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FRIDAY, DEC. 14 You remember how exciting it was to go to see The Nutcracker every year when you were little. Well, who says you have to stop? The North Carolina Dance Theater presents Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux's new take on the time-honored Christmas tradition. In The Nutcracker, Clara's new gift turns into a handsome prince just in time for a journey through the land of Sweets ruled by the evil Rat King. And in case you feel like you were just fed a sugar cube laced with acid, then everything is just as it should be. Trip lasting through Dec. 23. 7:30 p.m. $20-$69. Belk Theater, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, 130 N. Tryon St. 704-372-1000. www.blumenthalcenter.org.

SATURDAY, DEC. 15 Chris Daughtry will be coming home be-for-e Christmas. The talented young ex-American Idol hopeful is among the most successful in the franchise's history. Already, Daughtry has racked up back-to-back hits with "It's Not Over" and "Home." The self-titled album became the fastest-selling debut rock album in Soundscan history. Check out the latest single "Crashed" on rock stations and "Over You" still in heavy rotation on TRL. 8 p.m. $30.50. Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. 704-522-6500. www.ticketmaster.com.

SUNDAY, DEC. 16 The girls from Virgina Tech pay the Queen City a visit tonight. The Hokies had a 5-1 record as they entered the Big Ten/ACC Challenge against Minnesota last Friday. The 49ers won three straight against Hampton, Davidson, and UNC-Greensboro. It may seem like VT has the better squad, but let's wait for the final shot on the hardcourt. Shall we? 2 p.m. Halton Arena, Barnhardt Student Activity Center, UNC-Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd. 704-687-4949. www.charlotte49ers.cstv.com.

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