‘Grinch’ kicks off a jam-packed holiday theater season in San Diego

The Old Globe presents its 24th annual production of "Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" musical beginning Nov. 10.
(Jim Cox)

Options include an original holiday musical, radio dramas, wacky comedies and multiple adaptations of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”


San Diego County theaters have slowly returned to production this fall, with most not planning a full season of shows until next year. But many of the companies that produce annual holiday productions are reviving their old chestnuts or introducing new ones this fall. Here’s a roundup of this fall’s local holiday theater productions. Please note that all theaters have COVID-19 safety policies in place, requiring proof of full vaccine and indoor masking. For more on individual theaters’ policies, visit their websites. Shows are listed in order of their opening dates.

“Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”

Andrew Polec, who played Berger in The Old Globe’s recent production of “Hair,” returns next month to play the Grinch in the Globe’s 24th annual production of this locally-beloved musical. (The show is back to live production after being presented last year as an audio recording on KPBS Radio.) Based on a 1957 children’s book by the late La Jolla author Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, the musical by Timothy Mason and Mel Marvin premiered in 1994 at a children’s theater in Minneapolis. In 1998, it moved to the Old Globe, where artistic director Jack O’Brien worked with Geisel’s widow, Audrey Geisel, to add music from the famous 1966 animated TV version and a storybook-come-to-life scenic and costume design. It’s been an annual tradition ever since. Nov. 10 through Dec. 31. The Old Globe, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park, San Diego. (619) 234-5623.

Patio Playhouse in Escondido will revive "Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some)!” Nov. 19-Dec. 19.
(Adriana Zuniga-Williams)

“Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some)!”

Patio Playhouse Community Theatre in Escondido revives its 2018 production of this musical holiday comedy by Michael Carleton, Jim FitzGerald and John K. Alvarez where three actors attempt to tell all of the world’s Christmas stories and sing all the carols in one fast-paced romp. Actors Brandon Throckmorton, Cade Smith and Jason Schlarmann will reprise their roles. Nov. 19 through Dec. 19. Patio Playhouse, 116 S. Kalmia St., Escondido. (760) 746-6669.

"Ebenezer Scrooge's BIG San Diego Christmas Show" runs Nov. 19 through Dec. 26 at The Old Globe.
“Ebenezer Scrooge’s BIG San Diego Christmas Show” runs Nov. 19 through Dec. 26 at The Old Globe.
(Jim Cox)

“Ebenezer Scrooge’s BIG San Diego Christmas Show”

The Old Globe brings back its fast-paced comedic take on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” which was first presented at the Globe in 2019. “Ebenezer Scrooge” made its West Coast premiere at the Globe two years ago. Written by Gordon Greenberg and Steve Rosen, it’s an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic Victorian novella about miserly Ebenezer Scrooge’s Christmas morning redemption, re-set in San Diego with music, comedy and all of the time-traveling ghosts and other characters for which the story is known. Nov. 19 through Dec. 26. Sheryl & Harvey White Theatre, The Old Globe, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park, San Diego. (619) 234-5623.

Kirra Adams, Pete Zanko and Carly Salway in Point Loma Playhouse's "She's at the Library."
(Farhad Deylami Azodi)

“She’s At the Library”

Point Loma Playhouse presents playwright Dori Salois’ fresh take on the Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” told from the perspective of George’s wife, Mary Hatch. In this version of the heartwarming holiday tale, she’s the single town librarian trying to keep Bedford Falls from turning into Pottersville when George Bailey shows up claiming to be her husband. Opens Nov. 19 and runs through Dec. 5. 3035 Talbot St., San Diego. (619) 800-5497.

Tom Stephenson plays Ebenezer Scrooge in Cygnet Theatre's "A Christmas Carol," opening Nov. 23.
(Ken Jacques)

“A Christmas Carol”

Cygnet Theatre presents its 10th annual production of Dickens’ story, adapted for the stage and directed by Sean Murray, with lyrics by Murray and original music by Billy Thompson. The production includes sing-along Christmas carols, puppetry and special effects. Actor Tom Stephenson return as Scrooge, but several roles in this year’s production have been re-cast to create more diversity onstage. Nov. 23 through Dec. 26. Cygnet’s Old Town Theatre, 4040 Twiggs St., Old Town San Diego. (619) 337-1525.

