CHRISTMAS AT THE OLD BULL AND BUSH
Writer/director/actor Catherine Flye’s cheery holiday tale centers on patrons at a pub telling corny jokes and singing British music hall songs and Christmas carols. Originally presented at the turn of the millennium by Arena Stage, some of the original cast members now take to Alexandria’s MetroStage for a toast to the holidays that includes sing-alongs and an abbreviated reenactment of Dickens’ Christmas Carol, plus a few surprises along the way. To Dec. 24. MetroStage, 1201 North Royal St., Alexandria. Call 703-548-9044 or visit metrostage.org.
DC DIFFERENT DRUMMERS
The Capitol Pride Symphonic Band and other small ensembles from this LGBT music organization perform concert versions of holiday tunes at the free annual holiday concert that also doubles as a food drive for Food and Friends. Sunday, Dec. 10, 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.
Two of the area’s great orchestras take on Handel’s monumental Messiah the third weekend in December. Jeannette Sorrell conducts the National Symphony Orchestra version featuring the University of Maryland Concert Choir and soloists Sophie Daneman, Ann McMahon Quintero, Karim Sulayman, and Christopher Immler. Thursday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 15, and Saturday, Dec. 16, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 17, at 1 p.m. Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Tickets are $15 to $89. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org. Meanwhile, Stan Engebretson conducts the National Philharmonic and its Chorale plus soloists Esther Heideman, Yvette Smith, Norman Shankle, and Trevor Scheunemann. Saturday, Dec. 16, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 17, at 3 p.m. Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Tickets are $28 to $94. Call 301-581-5100 or visit strathmore.org.
HOT 99.5 JINGLE BALL: KESHA, HALSEY, CHARLIE PUTH
Kesha and Halsey are two of the LGBTQ performers on tap at this year’s local pop stadium festival, which also includes last year’s Capital Pride Ally performer Charlie Puth. Fall Out Boy, Logic, Zedd, Camila Cabello, Liam Payne, Julia Michaels, and Why Don’t We will also take to the former Verizon Center stage courtesy of “D.C.’s #1 Hit Music Station,” as part of the national iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour. Monday, Dec. 11, at 7:30 p.m. Capital One Arena, 601 F St. NW. Call 202-628-3200 or visit capitalonearena.com.
LA-TI-DO: I HATE THE HOLIDAYS CABARET
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 first of two annual holiday cabarets with guest performers. Taylor Rambo accompanies. Monday, Dec. 11, 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.
MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS
Vincente Minnelli cast Judy Garland in his 1944 classic, and all her singing and dancing — “The Trolley Song,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” — led to romancing, marriage and baby Liza. Landmark’s West End Cinema continues its winter season of Capital Classics with the 1944 holiday-themed classic, and offers Happy Hour-priced beer and wine from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Screenings are Wednesday, Dec. 13, at 1:30, 4:30, and 7:30 p.m. Landmark’s West End Cinema, 2301 M St. NW. Tickets are $12.50. Call 202-534-1907 or visit landmarktheatres.com.
MEGAN HILTY WITH THE NSO: A HOLIDAY POPS
The Washington Chorus joins the NSO, led by Steven Reineke, for a concert featuring the Broadway star (9 to 5: The Musical) and Kennedy Center regular, most widely known as the ambitious Ivy Lynn on Smash, the NBC television series about the making of a new musical. Hilty returns to lead a performance of favorite yuletide songs. Friday, Dec. 8, at 8p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 9, at 2 and 8 p.m. Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Tickets are $24 to $99. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
NATIONAL ZOO’S ZOOLIGHTS
More than 500,000 colorful Christmas lights illuminate life-sized animal silhouettes, dancing trees, buildings, and walkways, plus a light show set to music, during this annual holiday event at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. 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.
STORM LARGE: HOLIDAY ORDEAL
Storm Large, the brassy cabaret performer known as a solo artist and as a featured vocalist with Pink Martini, presents her wild “Holiday Ordeal” show, billed as a no-holds-barred evening of music, humor, and more, with songs ranging from “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” to “Sock It To Me, Santa.” No surprise, the program listing includes a parental advisory noting mature themes and language. Saturday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m. Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. 600 I St. NW. Tickets are $40. Call 202-408-3100 or visit sixthandi.org.
