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 — billed as “Dickens originally intended, in his own words.” Now to Dec. 30. The Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, Md. Tickets are $40 to $50. Call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org.
A CIVIL WAR CHRISTMAS
Paula Vogel’s “pageant of carols” is set in 1864 and shares tales from Virginia’s battlegrounds as well as the Lincoln White House. Deidra LaWan Starnes directs 1st Stage Theatre’s take on A Civil War Christmas, featuring music by Daryl Waters, with a 12-person cast including Suzy Alden, Tiziano D’Affuso, Billie Krishawn, V. Savoy McIlwain, Karma Price, and Joshua Simon. Extended to Dec. 30. 1524 Spring Hill Rd. Tysons, Va. Tickets are $15 to $39. Call 703-854-1856 or visit 1ststage.org.
AFI HOLIDAY CLASSICS
Over the next several weeks, the American Film Institute offers 16 Christmas films, from classics to curiosities. Among the more notable titles screening over the next week are Edward Scissorhands, Tim Burton’s delicate gothic fairytale about an artificial man (Johnny Depp) invented by a daft scientist (Vincent Price), on Sunday, Dec. 23, at 7:10 p.m., and Monday, Dec. 24, at 5:05 p.m.; Love Actually, the Hugh Grant rom-com you either love or loathe, on Sunday, Dec. 23, at 4:30 p.m., and Monday, Dec. 24, at 11:45 a.m.; and Dial Code Santa Claus, René Manzor’s 1989 French horror that has almost the same plot as Home Alone but is far more stylized and much, much bloodier. Friday, Dec. 21, at 10 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. Tickets are $13. Call 301-495-6720 or visit afi.com/Silver for schedule and details.
ALL-STAR CHRISTMAS DAY JAZZ JAM
Among the many jazzy jingle balls on offer this season, it’d be hard to beat the Kennedy Center’s free Christmas Day treat, the All-Star Christmas Day Jazz Jam. The 20th annual event features host/vibraphonist Chuck Redd, drummer Lenny Robinson, trumpeteers Robert Redd and Tom Williams, bassist James King, and vocalist Delores Williams. Tuesday, Dec. 25, at 6 p.m. Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. Free. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
Two of the area’s great orchestras take on Handel’s monumental Messiah a few days before Christmas. Nicholas McGegan conducts the National Symphony Orchestra version featuring the University of Maryland Concert Choir and soloists Yulia van Doren, Meg Bragle, Miles Mykkanen, and William Berger. Thursday, Dec. 20, at 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 21, and Saturday, Dec. 22, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 23, 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 Suzanne Karpov, Magdalena Wór, Matthew Smith, and Trevor Scheunemann. Saturday, Dec. 22, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 23, at 3 p.m. Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Tickets are $34 to $84. Call 301-581-5100 or visit strathmore.org.
THE SECOND CITY: LOVE, FACTUALLY
The latest seasonal satire from the cleverly twisted minds of the legendary improv/comedy company gets to the truth of life, love, and romance during the holidays — all through a parody, as you might surmise from the production’s title, of a certain nauseating yet popular movie that is low-hanging-parody fruit. Expect original comedy, music, improv, and audience participation. To Dec. 31. Kennedy Center Theater Lab. Tickets are $59 to $85. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.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. Sunday, Dec. 23, at 3 and 8 p.m. Capital One Arena, 601 F St. NW. Tickets are $46.50 to $55.50. Call 202-628-3200 or visit capitalonearena.com.
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. New at ZooLights this year is a Gingerbread Village, a magical land of frosted cookies and lollipops, giant gingerbread-people cutouts, and an Instagram-ready gingerbread throne, set in the Elephant Outpost among food and holiday vendors, plus a performance stage for local school groups. The second weekend in December ushers in the second annual Grump holiday market, a European-style outdoor fair featuring local artisans set up at the Zoo’s entrance. ZooLights runs nightly, except Dec. 24, 25, and 31, until Jan. 1. National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. Call 202-633-4800 or visit nationalzoo.si.edu.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
GARRY WINOGRAND: ALL THINGS ARE PHOTOGRAPHABLE
One of the foremost photographers of the 20th century is the subject of an intimate documentary by Sasha Waters Freyer and constructed using Winogrand’s own words and images — including the more than 10,000 rolls of exposed film left behind when he died suddenly at age 56 in 1984. The National Gallery of Art presents a screening of Freyer’s documentary, billed as the first focused on the life and work of this celebrated photographer, known from his captures of street life in New York and goings-on in postwar America. Sunday, Dec. 23, and Dec. 30. Doors approximately 1:30 p.m. East Building Auditorium, 3rd Street at Constitution Avenue NW. Free, but seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis. Call 202-737-4215 or visit nga.gov.
HOLMES AND WATSON
Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly are the titular crime-solving duo in this action-comedy. Written and directed by Get Hard‘s Etan Cohen, you already know if this is something you’ll be interested in — chances are if you liked Step Brothers, you’ll like this. You also might want to reconsider your life choices, but that’s not for us to say. Opens Tuesday, Dec. 25. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com. (Rhuaridh Marr)
IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK
Tish is an African-American woman determined to clear the name of her husband Fonny, wrongfully accused of rape, before she gives birth to their child. The latest film from Moonlight screenwriter and director Barry Jenkins adapts James Baldwin’s 1974 novel, its themes of racism and injustice still concerningly relevant today. If Beale Street Could Talk stars Kiki Layne as Tish and Stephan James as Fonny. Critics are already heaping praise on the film, so don’t be surprised to see it reappear come awards season. Opens Tuesday, Dec. 25. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com. (RM)
MIRACLE ON 8TH STREET: SCREENINGS OF CHRISTMAS CLASSICS
For a second year in a row the recently renovated Miracle Theatre in the Barracks Row section of Capitol Hill screens several holiday-themed favorites on the weekends leading up to Christmas. This year’s lineup includes: the James Stewart signature It’s A Wonderful Life on Saturday, Dec. 22, at 8 p.m.; Robert Zemeckis’ animated The Polar Express starring Tom Hanks on Friday, Dec. 21, at 3:30 p.m.; Macaulay Culkin as a boy stranded in Home Alone, screening Friday, Dec. 21, at 6 p.m.; Miracle on 34th Street, the classic Christmas drama from 1947 that put Santa Claus, or really the poser Kris Kringle, on trial, on Friday, Dec. 21, at 8:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 23, at 6 p.m.; and Will Ferrell’s Elf on Sunday, Dec. 23, at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $6 to $8. 535 8th St. SE. Call 202-400-3210 or visit themiracletheatre.com.
