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ARLINGTON DRAFTHOUSE CHRISTMAS MOVIE FESTIVAL
Though it's become a lot less focused on cinema recently, this Arlington venue is still one of the best places to see movies, since they screen while servers offer food and alcohol tableside. Next up is the Drafthouse's annual Christmas movie marathon, where you can come and go throughout the day and see up to six classic movies. How The Grinch Stole Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas screen a couple of times during the day, along with Elf at 1 p.m., A Christmas Story at 3 p.m., Scrooged at 5:15 p.m., and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation at 7:20 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11, starting at noon. Arlington Cinema N' Drafthouse, 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington. Tickets are $8. Call 703-486-2345 or visit arlingtondrafthouse.com.
CHAPLIN'S THE KID
Composer/performer Andrew Earle Simpson performs his new piano score to Charlie Chaplin's first feature-length film as a director, the second offering in the Atlas's new Silent Film Series. Dating to 1921, The Kid is an imaginative and affecting Chaplin comedy, widely considered one of the greatest films of the silent era, and featured as Chaplin's co-star then-child actor Jackie Coogan, best known as Uncle Fester from The Addams Family. Sunday, Dec. 11, at 4 p.m. Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $20. Call 202-399-7993 or visit atlasarts.org.
Over the next several weeks, the American Film Institute offers 11 Christmas films, from the classics like The Muppet Christmas Carol and White Christmas, to curiosities like Die Hard and Gremlins. This weekend brings Elf, the 2003 comedy in which Will Ferrell is a pure-hearted and eager-to-please giant elf who doesn't fit in at the North Pole. Bob Newhart, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Peter Dinklage, Mary Steenburgen, Amy Sedaris, and Andy Richter add to the appeal of Jon Favreau's film, which features Ed Asner as Santa. Saturday, Dec. 10, at 11 a.m. AFI Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. Free. Call 301-495-6720 or visit afi.com/Silver.
Natalie Portman puts herself in Oscar contention by portraying Jacqueline Kennedy in the wake of President Kennedy's assassination. Peter Sarsgaard plays Robert Kennedy, Greta Gerwig is Jackie's Social Secretary Nancy Tuckerman, and Billy Crudup is Theodore H. White, whose work interviewing and reporting on Kennedy family in Life magazine is the focus of Pablo Larrain's biopic. Opens Friday, Dec. 9. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com.
Jessica Chastain puts her reputation on the line as one of the most sought-after lobbyists in Washington, after she decides to throw her weight behind a bill imposing regulations on firearms, taking on the omnipotent gun lobby. John Madden directs what Variety called "a talky, tense political thriller, full of verbal sparring and fiery monologues." Opens Friday, Dec. 9. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com.
One of those rare and extraordinary cinematic experiences that pulls you deeply into its narrative, Moonlight artfully guides viewers towards an emotional payoff without once feeling manipulative or artificial. It is an extraordinary achievement in this cut-and-paste era of cinema, a time when movies fail to ignite so much as a spark of genuine, earned emotion. The '80s-set story of a young boy who comes to terms with his identity and sexuality in a harsh South Florida neighborhood refuses to lazily cleave to its genre. There isn't an off performance in the film, which employs a solely African-American cast -- come Oscar time, Moonlight could be the one film to give Hollywood a credible reason to break its too-white image without resorting to tokenism. Now playing. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com. (Randy Shulman)
OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY
Hangover meets the holidays, as a host of great comedic actors (Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon, T.J. Miller, Olivia Munn, Rob Corddry, Vanessa Bayer and more) throw a final office Christmas party for reasons we couldn't care less about. It looks dumb and fun and we're totally onboard. Opens Friday, Dec. 9. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com. (RM)
PANDAS: THE JOURNEY HOME
National Geographic captures on film the giant pandas living in Wolong National Nature Reserve in China. One of the rarest species on the planet, the ever-elusive, gentle creature is also on the brink of extinction due to centuries of human expansion and destruction of their habitat. Nicholas Brown's 40-minute natural history film educates viewers on the life and habits of pandas as well as scientific efforts to increase breeding. In 3D. To Dec. 31. National Geographic Museum, 1145 17th St. NW. Tickets are $7. Call 202-857-7588 or visit ngmuseum.org.
THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS: HOLIDAY CLASSICS
As far as we can tell, the Library of Congress is the only place this holiday season you can expect to see Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, the 1962 animated, musical version of the Dickens classic, featuring music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Bob Merrill, whose work on the film inspired them to collaborate on Funny Girl. Jim Backus stars as Mr. Magoo/Ebenezer Scrooge the film, which screens Saturday, Dec. 10, at 2 p.m. A few days later, Thursday, Dec. 15, at 7:30 p.m., the Library of Congress screens another forgotten tale -- The Homecoming: A Christmas Story from 1971. A made-for-TV movie about a family in Depression-era rural Virginia, this drama by Earl Hamner, Jr. launched the popular CBS series The Waltons -- although only the actors portraying the children and Ellen Corby as Grandma Walton carried over from the movie to the series. Packard Campus Theater, 19053 Mount Pony Rd. Culpeper, Va. Free, first come, first served. Call 202-707-9994 or visit loc.gov/avconservation.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Craig Wallace takes over from Edward Gero as the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge in Ford's Theatre's 35th anniversary production of Dickens' Yuletide classic. The music-infused adaptation was originally conceived by Michael Baron. To Dec. 31. Ford's Theatre, 511 10th St. NW. Call 800-982-2787 or visit fordstheatre.org.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL: A GHOST STORY OF CHRISTMAS
Olney Theatre Center presents another seasonal run of the one-man portrayal of the Dickens classic by Paul Morella, who bases his adaptation on Dickens' original novella and reading tour. To Dec. 31. The Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, Md. Call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL MEMORY
Creative Cauldron's Laura Connors Hull conceived of and directs a world premiere of yet another twist on Charles Dickens. A young girl reawakens memories and spurs on renewal of a long-lost tradition in her bah-humbug family -- a tradition of reenacting A Christmas Carol with puppets. Jennifer Clements wrote the book and Margie Jervis designed the sets, costumes and puppets for this show featuring a 12-member cast led by David Schmidt, Kathy Halenda and 5th grader Madeline Aldana portraying little girl Charlotte. To Dec. 20. ArtSpace Falls Church, 410 South Maple Ave. Falls Church. Tickets are $30. Call 703-436-9948 or visit creativecauldron.org.
Theater Alliance offers a production of Langston Hughes's retelling of the Biblical Christmas story from an Afrocentric perspective, incorporating gospel, blues, funk, jazz and dance, with griot-style storytelling from an ensemble cast. Black Nativity was one of the first plays written by an African American to appear on Broadway over 50 years ago. The winner of three Helen Hayes Awards last year, the Theater Alliance production is directed and choreographed by Princess Mhoon with music director e'Marcus Harper-Short. Tony Thomas as Joseph and Danielle Glover as Mary lead a 12-member cast. To Dec. 31. Anacostia Playhouse, 2020 Shannon Place SE. Tickets are $40 to $50. Call 202-241-2539 or visit theateralliance.com.
AND ONE HALF In many respects, Molly Smith modeled Carousel after her successful revival of Oklahoma almost a decade ago. In addition to Nicholas Rodriguez as Billy Bigelow, Smith brings back that show's E. Faye Butler, who is as welcome and scene-stealing a presence as ever as Mrs. Mullin, owner of the amusement park in the small coastal Maine town where Billy works as a barker. Though we never actually see the show's namesake ride, it is evoked in Todd Rosenthal's imaginative set, centered in the in-the-round Fichandler Stage, complete with a rotating platform installed as part of a whitewashed wood floor. There are modern-day complications with Carousel, dating to 1945, a time when gender equality was far from the norm. Yet it features two of the greatest songs in the musical theater canon: the cleverly seductive "If I Loved You" and the heart-swelling "You'll Never Walk Alone." If you give in to its power, the latter's uplifting sentiment -- to keep pushing ahead even when life deals you a setback -- just might help you persevere through the problems in our present-day political reality. To Dec. 24. Arena Stage, 1101 6th St. SW. Tickets are $84 to $99. Call 202-488-3300 or visit arenastage.org. (Doug Rule)
Last summer on Broadway, Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family) took on multiple characters in Becky Mode's one-man tour-de-force, fictitiously set in one of Manhattan's most in-demand restaurants. Virginia's MetroStage now presents a slightly revised version of the comedy starring indomitable local actor Tom Story, fresh from playing Prior Walter in Angels in America. Alan Paul directs. Opens in previews Thursday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m. Opening night Sunday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m. Runs to Jan. 8. MetroStage, 1201 North Royal St., Alexandria. Tickets are $55 to $60. Call 800-494-8497 or visit metrostage.org.
INTO THE WOODS
Fiasco Theater's streamlined reinvention of one of Stephen Sondheim's most popular musicals, with a cast playing instruments on stage, was a surprise hit last year in New York. Now the fairy tale borne out of five classic Grimms' fairy tales ventures down to our neck of the woods for a month-long run over the holidays. To Jan. 8. Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. Tickets are $45 to $175. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY
The Washington Stage Guild revives Joe Landry's adaptation of the classic film tale as a radio play after a successful run last year. Joe Brack portrays the lead character, here named Jake Laurents, in this production directed by Laura Giannarelli also featuring Vincent Clark, Jennifer Donovan, Julie-Ann Elliott and Nick Depinto. Steven Carpenter returns as the show's Helen Hayes-nominated sound engineer, operating in full view of the audience. To Dec. 18. Undercroft Theatre of Mount Vernon United Methodist Church, 900 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Tickets are $40 to $50. Call 240-582-0050 or visit stageguild.org.
Helen Hayes Award-winning costume designer Frank Labovitz makes his D.C. directorial debut with a Pointless Theatre Company adaptation of French pioneer Alfred Jarry's early avant-garde 1896 work Ubu Roi. According to Pointless, King Ubu offers "lowbrow humor, ludicrous language and full-bore puppet carnage all wrapped up into a funhouse take on Macbeth and classical tragedy." Haely Jardas is Ma Ubu and Colin Connor is Pa Ubu in an ensemble production featuring music by Mike Winch. Costume-making duty falls to another local veteran, Ivania Stack. In previews starting Thursday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m. Runs to Jan. 7. Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint, 916 G St. NW. Tickets are $15 to $30. Call 202-733-6321 or visit pointlesstheatre.com.
LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES
Two French aristocrats challenge each other to seduce unsuspecting innocents in Christopher Hampton's bracing drama of control and betrayal drawn from the novel by Choderlos de Laclos. Hana S. Sharif directs a production starring Suzzanne Douglas and Brent Harris that offers a sneak peek into Center Stage's Pearlstone Theatre, in the final stages of a year-long renovation. To Dec. 23. 700 North Calvert St., Baltimore. Tickets are $20 to $64. Call 410-332-0033 or visit centerstage.org.
The holidays at Olney Theatre this year are brought to you by the musical version of the Disney favorite. Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey) wrote the book to the adaptation featuring many of the standards from the movie by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman and incorporating new songs by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. Jason King Jones directs, with choreography by Tara Jeanne Vallee. Patricia Hurley stars. To Jan. 1. Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, Md. Call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org.
MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY
Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon's holiday play is set two years after Pride and Prejudice, with the focus (unsurprisingly) on Mary Bennet. Eleanor Holdridge directs favorite characters as they gather at Pemberley, the home of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, played by Danny Gavigan and Erin Weaver. Katie Kleiger is Miss Bennet. Now in previews. To Dec. 18. Round House Theatre, 4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda. Tickets are $55 to $70. Call 240-644-1100 or visit roundhousetheatre.org.
Featuring innovative staging fused with bold trapeze and acrobatic work, the Melville classic is revamped in the famed Lookingglass Theatre Company's adaptation by David Catlin. Christopher Donahue is Captain Ahab leading the search for the great white whale at Arena Stage, in a co-production with Alliance Theatre and South Coast Repertory. To Dec. 24. Kreeger Theater in the Mead Center for American Theater, 1101 6th St. SW. Call 202-488-3300 or visit arenastage.org.
SCROOGE IN ROUGE
Touted as a merry, madcap mixture of Greater Tuna and Noises Off, Ricky Graham's Victorian-era rendition of the Dickens classic features original music composed by Jefferson Turner. Shon M. Stacy directs a production featuring all of the original cast from when the Triangle Players staged the show in 2009. That includes Kirk Morton as the Scrooge-like Charlie Schmaltz, Steven Boschen as bubbly, over-the-hill ingenue Lottie Obligato and Lauren Leinhaas-Cook as male-impersonating diva Vesta Virile -- as this adaptation has it, the only three members of the 20-member Royal Music Hall ensemble who didn't fall ill from a cast party the night before. Through Dec. 17. Richmond Triangle Players, 1300 Altamont Ave. Richmond. Tickets are $15 to $30. Call 804-346-8113 or visit rtriangle.org.
Talk about a starry cast: D.C. leading ladies Donna Migliaccio, Nova Y. Payton, Ilona Dulaski, Naomi Jacobson and Sandy Bainum help ensure this new holiday musical becomes a must-see affair, particularly for a certain segment of the theatergoing community. Married musical writing duo and local stage actors Matt Conner and Stephen Gregory Smith developed lyrics set to Conner's score, with a book by fellow D.C. playwright Allyson Currin. Billed as Golden Girls meets Designing Women, Silver Belles, directed by Signature's Eric Schaeffer, focuses on a small town in Tennessee struggling to keep a beloved holiday pageant alive after the sudden death of its longtime director. To Dec. 31. Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. Call 703-820-9771 or visit signature-theatre.org.
Closer to Brothers Grimm than Disney, it's a darkly elegant adaptation of the classic tale. Now in previews. Runs to Jan. 8. (Synetic Theater) Theater at Crystal City, 1800 South Bell St., Arlington. Tickets are $45 to $55. Call 800-494-8497 or visit synetictheater.org.
STRAIGHT WHITE MEN
AND ONE HALF Given the current nationwide white-geist, Studio Theatre should be applauded for their prescience in bringing Young Jean Lee's ballsy comedy Straight White Men to the capital. An artist who's fearless in tackling touchy subjects, Lee delivers in one tight 85-minute play a surgical dissection of the rites and rights of the straight white male. Helmed by director Shana Cooper, this warmly accessible production doesn't disappoint in eliciting laughs and sparking insight, with its story of three adult sons at home for what could be a testy Christmas with their widower father. To Dec. 18. Studio Theatre, 14th & P Streets NW. Tickets are $20 to $97. Call 202-332-3300 or visit studiotheatre.org. (Andre Hereford)
WSC Avant Bard presents Jonelle Walker's LGBT spin on The Taming of the Shrew, told from the point of view of the woman being tamed -- or more specifically, rid of her homosexuality. In the heart of Eisenhower America, a free-spirited young poet leaves Smith College heartbroken over her lover's suicide, returning to her homophobic conservative family and hyper-heteronormative Texas hometown. Angela Kay Pirko directs this tale starring Jill Tighe as Cat, "a rebel with claws." Closes Sunday, Dec. 11. Gunston Arts Center, Theater Two, 2700 South Lang St. Arlington. Tickets are $30 to $35. Call 703-418-4808 or visit avantbard.org.
Set in a large, contemporary Christian church, Lucas Hnath's The Christians offers an unflinching look at faith and its power to unite or divide. Gregg Henry directs a production featuring Caroline Clay, Annie Grier, Michael Russotto, Justin Weaks and Michael Willis. A different local choir from area churches performs each night of the show's run. Closes Sunday, Dec. 11. The Aaron and Cecile Goldman Theater, Edlavitch DCJCC, 1529 16th St. NW. Tickets are $37 to $57. Call 202-777-3210 or visit theaterj.org.