SWEET SPOT AERIAL PRODUCTIONS: A CIRCUS CAROL
Sweet Spot, the impressive, local, LGBTQ-inclusive circus arts company, presents its third holiday production, a more narrative piece than those in the past, set in the fictitious W.T. Dickens High School during the madness of holiday pageant time. Saturday, Dec. 16, at 1 and 6 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 17, at 6 p.m. Lang Theatre in the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $25. Call 202-399-7993 or visit sweetspotdc.org.
THE SANTALAND DIARIES
An “unseasonably cynical” offering, The SantaLand Diaries is a solo show adapted by Joe Montello from humorist David Sedaris’ essay about his time as a Macy’s “Santaland” elf. Cameron Folmar stars as a gay, out-of-work writer who dons the costume and proceeds to spill the beans about what goes on behind closed doors. Lynn Sharp Spears directs. To Dec. 23. Drafthouse Comedy Theater, 1100 13th Street NW. Tickets are $20. Call 202-750-6411 or visit drafthousecomedy.com.
THE SECOND CITY’S TWIST YOUR DICKENS
The Kennedy Center offers another run of the comedy troupe’s irreverent and interactive parody twist on A Christmas Carol. The largely improvised tale is based on Dickens but adapted by former The Colbert Report writers Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort. To Dec. 31. Kennedy Center Theater Lab. Tickets are $49 to $75. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
Given the Academy’s love for period British dramas, this could be a strong contender at next year’s Oscars. Gary Oldman is unrecognizable as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who steps into the office as World War II grips Europe in 1940. Written by Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything) and directed by Joe Wright (Atonement), expect numerous rousing scenes as Churchill rallies a nation to push back against Hitler and Germany’s advancement. Opens Friday, Dec. 8. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com. (Rhuaridh Marr)
TOM OF FINLAND
Touko Laaksonen is the artist known to the world, and especially the gay world, as Tom of Finland, whose proudly erotic drawings shaped the fantasies of generations of gay men and influenced the both art and fashion. Pekka Strang portrays the leather-fetishizing artist in Dome Karukoski’s stirring biopic — which is also Finland’s Official Selection for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2018 Oscars. It’s in both English and Finnish, though subtitled where necessary. Opens Friday, Dec. 8. Landmark’s E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW. Call 202-452-7672 or visit landmarktheatres.com.
THE SHAPE OF WATER
Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) concocts another visually dazzling and emotionally daring fairy tale, this time set against the backdrop of Cold War-era America circa 1962. Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer star in a blend of classic monster movie, shadowy film noir, and a love story like no other. Opens Friday, Dec. 8 at the Angelika Film Center – Mosaic, 2911 District Ave., Fairfax, Va. Call 571-512-3301 or visit angelikafilmcenter.com.
A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES
The Washington Stage Guild presents an evening of warm and nostalgic works adapted by Bill Largess from Dylan Thomas, Charles Dickens, AA Milne, and Louisa May Alcott. Now to Dec. 17. Undercroft Theatre of Mount Vernon United Methodist Church, 900 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Tickets are $50 to $60. Call 240-582-0050 or visit stageguild.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
Craig Wallace returns as the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge in Ford’s Theatre’s 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 TUNA CHRISTMAS
You’ve no doubt heard of Tuna, Texas, “the third smallest town” in the Lone Star State, and the setting of a series of plays originally brought to life by Joe Sears and Jaston Williams. The second in the series, A Tuna Christmas premiered in 1989 and went on to Broadway in 1994, garnering a Tony nomination for Sears in the process. A new, local production of this Texas-sized Yuletide satire comes from siblings Thomas and Dillon DiSalvo, who portray the town’s 22 eccentric denizens. The production is directed by a third DiSalvo brother, Frank Jr., making this the definitive family affair. Friday, Dec. 8, at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9, and Sunday, Dec. 10, at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Callan Theatre in the Hartke Theater complex at Catholic University, 3801 Harewood Rd. NE. Tickets are $16 to $20. Call 202-460-2188 or visit parlorroomtheater.com.