ON THE BASIS OF SEX
Notorious RBG makes her big screen debut. Felicity Jones is a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a brilliant lawyer fighting for equal rights for women, including in arguments before the Supreme Court that she would eventually come to have a seat on. Armie Hammer co-stars as Ginsburg’s husband, Martin, and Emmy-winning director Mimi Leder is at the helm. This is about as close as it gets to perfect Oscar-fodder, but should also hopefully make for compelling viewing — Ginsburg’s incredible life achievements deserve it. Opens Tuesday, Dec. 25. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com. (RM)
Jennifer Lopez is in a new rom-com. We repeat: J.Lo has a new rom-com. To those who have sat with a tub of ice cream and watched The Wedding Planner, Maid in Manhattan, The Back-up Plan, and so on, you know what to expect — Second Act, about a woman stuck in a low-paying job who talks her way into working for a Manhattan consultancy firm, is going to be terrible, and it’ll be added to your Netflix queue the moment it’s available. Opens Friday, Dec. 21. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com. (RM)
Set in a New York firm where the women are prey for the higher-ups, Billy Wilder’s 1960 comedy of manners won five Oscars and would go on to inspire the musical Promises, Promises. Jack Lemmon stars as Bud Baxter, whose apartment his bosses borrow for “nooners,” while Shirley MacLaine is the amiable elevator operator. Both are part of an extraordinary ensemble that brings to life Wilder’s witty dialogue and caustic commentary. The National Gallery of Art premieres a new digital restoration of the film historian Charles Silver said “touched a contemporary, and possibly raw, nerve.” Sunday, Dec. 30, at 4 p.m. East Building Auditorium, 3rd Street at Constitution Avenue NW. Free, with seating on a first-come, first-seated basis. Call 202-737-4215 or visit nga.gov.
Adam McKay successfully distilled the 2008 financial crisis into a simultaneously humorous and horrifying experience with 2015’s Oscar-nominated The Big Short. Expectations are high that he will do similarly good work with a comedy-drama — initially titled Backseat — about America’s most powerful Vice President, Dick Cheney, who was widely believed to be running the show behind President George W. Bush. Christian Bale stars as Cheney, capturing his rise to V.P., Amy Adams plays his wife Lynne Cheney, Steve Carell is Donald Rumsfeld, and Sam Rockwell is Bush, alongside a number of other famous faces from the Bush administration. Opens Tuesday, Dec. 25. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com. (RM)
WELCOME TO MARWEN
In 2000, artist Mark Hogancamp was left with brain damage and little memory of his life after being attacked outside a bar in New York. His crime? Telling five men he was a cross-dresser. To recover, Hogancamp constructed Marwencol, a one-sixth scale WWII-era Belgian town, and populated it with dolls representing himself, his friends, and his attackers. Steve Carell steps into Hogancamp’s shoes for this drama, directed and co-written by Robert Zemeckis, and based on the documentary Marwencol, which captured Hogancamp’s escape into his fictional world to cope with his PTSD and recovery. Leslie Mann, Merritt Wever, and Janelle Monáe also star. Opens Friday, Dec. 21. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com. (RM)
Tabaka and Anderson by Christopher Meuller
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Craig Wallace returns for his third year as the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge in Ford’s Theatre’s cherished annual production of Dickens’ Yuletide classic. It really wouldn’t be Christmas in Washington without this music-infused adaptation, conceived by Michael Wilson and directed by Michael Baron. To Dec. 30. Ford’s Theatre, 511 10th St. NW. Tickets are $24 to $107. Call 800-982-2787 or visit fordstheatre.org.
AN INSPECTOR CALLS
A festive evening at the home of a well-heeled British family is suddenly punctured by a visit from a grim inspector investigating the death of a young woman that proceeds to upend their comfortable lives. Acclaimed stage and film director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot) returns to J.B. Priestley’s chilling drama, which he first helmed in 1992 at London’s National Theatre, for a Shakespeare Theatre Company production starring Liam Brennan as Inspector Goole and Christine Kavanagh, Jeff Harmer, Lianne Harvey, and Hamish Riddle as the Birling family. To Dec. 23. Lansburgh Theatre, 450 7th St. NW. Call 202-547-1122 or visit shakespearetheatre.org.
AN IRISH CAROL
Keegan Theatre presents Matthew Keenan’s annual homage to Dickens, with biting Irish humor and incisive candor. Mark A. Rhea directs a cast featuring Kevin Adams, Josh Sticklin, Timothy Lynch, Caroline Dubberly, Josh Adams, Mick Tinder, and Jon Townson. After the Saturday, Dec. 22, evening performance comes a “Keegan’s Greetings” concert over cocktails by the Harry Bells, a D.C.-based horn-and-percussion tribute to the music of Harry Belafonte. To Dec. 31. 1742 Church St. NW. Tickets are $36 to $46. Call 202-265-3767 or visit keegantheatre.com.
