Looking for something cultural to do this weekend and maybe even beyond? Here are our recommendations (in alphabetical order). Pictured: Bryan Mercer as Frog and Spencer G. Stephens as Toad in Synchronicity Theatre’s “A Year With Frog and Toad.”

Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker. OPENING FRIDAY. It’s back! You’re invited to take a magical journey to the  land of rat kings, sugar plum fairies and Russian dancers — along with some new sleight-of-hand. $20-$88. Through Dec. 26. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday. Additional performances at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19, 1 p.m. Dec. 24 and 2 p.m. Dec. 26. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 1.800. 982.2787. For more about this edition’s magic, see this ENCORE FEATURE.

Atlanta Opera Holiday Concert. Soloists from the Atlanta Opera Chorus are directed by chorus master Walter Huff. The concert is being recorded for future broadcast on WABE-FM’s “Atlanta Music Scene” show. Performing are sopranos Amy Little and Megan Mashburn; mezzo-sopranos Tami Giusto and Heather Witt; tenors Timothy Miller and Nathan Munson; and basses Zachary Brown and Adam Cannedy. $30. 7:30 p.m. Monday. All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 634 West Peachtree St. N.W. Details, tickets HERE or at  404.881.0835.

A Christmas Carol. God bless us, everyone. Celebrate the season with this annual gift from the Alliance Theatre, featuring some of the metro area’s finest actors. You know the story: miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, the poor Cratchit family, the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. This staging features gorgeous harmonies, sumptuous sets and characters that fly. $21-$60. Through Dec. 23. 7 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Alliance Mainstage, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Christmas With the ASO. THIS WEEKEND ONLY. An Atlanta holiday tradition you don’t want to miss. A cast of more than 400 musicians and singers brings the iconic story to life under the baton of Norman Mackenzie. This tradition dates back five decades to the days of the great conductor and choral master Robert Shaw. The four-part telling includes traditional carols, pieces from Handel’s Messiah and much, much more. Featuring the ASO, the ASO Chorus, the Gwinnett Young Singers and the Morehouse College Glee Club. $29-$60. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

A Diva’s Christmas. Serenbe Playhouse reprises its holiday tour of this cabaret show featuring (from left) Kylie Brown, Dasie Thames and Alison Brannon Wilhoit. You’ll experience an eclectic mix of Christmas standards and contemporary favorites belted out by the sassy threesome. Brian Clowdus directs, with music direction by Seth Davis and a script by Rachel Teagle. Through Dec. 21. Dinner pairings available at most venues. Upcoming dates: 7 p.m. Friday at Montaluce Winery, Le Vigne in Dahlonega ($65 with dinner, reservations at 706.867.4060); 7 p.m. Saturday at W Midtown Atlanta, Spice Market ($60 with dinner, reservations at 404.724.2250); 7 p.m. Sunday at Cafe Circa in downtown Atlanta ($60 with dinner, reservations at 404.477.0008); 7 p.m. Monday at Haven in Brookhaven ($65 with dinner, reservations at 404.969.0700); and 7 p.m. Wednesday at Founders in Senoia ($75 with dinner, reservations at 770.599.4144). Details and future dates HERE. Photo: BreeAnne Clowdus.

FOUND Magazine book/music tour. It’s brilliant that Davy Rothbart’s Atlanta book tour stop will be at Dad’s Garage. His collection of personal essays, My Heart Is an Idiot, celebrates the improvisatory nature of life, the intense connections people can forge in an instant and the fun that can be had with a random assortment of nut-bags, especially while tooling around in a stolen car. The strength of his storytelling is that even when he’s talking about fishing a dead body out of a pool  after a one-night stand, walking naked through New York or obsessively stalking a scam artist with bottles of pee in his backpack, he’s funny, brutally honest and kind of sweet. He knows he’s a little crazy, and so are the situations he gets into. Davy is a frequent contributor to “This American Life” and the creator of a magazine called FOUND, which features a curated collection of notes, images and scraps of everyday life. It’s also the subject of a new Hunter Bell ([title of show])/Eli Bolin (“Sesame Street”) musical. At this show, Davy will share some gems from the FOUND mailbox while his brother and co-conspirator Peter performs songs based on FOUND notes. Bring a tissue, just in case. If Peter’s songs don’t tear you up, Davy’s ribald humor will. $5. 8 p.m. Tuesday at Dad’s Garage, 280 Elizabeth St. N.E. 404.523.3141. Details HERE.

ASO Kid’s Christmas. The Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra and Lee Harper Dancers headline this concert event, a Broadway-style mini-musical. Jere Flint conducts. $15-$22. 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. Dec. 16. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. EXTENDED THROUGH DEC. 23. Actor and producing artistic director Anthony P. Rodriguez channels Dickens’ himself in this solo performance populated by Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Jacob Marley and a trio of Victorian ghosts. This is the show’s sixth season, he must be doing something right! $15. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Aurora Theatre, 128 East Pike St., Lawrenceville. Free parking deck attached to theater (enter at 153 Crogan St.). Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222.

The Gifts of the Magi. Theatrical Outfit presents a musical version of the famous O. Henry story about a down-on-their-luck young married couple at Christmastime in 1905 New York. The critics: “Although it’s a rather slight undertaking, the Outfit’s Magi is not without its modest charms…. [Bernardine Mitchell’s] closing solo alone is worth the proverbial price of admission” (Bert Osborne, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution); “Musically, the show is beautiful. However, the book of the show, while wonderfully acted by the cast, doesn’t quite match the grandeur of the score” (Kenny Norton, AtlantaTheaterFans.com). Through Dec. 23. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. $20-$40. Theatrical Outfit at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. N.W. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500. For discounts, visit PoshDealz.com. (Pictured: Adrienne Reynolds, left, and Bernardine Mitchell. Photo by Josh Lamkin.)