The sun’ll come out tomorrow and every day this holiday season at Olney Theatre Center. Forty years after composer Charles Strouse, lyricist Martin Charnin, and book writer Thomas Meehan teamed up for the feel-good musical about a determinedly optimistic little orphan girl, countless other, real-life kids have been inspired by the popular work to become theater performers (or at least theater queens) in their own right. The latest is Noelle Robinson, who heads a cast of 32, including Rachel Zampelli as Miss Hannigan, Kevin McAllister as Daddy Warbucks, and Wilson Jermaine Heredia as Rooster Hannigan. To Dec. 31. Mainstage, Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, Md. Call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org.
Go down the rabbit hole with the whole family in David Catlin’s contemporary retelling putting a fresh, modern twist on the Lewis Carroll classic tale. Jeremy B. Cohen directs. Now to Dec. 31. Baltimore Center Stage, 700 North Calvert St., Baltimore. Call 410-332-0033 or visit centerstage.org.
THE BOOK OF MERMAN
Now that another Kennedy Center run of the popular Mormon-themed musical has come and gone, the outré Landless Theatre Company presents a similarly themed yet wackier musical comedy that goes beyond mere parody. Written and composed by Leo Schwartz, Book of Merman weaves a story about a chance encounter between two Mormon missionaries and Broadway’s legendary original diva, Ethel Merman, who shares advice and insights for the boys. Closes Friday, Dec. 8. District of Columbia Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW. Tickets are $25. Call 202-462-7833 or visit dcartscenter.org.
THE BOOK OF WILL
What if Shakespeare’s works had been lost forever? Ryan Rilette directs a Round House Theatre production of Lauren Gunderson’s hilarious and heartfelt story inspired by true events surrounding Shakespeare’s First Folio. Mitchell Hebert, Kimberly Gilbert, Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, Todd Scofield, and Michael Russotto are among the cast. Now to Dec. 24. Round House Theatre, 4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda. Call 240-644-1100 or visit roundhousetheatre.org.
THE PAJAMA GAME
In an unusual twist, artistic director Molly Smith turns over directing reins for this season’s Golden Age Musical to Alan Paul, who has proven his mettle with musicals at Shakespeare Theatre Company. Choreographer Parker Esse joins to try to rouse interest in this classic battle-of-the-sexes. To Dec. 24. Mead Center for American Theater, 1101 6th St. SW. Call 202-488-3300 or visit arenastage.org.
THE REAL AMERICANS
Actor/journalist Dan Hoyle brings to life the characters he met traveling outside “the liberal bubble,” presented as part of Mosaic Theater’s “Transformational Journeys” and staged in repertory in the month of December with Draw The Circle. Charlie Varon directs. To Dec. 22. Atlas Performing Arts Center, Lab Theatre II, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $25 to $65. Call 202-399-7993 or visit mosaictheater.org.
Very little has been straight, traditional or predictable in the life of Bettye LaVette, who grew up in Motown-era Detroit and became a recording artist at 16. More than a half-century later, the good-humored singer is in what she refers to as her “fifth career,” having recently signed a new contract with Universal Records and has a new album due out next spring. Sunday, Dec. 17. Doors at 7 p.m. Ram’s Head On Stage, 33 West St., Annapolis. Tickets are $39.50. Call 410-268-4545 or visit ramsheadonstage.com.
The D.C.-based band has been a staple at hip bars around the area, along with more august venues such as the Kennedy Center. After performing with Natalie Cole and Dizzy Gillespie, Chaise Lounge, featuring vocalist Marilyn Older, performs swing standards as well as original tunes, and all on a “Swinging thru the Holidays” theme. Wednesday, Dec. 13, at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Tickets are $28, plus $12 minimum purchase. Call 202-337-4141 or visit bluesalley.com.
The Washington Post has referred to this 12-piece band as “a storming powerhouse of big-band African funk…smart, tight and relentlessly driving.” Chopteeth has already won a number of Washington Area Music Association Awards, including Artist of the Year in 2008. The Afrobeat-driven group performs regularly throughout the region, but makes its debut at the new District Wharf’s more intimate concert venue. Saturday, Dec. 9. Doors at 7 p.m. Pearl Street Warehouse, 33 Pearl St. SW. Tickets are $20. Call 202-380-9620 or visit pearlstreetwarehouse.com.