Molly Smith puts her stamp on Cole Porter’s most famous show by enlisting two right-hand-men for staging musical classics in the round — choreographer Parker Esse (Oklahoma!) and music director Paul Sportelli (Carousel). Soara-Joye Ross, last seen in D.C. via the national tour of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, makes her Arena debut as showboat sensation Reno Sweeney who sings several American Songbook standards, including “Anything Goes,” “I Get A Kick Out of You,” and “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.” Ross leads a cruise ship-sized cast also including Corbin Bleu as Billy Crocker, Lisa Helmi Johanson as Hope Harcourt, Jimmy Ray Bennett as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, Lisa Tejero as Evangeline Harcourt, and Maria Rizzo as the vampy Erma. To Dec. 23. Fichandler Stage, 1101 6th St. SW. Call 202-488-3300 or visit arenastage.org.
Matthew Gardiner helms Signature Theatre’s take on the moving musical from writer/lyricist Lee Hall and composer Elton John about an 11-year-old boy who just wants to dance. The production features two Billys and two young ensembles performing in rotation, along with an adult crew featuring Nancy Anderson as Mrs. Wilkinson, Chris Genebach as Billy’s father, Crystal Mosser as his mother, Sean Watkinson as brother Tony, and Catherine Flye as Grandma. To Jan. 6. The Ark, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. Call 703-820-9771 or visit sigtheatre.org.
CHRISTMAS AT THE OLD BULL AND BUSH
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 return for another holiday run at Alexandria’s MetroStage including sing-alongs and an abbreviated reenactment of Dickens’ Christmas Carol, plus a few surprises along the way. To Dec. 30. MetroStage, 1201 North Royal St., Alexandria. Call 703-548-9044 or visit metrostage.org.
ELF THE MUSICAL
An orphan leaves the North Pole to find his true identity in this musical based on the 2003 Will Ferrell movie and featuring songs by the team of composer Matthew Sklar and lyricist Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer) and a book by Thomas Meehan (Annie) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone). Olney Theatre presents a holiday treat of a production with a powerhouse cast including Patricia Hurley, Kevin McAllister, Nova Y. Payton, and Bobby Smith, plus David Schumpf in the Ferrell role of Buddy. Directed by Michael J. Bobbitt and choreographed by Tara Jeanne Vallee. To Jan. 6. Mainstage, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, Md. Call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org.
FANCY NANCY’S SPLENDIFEROUS CHRISTMAS
Nancy has enough money to buy a brand-new sparkly tree topper, but when things don’t turn out as she planned, will Christmas still be splendiferous? Adventure Theatre MTC presents a musical geared toward younger audiences. Stevie Zimmerman directs. To Jan. 6. 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo Park. Call 301-634-2270 or visit adventuretheatre-mtc.org.
GEM OF THE OCEAN
The “American Century” dawns in Aunt Ester’s kitchen, where Citizen Barlow arrives to have his soul cleansed by the venerable, 285-year-old soothsayer. Round House Theatre presents the first chapter in the late August Wilson’s monumental decade-by-decade play series set in Pittsburgh’s African-American Hill District. Timothy Douglas directs a cast featuring Stephanie Berry as Ester, Justin Weaks as Barlow, Alfred Wilson as Solly Two Kings, and KenYatta Rogers as the constable Caesar. To Dec. 23. Round House Theatre, 4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda. Call 240-644-1100 or visit roundhousetheatre.org.
Paula Vogel’s latest work tells the story of a group of artists who risked their careers to perform Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance on Broadway in 1923, a work deemed “indecent” for tackling taboo themes of censorship, immigration, and anti-Semitism — but especially for depicting romance blooming between two women. Eric Rosen directs a cast that includes Ben Cherry, Susan Lynskey, John Milosich, and Max Wolkowitz. To Dec. 30. Kreeger Theater in the Mead Center for American Theater, 1101 6th St. SW. Call 202-488-3300 or visit arenastage.org.
A comedy about money, power, and American democracy focused on a newly elected congresswoman who refuses to play by the rules of lobbyists or her own party. If ever there were a built-in audience for a show in D.C., Alexandria-native playwright Sarah Burgess’ Kings is it. Marti Lyons directs a Studio Theatre production featuring Nehassaiu deGannes as Rep. Sydney Millsap and Kelly McCrann as Kate, a seasoned lobbyist who, it turns out, isn’t as hardened and jaded as even she thought. Now to Jan. 6. 14th & P Streets NW. Call 202-332-3300 or visit studiotheatre.org.
The adventures of a brave and resourceful precocious Parisian who takes her bed-ridden friends on an unforgettable Christmas journey via magic carpet ride. Virginia’s Creative Cauldron has had a hit with two previous iterations of this musical adaptation by writer/lyricist Jennifer Kirkeby and composer Shirley Mier and based on the book by author/illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans. Matt Conner directs. To Dec. 23. ArtSpace Falls Church, 410 South Maple Ave. in Falls Church. Tickets are $20 to $26, or $30 for opening night. Call 703-436-9948 or visit creativecauldron.org.
MY FATHER’S DRAGON
As part of its Family Theater series, Synetic Theater produces a wordless adaptation of Ruth Stiles Gannett’s book starring Synetic’s Ryan Sellers and directed and choreographed by the company’s Tori Bertocci. My Father’s Dragon focuses on the attempts of Elmer Elevator to rescue a captive baby dragon on Wild Island. To Jan. 6. Theater at Crystal City, 1800 South Bell St., Arlington. Tickets are $20. Call 800-811-4111 or visit synetictheater.org.
Oh God — Photo: Stan Barouh
A psychotherapist gets a visit from a new and desperate patient — God — in a witty and touching work by Anat Gov, billed as the “Wendy Wasserstein of Israel.” Kimberly Schraf is the therapist who must talk the divine one (Mitchell Hébert) off the ledge of despair over the state of humanity in Mosaic Theater’s winter holiday production directed by Michael Bloom that launches the 18th season of the annual Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival. As part of the festival, select performances will be followed by free post-show discussions exploring resonant themes in the work with experts in religion, psychotherapy, and comedy. To Jan. 13. Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $20 to $65. Call 202-399-7993 or visit mosaictheater.org.
