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Here's your best bets for family-friendly holiday plays and shows

The holidays are on stage from New Hope to West Chester, from the Shore to Malvern. Just about all of these many plays and stage shows are family-friendly, so why not go see some and get that holiday feeling?

Cast of “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play,” through Dec. 17 at the Independence Studio on 3 at the Walnut Street Theatre.
Cast of “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play,” through Dec. 17 at the Independence Studio on 3 at the Walnut Street Theatre.Read moreMark Garvin

Deck the stage! 

What's a "holiday favorite"? My definition is broad. It includes specifically holiday- or winter-themed shows, such as A Christmas Carol (more on this one below). It includes shows with a seasonal link, such as Annie (Walnut Street Theatre, through Jan. 7) and It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play (Walnut Street Theatre Independence Studio on 3, through Dec. 17).

My definition extends to shows that tend to pop up around now. Think Beauty and the Beast (Media Theatre, through Jan. 14), Peter Pan (at the Arden Theatre Company through Jan. 28), or My Fair Lady (in a two-piano version at Quintessence Theatre Company through Dec. 17).

Kids, get your biggers to take you to a show, whether it's Peter or Beauty or Annie. You might also like My Very Own Polar Bear (Act II Playhouse, Ambler, Dec. 16-31), about a little girl and her snowy ursine pal. And you may well laugh very hard at Aladdin: A Musical Panto at People's Light in Ambler (through Jan. 7).

Want princesses? On Dec. 17, the Philadelphia Theatre Company presents A Dream Is a Wish: Princess Holiday Concert. It features no fewer than nine princesses, including Cinderella and Moana, and lots of holiday songs.

The family musical One Unforgettable Christmas is at the Broadway Theatre of Pitman (Dec. 1-17). And we have two Home for the Holidays-es, both Downa Shore: at the Gateway Playhouse, Somers Point (Dec. 8-10 and 15-17), and at the Surflight in Beach Haven (Dec. 8-10 and 12-17.

Just wanna sing? There's Plaid Tidings, a quartet in plaid ties doing all the faves (Montgomery Theatre, Souderton, through Dec. 10), and An American Christmas Songbook at Bristol Riverside Theatre (Dec. 7-17).

And, finally (adults), something different: Tongue & Groove's Secrets for the Holidays (Dec. 8), in which the improv zanies riff on secrets provided (anonymously) by you, the audience. Ho, ho, ho.

Here a ‘Carol,’ there a ‘Carol’

Speaking of A Christmas Carol  …  McCarter Theatre in Princeton does a big, happy family-themed production (Dec. 5-31). the Hedgerow Theatre Company always gives a fine account (through Dec. 24). For fun variations, try the hour-long version at Walnut Street Theatre (through Dec. 23), the Resident Theatre Company's A Christmas Carol: A Live Radio Play (Knauer Performing Arts Center, West Chester, Dec. 15-31), or Ebenezer Scrooge's Big Playhouse Christmas at the Bucks County Playhouse (Dec. 8-31).