Some people need no help getting in the jolly holiday spirit.

For the rest of us, thank goodness there are plenty of holiday shows and events to help release our inner elf.

Over the next three weeks, Maine venues will be filled with holiday-themed shows that will make you cry, laugh and sing along with your favorite Christmas songs.

Here are just a few:


Dec. 5-21, Portland Players, 420 Cottage Road, South Portland. $20.; 799-7337

The most beloved Christmas movie of a generation, 1983’s “A Christmas Story,” was made into a stage musical a few years ago. Now it’s coming to Maine with a production by the community theater group Portland Players. The songs are inspired by scenes we all know by heart, and include “Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun,” “A Major Award,” and “Up on Santa’s Lap.” About a dozen children have key roles.

In a number titled “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out,” Ralphie’s teacher does a taunting tap dance, says director Joelle Clingerman. “The numbers mix the fantasy of what he’s feeling and the reality of Ralphie’s life,” she said.


Now through Dec. 24, Portland Stage, 25A Forest Ave.. $15 to $45.; 774-1043

Portland Stage first did a production of Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol” back in the mid 1970s. It’s become a holiday tradition for a couple generations of Mainers. This year’s show will feature a mostly new cast, so for those who have seen Portland Stage’s production before, there will be new faces.

We all know the story, of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge being taught some lessons about Christmas spirit. Still, they are lessons we can all stand some reminding of, in a theatrical, spooky and entertaining way.


Dec. 3-7, St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St., Portland. $25 to $40.

For people who don’t want to be overwhelmed with holiday entertainment, here’s a live music show that’s become a holiday tradition in Portland even though only about 30 percent of the numbers are holiday-themed. “We do our holiday show a little earlier than some, so we just weave in the holiday music with the Broadway tunes,” said director and Good Theater founder Brian Allen.

The show’s theme this year is “a salute to the 1960s,” and the holiday tunes to be sung by the cast include “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “We Need a Little Christmas,” and the Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick.”


“The Nutcracker,” through Dec. 7, performed by Maine State Ballet, Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland. $20 to $60.

“The Victorian Nutcracker,” Dec. 13, 14 and 17, performed by Portland Ballet at Westbrook Performing Arts Center, 471 Stroudwater St., Westbrook (Dec. 13,14) and at Merrill Auditorium (Dec. 17). $20 to $55.

Between these two annual productions, hundreds of Mainers get to be involved in this beloved ballet, and thousands get to watch. Portland Ballet’s show is set in Portland during the Victorian Period, with character names borrowed from real Portlanders and sets inspired by the Victoria Mansion on Danforth Street. Maine State Ballet’s includes three numbers featuring the choreography of ballet legend George Balanchine.


Now through Dec. 7., Theater at Monmouth, 796 Main St., Monmouth. $20 to $25.

New York-based actor Mike Anthony returns to Theater at Monmouth for a third year in this one-man take on the iconic 1946 film “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Anthony voices about 20 characters, including a narrator who loves the film and wants to share his love with audience.

Anthony also speaks the parts of George, Mary and Old Man Potter, sometimes with one character speaking right after the other.

“When I first did (the show), I had a panic attack thinking about all the characters,” said Anthony. “But I love doing it. It’s such a sweet story.”


7 p.m. Dec. 13, Acoustic Artisans, 594 Congress St., Portland. $20.

New Hampshire-based pianist Heather Pierson and her quartet will perform the score from TV’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

While the TV special and its songs are a holiday tradition for so many families, Pierson also wants to draw attention to jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi, who composed the music for “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

“The music is so great, and it’s just fun to share it,” said Pierson. “And Vince Guaraldi was a wonderful musician.”


Noon (preview) and 8 p.m. Dec. 6; 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7. Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 307 Congress St., Portland. $22 to $35; $12 for preview performance.

For this year’s concert, the Choral Art Society commissioned a Christmas carol contest inviting New England composers to write a new carol. Ellen Gilson Voth of Rocky Hill, Connecticut, won for her carol “The Bells I Heard.” Robert Russell, Choral Arts director, said “The Bells I Heard” was chosen for its beauty and setting of a familiar text. The traditional carol “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is based on Longfellow’s poem “Christmas Day.” Voth came up with a new melody and chimes to bring different dimensions to the carol. It will be premiered at the concert.