THE DOMA DIARIES
The Rainbow Theatre Project offers a staged reading of Kevin Michael West's Capital Fringe hit examining the Defense of Marriage Act and the effects it has had on the lives of three LGBT couples. West helms the reading with a cast including Renae Erichsen-Teal, Joy Gerst, Nell Quinn-Gibney, Garrett Matthews, Christian Rohde and Steven Wolf. Sunday, Dec. 11, and Monday, Dec. 12, at 7:30 p.m. Source, 1835 14th St. NW. Tickets are $20. Call 202-204-7760 or visit rainbowtheatreproject.org.
THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
Tom Story directs a two-person cast in the classic tale of three children who venture into the magical realm of Narnia. Now to Dec. 31. Adventure Theatre MTC, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo. Tickets are $19.50. Call 301-634-2270 or visit adventuretheatre-mtc.org.
THE SECOND CITY'S BLACK SIDE OF THE MOON
An all-African American troupe of sketch and stand-up artists satirize what it means to be black in our soon-to-be post-Obama era. The show's Second City ensemble consists of Angela Alise, Sonia Denis, Dave Helem, Torian Miller, Felonious Munk and Dewayne Perkins. To Jan. 1. At Woolly Mammoth, 641 D St. NW. Tickets range from $20 to $59. Call 202-393-3939 or visit woollymammoth.net.
THE SECOND SHEPHERDS' PLAY
Mary Hall Surface directs a magical retelling of the Nativity story combining the moving tale with beautiful music -- festive medieval English tunes performed by early music ensemble the Folger Consort. The cast features Tonya Beckman, Louis E. Davis, Megan Graves, Emily Noel, Lilian Oben, Malinda Kathleen Reese, Ryan Sellers and Matthew R. Wilson. To Dec. 21. Folger Theatre, 201 East Capitol St. SE. Tickets are $25 to $60. Call 202-544-7077 or visit folger.edu.
THE SECRET GARDEN
AND ONE HALF Twenty-five years after its debut on Broadway, The Secret Garden remains Daisy Eagan's show. The youngest-ever female Tony Award-winner for her work as Mary, Eagan now assumes the role of chambermaid Martha, a motherly supporting character and the first to show any kindness to the quite-contrary Mary (Anya Rothman), described early on as "the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen." Marsha Norman won a Tony Award for a book about a precocious girl that remarkably doesn't pander to either children or adults. And yet, it also doesn't provoke or veer from predictability enough to register more than passing interest. Lucy Simon's rather plain, tender, tempered score is also not particularly noteworthy, save for some subtle Indian flourishes to give it a bit of exotic oomph. To Dec. 31. Sidney Harman Hall, Harman Center for the Arts, 610 F St. NW. Tickets are $44 to $123. Call 202-547-1122 or visit shakespearetheatre.org. (DR)
Stephen Schwartz's hit musical about the witches of Oz, with book by Winnie Holzman, returns once again to the Kennedy Center for another month-long run. Opens Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 7:30 p.m. Runs to Jan. 8. Kennedy Center Opera House. Tickets are $99 to $359. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
BALTIMORE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, STEP AFRIKA!
Jazz composer Paul Murtha has created an entire, two-act Swingin Nutcracker riffing off of Duke Ellington's reimagining of the classic story. Nicholas Hersh conducts a semi-staged production of a world premiere featuring vibrant and percussive choreography by dancers with Washington's Step Afrika! Thursday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m. Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Also Friday, Dec. 9, at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, at 2 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 11, at 2 p.m. Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., Baltimore. Tickets are $12.50 to $60. Call 410-783-8000 or visit bsomusic.org.
A Maryland native, Wheeler got her start performing at clubs in D.C. and Baltimore, though she has long made her home in Massachusetts with her wife of 15 years, Cathleen. She shares the stage with John Gorka. Saturday, Dec. 10, at 7:30 p.m. The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Tickets are $39.50. Call 703-549-7500 or visit birchmere.com.
DC DIFFERENT DRUMMERS
The Capitol Pride Symphonic Band and other small ensembles from this LGBT music organization will perform concert versions of holiday tunes, from "Sleigh Bells" to "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" by John Lennon, at the free annual holiday concert that also doubles as a food drive for Food and Friends. Sunday, Dec. 11, at 3 p.m. The Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 212 East Capitol St. NE. Free, with request for food drive donations. Call 202-269-4868 or visit dcdd.org.
The hip Canadian indie-dance band takes a spin through its repertoire, focusing on its just-released album, Royal Blues, packed with dance-pop tunes in the giddy and spirited style that has become the band's signature sound -- an almost childlike sense of wonder contrasted with more adult-oriented lyrics generally about the need for relief and release best found on the dance floor. Friday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. U Street Music Hall, 1115A U St. NW. Tickets are $20. Call 202-588-1880 or visit ustreetmusichall.com.
ERIC FELTEN JAZZ ORCHESTRA
Duke Ellington's festive reinterpretation of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite is a featured selection of swinging holiday jazz standards performed annually at Blues Alley by the band led by this trombonist and singer, whose voice has been compared to Michael Buble or Harry Connick. Tickets remain for the shows Tuesday, Dec. 13, and Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 10 p.m. Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Tickets are $35, plus $12 minimum purchase. Call 202-337-4141 or visit bluesalley.com.
