There are at least a dozen productions of Tchaikovsky's Christmas classic Nutcracker playing in the L.A. area between now and Christmas. But the ones to catch are the following:
American Ballet Theater is the pick of the season, featuring company stars Misty Copland and Herman Cornejo with choreography by Alexei Ratmansky. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa, Dec. 9-18
Moscow Ballet features hand-made costumes and hand-painted sets direct from Mother Russia. The Wiltern Theatre, Dec. 16-17.
L.A. Ballet under the direction of Balanchine protege Colleen Neary and husband Thordal Christensen. At Alex Theater, Dec. 3-4, Dolby Theatre, Dec. 10-11, UCLA's Royce Hall, Dec. 16-18, Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, Dec. 22-24.
Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, with a score by Mariah Carey, is performed by dancers of the Debbie Allen Academy. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Dec. 16-17.
Bob Baker Marionette Theater stars over 100 marionettes. You won't see another like this. Through Dec. 31.
West Side Ballet dances to live music by the Santa Monica College Symphony Orchestra. Broad Stage, Dec. 2-4.
Barak Ballet teams up with the L.A. Phil for a contemporary take on the classic at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Dec. 3.
The Meshuganutcracker! is a Chanukah musical-comedy at American Jewish University, Bel-Air, Dec. 20 - Jan. 1.
And if you're just not in the holiday spirit then you'll find a friend in Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol, which plays everywhere this time of year, including:
Rubicon Theatre Company's production stars Joe Spano (NCIS) and Peter Van Norden (L.A. Law), Dec. 7-24.
Independent Shakespeare Company artistic director David Melville plays almost every role. Dec. 8-18.
Glendale Centre Theatre: Thurs-Sun. through Dec. 24.
Santa Monica Rep - Miles Memorial Playhouse. Dec. 1-18.
A Noise Within - Pasadena. Dec. 2-23.
South Coast Repertory - Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa, through Dec. 24.
And then there's the rest, celebrations and performances of all stripes:
Irving Berlin's White Christmas - the classic musical that follows a song-and-dance team who plan a performance in a remote inn in Vermont, finding romance along the way. Pantages Theater through Dec. 4.
Elf the Musical - the touring company of the Broadway hit features songs by Tony nominees Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, with book by Tony winners Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa, Dec. 20 - Jan. 1.
A Cinderella Christmas- produced by Nigel Lythgoe and starring Lauren Taylor, Alex Newell and Morgan Fairchild. Pasadena Playhouse Dec. 8 - Jan. 8.
The Klezmatics: Happy Joyous Hanukkah features lyrics by Woody Guthrie discovered by his daughter in 1998. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa, Dec. 22.
Fiesta Navidad - Grammy-winning Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano perform classic carols at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa, Dec. 23.
La Virgen De Guadalupe, Dios Inantzin -The Latino Theatre Company performs their 14th annual reenactment of the Virgin Mary's visitation with 16th-century peasant Juan Diego at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Dec. 1-2.
Trombone Christmas - Going for the Guinness Record, 400 trombonists will gather at Anaheim Garden Walk to perform Dec. 10.
Bring on the Joy - Angel City Chorale, a multicultural group numbering 160 members, performs a nondenominational concert and sing-along at Wilshire United Methodist Church, Dec. 3-4.
Festival of Carols - Los Angeles Master Chorale performs the classics, including a sing-along and a visit from Santa himself at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Dec. 3 & 10.
Holiday Sing-Along - choir and jazz combo combine with pipe organ to deliver a cool take on the season's standards at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Dec. 17.
57th Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration - admission is free as local musicians, choirs and dance companies ring in the holiday in a three-hour event at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Dec. 24.