Bartell Theatre, 9:30 am & 7 pm. Also Saturday, Dec. 15, 1 & 4 pm
MadCAP presents a children's musical adapted from Ludwig Bemelmans' picture book about a mischievous girl who saves Christmas in a Parisian boarding school. Bemelmans' plot is clunky, but the production features some charming musical numbers, delightful performances and cute costumes.
Overture Center's Overture Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (2 & 7:30 pm) & Sunday (1 & 6 pm), Dec. 15 & 16
The Madison Ballet has upped its game by adding a dozen professional dancers to the troupe. This Nutcracker features choreography by W. Earle Smith and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra playing Tchaikovsky's score.
A Christmas Carol
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (2 & 7:30 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), Dec. 15 & 16
CTM Madison Family Theatre mounts its 32nd production of the beloved holiday classic, featuring Romulus Linney's adaptation and the estimable Robert Spencer as the miser in need of Christmastime redemption. Trivial Pursuit question: Charles Dickens' story features how many ghosts? (Hint: The answer isn't three.)
Dork Side of the Moon
Broom Street Theater, 8 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), Dec. 15 & 16
In Brian Wild's family-friendly sci-fi comedy, a man with a boring job becomes a superhero on the moon, battling Ping the Preposterous. The show is light, fun and funny, with a touch of Flash Gordon-style camp.
Tidings from the Seasonally Affected
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Thursday & Saturday, 8 pm, Dec. 13 & 15
Encore Studio for the Performing Arts, a professional theater company for people with disabilities, presents a musical romp about a woman facing her first holiday season outside an institution. It freely mixes comedy and drama, avoiding the extremes of holiday schmaltz or self-conscious cynicism.
The Verve Pipe
Majestic Theatre, 8:30 pm
In the late '90s, the pop-rockers staked out a place on both commercial radio and television with the earnest, heartstring-plucking hit "The Freshmen." Unfortunately, Matchbox Twenty soon stole their fire.
Waylan St. Palan & the Magic Elves
Brink Lounge, 9 pm
Lovably louche lounge singer St. Palan and his Elves get the eggnog flowing with their tippler-friendly brand of musical cheer. If you're not smiling by the time they've sloshed into the middle of their first set, you really are way too stressed about this holiday stuff.
Smokin' With Superman Reunion
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Five years ago, a Smokin' With Superman show was a guaranteed good time in these parts, thanks to the local funk machine's easy segues from jazzy grooves to percolating hip-hop. Singer Joy Dragland, MC Laduma (a.k.a. Mr. Parker) and the rest of the core members will be on hand for this much-anticipated reunion gig. Dumate and The Selfish Gene open.
Annex, 10 pm
The robot-addicted hard rockers' distaste for the holiday season gets full play in their annual "Destroy All Christmas" bash. Imperial Battlesnake, 20 Dollar Love and the Treats will also be on hand to share their feelings about Santa Claus, candy canes and chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
Overture Center Rotunda, 9:30 am, 11 am & 1 pm
The Ghanaian drum and dance group wows the youngsters in this installment of the Kids in the Rotunda series.
Metropolitan Opera: Live in High Definition
Point Cinemas, noon
The storied New York institution brings live broadcasts of its productions to movie theaters in various cities, and now Madison gets a chance to join the fun. The eight-performance series begins with Charles Gounod's 1867 Roméo et Juliette, about a couple of crazy kids you've probably heard of. Wielding the baton: one Placido Domingo.
Booked for Murder, 2 pm
The Florida author promotes his new private-eye novel, The Last Striptease. Set in Chicago, the book has murder, a fishing trip and that eponymous stripping.
Madison Youth Choirs
Mitby Theater at MATC-Truax, 3 pm
The young singers apply their heavenly voices to songs about memory. The repertoire ranges from Handel to Ladysmith Black Mambazo to a Hebrew folk song. The highlight should be a new piece the choir members co-wrote with local songwriter Stuart Stotts.
Wisconsin Union Theater, 7:30 pm. Also Sunday, Dec. 16, 2 pm
Jo Jean Retrum leads her talented Dance Wisconsin through an adaptation of the Nutcracker story, in which a girl searches for the missing Sugar Plum Doll. The production mixes traditional music by Tchaikovsky and original works by Taras Nahirniak, played by a live orchestra. The production features local dancers and singers, along with guest artists from the Metropolitan Classical Ballet.
Wis-Kino 2007 Retrospective
Mercury Lounge, 8 pm
See the year's best films from the Madison outpost of Kino, the international group of amateur filmmakers who make short subjects on small budgets. (Alumni of the local chapter include Aaron Yonda and Matt Sloan, of "Chad Vader" fame.) Also on the docket: Kino films from France.
Overture Center's Promenade Hall, 8 pm
The Madison native specializes in contemporary classical music, tricking out his marimba with electronics. He focuses on compositions by local composers with help from guest artists Rebecca Patek (dance) and Jason Price (trumpet).
Crustacean Records Showcase
High Noon Saloon, 8:30 pm
Some of this live sampler of Crustacean's varied roster will end up on a DVD. Raging cow punks Mad Trucker Gone Mad, mandolin magician John Kruth and his antic Destructone Orchestra, Skintones, Awesome Snakes, and Drunk Drivers are scheduled to perform.
Cardinal Bar, 9 pm
It's a groove-friendly week, and here one of the city's favorite DJs is sure to keep the party going well past the witching hour. It's the latest installment of the Madison Music Project Charter Club Tour, a monthly event based on Isthmus' online directory at