Longing for some holiday cheer? Long Island theaters are gearing up to bring audiences fun, fantasy and festivity this season. It took artistry, extra creativity and even a puppet master to craft a stand-in for "A Christmas Carol's" Tiny Tim to bring beloved holiday fare back to stages in time for the season.
WHEN | WHERE Through Jan. 2, 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport
INFO $75-$80 matinees and Saturday evenings; 631-261-2900, engemantheater.com
"Let it snow" is a stage direction, rather than one of the songs included in John W. Engeman Theater's production of "White Christmas" in Northport through Jan. 2. Whatever the temperature is outside, audiences can expect the magic of flurries said director Matt Kunkel, who grew up in Northport and has been involved with Engeman since he was a kid.
"We're all coming out again to rejoin our families and friends for the holidays, and we celebrate that," he said, adding, "I couldn't think of a better way to kick off the holiday season."
Listen for classic Irving Berlin songs like "Blue Skies," "Sisters," "Count Your Blessings," and, of course, "White Christmas," along with romance, dance, and a holiday message about caring and community. "When the audience leaves," Kunkel said, "I want everyone to feel as if they were wrapped up in a big, wonderful hug."
WHEN | WHERE Through Jan. 2, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m.Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, The Argyle Theatre, 34 W. Main St., Babylon
INFO $40-$79; 631-230-3500, argyletheatre.com
Does it feel different this year to be putting on a holiday musical?
"Emphatic yes," said Evan Pappas, who's directing the Argyle Theatre's production of "Elf," playing through Jan. 2.
The story follows the journey of Buddy, adopted into Santa's workshop, and looking to find his true story. What he discovers, along with songs, dance and a trip to the big city, is the transformative power of the spirit of Christmas.
"It's terrific. It's different. It's unique. It's nice for adults, too. There's a lot of humor, and I love the score. It's adorable," said Pappas, adding, "I think we really need this right now. I hope audiences experience the joy that this show brings, and just let go of all the troubles for couple of hours and go away feeling refreshed and renewed."
'A Christmas Carol'
WHEN | WHERE Through Dec. 26, 7 p.m. Friday and 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson
INFO $20-$35; 631-928-9100, theatrethree.com
The granddaddy of all holiday tales is Charles Dickens' 1843 novella "A Christmas Carol." This year's production from Theatre Three that runs through Dec. 26 is both timeless and of the moment. Because very young actors couldn't be cast due to the pandemic, director Jeffrey Sanzel found a substitute for Tiny Tim — a puppet.
This version isn't a tweak of an old movie or play, but an original adaptation by Sanzel, who's played Port Jefferson's beloved Scrooge for 32 of his 55 years, or "1,437 times and counting," he proudly states.
"There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about this story," he explained. "It awakens thoughts and feelings in us to make ourselves better people, and to make ourselves more aware of the world around us."
He believes that "A Christmas Carol" still moves audiences today because, along with humor and Victorian-era charm, there are life lessons. "This story has never not been universal. It's about change. It's about, if Scrooge can change, so can we. If Scrooge can make a difference, so can we. It speaks to each person individually, and it speaks to us as a whole as a community. It's a flash of lightning."
'Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella'
WHEN | WHERE Nov. 19-Dec. 19, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, BayWay Arts Center, 265 East Main St., East Islip
INFO $40, $35 seniors, $27 students; 631-226–8400, studiotheatrelongisland.com
There are no snowmen or fireplace stockings in "Cinderella," although fairy godmothers, princesses and the score by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II provide plenty of magic. But underneath all that, said director Rick Grossman, is the message that made him choose it for BayWay's holiday show.
"Remember that this can be a production of diversity and that's how we've approached it," Grossman said.
Look for gorgeous costumes, lots of humor, beautiful music, and that unforgettable message – that impossible things are happening every day.
"This is a story about a young girl who was bullied within her own family and how she sticks to the resolve of being above that. How she takes the high road, and how she will not let go of her of dreams," Grossman said. "If you put your mind to it, nothing is impossible."