A pantomime Christmas at the Firehouse Center for the Arts in Newburyport

Among works on display and for sale at Kidcasso Studio in Wakefield on Thursday are these, by Constance Festo Lafond (above) and Talula Christian (below).
Among works on display and for sale at Kidcasso Studio in Wakefield on Thursday are these, by Constance Festo Lafond (above) and Talula Christian (below).

A MIME FOR HOLIDAYS: The Firehouse Center for the Arts teams with Theater in the Open to present “A Christmas Carol Panto: Little Red and Robin Green” at the Firehouse in Newburyport through next Sunday.

Popular throughout the United Kingdom and associated with the Christmas season, pantomime is a comical musical play that features lots of cross-dressing, animals, coarse humor, and audience participation.

Hence the “He’s right behind you!” phrase that has become the tag line for panto as the audience tries to warn players of the dangers that lurk just out of sight.

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Today, it is customary to find a principal boy (often played by a woman), animals, and a smattering of double entendres.

Now Theater in the Open creates its own take on panto.

Written by Edward Speck  and Beth Randall, and directed by Speck, the production has a cast of 45 ranging in age from 8 to 38. 

Speck stars as Robin Hood; Randall plays sheriff/Scrooge; Aisha Chodat is Little Red; Justin Turner is Big Bad Wolf; Lily MacLeod is Will Scarlet; Tristan Horan is Little John; Spencer Redgate is Will Stutely; Kelley Knight is Deputy Bumps; Rachel Ameen is Officer Slap; and Abigail Langsneras is Titania, all from Newburyport. 

Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays; 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; and 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $15;  $13 for senior citizens, students, and Firehouse members. Call 978-462-7336 or visit firehouse.org  

LIFE ON STAGE: It’s a holiday classic, and we have all seen it many times: Frank Capra’s movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring James Stewart and Donna Reed.

Now, Weylin Symes, artistic director of the Stoneham Theatre, brings his adaptation of the timeless story to the stage through next Sunday.

“I wanted to do ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ again, not only because it is such a beautiful story but because it’s timeless,” said Symes. “In these tough economic times, I think many people can relate to this story. Sometimes it’s easy to focus on the negative. I want people to sit back and think about everything in life that truly is wonderful. The holidays are a great time to reflect on that.”

The show is directed by Caitlin Lowans  and stars Mark Linehan  as George, Erin Brehm  as Mary, Bobbie Steinbach  as Potter, Gerard Slattery  as Uncle Billy, and William Gardiner  as Clarence.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; and 2 p.m. Sundays.

Tickets range from $42-$48. Call 781-279-2200 or visit stonehamtheatre.org

AUTHORS’ CORNER: Denise DeSimone, who splits her time between Greensboro, N.C., and Newburyport, has written a memoir, “From Stage IV to Center Stage,” about her journey fighting throat and neck cancer. DeSimone, who says she was told she had three months to live, underwent rigorous treatments of traditional and alternative medicine. A semi-professional singer, DeSimone thought she might never sing again, but 22 months after diagnosis she sang the national anthem before a sellout crowd of Red Sox fans at Fenway Park. One month later, she pedaled 87 miles in one day to raise money for children’s cancer research. DeSimone is an ordained interfaith minister, an inspirational and motivational speaker, and a singer/songwriter. She is certified in multiple alternative modalities and is a wellness coach to cancer patients.

IN LOCAL GALLERIES: A photo of a crane at Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary in Rowley, by Ken Lee  of Watertown won grand prize in the Mass Audubon 2012 Photo Contest. . . . The galleries at the Newburyport Art Association offer handcrafted artwork with a special Men’s Shopping Night 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. . . . An exhibit and sale by artists Constance Festo LafondLaura Marie SmallAmy Drago, and Talula Christian  is at Kidcasso Art Studio in Wakefield 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday.