Theaters across the state bring a holiday classic to life. Santa, Rudolph, and Buddy the Elf are all beloved representations of cheerful Christmas spirit, but for many Missourians, it wouldn’t be the holiday season without a visit to a cantankerous old miser.

Photo Courtesy of Kansas City Repertory Theatre

Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843, and the story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation from contemptible to compassionate was an instant hit. The book has never been out of print, and the story has been adapted countless times for television, film, and stage. In Missouri, some of the finest live theaters in the state regularly present their take on the Christmas classic.


The Kansas City Repertory Theatre, or KCRep, is preparing to stage its 43rd season of A Christmas Carol. The production is a family tradition for many who delight in introducing the show to new generations. From its glorious music and colorful costumes to the stunning sets and stagecraft, the show finds new ways to dazzle the audience every year. One fan favorite experience is the opportunity to sit in the “glitter row,” which involves the Ghost of Christmas Present and plenty of laughter.

The cast brings nuance to the well-known characters, while musicians play next to the stage and are often part of the performance.

Artistic Director Stuart Carden says, “It brings all of us at KCRep such joy to return to this joyous story and tradition for our 43rd year. Live caroling, cookies, and cocoa in the lobby at intermission, and a family selfie in front of our towering Christmas tree are all part of our one-of-a-kind holiday experience. Join us for the first time or your 40th to experience the magic of A Christmas Carol with our KCRep community.”

Performances take place November 21 through December 24, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Spencer Theatre. The December 3 performance at 5 PM includes American Sign Language interpre- tation. Check the website for specific dates and times. Tickets range from $39 to $114. The Spencer Theatre seats about 600.

4949 Cherry Street, Kansas City 816-235-2700

Photo Courtesy of Don Ipock


A Shepherd’s Christmas Carol is a unique spin on the Dickens tale. The international best-selling book, The Shepherd of the Hills, was written by Harold Bell Wright in 1907. Every summer since 1960, the story of the Matthews family and their mysterious neighbor has been produced as a live outdoor drama. A Shepherd’s Christmas Carol uses characters from Wright’s novel in place of the characters of Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, and Jacob Marley.

“Our audiences, especially those familiar with The Shepherd of the Hills, love to see their favorite characters in a different light,” says Jae McFerron, manager and show director for Shepherd of the Hills.

“The production is mainly a comedy with hilarious moments but also a moving story of the miserly Ollie Stewart’s change of heart as he embraces the love and wonder of Christmas.” According to Jae, A Shepherd’s Christmas Carol has been well received and is now a staple of Branson’s annual holiday line-up of productions.

This will be the fifth year for the dinner show at the 270-seat indoor theater. Guests enjoy free parking and a turkey dinner with pumpkin dessert while they take in the Christmas classic with a Shepherd of the Hills twist. There are also other holiday activities to enjoy at Shepherd of the Hills, including the North Pole Adventure and Trail of Lights.

The Christmas season for Shepherd of the Hills begins on Wednesday, November 1. Dinner tickets are $46.75 for adults and $34.75 for children ages 4 to 12. Performances take place in November and December at 5 PM. Check the website for specific dates.

5586 West 76 Country Boulevard, Branson 417-334-4191

Photo Courtesy of Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre


A Christmas Carol has become a Lyceum Theatre tradition in Arrow Rock. The holiday tale returns to the stage for the ninth year. 

The Dickens novella has been adapted for the stage by Lyceum Producing Artistic Director Quin Gresham. The production incorporates singing, dancing, and a violin-playing Ghost of Christmas Past.

“Our audiences tell us they love the sets and costumes as well as the faithful adaptation of this remarkable story,” says Laurie McConnell, the theater’s marketing director. 

Performance dates are December 15–23. Tickets range from $20 to $49. All children must have a ticket; no child under age 4 is permitted.

The theater, which seats 416 patrons, is one of the state’s oldest professional regional theaters. In 2019, it was designated as a “Missouri Historical Theatre.”

The Lyceum is located in Arrow Rock, and that entire village has been designated as a National Historic Landmark because of its association with the Santa Fe Trail and Westward Expansion. Many of the village’s restored buildings date back to the 1830s and ’40s.

In addition to taking in a production of A Christmas Carol, patrons can enjoy shopping, dining, and exploring in the village. The town’s boardwalk area is decorated with boughs of real greenery, fruits, dried flowers, and ribbons during the holiday season. These decorations are made by village residents, a tradition passed down for generations.

114 High Street, Arrow Rock 660-837-3311

No passport is required for this holiday trip to Europe. That’s because people can enjoy A Christmas Carol Stroll right here in Missouri. For four special evenings—November 29, and December 6, 13, and 20, from 6 to 8:30 PM—travelers will be transported to the 1800s when Dickens characters come to life on the cobblestone streets of St. Charles.

This free event is part of the 49th season of Saint Charles Christmas Traditions. The stroll first debuted in 2021. Festival Director Ryan Cooper came up with the idea of transforming St. Charles’s Main Street into the foggy streets of 1840s London, which allows guests to become immersed in Scrooge’s story firsthand as they encounter the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet-to-Come. Other characters are part of the story, like lamplighters, 19th-century toy vendors, and Queen Victoria, who returns this year in an expanded role.

Guests may collect the free baseball-card-sized keepsake cards that illustrate the Christmas tale. They may also purchase roasted chestnuts and merchandise from the many businesses in the downtown district.

Opening for the 2023 season takes place at noon on Friday, November 24, at Frontier Park. There will be photos with Victorian Santa Claus, a parade, and an “Oh, Christmas Tree” holiday display at the historic KATY Depot. There’s also a Santa send-off on December 24, as the crowd wishes Victorian Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and the elves well on their Christmas Eve return trip to the North Pole.

230 South Main, St. Charles 800-366-2427

Tinnin Fine Arts Center is an important part of Three Rivers College’s community outreach efforts. In addition to the nearly 500-seat theater, the facility has an art gallery, studio space, class-
rooms, and faculty offices.

The venue hosts many community-sponsored events and performances. A Christmas Carol is one of those events and returns for a third year. The performance is set for Monday, December 4, at 7 PM.

Tickets are $15 each and may be purchased at the door or in advance at

Robert Abney is a 24-year center employee and director of the center for the past six years. He’s integrally involved in every production and says A Christmas Carol is a very technical production. “There is a lot of lighting, and we use a lot of rear projection. I’m the one who makes sure everything gets set up correctly,” he says. “I also work with the group to ensure everything is as good as we can get it before the show or event.”

For A Christmas Carol, the cast includes about 15 performers. Although the music is recorded, the singing takes place live during the performance, which includes 26 beloved holiday carols.

2080 Three Rivers Boulevard, Poplar Bluff 573-840-9605

Photo Courtesy of The Conservatory for the Performing Arts at Stephens College


The Conservatory for the Performing Arts at Stephens College in Columbia presents A Christmas Carol: The Musical in December. The Playhouse Theatre Company is celebrating its 76th season this year.

The two-hour musical is based on the classic Dickens story, with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. Ruth Ann Burke, director of engagement for the Conservatory for the Performing Arts, says live music will be used for this performance.

“We are doing the musical version of A Christmas Carol this season,” she explains, “It is the first time we are producing this musical version of the holiday classic. This production will be directed by Courtney Crouse.” Crouse is a respected stage and screen director.

Performances take place at the 307-seat Macklanburg Playhouse at 7:30 PM on December 8, 9, 14 and 15, and at 2 PM on December 10.

Tickets may be purchased at the Stephens College box office in person or by phone, or online at

100 Willis Avenue, Columbia 573-876-7199

A Christmas Carol, adapted by Michael Wilson, will be performed for the third year by The Repertory Theatre St. Louis. The Rep was founded in 1966 and is one of the area’s most honored live professional theater companies. Dickens himself visited St. Louis in 1842, just a year before he penned his holiday novella.

The 2-hour, 15-minute show is a St. Louis tradition and is appropriate for audiences of all ages who come to see Scrooge transform his life from penny pincher to a kinder, compassionate friend.

Repertory Theatre St. Louis’s performances of A Christmas Carol are held at Webster University’s Loretto-Hilton Center. The venue, easily accessible from Highway 44, includes four lots for patron parking. The center was the first facility in the United States designed specifically to house both an undergraduate theatre arts program and a professional acting company.

The Loretto-Hilton Center houses The Rep and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, as well as the university’s theatre and dance department.

Holiday performances of A Christmas Carol run from Tuesday, November 28, through Saturday, = December 23. Check the website for specific dates and show times. Tickets range from $25 to $90.

130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves 314-968-4925

Photo Courtesy of Kansas City Symphony


The Kansas City Symphony presents Disney’s The Muppet Christmas Carol in concert. The event features a screening of the complete film with the musical score performed live. For the Muppets’ version of the story, Kermit the Frog plays Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy is Emily Cratchit, and other beloved Muppets portray characters from the Dickens tale.

Performances are December 8 and 9 at 7 PM. Tickets start at $58.

1601 Broadway Boulevard, Kansas City 816-994-7222

Read about the othe holiday favorite,The Nutcracker, and where to see this ballet in Missouri. 

Article originally published in the November/December 2023 issue of Missouri Life.