Chris Pureka’s fraught-folk style reflects slightly, subtly, on the gender-queer artist’s background in science: She was a research microbiologist at Smith College before she became a fulltime musician a decade ago. As she told Metro Weekly a few years ago, “It’s almost like I come up with a hypothesis for each song and then fill it out…It’s not necessarily causal. It’s a correlation.” Sunday, Dec. 17. Doors at 6 p.m. Jammin Java, 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna. Tickets are $18 to $25. Call 703-255-3747 or visit jamminjava.com.
One of the true legends, Harris’s concert is billed as “An Intimate Performance Benefiting Bonaparte’s Retreat,” the dog rescue organization the singer founded in Nashville. A Washington Post critic once described Harris as the “silken-voiced muse of a summer night,” but her eloquent, expressive country-folk is welcome even in the dead of fall. Joining Harris is country couple Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams, as well as D.C.’s Craig Grossi, a veteran who rescued a stray dog while serving in Afghanistan. Sunday, Dec. 10. Doors at 6:30 p.m. The Hamilton, 600 14th St. NW. Tickets are $90 to $250. Call 202-787-1000 or visit thehamiltondc.com.
GAY MEN’S CHORUS OF WASHINGTON: THE HOLIDAY SHOW
Blending the sexy and playful with the sweet and sentimental, the holiday show is one of the chorus’s most popular. In addition to the standard seasonal and sensational offerings, the concert features performances by the ensembles Potomac Fever and Rock Creek Singers, as well as the LGBT youth choir GenOUT. This year’s offering incorporates stories of holiday memories and growing up gay, as told by several members, part of a season-long push to personalize the 200-strong chorus. “In a time when our social discourse can seem toxic,” artistic director Thea Kano says, “it is vital that we share our stories and remind everyone that there is far more that unites us than divides us.” Saturday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 16, at 3 and 8 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 17, at 3 p.m. Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. Tickets are $25 to $65. Call 202-328-6000 or visit gmcw.org.
Founded two decades ago in Rockville, Of A Revolution continues to stir up audiences both at home and around the country. Singer/guitarist Marc Roberge, drummer Chris Culos, guitarist Richard On, bassist Benj Gershman, and saxophonist/guitarist Jerry DePizzo perform alt-rock tunes in its debut at the area’s gleaming new concert venue on the Wharf. Saturday, Dec. 16. Doors at 6:30 p.m. The Anthem, 901 Wharf St. SW. Tickets are $45.50 to $75.50. Call 202-265-0930 or visit theanthemdc.com.
THE AMERICAN POPS ORCHESTRA WITH LEA DELARIA
Luke Frazier leads the 25-piece orchestra he founded two years ago in a holiday concert in a grand space, MGM National Harbor. In addition to veteran lesbian comic and cabaret artist Lea DeLaria (Orange Is the New Black) and Helen Hayes Award-winning musical theater diva Nova Payton (Signature Theatre’s Hairspray), the program also features Rumer Willis (Broadway’s Chicago), Claybourne Elder (Broadway’s Sunday in the Park with George), singer-songwriter Mobley, and tap dancer Luke Hawkins (America’s Got Talent). Kelly Crandall d’Amboise leads the show. Friday, Dec. 15, at 8 p.m. Theater at MGM National Harbor, 7100 Harborview Ave., Oxon Hill, Md., Oxon Hill, Md. Tickets are $50 to $109. Call 844-346-4664 or visit TheAmericanPops.org.
THE WASHINGTON CHORUS: A CANDLELIGHT CHRISTMAS
New Artistic Director Christopher Bell 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 Eleanor Roosevelt High School Chamber Choir and D.C. al Fine will join the chorus. Sunday, Dec. 10, at 2 and 5 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 16, at 4 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 21, and Friday, Dec. 22, at 7 p.m. Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Also Friday, Dec. 15, at 8 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 Ghosts of Christmas Eve” is the conceptual Yuletide “rock opera” from the progressive-rock juggernaut. 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 a second set containing some of Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s greatest hits and fan pleasers. Thursday, Dec. 14, at 7:30 p.m. Capital One Arena, 601 F St. NW. Tickets are $46.50 to $55.50. Call 202-628-3200 or visit capitalonearena.com.