Freddy Cole plays his own instruments, just like his late brother Nat King Cole, but his voice is raspier, smokier, even jazzier. The New York Times has hailed him as "the most maturely expressive male jazz singer of his generation, if not the best alive." He drops by Blues Alley for another weekend run of his seasonal show, "Here for the Holidays." Thursday, Dec. 15, through Sunday, Dec. 18, at 8 and 10 p.m. Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Tickets are $35, plus $12 minimum purchase. Call 202-337-4141 or visit bluesalley.com.
FREDERIC YONNET & FRIENDS
Dumbarton Church in Georgetown presents a holiday celebration featuring some of Washington's finest singers and musicians, led by harmonica virtuoso Frederic Yonnet, who has toured with Stevie Wonder and Prince. Friday, Dec. 9, and Saturday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m. Dumbarton United Methodist Church, 31311 Dumbarton St. NW. Tickets are $35. Call 202-333-7212 or visit dumbartonconcerts.org.
GAY MEN'S CHORUS OF WASHINGTON
Naughty and Nice is the Gay Men's Chorus' popular annual holiday show, featuring bawdy and moving takes on gay and holiday favorite tunes. John Moran returns to direct a production that this year includes performances by the organization's GenOUT LGBTQ youth chorus and GMCW's new dance ensemble 17th Street Dance, led by Craig Cipollini, who also co-choreographed the whole program with James Ellzy. Saturday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 17, at 3 and 8 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 18, at 3 p.m. Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. Tickets are $25 to $65. Call 202-328-6000 or visit gmcw.org.
GERALD CLAYTON & THE ASSEMBLY
Commissioned by Duke University, Piedmont Blues is a multimedia concert paying homage to the African-American music and culture of the tobacco-producing states of the Southeast -- Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia. Jazz pianist Gerald Clayton composed the music for the concert, directed by Christopher McElroen, that will incorporate dancing, spoken word, film footage and archival photography. But the common thread running through all of it is music -- chiefly jazz and blues, as performed by Clayton's nine-piece band the Assembly, including vocalist Rene Marie and tap dancer Maurice Chestnut, plus a bit of gospel music, via Patrick Lundy & the Ministers of Music choir. Saturday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m. Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Tickets are $30 to $60. Call 202-342-6221 or visit thewashingtonchorus.org.
HOT 99.5 JINGLE BALL
Meghan Trainor, the Chainsmokers, G-Eazy, Fifth Harmony, Diplo, Ellie Goulding, DNCE, Alessia Cara, Tove Lo, Daya and Niall Horan from One Direction are the performers at this year's local pop festival presented by "D.C.'s #1 Hit Music Station," part of the national iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour. Monday, Dec. 12, at 7:30 p.m. Verizon Center, 601 F St. NW. Tickets are $20 to $200. Call 202-628-3200 or visit verizoncenter.com.
The pro-LGBT "Follow Your Arrow" young country hitmaker drops by for a holiday concert to promote her new seasonal album, A Very Kacey Christmas. Saturday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m. National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Tickets are $53 to $68. Call 202-628-6161 or visit thenationaldc.org.
Over the past decade, actress Megan Hilty has played Glinda in Wicked, Doralee Rhodes in 9 to 5: The Musical and Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, but she's most widely known as the ambitious Ivy Lynn on Smash, the NBC television series about the making of a new musical. In recent years Hilty has turned to a recording career, including her debut pop set It Happens All The Time, and especially to performing cabarets. She returns to the Kennedy Center for an intimate Christmas concert, part of Renee Fleming's Voices series. Thursday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m., and Friday, Dec. 9, at 7 and 9 p.m. Kennedy Center Family Theater. Tickets are $85 to $99. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
NATIONAL CHAMBER ENSEMBLE
"Happy Holidays" features classical masterpieces along with holiday classics in one program, capped off by a carols sing-along. Also appearing this year are guest soprano Rebecca Littig and 12-year-old Brandon Du, the 2016 National Chamber Ensemble Outstanding Young Artist Achievement Award. Saturday, Dec. 10, at 7:30 p.m. Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre, 1611 N. Kent St. Arlington. Tickets are $33. Call 703-573-SEAT or visit artisphere.com.
NSO POPS WITH LAURA OSNES, SANTINO FONTANA
Two of today's hottest young musical theater stars are the featured soloists at this year's NSO Pops holiday concert led by Steven Reineke featuring classics and sing-along carols accompanied by the Washington Chorus. Laura Osnes (Grease: You're The One That I Want, Anything Goes) and Santino Fontana (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Disney's Frozen) are the two soloists, reunited after playing the leads on Broadway in Cinderella. (Osnes appears here in place of the originally scheduled Laura Benanti, who had to bow out on account of being in the throes of pregnancy.) Thursday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 10, at 2 and 8 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 3, at 8 p.m. Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Tickets are $24 to $99. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
RAMSEY LEWIS & JOHN PIZZARELLI
On the eve of a weekend run of a holiday show featuring the jazz legend's brother Freddy and his band, Blues Alley co-presents a concert at Strathmore called "A Nat King Cole Holiday." Three-time Grammy-winning jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis performs this tribute with jazz singer/guitarist John Pizzarelli -- whose father Bucky Pizzarelli recorded with Cole -- featuring standards including "Route 66," "Mona Lisa" and "Unforgettable," among many others. Thursday, Dec. 15, at 8 p.m. Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Tickets are $40 to $95. Call 202-342-6221 or visit strathmore.org.
THE INSERIES: GOYESCA
Inspired by Francisco de Goya's paintings, composer Enrique Granados's opera/ballet, rarely seen in the U.S., is a cloak-and-dagger story of mistaken betrayals spun with the passion of Spanish dance. Jaime Coronado directs and choreographs an InSeries production honoring the centennial of the premiere of Goyesca, adapted by Elizabeth Pringle, coupled with Manuel de Falla's Seven Spanish Popular Songs. To Dec. 18. GALA Theatre at Tivoli Square, 3333 14th St. NW. Tickets are $23 to $46. Call 202-234-7174 or visit inseries.org.
THE WASHINGTON CHORUS
Julian Wachner directs the annual "A Candlelight Christmas," featuring the 200-voice chorus singing familiar carols and holiday songs, plus audience sing-alongs and a candlelight processional. The Northwest High School Chamber Singers of Germantown and the H-B Woodlawn Chamber Singers of Arlington will join the chorus. Sunday, Dec. 11, at 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 17, at 4 p.m., Monday, Dec. 21, at 7 p.m., and Tuesday, Dec. 20, through Thursday, Dec. 22, at 7 p.m. Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Also Monday, Dec. 19, at 7:30 p.m. Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Tickets are $18 to $72. Call 202-342-6221 or visit thewashingtonchorus.org.
THE WASHINGTON REVELS
Featuring a cast of over 100, this group performs the annual Christmas Revels, this year "A Nordic Celebration of the Winter Solstice in Music, Dance & Drama," everything from Finland's epic drama Kalevala to Iceland's Vivivaki to Sweden's Sankta Lucia to Norway's Halling dance. Opens Saturday, Dec. 10, at 2 p.m. Runs To Dec. 18. GW Lisner, The George Washington University, 730 21st St. NW. Tickets are $12 to $60. Call 202-994-6851 or visit lisner.org.
"The Ghosts of Christmas Eve" is the conceptual Yuletide "rock opera" from the progressive-rock juggernaut, touring this show to over 60 cities throughout North America. The show follows the story of a young runaway who has visions from the past after sneaking into an abandoned vaudeville theater. This year's tour includes an all-new second set containing some of Trans-Siberian Orchestra's greatest hits. Thursday, Dec. 15, at 7:30 p.m. Verizon Center, 601 F St. NW. Remaining tickets, all fourth floor nosebleed seats, are $46.50 to $55.50. Call 202-628-3200 or visit verizoncenter.com.
TURKUAS & THE NEW MASTERSOUNDS
Referred to as "the musical love child of Sly & the Family Stone and Talking Heads, Turkuas is a nine-piece "funk army" from Brooklyn. Digitonium, the band's latest longplayer -- emphasis on long -- evokes '80s dance music, and will be brought to life on stage through signature colorful costumes and choreographed dance moves. Turkuas will share the stage at a double-bill concert with British four-piece jazz fusion/funk band the New Mastersounds, touring in support of its 10th studio set Made for Pleasure, inspired by and recorded in New Orleans. Friday, Dec. 9. Doors at 8 p.m. 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. Tickets are $22. Call 202-265-0930 or visit 930.com.
JANE FRANKLIN DANCE
The Migration Project is multimedia series set within a temporary art installation and featuring dancers and performers exploring human flight through stories of relocation. Torpedo Factory Art Center member Rosemary Feit Covey's large-scale sculptural art, printed on Dupont Tyvek banner media, lines the interior walls for the project, which also includes brief videos combining drawings and documents reflecting aspects of relocation by Dawn Whitmore, resident artist of Arlington Arts Center. Jane Franklin Dance members Emily Crews, Carrie Monger, Matthew Rock, Amy Scaringe, Brynna Shank, and Rebecca Weiss perform. Friday, Dec. 9, at 7:30 p.m. Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 North Union St. Alexandria. Tickets are $25. Call 703-933-1111 or visit janefranklin.com.
THE HIP HOP NUTCRACKER
A dozen all-star dancers, an on-stage DJ and an electric violinist reimagine Tchaikovsky's classic score for a contemporary, all-ages audience with hip-hop choreography and digital scenery, all set in contemporary New York City. Friday, Dec. 16, at 8 p.m. Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Tickets are $32 to $58. Call 301-581-5100 or visit strathmore.org.
THE WASHINGTON BALLET: THE NUTCRACKER
Every year for the past 12 years, Washington Ballet's artistic director Septime Webre has offered his own twist on the family favorite, setting it in D.C.'s historic Georgetown neighborhood with George Washington as the titular figure and King George III as the Rat King. After two weekends in the intimate THEARC space in Southeast D.C. as part of the company's efforts to spread and diversify its audience, the production sets up shop for nearly all of December at downtown's Warner Theatre. Opens in a preview Thursday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m. Runs to Dec. 27. Warner Theatre, 513 13th St. NW. Tickets are $35 to $126. Call 202-889-5901 or visit washingtonballet.org.
THE BALTIMORE IMPROV GROUP: BAH, HUMBUG!
