The American Irish Repertory Ensemble has brought back its production of “A Celtic Christmas,” last presented in 2011. It’s a celebration of holiday traditions that warmly and playfully emphasizes the spirit of community.

With new actors and musicians, AIRE opened the show Thursday night before a welcoming audience.

Songs in English and Gaelic, step dancing, juggling and much more filled the intimate Studio Theater space at Portland Stage.

The show began with a dramatic enactment of Dylan Thomas’ seasonal favorite “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.”

Five adults plus three child actors and a little dancer brought to life Thomas’ poetically imagined prose recollection of a childhood lived in simpler times.

Director and actor Tony Reilly has re-sequenced the episodes slightly from the original. But the piece has lost none of the sense of excitement and wonder children experience in a world made up of an almost magical nature tended by mysterious and often comical grownups.

The child actors will alternate from performance to performance. At Thursday’s opening, the youthful roles were impressively filled by Ellie Lomangino, Jonathan DeRoche and Grace Blankenship.

Whether encountering canny hand puppet cats, a juggling mailman, a potential witch or snoozing uncles, the kids maintained a playful bearing while reciting Thomas’ flowing lines with nary a hitch.

The adult performers included Susan and Tony Reilly, Matiss Duhon, Thomas Ian Campbell and Lisa Boucher Hartman.

Each was given an opportunity to lend their unique talents in this fine ensemble interpretation of the evocative work.

The expressionistic set design by Anthony Martin and costumes by Kate Egan and Carlene Stillson added to the sense that the audience was visiting a time and place where a spirited imagination could still be transformative.

“The Legend of the Wren,” conceived by the Reillys, completed the program in high style.

Based on a tradition of wren-boys who go house to house to collect money to fund a community gathering, subject to some more and some less bird-friendly interpretations, the piece featured all of the performers from the earlier work plus a quartet of young dancers from the Stillson School of Irish Dance.

With the spirit of a variety show, the episodic story gave Duhon a chance to amaze all with his juggling, while Hartman sang a lovely religious song, Campbell played a sort of mini-bagpipe and later a mandolin, and the Reillys displayed their theatrical and musical gifts.

The hilarious song “Miss Fogarty’s Christmas Cake” was a particular highlight.

The dancers were great fun to watch in a passage that wonderfully mixed ballet-like elements with high-stepping folk dance.

A final sing-along on “Silent Night” brought the sweetly entertaining evening to a close on a warm and cozy note.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.