A decade ago, a group of 10 female singers formed this unaffiliated offshoot of the 100-voice auditioned community chorus the Capitol Hill Chorale. Vox Pulchra sings an eclectic mix of traditional music from around the world and from across centuries, and next performs a Holiday Concert with music from the U.S., England, Germany, Russia, and Canada accompanied by instrumentalists Howard Bass and Tina Chancey. Sunday, Dec. 17, at 6 p.m. Corner Store Arts, 900 South Carolina Ave. SE. Tickets are $21. Call 202-544-5807 or visit cornerstorearts.org.
WASHINGTON BACH CONSORT
Johann Sebastian Bach composed his Christmas Oratorio in 1734 to celebrate Christmas and was meant to be played inside churches. The Consort continues that 283-year-old tradition with a performance of the oratorio with gentle lullabies, dramatic arias, ornate instrumental solos, and rousing choruses that capture the full range of emotions associated with this joyous season. Conducting the work will be Dana Marsh, a finalist in the Consort’s efforts to hire a new leader in the wake of the untimely death of the Consort’s founder J. Reilly Lewis last year. Soloists include soprano Kate Vetter Cain, mezzo-soprano Kristen Dubenion-Smith, tenor Robert Petillo and bass Steven Combs. Saturday, Dec. 9, at 6 p.m., with a pre-concert lecture at 5 p.m. by noted Bach scholar Dr. Michael Marissen, and a post-concert reception. National Presbyterian Church, 4101 Nebraska Ave. NW. Tickets are $65. Call 202-429-2121 or visit bachconsort.org.
WASHINGTON NATIONAL OPERA: THE LITTLE PRINCE
Francesca Zambello directs a revival of a holiday opera for the whole family, featuring a tuneful score by Oscar-winner Rachel Portman (Emma) and showcasing the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists and WNO Children’s Chorus. Nicholas Wright adapted the English libretto from the Antoine de Saint-Exupery classic. Thursday, Dec. 14, and Friday, Dec. 15, at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 16, at 2 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 17, at 2 p.m. Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. Tickets are $45 to $65. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
Inspired by the ancient Silk Road as well as Gary Chapman’s “Five Love Languages,” Habibi traces the communication of love between friends, lovers, and family in a fusion of the sounds of the east with dances of the west. Under the direction of Shawn Short, the Dissonance Dance company performs to traditional Hebrew song as well as music by Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Timberland, Hassaon Hakmoun, Ahmed Qawala, Lata Mangeshkar, and Shades of Black. Saturday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 10, at 4 p.m. Dance Place, 3225 8th St. NE. Tickets are $15 to $30. Call 202-269-1600 or visit danceplace.org.
STEP AFRIKA!: MAGICAL MUSICAL HOLIDAY STEP SHOW
The local percussive dance company dedicated to the tradition of stepping presents its annual holiday step show. The focus is on getting North Pole animals — polar bears, penguins — to step. And all to music by “Frosty the Snowman,” putting the needle on the record as special guest DJ. Opens Friday, Dec. 15, at 7:30 p.m. To Dec. 30. Sprenger Theatre in Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $18 to $40. Call 202-399-7993 or visit atlasarts.org.
THE SUZANNE FARRELL BALLET: FAREWELL PERFORMANCES
The Kennedy Center bids goodbye to its resident ballet company of 16 years with a pageant of favorites, handpicked for their special meaning by the company’s namesake. Given that Farrell was the beloved muse of the late, great choreographer George Balanchine, the program is an all-Balanchine affair. Thursday, Dec. 7, and Friday, Dec. 8, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 9, at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Kennedy Center Opera House. Tickets are $29 to $89. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
THE WASHINGTON BALLET: THE NUTCRACKER
The Washington Ballet’s former artistic director Septime Webre first staged his twist on the family favorite 13 years ago, setting it in D.C.’s historic Georgetown neighborhood with George Washington as the titular figure and King George III as the Rat King. As always, the production sets up shop for nearly all of December at downtown’s Warner Theatre. To Dec. 24. Warner Theatre, 513 13th St. NW. Call 202-889-5901 or visit washingtonballet.org.
Over 85 regional and national artists are represented in the third annual 10×10 invitational. Every artwork is different, although the same size, and are intended as original holiday gifts, priced at $50 each. The invitational benefits Hyattsville’s Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, located in the historic Arcade building in the Gateway Arts District and featuring a papermaking studio, print shop, letterpress studio, bindery, a darkroom and a woodshop. To Dec. 17. Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, 4318 Gallatin Street, Hyattsville. Call 301-608-9101 or visit pyramidatlanticartcenter.org.