Lamb's Players Theatre's ensemble will present a revised adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" opening Nov. 26.
(Lamb’s Players Theatre)

Lamb’s Festival of Christmas: “A Christmas Carol”

Lamb’s Players Theatre returns to its 43-year tradition of presenting original holiday plays by associate artistic director Kerry Meads. This year’s Festival of Christmas production, first produced as a touring show in the 1980s, is a 90-minute adaptation of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” The cast has been expanded from the original four to 12 actors, the script has been beefed up and an original score of holiday songs by fellow associate artistic director Deborah Gilmour Smyth has been added. Nov. 26 through Dec. 26. 1142 Orange Ave., Coronado. (619) 437-6000.

“The 1940s Radio Hour”

Lamplighters Community Theatre presents Walton Jones’ holiday musical set in a New York radio station on Dec. 21, 1942, with big band singers performing in a snowed-in studio with a heartwarming Christmas twist. Nov. 26 through Dec. 19. 5915 Severin Drive, La Mesa. (619) 303-5092.

Playwright Dea Hurston poses in her San Diego home
Playwright Dea Hurston’s “1222 Oceanfront: A Black Family Christmas” makes its world premiere Nov. 19 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad.
(Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

“1222 Oceanfront: A Black Family Christmas”

New Village Arts presents the world premiere of San Diego playwright Dea Hurston’s holiday musical, which was created and devised by Hurston and Frankie Alicea-Ford, Kevin “Blax” Burroughs and Milena (Sellers) Phillips, with music by John-Mark McGaha and lyrics by Phillips. It’s the story of widowed family matriarch Dorothy Black hosting a Christmas Eve celebration with her adult children when some unexpected family drama erupts. Nov. 27 through Dec. 26. 2787 State St., Carlsbad. (760) 433-3245.

The Roustabouts Theatre Co. will host a reading of "Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge" on Dec. 1 at Moxie Theatre.
The Roustabouts Theatre Co. will host a reading of “Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge” on Dec. 1 at Moxie Theatre.
(The Roustabouts Theatre Co.)

“Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge”

The Roustabouts Theatre Co. brings back its “almost annual” reading of Christopher Durang’s wacky parody of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” this year featuring local actors including Eileen Bowman as Mrs. Cratchit and Phil Johnson as Scrooge. Donations for local homeless shelters will be collected at the doors, which open at 6 p.m. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1. The Roustabouts at Moxie Theatre, 6669 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego. (619) 568-5800.

“A People’s Cuban Christmas Tale”

OnStage Playhouse presents San Diego Repertory Theatre artist in residence Herbert Siguenza’s reimagining of Charles Dickens’ holiday tale set in 1950s Cuba, where Scrooge is an American sugar baron fighting to control workers just before the Cuban revolution. Features classic Cuban Christmas music. Dec. 1 through 19. 291 Third Ave., Chula Vista. (619) 422-7787.

“Miracle on 34th Street: A Musical Radio Play”

Moonlight Stage Productions presents Lance Arthur Smith’s holiday musical adapted from the 1947 Lux Radio Broadcast with original lyrics, music and arrangements by Jon Lorenz. Actors, singers and a sound effects artist re-create the story of a Santa Claus at the Macy’s store in New York who goes to court to prove he’s the real Kris Kringle. Show will be presented indoors at the city of Vista’s Avo Playhouse. Dec. 3 through 23. 303 Main St., Vista. (760) 724-2110.

Ed Howell and Catalina Zelles in Oceanside Theatre Company's "A Christmas Carol: A Radio Play," Opening Dec. 10.
(Oceanside Theatre Co.)

“A Christmas Carol: A Radio Play”

Oceanside Theatre Company presents artistic director Ted Leib’s original adaptation of Dickens’ classic tale set inside WOTC radio studio, with a cast that includes Ed Howell, Bob Himlin, Olivia Pence, Audrey Ward and Catalina Zelles. Dec. 10 through 19. Sunshine Brooks Theatre, 217 N. Coast Highway, Oceanside. (760) 433-8900.

Wheel acrobat Rachel Salzman in A Magical Cirque Christmas, playing Dec. 27 at the San Diego Civic Theatre.
(A Magical Cirque Christmas)

A Magical Cirque Christmas

Broadway San Diego presents the national touring production of this holiday-inspired Montreal-style cirque show with circus acts, magic and holiday songs and music performed live. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 27. San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., San Diego.

The Mannheim Steamroller Christmas show returns to San Diego Civic Theatre on Dec. 30.
(Matt Christine)

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas

Broadway San Diego presents Chip Davis’ American neoclassical new age rock band in its 35th anniversary tour, featuring its modern adaptations of Christmas music with a spectacular light and visual effects show. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 30. San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., San Diego.