It's the last big weekend of the fall semester in Madison, and there is no shortage of entertainment options to keep hearts warm for the holidays. The slate of options includes: a benefit for the Respite Center, a farewell show from Firecracker Studios, the Last Day of Class Mustache Bash, and an Allman Brothers tribute show; productions of A Christmas Carol, Boomboxed, The Wizard of Oz, Seven Santas, and It's a Wonderful Life; book readings by Rick Bayless and Jerry Apps; and plenty more live music by The Facesteak, Sunspot, Alisa Weilerstein and Inon Barnatan, Marcia Ball, The Scarring Party, Cherubic Cubes and Cribshitter, Dick the Bruiser, and Qwel.
A Christmas Carol
Capitol Theatre, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (2 & 7:30 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), Dec. 13 & 14
Children's Theatre of Madison presents its annual staging of Charles Dickens' classic Christmas tale -- Tiny Tim, ghosts and all. Feeling Scroogish this yuletide? Maybe seeing Scrooge brought to life onstage will purge you of your negativity.
UW Vilas Hall's Hemsley Theatre, 8 pm. Also Saturday, Dec. 13, 5 & 8 pm
This radio-themed theater work comes from the UW's First Wave Hip-Hop Theater Ensemble, which brings together undergraduate rappers, poets, DJs, dancers and singers.
Respite Center Benefit with the Clyde Stubblefield Show, Elf Lettuce and the Kronic Jones Band
Crystal Corner Bar, 8 pm
A trio of local bands, including celebrated funk drummer Clyde Stubblefield and the blues-rock of Elf Lettuce, teams up to raise funds for the Dane County Respite Center, a facility that provides 'round-the-clock child care to families in crisis.
The Wizard of Oz
Overture Center's Overture Hall, 8 pm. Also Saturday (2 & 8 pm) & Sunday (1:30 & 7 pm), Dec. 13 & 14
The 1939 film version of L. Frank Baum's classic tale is staged, including those indelible songs. Proud parents in the audience will be looking closely at the Munchkins, because the producers of this touring production cast local kids to play the diminuitive denizens of Munchkinland.
Firecracker Studios Showcase
Inferno, 9 pm
After five years the local producers of luscious gig posters are closing up shop. They go into that good night with music of Pat MacDonald, Melaniejane, Dear August, Slip Reaper & His Dim Peepers and Roboman. Your cover charge gets you a poster, and there are more for sale.
Frequency, 10 pm
With crowd-pleasers like "Warm Beer Is Better Than No Beer At All," the Facesteak is sure to heat up the Frequency and boost liquor sales on a chilly Friday night. Also playing: El Valiente, Where the I Divides.
Last Day of Class Mustache Bash with Steez, Herman Price and Ben Silver
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
What on earth is a mustache bash? It's a contest to see who can grow the most exotic facial hair to kick off the UW's final exams. DJ Ben Silver will emcee the contest and prep the crowd for Herman Price's rhythmic rock and Steez's goofy, funky disco. Partygoers who donate a canned food item at the door receive a dollar off the $6 cover charge.
Bartell Theatre, 10:30 pm. Also Saturday (10:30 pm) & Sunday (5 pm), Dec. 13 & 14
The jolly old elf goes to rehab in the queer-oriented theater troupe's second holiday production (the other is A Queer Carol, still running). Seven Santas is by Jeff Goode, who previously put his quirky stamp on the holidays with The Eight: Reindeer Monologues.
Metcalfe's Sentry-Hilldale, 2:30 pm
The celebrity chef made his name with the Chicago restaurants Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, where he brings a contemporary sensibility to Mexican cuisine.
It's a Wonderful Life
Middleton-Cross Plains Area Performing Arts Center, Middleton High School, 7 pm
Presented by the Sycamore St. Ensemble and Middleton Players Theatre, this version of Frank Capra's film classic is staged like an old-time radio play in a studio setting. We can't wait to see the radio interpretation of that moment when Jimmy Stewart is running around yelling at buildings. We always liked that part.
Frequency, 7 pm
The ceaselessly touring local rockers play a hometown gig.
Alisa Weilerstein and Inon Barnatan
Wisconsin Union Theater, 8 pm
Two rising classical music stars pay a visit: cellist Weilerstein, who performs with her parents in the New England Conservatory's Weilerstein Trio; and pianist Barnatan, who studied at London's Royal Society of Music. On the docket is music of Beethoven, Chopin, Kodály and Golijov.
Majestic Theatre, 8:30 pm
Marcia Ball's been singing the blues and tickling the ivories since the '50s and has been a staple of the New Orleans and Austin club circuits for more than 30 years. She visits the Majestic in support of her Grammy-nominated album Peace, Love & BBQ, as well as Wisconsin's Second Harvest food banks. Shannon Curfman opens.
The Scarring Party
Annex, 9 pm
Milwaukee foursome the Scarring Party describes its work as "End-Timey music," a soundtrack of sorts for evangelical Christian horror films like A Thief in the Night. The label's more fitting, though, if you're talking about the end of the 19th century, as the band incorporates the sounds of an accordion, tuba, banjo and even a typewriter or two into its live shows. Also playing: Hellblinki, Pinkerton, Gypsy Geoff.
Cherubic Cubes and Cribshitter
Cafe Montmartre, 9:30 pm
Add some tongue-in-cheek jangle-pop to your weekend plans with Cribshitter and stick around for country versions of '80s favorites courtesy of the Twin Cities' Cherubic Cubes. Also playing: the Hussy.
Dick the Bruiser
Frequency, 10 pm
The local post-punk duo takes its name from the stage moniker of Detroit wrestling legend and 1950s Green Bay Packer William Afflis, who made a name for himself by smashing lesser-known wrestlers into a whimpering pulp. The band may do the same to your ears, but you won't mind: In fact, you're likely to be dancing the entire time. Droids Attack, God Came From Space and 3 Piston Asshammer join the bill for a "Destroy All Christmas" bash -- and bashing.
Barnes & Noble West, 1 pm
The author appears to promote Old Farm: A History, about his family's central Wisconsin farmstead, with photographs by son Steve Apps. A nice gift for someone who loves Wisconsin, or farms, or Wisconsin farms.
Allman Brothers Tribute
High Noon Saloon, 4 pm
Members of local acts Clovis Mann, the Kissers and King Cruiser join forces to channel the spirit of Duane Allman, Dickey Betts and the rest of the hirsute gang in the Allman Brothers, the Florida rock 'n' roll act that made ramblin' men of us all.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Though he's known for his work with the Chicago underground rap group Typical Cats, which he co-founded, Qwel is also a solo artist with more than a dozen albums to his name. Tonight he performs in support of his 2008 release The New Wine. Also playing: Robust, Headroom, DJ Milhouse.