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Faces of the Season: Who's Who in Richmond's Holiday Performances

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Mouse King, played by Jonah Sunnen in a costume designed by David Heuvel in “The Nutcracker.”
A new scene! A doubling of angels! Refurbished costumes! A new Swan Sleigh designed by Charles Caldwell! Richmond Ballet has spent more than a year on production of its annual holiday classic, with choreography by Stoner Winslett and music performed by the Richmond Symphony. At CenterStage’s Carpenter Theatre, Dec. 11-23. richmondballet.com.

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Buddy, played by Henry Boyle in “Holiday Memories.”
Truman Capote may be most famous for such literary classics as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” but he also wrote short stories that capture the joy, wonder and melancholy of the holidays with beautiful, evocative language. This adaptation of two of these stories features the adventures of young Buddy, his eccentric cousin, Miss Sook, and their dog, Queenie. Produced at Grace Street Theater by Quill Theatre, through Dec. 26. quilltheatre.org.

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Elf, Ticker the Elf and Mrs. Claus, played by Alex Chalkley, Carrie Dedrick and Amy Robinson in “Glorious Christmas Nights: Sincerely Yours.”
A labor of love and ministry by the West End Assembly of God, this year’s take on the tradition sends Mrs. Claus and the elves out to solve the problem of getting the presents out. Why? Because Santa’s depressed by all the greedy letters from children. Will they conquer the villains working against them? Expect a sellout spectacle — flying angels, live animals, elaborate sets and music that leads to Bethlehem. At the West End Assembly of God, 401 N. Parham Road, Dec. 2-13. gloriouschristmasnights.com.

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Billie Holiday, played by Katrinah Carol Lewis in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.”
This immersive character study dives deep into the meteoric rise and bitter fall of the famous jazz singer. Biographical bits are interspersed among more than a dozen soulful tunes rendered by one of Richmond’s finest performers. TheatreLab, through Dec. 12. theatrelabrva.org.

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Mama Rose, Uncle Herbie and Louise, played by Robyn O’Neill, Chris Hietikko and Christie Jackson in “Gypsy.”
Dubbed the “greatest musical ever” by many critics, “Gypsy” uses some of the most familiar tunes from the classic American songbook (“Let Me Entertain You,” “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”) to tell the bitter tale of burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee’s childhood and relationship with her domineering mother. Call it counterprogramming or a savvy attempt to capitalize on audiences seeking a classic during the holidays. At Virginia Rep’s November Theatre through Jan. 10. va-rep.org.

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Various, played by Scott Wichmann in “This Wonderful Life.”
This one-man stage adaptation of “It’s a Wonderful Life” was a bravura turn for Wichmann in Virginia Rep’s 2008 staging and promises to be even better today. Though the cast is reduced to one actor, the show actually expands George Bailey’s redemption tale to include behind-the-scenes tidbits about the classic movie. Playing on Virginia Repertory Theatre’s Hanover Tavern stage through Jan. 10. va-rep.org.

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Hart Isaacoff, playing the Boy in “The Velveteen Rabbit.”
The rabbit is back, played by A.A. “Corbin” Puryear in his Virginia Rep’s Children’s Theatre debut. A poignant story, directed by K. Strong, will pull at the heartstrings of children and adults alike. Some performances will include brunch with the Snow Bear and cast members after the show. Playing the Children’s Theatre at Willow Lawn, Dec. 4 through Jan. 3. virginiarep.org.

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Roger and Peggy, played by Michael Hawke and Jacqueline Jones in “The Fourth Wall.”
Playwright A.R. Gurney first found fame in the 1980s with shows such as “Love Letters” and “The Dining Room” — plays criticized for being mechanical, meaning based on contrived framing devices. He responded with this cockeyed romp about what theater is all about, a show for those looking to get meta for the holidays. At Firehouse Theatre through Jan. 31. firehousetheatre.org.

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Various, played by David Clark and Kimberly Jones-Clark in “Christmas on the Rocks.”
What would happen if the fanciful stories of iconic holiday characters such as Tiny Tim or Cindy Lou Who extended beyond their happy endings? That’s the conceit behind this zany comedy, featuring grown-up versions of famous Christmas kids who wander into a bar and tell their often tawdry tales. All of the characters are played by this couple of local stage faves who happen to be husband and wife. Richmond Triangle Players, runs through Dec. 19. rtriangle.org.

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Erin Freeman, director of the Richmond Symphony Chorus in Handel’s “Messiah.”
Freeman conducts the Richmond Symphony, the Richmond Symphony Chorus and a cast of soloists in a holiday classic first performed nearly 275 years ago. And you can bet “Hallelujah Chorus” will raise the rafters as always. At CenterStage’s Carpenter Theatre on Friday, Dec. 4, at 7:30 p.m. richmondsymphony.com.

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