THE ELVES AND THE SHOEMAKER
Through its family and younger audiences-geared series PLAY-RAH-KA, Keegan Theatre stages Kristin Walter’s holiday twist on the classic from Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Jake Null portrays a down-at-heel shoemaker whose young daughter (Emily Dwornik) enlists a pair of elves (Joe Baker and Debora Crabbe) to help turnaround her father’s business. Alexis J. Hartwick directs a cast that also includes Maggie Leigh and Duane Richards. Opens Saturday, Dec. 22. Runs to Dec. 30. All performances at 11 a.m. 1742 Church St. NW. Tickets are $17. Call 202-265-3767 or visit keegantheatre.com.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
This tour-de-farce is arguably Oscar Wilde’s greatest play, as courtships, class, and convention square off with handbags, puns, and perambulators. For the Everyman Theatre production, director Joseph Ritsch of Rep Stage has restored the original script to include the politics and double entendres that were stripped out and censored after Wilde was imprisoned due to his homosexuality. “Baltimore’s master of comedy” Bruce Randolph Nelson dons drag to play Lady Bracknell, with Danny Gavigan as Algernon and Jaysen Wright as Jack. Daniel Ettinger’s set and David Burdick’s costumes are a modern mash-up, inspired by Roy Lichtenstein and the Pop Art movement. To Jan. 6. 315 West Fayette St. Baltimore. Tickets are $10 to $65. Call 410-752-2208 or visit everymantheatre.org.
THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG
Touted as a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Monty Python and made for the stage, this classic murder mystery is full of mishaps and madcap mania. From an unconscious leading lady, to actors tripping over everything (including their lines), The Murder at Haversham Manor, the play-within-this-play, has a murderous opening night. Fortunately, the actors killed it, as it were, when The Play That Goes Wrong debuted in London and New York, earning the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy and garnering critical praise. Now to Jan. 6. Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. Tickets are $49 to $149. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
The Washington Chorus Candlelight Christmas
A HANK WILLIAMS TRIBUTE
The Birchmere offers the 22nd annual tribute to one of the most heralded and influential country singers of all time, this year including performances by The Kennedys (Pete & Maura), Robin & Linda Williams, Patrick McAvinue, and Marshall Wilborn, in addition to the Grammy-winning lesbian couple Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer. Sunday, Dec. 30, at 7:30 p.m. The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Tickets are $29.50. Call 703-549-7500 or visit birchmere.com.
BALTIMORE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: HOLIDAY POPS
Andy Einhorn, the conductor and musical director for such celebrated recent Broadway revivals as Hello, Dolly! and Carousel, conducts the BSO and the Baltimore Choral Arts Society in a new holiday BSO Pops show featuring festive favorites, tap-dancing, an audience sing-along, and a few musical surprises. All that, plus pre-concert performances, holiday cookies, and ornaments for sale as the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall becomes a winter wonderland. Saturday, Dec. 22, at 3 and 8 p.m. 1212 Cathedral St., Baltimore. Tickets are $12.50 to $80. Call 410-783-8000 or visit bsomusic.org.
CYRUS CHESTNUT TRIO
“The best jazz pianist of his generation,” Time music critic Josh Tyrangiel proclaimed in 2017 about Baltimore’s versatile virtuoso Cyrus Chestnut, who two decades ago portrayed a Count Basie-inspired pianist in Robert Altman’s film Kansas City. He returns to D.C.’s leading jazz venue for another week-long run of shows, culminating in New Year’s Eve performances, both offering a three-course meal — with a midnight glass of champagne at second seating — and featuring the Cyrus Chestnut Trio along with the vocalist-led Integriti Reeves Band. Tuesday, Dec. 26, through Sunday, Dec. 30, at 8 and 10 p.m., and Monday, Dec. 31, at 6:30 and 10 p.m. Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Tickets are $46 to $51, or $116 to $166 for NYE dinner/show packages, plus $12 minimum purchase per person. Call 202-337-4141 or visit bluesalley.com.
FOLGER CONSORT: CHRISTMAS MESSE
The Folger Shakespeare Library’s 1619 manuscript A Christmas Messe, which recounts a tussle between King Beef and King Brawn, offers lively accompaniment to a main course of beloved Yuletide music. Billed as a banquet of seasonal English music, ranging from the earliest carols to later arrangements of favorites like Greensleeves by Vaughan Williams, the music will be brought to life by strings, harp, organist Webb Wiggins, and an ensemble of voices, including soprano Crossley Hawn, alto P. Lucy McVeigh, and tenor Oliver Mercer. Remaining performances are Thursday, Dec. 20, at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 21, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 22, at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 23, at 2 p.m. Folger Theatre, 201 East Capitol St. SE. Tickets are $52. Call 202-544-7077 or visit folger.edu.
GOOD FOR THE JEWS
Rob Tannenbaum insists his musical comedy rock band is good for the Jews — and not just in name. “What we’re trying to present is an evolved ideal, or an evolved representation of what Jews are about,” says Tannenbaum. Out are ancient Hebrew melodies and songs about dreidels. Instead, there’s original songs evocative of many of the 20th Century’s best folk and pop songs, all written by Jewish Americans, from Bob Dylan to Paul Simon to Irving Berlin. After a decade of performing annually at Virginia’s Jammin’ Java, Tannenbaum and bandmate David Fagin bring their popular annual show into D.C. this year at the Brindley Brothers’ one-year-old venue on the Wharf, where they’ll be sure to sing their new single “If You’re a Jew Who Voted for Donald Trump.” Sunday, Dec. 23, at 7 p.m. Union Stage, 740 Water St. SW. Tickets are $20. Call 877-987-6487 or visit unionstage.com.
