec. 12-13 and 7 p.m. Sunday, South Shore Theatre Experience, 115 S. Wellwood Ave., Lindenhurst
INFO $20; 631-669-0506, southsouththeatre.com
THE GIST Scrooge’s nightmare becomes a century-hopping parody courtesy of absurdist playwright Christopher Durang.
THE TWIST Actually there are many, including appearances by Oliver Twist and other Dickens characters and detours through “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Touched by an Angel.” “It’s a little twisted,” said company artistic director, Deborah Cascio Plezia, “but it’s all good fun.”
'The Judy Garland Christmas Special'
WHEN | WHERE Dec. 13-29, Studio Theatre, 141 S. Wellwood Ave., Lindenhurst
INFO $27; 631-226-8400, studiotheatreli.com
THE GIST Lindenhurst playwright Christopher Rosselli’s inspiration comes from seeing a gaffe-filled 1963 TV special in which Garland was having herself a merrier little Christmas than usual. During the historic TV taping Garland “was a mess, so we really rolled with it and turned it into comedy,” he said.
THE TWIST Garland is played by Matt Senese, 50, who grew up in Sayville. Senese said his portrayal is interpretation than imitation: “You don’t want to play it drunk, you want to play it like someone pretending not to be drunk.”
'A Christmas Story The Musical'
WHEN | WHERE Through Dec. 22, CM Performing Arts Center, 931 Montauk Hwy., Oakdale
INFO $16-$42; 631-218-2810; cmpac.com
THE GIST Jean Shepherd’s quirky 1983 film favorite became a Broadway musical in 2012, leg lamp and all.
THE TWIST In the songs, Ralphie rhapsodizes about his "Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun" and Carl Tese, 43, of East Islip, sings of The Old Man’s “Major Award.”
“I get to dance with the ensemble of leg lamps that light up — it’s one of the big numbers,” Tese said.
“A Christmas Carol”
WHEN | WHERE 3 and 8 p.m. Dec. 21 and 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 22, YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts, 37 W. Main St., Bay Shore
INFO $25; 631-969-1101, boultoncenter.org
THE GIST A cast of more than 50 regional actors backed by a live orchestra enlivens a traditional Scrooge-centric version of the Dickens classic.
THE TWIST It’s a cross between an homage and a hodgepodge. “We took all the best pieces from previous versions of ‘A Christmas Carol’ going back to the movies of the 1930s,” said musical director Rosselli.
'Miracle on 34th Street: A Simulated Old Time Radio Play'
WHEN | WHERE 2 p.m., Dec. 14 and 15, Hardscrabble Theater, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 298 Conklin St., Farmingdale.
INFO $10, free younger than 10; hardscrabbletheater.com
THE GIST The 1947 movie classic is the source for a radio play about a Macy’s Santa who must prove he’s the real Kris Kringle.
THE TWIST The script is from the original Lux Radio Theater play and sound effects such as the story’s climactic mail drop will be recreated. Kids can meet Kris after the show.
Lumiere Ballet’s 'Nutcracker'
WHEN | WHERE 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 and 4 p.m. Dec. 15, Maguire Theater, SUNY College at Old Westbury
INFO $25-$30; 631-586-2921
THE GIST Clara dances again through a dream of mouse kings and sugar plum fairies in a student production of Tchaikovsky’s immortal ballet.
THE TWIST Lumiere’s presentation restores the Battle of the Sugar Plum fairies and choreography from original Russian productions, said Svetlana Caton, of Bay Shore, company founder and artistic director.