Handel: Messiah. A profoundly moving Christmas concert experience. Enough said. Norman Mackenzie conducts the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus. $30-$60. 8 p.m. Dec. 13. Also 8 p.m. Dec. 15. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Holidays With the Chalks. The Hertz Stage at the Alliance Theatre becomes a honky-tonk drinkin’ bar for this show featuring sisters Judeen, Judelle and Belva Chalk, the country-singing, joke-cracking, big-haired trio from Boggy Depot, Okla. For them, Christmas is a very American holiday. “It’s a time when Americans can show their patriotism by shopping a lot,” says Belva. Their music is original and their storytelling hilarious. So come raise a glass of good cheer (or two, or three) and hear the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the Chalky truth. $20-$45. Through Dec. 23. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. 1280 Peachtree St. N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000. For discounts, visit PoshDealz.com. For more on the Chalky truth, see this ENCORE FEATURE. (Pictured, at right: Leenya Rideout as Belva, Kathryn Markey as Judelle and Mary Brienza as Judeen, aka the Chalks. Photo by Greg Mooney.)

It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. The American film classic comes to life as a live 1940s radio broadcast. The story of the idealistic George Bailey unfolds right before your eyes (and ears) as George considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve. Told by a five-member ensemble that brings a few dozen characters to the stage, complete with sound effects. Justin Anderson directs. The cast: Erin Burnett, Mark Gray, Tony Larkin, Marcie Millard and Jacob York. $27; $25 seniors; $22 students with I.D.; and $12 age 12 and under. Through Dec. 16. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Stage Door Players, 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.396.1726.

Little Women. Fabrefaction Theatre Company gives us the Broadway musical based on Louisa May Alcott’s well-loved 1868 novel. The show earned a 2005 Tony Award nomination for Sutton Foster as Jo March (Mary Raines Battle has the role here) and contains such musical gems as “Astonishing,” “Days of Plenty” and “Small Umbrella in the Rain.” Fans of the book should be warned: The plot is seriously truncated here. The critics: The cast does a fine job…. It’s a charming show, but this particular mix of music and story never quite gels” (Andrew Alexander, ArtsATL.com); “The musical highlights belong to Mary Welch Rogers as Marmee, who delivers a pair of moving ballads” (Bert Osborne, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution). $18-$27. Through Dec. 23. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; and 3 p.m. Sunday. Additional show at 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17.  Fabrefaction Theatre, 999 Brady Ave. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.876.9468. For discounts, visit PoshDealz.com.

The Santaland Diaries. Want a little snark with your Santa? Look no further than Horizon Theatre Company‘s Santaland Diaries, featuring the sarcastic, put-upon Crumpet. This David Sedaris-penned piece — back for a 14th season — tells the true-life tale of an out-of-work writer who spent one unhappy holiday season as a Macy’s department store elf. Harold Leaver returns as Crumpet. Note: Contains mature language and content. Don’t bring the kids! $25-$40. Through Dec. 30 (no Christmas Day show). 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 8:30 p.m. Saturday; and 6 p.m. Sunday. 1083 Austin Ave. N.E. (at Euclid Avenue). Details, tickets HERE.

The Theory of Everything: Solve for “X.” OPENS SATURDAY. This theatrical experiment from the Collective Project features all-new shorts in which pistols are drawn over Old West gender roles, a boy is sued by his own mother over confectionary thievery and robots get a little too sexy for their own good. Each evening’s show is crafted by audience vote that begins 15 minutes before show time. Every ride is different. $20; age 25 and under with ID are $15. Note: Age 18 and older only. Through Dec. 22. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Additional show at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19.  Rodriguez Room at the Goat Farm Arts Center, 1200 Foster St. Details, tickets HERE.

A Year With Frog and Toad. OPENING FRIDAY. Atlanta theatergoers have been clamoring for the return of this show and now Synchronicity Theatre has brought it back. Peek in on 12 months in the lives of fabulous friends Frog and Toad and hear such tunes as “Toad Looks Funny in a Bathing Suit,” “Getta Loada Toad” and “Merry Almost Christmas.” Original Atlanta cast members Bryan Mercer (Frog), Spencer G. Stephens (Toad) and Denise Arribas (Mouse/Bird) return as does director Clint Thornton. This smart and sassy musical was named best children’s show of 2005 by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won three Suzi Bass Awards (Atlanta’s Tonys). Great for grown-ups and anyone age 4+. $20-$40; $15 ages 3-12. Through Dec. 30. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Select 10 a.m. matinees on Tuesday-Wednesday (call ahead, please). Additional shows at 11 a.m. Dec. 24, and 2 p.m. Dec. 26-27. Synchronicity Theatre at the 14th Street Playhouse, Stage 2, 173 14th St. N.E. (at Juniper Street). Details, tickets HERE or at 404.484.8636. For discounts, visit PoshDealz.com.


Kathy Janich, Encore Atlanta’s managing editor, has been seeing, covering or working in the performing arts for most of her life. FULL DISCLOSURE: She’s affiliated with both Synchronicity Theatre and Fabrefaction Theatre mentioned above. Please email: kathy@encoreatlanta.com.

About Kathy Janich

Kathy Janich is a longtime arts journalist who has been seeing, working in or writing about the performing arts for most of her life. She's a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, Americans for the Arts and the National Arts Marketing Project. Full disclosure: She’s also an artistic associate at Synchronicity Theatre.

View all posts by Kathy Janich