1) Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is considered high schmaltz by some and high art by many others. In Japan, the novella has been viewed as one of the great works of English literature—“possibly in a league with Hamlet,” as one Japanese scholar wrote. Distinguished actors who’ve played Ebenezer Scrooge in adaptations include Lionel Barrymore (in voice only, on radio), Marcel Marceau (in mime, with no words), and, memorably, Michael Caine (in The Muppet Christmas Carol, with Kermit and Miss Piggy as Bob and Mrs. Cratchit). In Pittsburgh CLO’s production of A Musical Christmas Carol, Scrooge is played by Patrick Page, whose résumé seems made for the role: Page was The Grinch in the 2006 Broadway debut of Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The adaptation is by David H. Bell, best known for Hot Mikado, the jazzed-up remake of The Mikado. There’s no bebop in A Musical Christmas Carol, but Bell has added some scenes that help to fill out Dickens’ original story nicely. 7:30 p.m. Continues through December 23. Byham Theater, 101 6th St., Cultural District. (MV)
2) New York-based actor and Pittsburgh native Nathan James returns home to perform his one-man multimedia show Growing Pains. James, a CAPA alumnus, earned an MFA in acting at Penn State after undergraduate studies at Point Park and Pitt. He’s been in numerous TV series, including such cops-and-crime dramas as HBO’s “The Wire” and NBC’s “Shades of Blue.” But James also writes and performs live—with Growing Pains being a signature work. The show dramatizes what he calls the “desensitization process” of growing up a black male in a troubled environment, where violent influences can hammer young men into “one-dimensional” caricatures of their true selves. Growing Pains, however, is hardly a desensitized experience. The feature-length piece combines elements of music, movement, and James’ original poetry. Tonight and tomorrow night. 8 p.m. both nights. August Wilson Center, 980 Liberty Ave., Cultural District. (MV)
3) O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi,” about a young couple short of money but wanting to give each other beautiful gifts, has long been a popular Christmas story. Since its publication in 1905, it has been made into several movies (starting in the silent-film era), two operas—one of them in Finnish—and an off-Broadway musical, while being imitated, parodied, and otherwise riffed upon in multiple languages and media. This season in Pittsburgh you can see a straight-up live theater adaptation by dramatist Jon Jory. Point Park Conservatory Theatre is performing Jory’s The Gift of the Magi at Pittsburgh Playhouse. Performances through December 17. 222 Craft Ave., Oakland. (MV).