Tiny Tim is sickly, Marley is dead, and other plot points remain the same, but the Baltimore Improv Group offers An Improvised Christmas Carol, with performers using audience suggestions and interaction to inspire wild deviations from the standard script. Opens Thursday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m. Runs to Dec. 17. Drafthouse Comedy, 1100 13th St. NW. Tickets are $20. Call 202-750-6411 or visit drafthousecomedy.com.
THE SECOND CITY'S NUT-CRACKING HOLIDAY REVUE
Chicago's legendary sketch comedy troupe offers one of a few seasonal blends of hilarious, original improvised scenes and songs. Intended as an alternative to the usual holiday traditions, expect riffs on uneven gift exchanges with your clueless partner and couples therapy with Joseph and Mary. Opens Friday, Dec. 9, at 7:15 p.m. Runs to Dec. 18. Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse, 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington. Tickets are $30 to $35. Call 703-486-2345 or visit arlingtondrafthouse.com.
THE SECOND CITY'S TWIST YOUR DICKENS
The Kennedy Center offers the D.C. premiere of the comedy troupe's twist on A Christmas Carol, an irreverent and interactive parody featuring a Second City cast including Frank Caeti, Jamie Moyer, Aaron Bliden, Anne Bowles, John Lescault, Tia Shearer and Jamie Smithson. Marc Warzecha directs a largely improvised tale with a script based on Dickens but adapted by former The Colbert Report writers Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort. Opens Friday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m. To Dec. 31. Kennedy Center Theater Lab. Tickets are $49 to $79. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
4615 THEATRE COMPANY: A CHRISTMAS CAROL
As part of its Holiday Party, the new East City Bookshop presents another adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, this time adapted by Jordan Friend in his company 4615 Theatre Company's signature "living novel" style. Thursday, Dec. 15, from 6 to 8 p.m. East City Bookshop, 645 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Free, including free cocktails from neighbor Beuchert's Saloon, but RSVP required due to space constraints. Call 202-290-1636 or visit eastcitybookshop.com.
"Divine Intervention: Stories about when something saves the day or turns the tide" is the seasonal show from this storytelling organization, featuring a mix of first-timers and regulars putting their personal twists on the theme with 7-minute stories each. Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 8 p.m. Town Danceboutique, 2009 8th St. NW. Tickets are $15. Call 202-630-9828 or visit storydistrict.org.
@NATGEO THE MOST POPULAR INSTAGRAM PHOTOS
The most liked and commented on photos from National Geographic's Instagram account are on display. Now to April 30. National Geographic Museum, 1145 17th St. NW. General admission $15. Call 202-857-7588 or visit ngmuseum.org.
CERAMIC GUILD'S LET THERE BE LIGHT
Alexandria's Torpedo Factory Art Center presents its annual show featuring holiday-themed handmade gifts and keepsakes from local clay artists. Think candleholders, lamps, ornaments, dishware, sculpture and more. Now to Dec. 31. Scope Gallery in Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 North Union St. Alexandria. Free. Call 703-548-6288 or visit scopegallery.org.
ELAINE FLORIMONTE: ACCUMULATION
Using paint and canvas, Elaine Florimonte tackles the notion that the depth of our shared human experience is created by a layering of interaction with each other and our world -- a metaphor for the accumulation of human interaction and the depth of identity. This is the first solo exhibition at Touchstone by Florimonte, a veteran art educator with Fairfax County Public Schools. Opening reception is Friday, Dec. 9, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Encore reception is Sunday, Dec. 11, from 1 to 3 p.m., with Artist Talk at 2 p.m. Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave. NW Call 202-347-2787 or visit touchstonegallery.com.
FRED SANDBACK: LIGHT, SPACE, FACTS
Maryland's modern art and architecture-focused Glenstone Museum offers an exhibition featuring examples of drawing, wooden relief and wire and yarn sculpture from this late New York artist. Fred Sandback was best known for immersive installations made out of simple, store-bought yarn, which he used to outline geometric volumes within otherwise empty rooms. Glenstone, set on 200 acres of rolling pasture and woodland in Montgomery County, Md., also offers hourly guided outdoor sculpture tours of works by Andy Goldsworthy, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Ellsworth Kelly, Jeff Koons, Charles Ray, Julian Schnabel and Richard Serra. Now through Dec. 31. Glenstone Museum, 12002 Glen Road, Potomac, Md. Call 301-983-5001 or visit glenstone.org.
MATERIAL AS MEDIUM
An eye toward the future of textile art is the focus over the next month in the contemporary exhibition space at Alexandria's Torpedo Factory. Juror Aaron McIntosh selected 15 artists and asked them to either create traditional work using unconventional materials - such as Kathleen Kennedy's Pelt, made with found keys and chainmail, or use orthodox materials in a new context, such as Diana Baumbach's Meditation on White IX featuring cotton reclaimed from baby clothes, lace edging and other ephemera to create a monotone image. It's all meant to help foster more discussion about fiber and textiles as increasingly "high art" pursuits rather than more traditional handicrafts. Now to Jan. 15. Public reception is Thursday, Dec. 8, from 6 to 8 p.m. Target Gallery in the Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 North Union St. Alexandria. Call 703-838-4565 or visit torpedofactory.org.