Nearly 20 years since “I Try,” Gray is still recording and performing her signature blend of R&B, pop, funk, and jazz. The Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club brings the chanteuse “back by popular demand” only six months after her last visit over Black Pride Weekend when she and a full band offered a sneak peek at Ruby, her 10th full-length album, released in September. Now comes a command performance before a crowd of fans who will be able to sing along. Friday, Dec. 21, at 8 p.m. 7719 Wisconsin Ave. Tickets are $67 to $87, plus $20 minimum purchase per person. Call 240-330-4500 or visit bethesdabluesjazz.com.
MOTOWN: HITSVILLE U.S.A. CABARET
Jade Jones, Marc G. Meadows, and Ines Nassara perform songs popularized by the Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson 5 and many more in a cabaret show directed by Kelly Crandall d’Amboise. This “Motown: The Reprise” cabaret is a sequel to the original sold-out Signature Theatre production. To Dec. 23. The Ark, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. Tickets are $38. Call 703-820-9771 or visit sigtheatre.org.
THE CHORAL ARTS SOCIETY OF WASHINGTON
Scott Tucker leads the local vocal ensemble in two Kennedy Center shows taking place on Christmas Eve, or Monday, Dec. 24. First up, at 11 a.m., comes A Family Christmas, a one-hour concert intended for the young and featuring songs of classic Christmas characters, from Santa to Frosty to Rudolph. That’s followed at 2 p.m. with the 90-minute program Songs of the Season: Christmas with Choral Arts, featuring the Choral Arts Chorus and Youth Choir along with soprano soloist Esther Heideman. Concert Hall. Tickets are $15 to $69. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
What the Philadelphia hip-hop ensemble The Roots lacks in mainstream popular recognition they more than make up for in influence. Combining jazz and soul elements, their live shows are frequently touted as among the best in the business — and they’re also the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. They return for another post-holiday show, this year with Sirius Co. featuring Ms. Kim & Scooby and Victory. Friday, Dec. 28, at 8 p.m. Fillmore Silver Spring, 8656 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. General admission tickets are $69.50 plus fees. Call 301-960-9999 or visit fillmoresilverspring.com.
THE SELDOM SCENE
Formed over 40 years ago in Bethesda, progressive bluegrass band Seldom Scene remains especially popular in its hometown region. They return for a New Year’s Eve show at Alexandria’s preeminent music hall and tavern, accompanied by The High & Wides and Ms. Adventure. Monday, Dec. 31, at 8 p.m. The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Tickets are $39.50. Call 703-549-7500 or visit birchmere.com.
THE STRAUSS SYMPHONY OF AMERICA’S NEW YEAR’S CONCERT
Christoph Campestrini conducts the Strauss orchestra with soloists soprano Iva Schell and tenor Martin Piskorski, plus dancers from Europaballett St. Pölten and the International Champion Ballroom Dancers in the annual “Salute to Vienna,” inspired by the Austrian capital’s famed Neujahrskonzert and offering Strauss waltzes, polkas, and operetta excerpts. Attila Glatz Concerts presents the 18th annual concert. Sunday, Dec. 30, at 3 p.m. Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Remaining tickets are $49 to $125. Call 301-581-5100 or visit strathmore.org.
THE WASHINGTON CHORUS: A CANDLELIGHT CHRISTMAS
Artistic Director Christopher Bell directs the annual “A Candlelight Christmas,” featuring the 200-voice chorus singing familiar carols and holiday songs accompanied by brass ensemble plus organ, plus audience sing-alongs and a candlelight processional. Joining the chorus this year is Virginia Bronze, the Alexandria community-based, auditioned handbell ensemble. Thursday, Dec. 20, at 8 p.m., and Friday, Dec. 21, at 8 p.m. Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Also Saturday, Dec. 22, at 2 p.m. Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Tickets are $18 to $75. Call 202-342-6221 or visit thewashingtonchorus.org.
TOO MANY ZOOZ
A busking sensation in the subways of New York, this instrumental “brass house” trio has gotten a significant upgrade in recent years. First, Beyonce tapped them to accompany her on Lemonade songs “Formation” and “Daddy Issues,” then she invited them to perform “Daddy Issues” with her at the 2016 CMA Awards. And in the past year, they’ve gotten significant airplay in the U.K. with their song “Warriors,” as well as the sequel “So Real (Warriors)” featuring Jess Glynne. A blend of jazz, Afro-Cuban rhythms, funk, and electronic/dance elements, the brassy, sassy, manic music of Too Many Zooz can be a little, well, too much to merely listen to. Fortunately, they provide plenty to look at, from a very physical style of dancing, to the shock of hair sported by the tall baritone saxophonist Leo P. Too Many Zooz tours in support of new EP A Very Too Many Zooz Xmas, Vol. 1 on a double-bill with the six-piece rock/jam band Big Something, supporting its “post-apocalyptic peyote trip”-themed album The Otherside. All that, plus an opening set from Baltimore’s “future wave/space disco” instrumental quartet Electric Love Machine. Talk about a far out kind of night. Saturday, Dec. 22. Doors at 7 p.m. 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. Tickets are $20. Call 202-265-0930 or visit 930.com.
WHITE FORD BRONCO
“D.C.’s all ’90s party band,” cheekily named after O.J. Simpson’s notorious failed getaway car, is a five-member ensemble consisting of singer/guitarist Diego Valencia, singer Gretchen Gustafson, guitarists Ken Sigmund and McNasty, and drummer Max Shapiro. White Ford Bronco sings through that decade’s songbook in all styles of popular music, and will close out 2018 at the 9:30 Club. Tickets remain for the show Sunday, Dec. 30. Doors at 7 p.m. 815 V St. NW. Tickets are $25. Call 202-265-0930 or visit 930.com.