AI WEIWEI: TRACE
China’s most famous and provocative international artist returns to the Hirshhorn with his newest project, centered on the themes of freedom and expression. The massive installation, on exhibit to Jan. 1, spans 700 feet around the entirety of the museum’s second-floor galleries and features 176 portraits, each made of thousands of plastic LEGO bricks, of individuals whom he considers activists, prisoners of conscience or advocates of free speech. An accompanying graphic wallpaper spans the gallery’s entire outer wall, transforming symbols of surveillance equipment into an intricate design. The seriousness of the subject contrasts with the playfulness of the material, creating a dichotomy that characterizes the artist’s philosophy. Independence Avenue and Seventh Street SW. Call 202-633-1000 or visit hirshhorn.si.edu.
ARLINGTON ARTS CENTER: FALL SOLOS
Seven regional artists are assigned one of the main gallery spaces in the historic Maury School to exhibit a selection of their works in this semi-annual exhibition. Kate Haw, director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art, and Mika Yoshitake, assistant curator at the Hirshhorn Museum, were the jurors for the latest round, and they selected an entirely female line-up of artists, many of whom explore themes related to feminism, gender and identity: Mary Baum, Atsuko Chirikjian, Catherine Day, Anna Kell, Jen Noone, Mojdeh Rezaeipour, and Julie Wills. To Dec. 16. Arlington Arts Center, 3550 Wilson Blvd. Call 703-248-6800 or visit arlingtonartscenter.org.
CARL BRETZKE: RECENT WORK
A mix of plein air sketches and more refined studio paintings are on display in Bretzke’s second solo exhibit at Susan Calloway’s contemporary gallery in Georgetown. Based in Minnesota, Bretzke’s work recalls Edward Hopper and the Ashcan school and typically features vehicles or figures from everyday life often set off by an intriguingly lit landscape or cityscape background. To Dec. 16. Susan Calloway Fine Arts, 1643 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Call 202-965-4601 or visit callowayart.com.
LUMIA: THOMAS WILFRED AND THE ART OF LIGHT
The Smithsonian American Art Museum presents a groundbreaking exhibition of 15 spellbinding, image-projecting light sculptures created nearly a century ago. This was a time, of course, well before technology made Thomas Wilfred’s colorful moving light creations an easy feat, and his contemporaries, including Jackson Pollock, László Moholy-Nagy and Katherine Dreier, recognized the Danish-American artist as an innovator. Yet the difficulty to maintain his sculptures is why, after faddish mid-20th century popularity, they’ve long been relegated to the storage archives of modern art museums, all-but forgotten along with the artist himself. With works shown together for the first time in nearly 50 years, Lumia, organized by Keely Orgeman of the Yale University Art Gallery, is helping to restore Wilfred’s works and reputation as a modern art pioneer. To Jan. 7. Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F Streets NW. Call 202-633-1000 or visit americanart.si.edu.
An exploration into how Shakespeare’s words have inspired visual artists, as seen in pictures, oil sketches and paintings from the Folger’s collection. Why is there visual art in a library? Because collectors Henry and Emily Folger understood that it takes more than books and manuscripts alone to understand Shakespeare and his era. On exhibit through Feb. 17. Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol St. SE. Call 202-544-7077 or visit folger.edu.
SPECTACULAR GEMS FROM THE MERRIWEATHER POST COLLECTION
Marjorie Merriweather Post had one of the most remarkable collections of jewelry of the 20th century. For its latest exhibition, her former estate displays and shares stories about more than 50 exquisite accessories from the late cereal heiress and the historic gems that went into making them. Leading designers Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Harry Winston and Verdura are represented in the collection, which includes pieces on loan from other museums and private collections. Through Jan. 7. Hillwood Estate, 4155 Linnean Ave. NW. Suggested donation is $18. Call 202-686-5807 or visit HillwoodMuseum.org.
