Year three of Clara’s Trip is rolling into Booth Playhouse for a three-performance engagement, beginning this Friday. It delivers Yuletide dancing, flying and a hip-hopping work-in-progress in every good sense of the phrase. The frame for this updated Nutcracker, created and presented by Caroline Calouche & Co., remains the same: Clara LeBlanc will have a nasty mishap at a holiday party that lands her in a hospital. Ah, but as Clara dozes off, her dreams become a fantasia of good friends and get-well gifts with the folks at Calouche & Co. inserting fresh twists. Very much like the early years of North Carolina Dance Theatre’s Nutcracker, design elements are evolving in successive productions of Clara’s Trip. Expect new snow, flower, candy-cane and fish costumes by Kriss Yavelak and Marie Calouche, along with new backdrops by Jennifer O’Kelly that coordinate with her lighting design. Of course, the folks at Calouche & Co. are best known for their aerial feats, so trapeze, aerial silks, stilt walking and more are also in the holiday package. (Perry Tannenbaum) $35-$45
My pick for this week is Colors Of Christmas at Knight Theater, happening this weekend. This amazing production features four superstar performers for one incredible show of chart-topping songs as well as some holiday favorites: Peabo Bryson, CeCe Winans, Ruben Studdard and Melissa Manchester. Each artist represents well in his or her musical category: Bryson is known for his classic love songs. Winans is an award-winning gospel singer many will recognize for her time performing with brother BeBe. R&B singer Studdard, the 2003 winner of American Idol, topped the gospel charts with his 2004 album I Need An Angel. And Manchester shares her powerful voice in the adult contemporary genre. If you want something that will put you in the holiday spirit, this will do it. Not to mention, Knight Theater is an intimate venue for a show like this. (Mike Kitchen) $54.50 and up
Despite what you might assume from the title, this is not a fluffy holiday flick. Adapted from a series of short stories by Norwegian writer/director Bent Hamer, Home for Christmas (Hjem Til Jul) presents viewers with an alternative to what’s supposed to be a merry season. Characters in the film search for meaning and struggle with the melancholy of their own life problems, some intertwined with others. But despite the gloominess, there’s a smidge of humor and resolution to these Nordic folks, whose lives are just as unpredictable as the Northern Lights. Charlotte Film Society screens this film, in Norwegian with English subtitles. For more information, visit www.charlottefilmsociety.com. (Anita Overcash) $5-$8
DOUBLE DOOR INN 40TH ANNIVERSARY
Few establishments have the staying power to last a decade or two, let alone four, but the Double Door Inn is proudly ready to celebrate that milestone. Touted as one of the oldest music venues east of the Mississippi, this night will feature a performance by the Federal Bureau of Rock ‘n’ Roll and updated copies of the Daniel Coston/Debby Wallace book, now titled Charlotte’s Home Of The Blues: 40 Years Of The Double Door Inn. The latest version of the book includes never-before-seen photos of the infamous night Clapton played there — yeah, sure you were there.
Corny as it is, the folks at Carolina Actors Studio Theatre are bringing back A Tuna Christmas, its favorite (or so we’re guessing, based on numerous past runs — last year was an exception) holiday hell-raiser. Set in the “third smallest town in Texas,” a rambunctious Christmas Eve simmers with the vandalism of Christmas lawn displays, a production of A Christmas Carol that’s threatened by unpaid bills and the arrival of aliens from outer space. Actors Tom Ollis and Jack Utrata portray more than 20 characters (yep — that’s a lot of costume changes), including a duo of radio personalities, snowed in at the station, who report on the town’s chaotic current affairs over the airwaves. (Anita Overcash) $18-$28
Ever since it moved Uptown from Winston-Salem 23 years ago, North Carolina Dance Theatre has staged the most enchanting celebration of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. First there was a darker, Freudian choreography by the late Salvatore Aiello, and in recent years, the more traditionally festive and candy-colored version choreographed by NCDT artistic director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux. Since landing at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in the early ’90s, each year Belk Theater is transformed into a hall of wonder. The Nutcracker is a sensational explosion of resplendent sets, eye-popping costumes, live music by the Charlotte Symphony, the grace of the adult NCDT corps augmented by legions of adorable children, and a precious young Clara who annually flies off to Tchaikovsky’s special fairyland. More than 100 dancers perform the 2013 Nutcracker at Belk, Dec. 13-22, with conveniently early curtain times, since it’s all about the kids. (Perry Tannenbaum) $25-$90
Santa and his associates are an open book in David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries. The essay turned one-man seasonal stage fare made its jolly debut on an NPR broadcast. In the midst of classic holiday material, this tale polishes the ugly side of Christmas as seen through the eyes of an unemployed writer working as an elf at a department store. Yes, it sounds terrible, and yes, it is, as we learn through our protagonist’s experiences, loathing and gradual loss of pride. But listen closer to the deadpan delivery from the man with pointy ears and little green shoes and you’ll feel the full effect of Sedaris’ critique on consumer culture. This is something we tend to forget while shoving our way through the mall and swiping our plastic. Robin Tynes directs and Scott A. Miller stars as Santa’s pissy and pessimistic little helper. For more information on Three Bone Theatre, visit www.threebonetheatre.com. (Anita Overcash) $20
