Andrew May realizes that staging A Christmas Carol during the holiday season is as common as bloated bellies on Thanksgiving. But he offers a very good reason for theatergoers to see the Great Lakes Theater Festival production he's directing and skip the others: "It's the best Christmas Carol you'll see," he proclaims. "I've been in Christmas Carols in Chicago and Toronto, and this particular adaptation is perhaps the truest to the book." Great Lakes' Carol is indeed rooted in Charles Dickens' original dark story of hopelessness and redemption. So don't expect a lovable Scrooge or a singing Mickey Mouse onstage. "Everyone takes all kinds of liberties [with the book]," says May. "We're deepening the sadness of the play." A Christmas Carol is at the Ohio Theatre (1519 Euclid Avenue) Friday through December 23. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $25 to $45; call 216-241-6000. -- Michael Gallucci
Pennsylvania Ballet stages a holiday classic.
You know Pennsylvania Ballet's version of The Nutcracker is top-shelf, because it employs George Balanchine's timeless choreography and an impressive set -- which includes a massive 30-foot Christmas tree and a swirling snow scene -- to Tchaikovsky's beloved score. Also, a live orchestra, a 125-plus member choir, and more than 75 local ballet students share the stage. The Nutcracker is at the Allen Theatre (1407 Euclid Avenue) Wednesday through December 5. Show times are 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets range from $26 to $63, available by calling 216-241-6000. -- Michael Gallucci
Hope He Does Bono
Don't write off Bobcat Goldthwait just yet. The late-'80s funnyman's behind the camera these days, scoring with Comedy Central sidesplitters like Crank Yankers and Chappelle's Show. He's at the Improv (2000 Sycamore Street) at 8 and 10:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 8 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $18 and $21; call 216-696-4677. -- Michael Gallucci
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