THE GREAT MYSTERY
Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum is letting its curiosity run wild in its 21st year-long exhibition curated by founder and director Rebecca Hoffberger. Partly inspired by Albert Einstein, who once referred to the concept of life as “the Great Mystery,” the show celebrates mysteries big and small, the ultimate source of artistic creativity, scientific inquiry and social progress. On display are works by 44 visionary artists, research scientists, astronauts, mystics and philosophers. On exhibit through Sept. 2, 2018. American Visionary Art Museum, 800 Key Highway. Baltimore. Tickets are $20 for Preview Party, $15.95 for regular daily admission. Call 410-244-1900 or visit avam.org.
WILLIAM WOODWARD: THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS
In his two-decades-long series of drawings and narrative paintings focused on the concept of sin, this Washington native has tried to imagine how Federico Fellini, Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton might have depicted their subjects if they were painters. The result are images that are whimsical and elusive, rather than strident and explicit in their interpretations. To Dec. 17. American University Museum in the Katzen Arts Center, 4400 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Call 202-885-2587 or visit american.edu/cas/museum.
CENTRAL MICHEL RICHARD: SWEET HOPE, DESSERT FOR TOYS
It’s Toys for Tots season, yet few toy donation events are sweeter than the one set to take place this Saturday afternoon at the bistro downtown named after the late, great French-American chef Michel Richard. Everyone who brings in an unwrapped “non-plush” toy for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — or offers a monetary donation — and RSVPs in advance will benefit from a free dessert reception featuring several Central favorites, including the signature Kit Kat-inspired Michel’s Chocolate Bar, plus creme caramel, macaroons, Buche de Noel, and ganache hot chocolate topped with marshmallows or whipped cream. Saturday, Dec. 9, from 1 to 3 p.m. Central Michel Richard, 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Free, but RSVP required. Call 202-626-0015 or visit centralmichelrichard.com.
METROCOOKING DC FOOD SHOW
Both a holiday treat and a shopping preserve, “The Ultimate Food Lover’s Weekend” is the area’s biggest specialty food and culinary event. And the lineup of star chefs who will cook and chat at this year’s event is impressive, led by nationally recognized local stars Jose Andres, Victor Albisu, Amy Brandwein, Erik Bruner-Yang, Michael Friedman, Marjorie Meek-Bradley, George Pagonis, and Vikram Sunderam. Guy Fieri, D.C.-native Carla Hall, Guillermo Pernot, and Michael Schlow also join the festivities, along with hundreds of specialty food vendors exhibiting their wares. The event offers a smorgasbord of activities, including a Grand Tasting Pavilion with samples from local restaurants, a separate area offering beer, wine and spirits samplings, a BBQ Bash, culinary classes by chefs from L’Academie de Cuisine, entertaining workshops and book signings. Saturday, Dec. 9, and Sunday, Dec. 10, starting at 10 a.m. each day. Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mt. Vernon Place NW. General admission tickets are priced at $21.50, and include admission to the James Beard Cooking Stage and the Exhibitor Marketplace. The L’Academie de Cuisine cooking classes, Beer, Wine & Spirits Garden, BBQ Bash and the Grand Tasting are special ticketed events and sold separately. VIP ticket packages are available, which will afford a backstage meet and greet with Guy Fieri and José Andrés, plus access to additional ticketed special events.Call 202-249-3000 or visit metrocookingdc.com.
DC GURLY SHOW: YEAR IN REVIEW
The DC Gurly Show isn’t your grandfather’s burlesque. It’s focused more on playing with gender than teasing with sex. Next up is the organization’s year-end review, promising to sum up 2017 with tassels, glitter, bumps and grinds, and lots of fun. Thursday, Dec. 14, at 8 p.m. The Pinch, 3548 14th St. NW. Tickets are $10. Call 202-722-4440 or search for “DC Gurly Show” at eventbrite.com.
LIGHTS ON THE BAY
More than 70 animated and stationary displays depicting regional and holiday themes factor into the annual holiday show, featuring a two-mile scenic drive along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. A North Pole Village & Enchanted Fairy Tales is a new edition at this year’s event, a benefit for the SPCA of Anne Arundel County. On display every evening from 5 to 10 p.m. through Jan. 1. Sandy Point State Park, 1100 E. College Parkway, Annapolis. Admission is $15 per car, or $30 to $50 for larger vans and buses. Visit lightsonthebay.org.