There’s a certain mystery to gender code and it’s one of those things that — as much as we wish — isn’t always crackable. That’s why the reality TV series Guy Code was created. It addressed problems that guys could relate to in the company of their bros. The spinoff, Girl Code, seems fitting as we women seem to have more catfights than ... well ... cats. Now, what will happen when you put both shows’ most outspoken stars together for a comedy show? We can bet it’ll be a side-splitting gender bout. But see for yourself when one guy (Chris Distefano) and two gals (Carly Aquilino and Jessimae Peluso) from the MTV series hop on stage at The Comedy Zone. Ladies, make amends with those backstabbing best friends, and gents, forget about the bro who out-benched you at the gym. This is worth uniting the sexes. (Anita Overcash) $20-$22.50
In a fast-paced 90-minute performance, The Complete History of America (abridged) gives audiences an extreme CliffsNotes-style version of U.S. history. It takes characters whom we all know — or should, anyway — and humorously marks their place in the textbooks. George Washington, Daniel Boone, Uncle Sam and the Statue of Liberty are just some of the many represented in this show, taken on by Stephen Seay Production at UpStage in NoDa. Starring Tania Kelly, Christopher Jones, Chris Herring, Robert Brafford, Jay Russell and Stephen Seay, we get a satirical and very condensed view of America’s past. For history buffs and those who snoozed their way through history class alike. (Anita Overcash) $12
The folks at the Gantt Center want you (yes, you) to join in for their Kwanzaa celebration. Events to mark the African-American holiday that honors life, love, unity and hope are slated throughout the day, but highlights include drumming, a candle-lighting and libation ceremony, tours of the galleries with an in-depth discussion about the museum’s Question Bridge: Black Males, and a cultural crafting bazaar. (Anita Overcash) $5 (suggested donation); free for members
It’s Day One of 2014 and you don’t know how to spend it? Ponder heading to Rural Hill’s annual First Footin.’ The event, rooted in the Scottish tradition of Hogmanay, is a celebration of good health, crops and fortune for the coming year. The day kicks off with a five-mile trail run and is followed by a group walk around Rural Hill’s grounds. Along the way you’ll hear related history and folklore and then gather around a campfire for some warm “stone” soup. Free admission, but contribution to the lunch is encouraged (list of items needed: fresh or canned vegetables for the soup, bread, dessert, beverages, bowls, plates, napkins and other eating utensils). Run begins at 10 a.m.; walk at 11 a.m. For more information, visit www.ruralhill.net/firstfootin.asp. (Anita Overcash)
Shadows can be dark, mysterious, reflective and distorted. They are faceless, making up for lack of details by elongating forms. For Guyanese artist Stanley Greaves, they are “symbolic of the collective unconscious.” This can be gloomy or gracious, as expressed through the movements and poses of his figures. Greaves, better known for surreal paintings inspired by political turmoil in Guyana from the 1960s to the 1980s, has created this new series for UNC Charlotte’s Murmurs on the Other Side of the Light exhibit. It will also showcase some of his earlier Caribbean-influenced works. Come during the opening reception, when Greaves will lecture and local mime Hardin Minor will perform. Free admission. Reception on Nov. 23, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (Anita Overcash) Free admission
Money. It’s the first thing you’ll probably think of when you read the title of this new exhibit at McColl Center for Visual Arts. If that’s the case, you’re partially right about the reference. This exhibit does feature what appears to be money, but also opens the doors to “creative” currency. Organized by Core Visual Art — a collective of six former McColl Center affiliate artists, including Daniel Allegrucci, Crista Camarroto, Diane Hughes, Ashley Lathe, Laura McCarthy and Felicia van Bork — the idea is to create dialogue around forms of exchange. A piece in the exhibit, inspired by the exchanging of ideas, is “State Currencies.” For it, artists came up with their own ideas of currency for all the states in the U.S., based on ongoing political drama. Folks attending the opening reception can add their two cents to an interactive work. Opening reception on Nov. 22. (Anita Overcash) Free admission
Forget Ferris wheels, fun houses, funnel cakes, corndogs or whatever else you associate with fairs. That is not what this new Mint Museum exhibit is about. Instead, Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs, 1851-1939 showcases extravagant glass, furniture, jewelry, ceramics, metalwork and textiles. If you’re like me and decorative art at a fair seems foreign to you, that’s because in those days (remember, we’re talking 1851-1939, when technology was limited) it was a way for folks with money to make a big purchase and see new designs from around the world. Exhibition highlights include an extraordinary Fabergé tiara fashioned from hundreds of tiny rose-cut diamonds set on knife-edge mounts, which gives the tiara the appearance of woven lace. Items from Tiffany & Co., Lalique, Cartier, and Boucheron will be represented. And you thought a fair couldn’t be classy?
It's Find Your Muse open mic night at The Evening Muse this and every Monday. Musicians, grab up your music gear and head over to perform one of your own creations in front of a crowd. No one can guarantee they'll be liked, but constructive criticism is always helpful! Get there early to snag a performance spot. And, if you don't play, come out to watch. You never know who might show up. $3