MAUD TABER-THOMAS: THINKERS AND DREAMERS
"An Exhibition of Portraits Inspired by Literature" is the subtitle for an exhibit from this Silver Spring-based painter, scholar and classical musician with artworks inspired by everyone from Shakespeare to James, Austen to Wilde, with an emphasis on strong female characters. Many of Maud Taber-Thomas's drawings and paintings are said to "exist within a peaceful conversation between the many art forms that she loves." Now through Jan. 7. Susan Calloway Fine Arts, 1643 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Call 202-965-4601 or visit callowayart.com.
A popular draw at Long View Gallery, Chicago-based lesbian artist creates large, hanging-wood sculptures made from reclaimed wood, often found in dumpsters and back alleys. Many of her latest works on display pay tribute to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, bearing some resemblance to the museum's facade. Now to Dec. 31. Long View Gallery, 1234 9th St. NW. Call 202-232-4788 or visit longviewgallery.com.
SEASONS GREETINGS: NATIONAL PARKS AND HISTORIC PLACES
The centennial of the National Park Service and 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act is the centerpiece at this year's holiday exhibit at the U.S. Botanic Garden. Trains in this year's model train show chug around, below, through and above re-creations of iconic national parks and sites in the National Register of Historic Places -- everything from the Grand Canyon to the Gateway Arch to a 7-foot-tall Statue of Liberty, all made from plants and other natural materials. One of the largest indoor trees in D.C. will be decorated with ornaments celebrating national parks, while miniature models of the nation's capital landmarks will also be on display. Now through Jan. 2. United States Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave. SW. Call 202-225-8333 or visit usbg.gov.
YAYOI KUSAMA: PUMPKIN
As its nod to the holidays, the Hirshhorn offers the U.S. museum debut of the monumental artwork by celebrated Japanese artist. Pumpkin is a whimsical sculpture of surreal scale in a bold yellow-and-black pattern. The work will remain on display through next spring when it will be featured as part of Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, the first major traveling survey exhibition to explore the evolution of the painter/sculptor's immersive infinity rooms. Opens Saturday, Dec. 10, on the outdoor plaza at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Independence Avenue and Seventh Street SW. Call 202-633-1000 or visit hirshhorn.si.edu.
DC MAKERS MARKET
Local creators will be selling their wares at the DC Makers Market at the city's newest bookshop. Among the items for sale: Sneekis, quirky D.C. pride t-shirts, Grey Moggie, unique letterpress cards for any occasion, handmade journals and paper goods from Moonlight Bindery, Belle Epoque's ceramic gifts inspired by vintage design, watercolor prints by Marcella Kreibel and the Hunny Bunny line of handmade lotions, soaps and lip balms. Sunday, Dec. 11, from 12 to 5 p.m. East City Bookshop, 645 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Call 202-290-1636 or visit eastcitybookshop.com.
DEL RAY ARTISANS' 21ST ANNUAL HOLIDAY MARKET
Alexandria's quirky, members-only art gallery offers its 21st annual holiday market, featuring unique handmade fine arts and fine crafts from different local artists on a rotating basis over the next three weekends. The artists -- working in pottery, photography, jewelry, fiber, paper crafts and glass -- donate a percentage of their sales to help support the gallery. Also available at the market will be 2017 wall calendars, upcycled tote bags and handmade ornaments. Runs to Dec. 18. Del Ray Artisans in the Nicholas A. Colasanto Center, 2704 Mount Vernon Ave. Alexandria. Call 703-731-8802 or visit thedelrayartisans.org.
BOUDOIR BURLESQUE: HEXMAS
Krampus, aka Buster Britches, hosts this ribald telling of "Creepy Christmas Tales and Fae Folklore" featuring witches, sprites, nymphs and demons going by names Blanche Boudoir, Sally Cinch, Ophelia Hart, Clementine O'Donnell and Salem Sirene. There will also be a special group performance by the DC Gurly Show. Sunday, Dec. 18, at 3 p.m. Bier Baron Tavern, 1523 22nd St. NW. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Call 202-293-1887 or visit inlovewithbier.com.
Regie Cabico and Don Mike Mendoza's La-Ti-Do variety show features higher-quality singing than most karaoke, often from local musical theater actors performing on their night off, and also includes spoken-word poetry and comedy. Mendoza and Anya Randall Nebel host the next event, the annual "I Hate the Holidays" Show with guest performers Ronald Brady Jr., Christine Callsen, Casey Garner, Erin Granfield, Alexandra Linn, Lexie Martin, Megan Mostow, Paige Rammelkamp, Michael Sandoval, Elle Sullivan, Lo the Poet and more. Taylor Rambo accompanies. Monday, Dec. 12, at 8 p.m. Bistro Bistro, 1727 Connecticut Ave. NW. Tickets are $15, or $10 if you eat dinner at the restaurant beforehand. Call 202-328-1640 or visit latidodc.wix.com/latido.
NATIONAL ZOO'S ZOOLIGHTS
Every year the Smithsonian's National Zoo presents ZooLights, in which more than 500,000 colorful Christmas lights illuminate life-sized animal silhouettes, dancing trees, buildings, and walkways, plus a light show set to music. All that, plus select animal houses will be open and displaying nocturnal creatures, including the Small Mammal House, the Great Ape House and Reptile Discovery Center. Every night except Dec. 24 and 25 until Jan. 1. National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free, courtesy of Pepco. Call 202-633-4800 or visit nationalzoo.si.edu.