Here is this week's critics' choice calendar. Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum, 4 & 8 pm
It wouldn't be the holiday season without "Wizards in Winter" and the rockin' light-and-sound extravaganza that is TSO. Prepare for a case of the goose bumps, but not the kind brought on by subzero temperatures.
Majestic Theatre, 7 pm
Many critics have branded Bonnie "Prince" Billy an eccentric, but we prefer to say that his honest, folk-inflected tunes are set to the beat of a drummer only he can hear. He visits Madison with a new, self-titled album. (See Tour Stop.) With Bitchin Bajas.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 7 pm. Also Saturday (2:30 & 7 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), Dec. 14 & 15. Through Dec. 23
A lot of theater troupes present Charles Dickens' holiday tale this time of year, but few do it better than Children's Theater of Madison. James Ridge is so miserly as Ebenezer Scrooge that you'll begin wondering if even a series of ghosts can get him to change his ways.
Blackhawk Evangelical Church in Middleton, 7 pm. Also Saturday, Dec. 14, Stoughton Opera House, 7 pm
For its annual version of Handel's Messiah, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra pulls out the stops with four soloists, the WCO Chorus, the Festival Choir of Madison and members the UW Madrigal Singers. If there's ever a time to pull out all the stops, it's with the Messiah.
Overture Center's Playhouse, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (7:30 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), Dec. 14 & 15. Through Dec. 22
Four Seasons Theatre presents the coming-of-age tale about two meddling dads who try to make their kids fall in love. A musical-theater staple, it's the source of ditties such as "Soon It's Gonna Rain" and "Try to Remember."
Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Monona, 8 pm
With the deep freeze comes some carefree fun. The third event in the nature center's Aldo After Dark Series, this party features arctic-themed art, cocktails, a photo booth and music by local rockers Circus Fires.
Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm
Money achieved mainstream success beginning in the 1970s with hits like "Two Tickets to Paradise" and made a comeback in the '80s with "Take Me Home Tonight." Llanas, formerly of the Milwaukee-area roots-rock group the BoDeans, will open the show. He's likely to play hits from the band's '90s catalog, such as "Closer to Free."
Good Style Shop, 8 pm
Steep in psychedelia from both coasts amid groovy outfits from the '70s as New York City keyboardist and visual artist Ivy Meadows shares the stage with Itasca, an acid-folk act from L.A. Plus, Spires That in the Sunset Rise present mind-bending music made right here in Madison.
Frequency, 9 pm
This artist's roots and gospel vocals are haunting, but they also feature soft moments of vulnerability. Check out "You Can't Be Told" and "Somebody to Love" off Pushin' Against a Stone before hitting the show. With Brandon Beebe.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Formed by two members of '80s alt-rock band Throwing Muses, the Breeders found fame with 1993's Last Splash, which features the radio hit "Cannonball." Speedy Ortiz's witty, euphoric sophomore album, Major Arcana, put them on the brink of stardom this year, earning raves from noise-pop fans at Pitchfork.
UW Union South Sett, 9:30 pm
The local electronica trio's live act combines dubstep, funk and trip-hop in a continuous set with a light show. They released their first record, No Place Like Now, in the fall.
Capitol Square & State Street, 10 am-4 pm
Catch a free ride on the red-and-green trolley as it wends its way around the Capitol. You can get on at any Madison Metro bus stop on State Street or the Square, along with guests like Christmas carolers, the UW vocal ensemble Tangled Up in Blue and performers from Kanopy Dance.
Barnes & Noble-West Towne, noon
The author signs copies of his latest book, Destiny of Heroes, about two warriors whose paths intersect in fateful ways. A portion of the story is set in Madison, too.
Overture Hall, 2 & 7:30 pm. Also Sunday, Dec. 15, 2 pm. Through Dec. 24
Members of the Madison Symphony Orchestra perform Tchaikovsky's gorgeous score as the Madison Ballet presents the beloved Christmas tale of a young girl and her companion, a wooden nutcracker. W. Earle Smith's choreography is lush, romantic and simply beautiful.
