by Lenise Willis

If NC Shakespeare Festival’s financial struggle and season cancellation has you down this Christmas, don’t worry; you can still fulfill your holiday tradition of checking out its performance of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at High Point Theatre. The theater isn’t letting go of their 36-year tradition and is presenting two special fundraising performances, dubbed “A Christmas Carol Unplugged,” Friday and Sunday, Dec. 22.

Unlike a traditional theater production with scenery, costumes, lighting and props, the focus in these financially conservative performances will be on the telling of the story and the singing. Many familiar cast members, including Lucius Houghton as the Ghost of Christmas Present, are returning to this year’s special production, volunteering their time in support of the professional theater company’s campaign to raise funds to return to full operation beginning next year.

NCShakes is employing a “pay all you can” program for this fundraiser, with suggested minimum donations of $25. Donations over $25 per person are taxdeductible.

Friday and Saturday are your last chance to catch Paper Lantern Theatre’s The Santaland Diaries in the UpStage Cabaret. Unlike the usual quaint, tenderhearted holiday stories, this risky adultonly show features a cynical mall elf and his hilarious, sarcastic view of the commercialized holidays.

Theatre Alliance’s production of Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!), running Friday through Sunday, Dec. 22, features a fast-paced telling of such stories as “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “A Christmas Carol” and more.

Another non-cliché holiday production is Triad Stage’s Snow Queen, a Preston Lane original set in the Appalachian Mountains. As a little girl journeys through a frosty forest in pursuit of a lost boy, she meets some interesting characters along the way. The story is magical, funny and clever, but doesn’t touch on this season’s usual topics of Christmas, Santa and the nativity story.

Triad Stage is also continuing its first show in Winston-Salem — Lane’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol, which runs at Hanesbrands Theatre this week through Sunday, Dec. 22.

Winston-Salem Festival Ballet’s FairyTale Series is back for a third consecu- tive year at Hanesbrands Theatre for one day only on Jan. 4. !