Looking for something cultural to do this weekend and maybe even beyond? Here is a select list of recommendations (in alphabetical order) from Encore managing editor Kathy Janich. Pictured: Anthony P. Rodriguez in “Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol” at Aurora Theatre.

Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker. It’s back! You’re invited to journey to the  land of rat kings, sugar plum fairies and Russian dancers — and see 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.

ASO Gospel Christmas. ONE WEEKEND ONLY. Kirk Smith, co-principal conductor of the NEW Black Music Repertory Ensemble at Columbia College in Chicago, leads the powerhouse all-city ASO Gospel Choir in modern and traditional selections. Its 90 vocalists come from leading church choirs throughout the metro area. The program features “Caribbean Sleigh Ride,” “Nobody Like Jesus,” “You Can’t Hurry God” and more. $18-$45. 8 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

ASO Kid’s Christmas. FINAL WEEKEND. 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. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

A Christmas Carol. God bless us, everyone. Celebrate the season with this annual gift from the Alliance Theatre, with some of the city’s finest actors. You know the story: miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, the poor Cratchit family, the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future. This staging features gorgeous harmonies, sumptuous sets and characters that levitate. $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. For more about what happens backstage at A Christmas Carol, see this ENCORE FEATURE.

A Diva’s Christmas. Serenbe Playhouse reprises its holiday tour of this cabaret show featuring Kylie Brown, Dasie Thames and Alison Brannon Wilhoit, who’ll deliver Christmas standards and contemporary favorites. Through Dec. 21. Dinner pairings available at most venues. 6 tonight and Dec. 20 at the Cellar in Newnan ($60 with dinner, reservations at 706.683.6328); 7 p.m. Friday and Dec. 21 at Montaluce Winery, Le Vigne, in Dahlonega ($65 with dinner, reservations at 706.867.4060); and 7 p.m. Sunday at Cafe Circa in downtown Atlanta ($60 with dinner, reservations at 404.477.0008). Details HERE.

A Georgia Shakespeare Christmas Story. ONE NIGHT ONLY. Join the Georgia Shakespeare family for an evening of Christmas cheer and some  of the best holiday stories around told by company members/friends Hudson Adams, Margaret Baldwin, Rob Cleveland, Bruce Evers, Mark Kincaid, Tess Malis Kincaid, Brian Kurlander, Daniel May, Allen O’Reilly, Mary Lynn Owen, Karen Robinson, Eugene H. Russell and Naima Carter Russell. Games, sweets and prizes available for all in the lobby before the show and at intermission. This is a fundraiser to support the company’s Viva Georgia Shakespeare campaign. $35; $15 children. Georgia Shakespeare at Oglethorpe University, 4484 Peachtree Road N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.504.1473.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Actor and producing artistic director Anthony P. Rodriguez channels Dickens’ himself in this solo performance visited 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. extended through Dec. 23. 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.

Handel: Messiah. A glorious Christmas tradition! Norman Mackenzie conducts the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus. $30-$60. 8 tonight and Saturday. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Ho, Ho, Home for the Holidays and a Connie Sue Day Christmas. The incomparable Libby Whittemore rings in the holidays — it’s safe to say —  like no one else. Hear “The Christmas Song,” “Merry Christmas Darling,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and many, many more. She’ll be joined, of course, by Connie Sue Day (right), the 31st Lady of Country Music, and Robert Strickland and His Super-Sized Combo. The bar will be open except on Sundays, which are BYOB. $40 plus tax online; $42 plus tax by phone or in person. 7:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, and Dec. 21-23. Actor’s Express, in the King Plow Arts Center, 887 W. Marietta St. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.607.7469.

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, a country-singing, joke-cracking, big-haired trio from Boggy Depot, Okla. 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. The critics: “There’s a delightful, late-night, boozy, slightly ribald giddiness” to the show (Andrew Alexander, ArtsATL.com). $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.

It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. FINAL WEEKEND. The American film classic comes to life as a live 1940s radio broadcast. Told by a five-member ensemble that brings a few dozen characters to life with the help of old-timey 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. 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 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. (Pictured: Mary Raines Battle as Jo and Daniel Hilton as Professor Bhaer. Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus.)

A Very Merry Holiday Pops. You’ll have a cool yule at conductor Michael Krajewski’s annual anything-goes holiday variety show featuring Jodi Benson (a 1992 Tony Award nominee for Crazy for You, the voice of Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid); the Grady High School Chorus; a kickin’ drumline; and a jitterbugging Santa. $22-$60. 8 p.m. Wednesday and Dec. 21; 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 22. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

A Year With Frog and Toad. Merry almost Christmas! The funny, sunny twosome is back with a little help from Snail and various bird friends. This tale of a fabulous friendship is charming, inventive, wry and laugh-out-loud funny. Director Clint Thornton, Bryan Mercer (music direction and Frog), Spencer G. Stephens (Toad) and Denise Arribas (Mouse/Lady Bird) return from previous Synchronicity Theatre incarnations, winners of three Suzi Bass awards and best children’s show of 2005 (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution). Good for 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.

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2 Comments on “This weekend's best bets: Dec. 13”

  1. Hey Kathy–Funny how your Best Bets column has become required reading for Atlanta’s theatre community…and deservedly so. Btw, you’ve probably already mentioned Theatrical Outfit’s “Gifts of the Magi,” right? It’s got Bernadine Mitchell and Nick Arapoglou, among others. Not too shabby…Cheers–!

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