Pauline Anson-Dross’ popular lesbian all-covers party-rock band has been rocking — as well as raising money for various good causes — all over the region for over a decade now. Next up is a concert to ring in 2019. Monday, Dec. 31, at 9 p.m. JV’s Restaurant, 6666 Arlington Blvd. in Falls Church. Tickets are $50 and include hors d’oeuvres, party favors and midnight champagne toast. Call 703-241-9504 or visit jvsrestaurant.com.
The Nutcracker — Photo: xmb Photography
MARYLAND YOUTH BALLET: THE NUTCRACKER
Artistic Director Michelle Lees choreographs a family-friendly, full-length take on the holiday classic, which won as both Outstanding Production in Classical Dance and Outstanding Youth Performance by Metro DC Dance Awards. Remaining performances are Friday, Dec. 21, at 7 pm., Saturday, Dec. 22, and Sunday, Dec. 23, at 1 and 5 p.m. Montgomery College’s Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center, 51 Mannakee St., Rockville. Tickets are $26 to $31 in advance, or $34 to $38 at the door. Call 240-567-5301 or visit marylandyouthballet.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 intended for audiences aged four years and up. 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. In addition to the show featuring friendly, furry characters, this holiday tradition at the Atlas Performing Arts Center includes pre-show instrument-making workshops, photo ops, and a dance party. To Dec. 30. The Sprenger Theatre, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $25 to $45. Call 202-399-7993 or visit atlasarts.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. 513 13th St. NW. Call 202-889-5901 or visit washingtonballet.org.
She the People — Photo: Teresa Castracane
The cute, gay-friendly straight comic you may remember from Chelsea Lately — or from his collaboration with Ross Mathews on the “Josh and Ross” podcast, giving the straight spin on pop culture. The Boston-born, L.A.-based comic writer/performer returns for a full weekend and New Year’s Eve run of shows at Drafthouse Comedy. Friday, Dec. 28, and Saturday, Dec. 29, at 7 and 9 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 30, at 8 p.m., and Monday, Dec. 31, at 7 and 9 p.m. 1100 13th St. NW. Tickets are $20. Call 202-750-6411 or visit drafthousecomedy.com.
THE SECOND CITY: SHE THE PEOPLE
An all-female team roasts the patriarchy, modern politics and pop culture in the latest revue from Chicago’s sketch comedy troupe. Carly Heffernan directs a Second City ensemble featuring Atra Asdou, Carisa Barreca, Alex Bellisle, Katie Caussin, Kazi Jones, and Maggie Wilder. To Jan. 6. Woolly Mammoth, 641 D St. NW. Tickets range from $20 to $85. Call 202-393-3939 or visit woollymammoth.net.
WASHINGTON IMPROV THEATER: SEASONAL DISORDER
Artistic Director Mark Chalfant describes WIT’s decade-old Seasonal Disorder as “a huge smorgasbord of different comedy shows, all of which have some sort-of angle or theme related to the holidays.” No two programs are alike, as each pivots off of a suggestion or theme from the audience. From there, the WIT players concoct characters, story, theme — whether to create an original, off-the-cuff show via the iMusical team, an improvised rock concert from Heavy Rotation, a Latino variety show a la Sabado Picante, or “Huggy Smalls: The Notorious H.U.G.” Weekends to Dec. 30. Source, 1835 14th St. NW. Tickets are $15 in advance, or $18 at the door. Call 202-204-7770 or visit witdc.org. Weekends to Dec. 28. Source Theater, 1835 14th St. NW. Tickets are $12 online in advance, or $15 at the door. Call 202-204-7770 or visit washingtonimprovtheater.com.
John Waters Xmas — Photo: John Waters
ART & EXHIBITS
EXHIBITION OF FINE ARTS IN MINIATURE
Strathmore hosts the 85th annual show featuring more than 700 “mini-masterpieces”: intricately detailed works of art from around the world, painstakingly produced in miniature. The prodigious exhibition, presented by the Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers Society of Washington, D.C., draws viewers into a concentrated universe — tracing its roots to the 7th century — featuring portraits, still lifes, and landscapes all no bigger than a postage stamp. Through Jan. 6. The Mansion, 10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda. Call 301-581-5100 or visit strathmore.org.
The late heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post has a renowned collection of pieces from the firm of Carl Fabergé, the legendary jeweler to the last court of Russia. A special exhibition at Post’s Hillwood Estate, nestled in a leafy section of Upper Northwest a few blocks from Van Ness, unveils new discoveries relating to the collection of about 90 Fabergé works, including two imperial Easter eggs. In conjunction with the exhibition, Hillwood’s holiday decorations, most notably five Christmas trees, reflect the opulence and splendor of Fabergé through jeweled ornaments, live flowers, and brilliant treasures. To Jan. 13. 4155 Linnean Ave. NW. Suggested donation is $18. Call 202-686-5807 or visit HillwoodMuseum.org.
JOHN WATERS: INDECENT EXPOSURE
Talk about a shock: A preeminent high-art institution offering a retrospective on a famously, purposely lowbrow artist would be unusual and unexpected anywhere, regarding anyone. But that it’s the Baltimore Museum of Art honoring native son and “King of Trash” John Waters is somewhat unprecedented. Indecent Exposure showcases the famous queer filmmaker’s visual arts career through a display of 160 provocative photographs, sculptures, and video and sound works. The works range from send-ups of famous films and faces, to objects from Waters’ home and studio, to three peep-shows with footage from his rarely seen underground movies of the 1960s. All told, the exhibition offers a glimpse into the filmmaker’s childhood, identity, and personality, as well as touching on his influence and views on popular culture and the contemporary art world, with a nod to the transgressive power of images. Now to Jan. 6. 10 Art Museum Dr. Baltimore. Tickets are $10 to $15. Call 443-573-1700 or visit artbma.org.
