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Originally published Friday, November 27, 2009 at 12:01 AM

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On stage: productions to get you in the holiday mood

Seattle stages are sparkling with big holiday-themed shows, from "Black Nativity" to "White Christmas" to "Plaid Tidings."

Seattle Times theater critic

Ah, the winter holidays. Time to kick back with friends and family, eat too much, max out your credit cards.

And catch a play or musical? Yes, if you live in Seattle, where theater elves are readying the tinsel and holly, the Scrooges and George Baileys, for your edification.

"Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind," President Coolidge (remember him?) once opined. Sure thing, Cal.

But let's get real: There are many states of mind that Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwaanza et al., may put you in. So we have sorted through the dozens of Seattle holiday stage shows to suggest something for every mood. (For more detailed information about theaters and shows, see the NWTicket theater listings):

• If You're Feeling Sentimental

That's an easy one: A little Dickens should do the trick. His familiar fable "A Christmas Carol" is back for its ritual airing at ACT Theatre, in a traditional version that's always a treat. More irreverent takes on that sweet old chestnut are around, also — including a new favorite from Unexpected Productions: "Citizen Scrooge" (a cross between "Citizen Kane" and "Christmas Carol").

"A Christmas Carol,"ACT Theatre, today-Dec. 27; "Citizen Scrooge," Market Theatre, today- Dec. 20.

• If You Want to Come Out Humming

Showtunes abound in two glitzy stagings of old movie musicals: The 5th Avenue's "White Christmas" and "Meet Me in St. Louis" at the Village Theatre. You may be moved to sing along on such ditties as "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and Irving Berlin's "White Christmas."

"White Christmas," 5th Avenue Theatre, Saturday-Dec. 30; "Meet Me in St. Louis," Village Theatre, through Jan. 3.

• If You Want to Come Out Kicking

Once again, those high-stepping Rockettes will be making merry, in their glossy touring extravaganza, "A Radio City Christmas Spectacular," coming back for an encore at Paramount Theatre.

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Paramount Theatre, Dec. 12-Jan. 3.

• If You Need Your Soul Stirred

Pat Wright and her Total Experience Gospel Choir should take care of that handily in Intiman Theatre's annual staging of "Black Nativity" by the late poet Langston Hughes. We dare you to sing the blues when Wright and company are raising the roof with their gospel-ized version of "Joy to the World."

Note: This is the final chance to see the popular show at Intiman — next year it moves to a larger venue.

Intiman Theatre, Tuesday-Dec. 27.

• If You're Feeling Guilty as Sin

Take communion with an intrepid nun (played by Aubrey Manning in various editions of"Late Night Catechism"), in a special holiday offshoot, "Sister's Christmas Catechism" at ACT Theatre (which describes the show as " 'Forensic Files' goes to Bethlehem").

ACT Theatre, today-Jan. 3.

• If You Need a Good (and Kinky) Laugh

Lisa Koch and Peggy Platt (the zany homegrown-music and comedy team of Dos Fallopia) have just the stocking stuffer for that: "Ham for the Holidays: Lard Potion No. 9" at Theatre Off Jackson.

If these hilarious imps don't get you chortling with their bit about the teeny-tiny Sequim Gay Men's Chorus, they'll probably tickle you with the latest bulletin from the ever-squabbling mother-daughter country music duo, The Spudds.

Theatre Off Jackson, today-Dec. 27.

If You Long to Go Retro

ArtsWest brings back all that plaid with a run of the holiday-themed "Plaid Tidings: The Forever Plaid Christmas Show," in which a ghostly 1950s singing group is "transported from the ethereal cosmos to croon their tight harmonic renditions of musical hits from the '50s and '60s."

ArtsWest, Wednesday-Dec. 27.

• If You're Feeling Angelic

Be an angel, then, and help support Taproot Theatre with a visit to its production of "It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play."

On Oct. 23, a ferocious arson fire burned this family-centric troupe out of their Greenwood playhouse, which now requires extensive repairs. So they've moved their holiday offering to North Seattle Community College, where they'll perform a version of the beloved Capra film of the same title — which is all about being there when your friends really need you.

North Seattle Community College, today-Dec. 30.

Misha Berson: mberson@seattletimes.com

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