Madison College's Mitby Theatre, 2 & 7:30 pm. Also Sunday, 2 pm
Jo Jean Retrum's estimable Dance Wisconsin puts its own spin on the Nutcracker story with Sascha Radetsky and Irina Dvorovenko, guest artists from the American Ballet Theatre.
Orpheum Theater, 7:30 pm
Talk about precocious: Frontwoman Lizzy Hale started this band with her brother, drummer Arejay, when she was 13 and he was 10. Check out "Love Bites (So Do I)" from their 2012 album, The Strange Case Of, which won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance. With Redlight King and Stars in Stereo.
First Congregational United Church of Christ, 8 pm
The local chamber ensemble presents a baroque holiday concert. And really, who can beat Bach and Handel around Christmastime?
Shockrasonica, 8 pm
This house concert may be right up your alley if you're into rhythmic experimentation. Nakatani is a solo percussionist who crafts avant-garde works that showcase his primal approach to performance. With Gastrique, Sapropelic Pycnic and Conjuror. (See Story.)
Crescendo Espresso Bar, 8:30 pm
Fans of Wilco will enjoy DiLego's country-folk instrumentals and wry, heartbreak-themed lyrics. He'll most likely present tunes from his 2012 album, Western & Atlantic, which received an Independent Music Award.
Frequency, 10 pm
After Screeching Weasel's frontman, Ben Weasel, punched two women at South by Southwest 2011, co-vocalist Vapid and bassist Simon Lamb bowed out. They soon teamed up with guitarist Mike Byrne and drummer Mike Soucy from the Methadones and created a fun new catalog of sing-along pop-punk. With the Turkletons, Lipstick Homicide and IDFK.
NOTEWORTHY: President Jimmy Carter announces that U.S. will recognize People's Republic of China and sever relations with Taiwan, 1978.
First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1:30, 4:30 & 7 pm
Young singers present choral works by Brahms, Britten and even Bono to show how music is a tool for exploring one's surroundings.
High Noon Saloon, 7:30 pm
These bluegrass musicians like to show off their swing skills when they perform as a duet. Cahill, a Grammy-nominated banjoist, helmed Chicago ensemble the Special Consensus for many years.
Overture Center's Gallery I, through March 2
Survey the works of three local artists, including Trent Miller, the mastermind of Central Library's maker-focused Bubbler project, and David Wells, the new director of the Edgewood College art gallery. The show explores themes from Red, a Tony-winning play about painter Mark Rothko, which Forward Theater Company presents Jan. 16-Feb. 2.
NOTEWORTHY: Pope Paul III excommunicates Henry VIII, 1538.
Mystery to Me, 7 pm
A trio of local poets read from a new anthology titled The Heart of All That Is: Reflections on Home, which includes nearly 100 works from literary luminaries like Marge Piercy, Naomi Shihab Nye and Mark Vinz.
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
These Australian rockers list Silverchair and Green Day among their influences, and it shows. Their sound will also appeal to fans nostalgic for the days Jimmy Eat World topped the charts. With Devour the Day.
NOTEWORTHY: HTML 4.0 published by World Wide Web Consortium, 1997.
Barrymore Theatre, 7:30 pm
Chicago's Second City is the most trusted name in sketch comedy, so you can't go wrong with an evening of holiday-oriented satire. Watch closely — you might see some of these kids on Saturday Night Live in the near future.
Frequency, 8 pm
Communion Madison teams Mississippi folk rockers Rosco Bandana with local troubadour Jeremiah Nelson for an evening of holiday-themed treats. (See Story.)
NOTEWORTHY: Adolf Hitler becomes supreme commander-in-chief of German army, 1941.
Brink Lounge, 5 pm
Sample several varieties of jazz from the Madison music scene, from traditional to experimental, as a dozen and a half performers raise money for the Madison Music Collective. The lineup includes vocalist Gerri DiMaggio, sax player Ray Rideout and string-fueled ensemble the Stellanovas.
Edited by prisoner #46664