NEW NATURE BY MARPI
Polish-born, San Francisco-based digital artist Mateusz “Marpi” Marcinowski has developed an immersive audiovisual experience featuring a colorful digital menagerie of nature-inspired creatures and plant life that react in real time to users’ gestures and actions. Inspired by early multiplayer online gaming systems such as Super Mario Brothers, Marpi’s New Nature is the latest installation at D.C.’s unique art-meets-technology gallery ArTecHouse. To Jan. 13. 1238 Maryland Ave. SW. Tickets for timed-entry sessions are $8 to $15, with evening admission for those over 21 years of age and including exhibit-related Augmented Reality Cocktails available for purchase. Visit artechouse.com.
REDISCOVERING BALTIMORE’S FORGOTTEN MOVIE THEATERS
A survey of Baltimore’s movie-going past from 1896 to the present, this Flickering Treasures exhibition at the National Building Museum features oral histories, architectural fragments, theater ephemera, and of course photography — particularly vivid, contemporary shots from Baltimore Sun staff photographer Amy Davis. All of it illuminates themes of memory, loss, and preservation, as well as the importance of movies and movie houses in 20th century American life. While only a handful of more than 240 theaters built in Charm City still function today, many survive in some form, as documented in this exhibition. On display to Oct. 2019. 401 F St. NW. Call 202-272-2448 or visit nbm.org.
ROOPKOTHA PHOTO EXHIBIT
Vibrant images captured by various photographers, along with historical artifacts and personal memorabilia, tell the story of Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy, two Bangladeshi LGBTQ activists and artists who were savagely murdered in their home two years ago. The Center Arts Gallery in the DC Center for the LGBT Community has set up this powerful installation as part of an ongoing campaign to protest the inaction of the Bangladeshi government to investigate the murders. 2000 14th St. NW. Call 202-682-2245 or visit thedccenter.org.
SEASON’S GREETINGS: ALL ABOARD
This year’s annual holiday show at the U.S. Botanic Garden spotlights the country’s historic railroad stations, more than 30 of which are recreated in miniature versions made from plants and natural materials and spread out along the tracks of an elaborate model train show. A botanical replica of Washington’s Union Station, meanwhile, has been added to the garden court’s collection of plant-based D.C. landmarks. Also on view throughout the conservatory are thousands of blooms, including a showcase of heirloom and newly developed poinsettia varieties. All that, plus live holiday music on Tuesdays and Thursdays in December, when the conservatory, which normally closes at 5 p.m., will stay open until 8 p.m. Next up in the live music series, which kicks off each night at 6 p.m., is versatile a cappella troupe the Capital Hearings, on Thursday, Dec. 20., with the all-women, four-part harmony a cappella ensemble Capital Accord Chorus on Thursday, Dec. 27. Note: The website advises patrons that wait times, especially on weekends, may be longer than usual “due to the ongoing roof and facade project.” To Jan. 1. 100 Maryland Ave. SW. Call 202-225-8333 or visit usbg.gov.
TOMB OF CHRIST
Visitors to the National Geographic Museum are being transported to Jerusalem via an immersive 3D experience unlike anything seen in a museum before. Tomb of Christ offers a virtual tour of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the holiest church in all of Christendom — built on the site where Jesus of Nazareth, according to tradition, was crucified, buried, and resurrected. The exhibition recounts the storied history and enduring mysteries of the site, with a particular focus on recent technological advances that have boosted ongoing research and restoration of the Holy Edicule, or tomb of Christ dating to the fourth century. But be forewarned: The 3D exhibition is not recommended for guests susceptible to motion sickness or dizziness. To Jan. 2. 1145 17th St. NW. Timed-entry tickets are $15. Call 202-857-7588 or visit ngmuseum.org.
UNSEEN: OUR PAST IN A NEW LIGHT
Works by Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar are featured in the first contemporary exhibition of the National Portrait Gallery’s 50th anniversary season — and a provocative one at that. Nearly 60 works highlight how people of color — from Native Americans to African Americans, Asian Americans to Latino Americans — are missing in historical portraiture. Still worse, their contributions to the nation’s past were rendered equally invisible. Kaphar sets out to right those slights by recreating well-known paintings and including those traditionally left out, through his series of 17 paintings plus one sculpture. Gonzales-Day, meanwhile, explores how ideas of racial difference, otherness, and national identity have taken shape historically and visually through nearly 40 photographs, including works from his “Erased Lynchings” series focused on the American West as well as his “Profiled” series. The bilingual English/Spanish exhibition is on display through Jan. 6. 8th and F Streets. NW. Call 202-633-8300 or visit npg.si.edu.
Gallery Underground, the visual arts space for the Arlington Artists Alliance and part of Crystal City’s Art Underground, features new seasonally themed works in multi-genres by Gallery members, plus refined traditional still life paintings by George Bowels. On display through Dec. 28. Crystal City Shops, 2100 Crystal Drive, Arlington. Call 571-483-0652 or visit galleryunderground.org.
FOOD & DRINK
HANK’S: FEAST OF SEVEN FISHES, OYSTERS
Throughout December, Jamie Leeds is celebrating the holiday tradition Feast of the Seven Fishes by serving two different all-in-one combination entrees at her restaurants. At Hank’s Pasta Bar in Alexandria, linguine gets tossed in a spicy tomato sauce overflowing with seven types of seafood — octopus, clams, mussels, shrimp, squid, lump crabmeat, and catfish — and priced at $34. Meanwhile, all four Hank’s Oyster Bar locations — including the original Q Street location as well as the newest at 701 Wharf St. SW — will serve a $25 special featuring oysters on the half shell with seven different dressings, from smoked lemon with olive oil and pink peppercorn, to salmon roe and chives, to wakame and sesame salad. Visit hankspastabar.com.
ABOVE & BEYOND
ANNAPOLIS PRIDE’S HOLIDAY DRAG BRUNCH
Baltimore’s “Queen of Comedy” Shawnna Alexander and the southern Maryland “Insult Queen” Victoria Bohmore co-host a holiday-inspired variety show. Patrons can eat and drink from Ram’s Head On Stage’s standard menu plus a few select brunch specials, all while taking in skits and performances featuring Paris Satellite, Krystal Nova, and Jalah Nicole, plus special guests Miss Gay Maryland America 2002 Ashley Bannks, Miss Nation’s Capital Girl at Large 2018 Victoria Blair, and Miss Gay Maryland America 2018 Nicole James. A portion of the proceeds benefit Annapolis Pride. Saturday, Dec. 22. Doors at 11:30 a.m. Ram’s Head On Stage, 33 West St., Annapolis. Tickets are $20 for admission only. Call 410-268-4545 or visit ramsheadonstage.com.
DOWNTOWN HOLIDAY MARKET
Over 150 artisans rotate among sixty tents set up on two blocks in the heart of downtown. Now in its 14th year, the holiday market offers a vast, eclectic, and international assortment of gifts and souvenirs, collectibles and wearables — from prints and photographs, to pottery and glassware, to custom jewelry and accessories. Each day also brings free staged concerts by local musicians, and options for food and (non-alcoholic) drink. Open noon to 8 p.m. daily. To Dec. 23. F Street between 7th and 9th Streets NW. It’s open from noon to 8 p.m. Visit downtownholidaymarket.com.
GEORGETOWN GLOW 2018
Now in its fifth year, this light art exhibition presented by the Georgetown Business Improvement District features 10 displays by multidisciplinary artists. Billed as a way to “reimagine the season of light,” the commissioned works, curated by Deirdre Ehlen MacWilliams, offer a high-tech modern contrast with the surroundings of D.C.’s oldest neighborhood — which has been further illuminated by the stringing of white lights on street-facing buildings. The five-week event includes a Christmas Tree Farm every weekend at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown’s Yard and regular GLOW-inspired walking and food tours led by several local tour companies. GLOW runs every night from 5 to 10 p.m. through Jan. 6. Visit GeorgetownGlowDC.com for more information.
GLITTER BALL WITH BETTY O’HELLNO
Baltimore’s Creative Alliance offers one more LGBTQ-themed burlesque and variety show before closing the books on 2018. Young drag darlings Betty O’Hellno and Jacqueline Boxx host this end-of-year celebration featuring performances from New York’s Perle Noire, dubbed “The Mahogany Queen of Burlesque,” and Poison Ivy of the Burlesque Hall of Fame, as well as other local music, stage, and circus artists. The evening also includes a DJ dance and costume party, complete with a Sparkle Market to ensure everything and everyone will be as glittery — and gay — as possible. Saturday, Dec. 29, at 8 p.m. The Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore. Tickets are $28 in advance, or $31 at the door. Call 410-276-1651 or visit creativealliance.org.
ICE! A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS
Snoopy, Lucy, and other classic cartoon characters created by Charles M. Schulz will be holding court at National Harbor in colorful, larger-than-life sculptures carved from two million pounds of ice. The Peanuts gang’s storied holiday antics are the focus of this year’s Ice! Display, accented by four, two-story tall ice slides and a Nativity scene. And that’s just the main draw at the annual series organized by the Gaylord National Resort. A Christmas Carousel, an ice skating rink, a short Potomac Express holiday train ride, a Build-A-Bear Workshop, 30-minute Christmas storytelling events led by Mrs. Claus, and a Gingerbread Decorating Center are among more than a dozen other kid-friendly activities on tap. There’s also Seasons Dreamings, a free, 25-minute aerial Cirque Dreams Unwrapped show that takes place daily in the Gaylord’s Garden Atrium. Through Jan. 1. 201 Waterfront St. Oxon Hill, Md. Tickets to Ice! are $27 to $38. Call 301-965-4000 or visit christmasonthepotomac.com.
LIGHTS ON THE BAY
Approximately 70 animated and stationary displays depicting regional and holiday themes factor into this 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 recent edition of this benefit for the SPCA of Anne Arundel County, now in its 24th year. 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.
Two traveling light installations add a little seasonal, illuminating whimsy as part of this year’s fourth annual holiday celebration in the Navy Yard area of Southeast D.C. — also increasingly known as the Capitol Riverfront. The Pool by New York’s Jen Lewin Studio, developed six years ago but making its D.C. debut here, features 106 interactive circular pads of light that react as visitors move on and around them, creating a giant canvas of shifting and fading colors. Meanwhile, Angels of Freedom by Israel’s OGE Group is a social sculptural installation where visitors pose with five giant, neon-colored wings and white halos, intended as a way to signify that we’re all angels and that “everybody counts and deserves love.” On display from 6 to 10 p.m. every night until Jan. 4. The Yards Park Boardwalk, 355 Water St. SE. Call 202-465-7093 or visit theyardsdc.com.
PIFF THE MAGIC DRAGON
Born 38 years ago in London, John Van der Put in recent years has become known as a Las Vegas-based magician who came this close to winning America’s Got Talent in the spring of 2015. His adopted stage name suits his act, as Piff sports a ludicrous, shiny dragon costume and performs with a gruff, deeply disaffected demeanor that is as unique as it is drop-dead funny. He also performs with assist from his pet chihuahua, Mr. Piffles, dressed in a matching (and incredibly adorable) dragon suit. “Magic has a strange effect on people,” Van der Put said in a Metro Weekly interview last year. “You go to Walmart, and the doors open all by themselves, and nobody ever goes, ‘Oh, my god! How did they do that?!’ Then, on stage, you make something move without touching it, and people freak out.” Wednesday, Dec. 26, and Thursday, Dec. 27, at 7:30 p.m. The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Tickets are $39.50. Call 703-549-7500 or visit birchmere.com. (Randy Shulman).