Cleveland Orchestra lines up a scary fairy tale for the holidays.

Christmas With the Kranks
Susanne Mentzer makes a lovely German lad in - Hansel and Gretel.
Susanne Mentzer makes a lovely German lad in Hansel and Gretel.
12/2 - 12/4

Think of Hansel and Gretel as an up-and-coming holiday tradition. While Engelbert Humperdinck's 1893 opera may not be as widely performed as Handel's Messiah or The Nutcracker, the Cleveland Orchestra hopes to change all that with its production this weekend -- the first time it's performed the piece in more than 40 years.

Mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer (pictured), who plays Hansel, sings her role in German (English translations will be projected). She's only performed the opera once previously, and that was in English. "A lot of people just assumed I'd done this before," she says. "Now I'm kind of regretting I waited so long, because it really is fun."

The Brothers Grimm fairy tale on which Hansel and Gretel is based is a little, well, grim: Children encounter a woods-dwelling witch, who tries to eat them. But the opera still makes an ideal holiday outing for families, Mentzer says. "The story can be kind of creepy, but this isn't," she says. "It's not so scary. This is more like an unfortunate situation with a happy ending." Hansel and Gretel is at Severance Hall (11001 Euclid Avenue) at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Tickets range from $27 to $75; call 216-231-1111. -- Zachary Lewis

Kitsch Kringle
An arts-and-crafts show for the Naughty List.

SAT 12/4

More than 20 DIY artists and crafts vendors will participate at Saturday's Bazaar Bizarre, a holiday-speckled event featuring gift ideas unsuitable for Grandma and Grandpa (unless, of course, they're into retro-kitsch items for the kitchen and pinup-girl magnets fashioned out of old bottle caps). The concept started in Boston three years ago and spread to Los Angeles a year later. Cleveland is the third city to host the shindig, which includes belly-dancers selling raffle tickets. Ben Vendetta -- from Elephant Stone Records -- will be spinning tunes decidedly more rockin' than Burl Ives' "A Holly Jolly Christmas." And Sleazy Santa will be on hand with some "punk-rock elves," posing for pictures and presumably telling folks what badasses they've been all year. Bazaar Bizarre runs from 3 to 9 p.m. at 1300 Gallery, 1300 West 78th Street. Admission is free. Call 216-939-1300 for more info. -- Michael Gallucci

Freaky Friday
Life's a drag for Tina Turner impersonator.

12/2 - 12/4

At 35, Friday Foster doesn't mind if you think she's one of the grande dames of Cleveland's drag circuit. "I get a rush keeping up with the younger crowd," says Foster, who first stepped onstage in her native Chicago a dozen years ago. "That's why I continue to party with them." Renowned for pulling off dead-on Tina Turner and Patti LaBelle impersonations, Foster slam-dunks any gossip about calling it quits. "I can see myself going for another 10 years," says Foster, a former Miss Gay Black Ohio. "But I don't see myself jumping all over the stage when I'm 50." Foster performs at 11:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at Bounce, 2814 Detroit Avenue. Admission is $3; call 216-357-2997. -- Cris Glaser

CSI: Cleveland

FRI 12/3

"Nobody wants to be my patient," sighs Lake County deputy coroner William Bligh-Glover, who will share gruesome stories at Friday's "Dead Men Talking. " He'll also let you know what he thinks of CBS's Thursday-night schedule: "You'll find out [why] CSI makes me scream with joy and anger." It starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Museum of Natural History, 1 Wade Oval. Admission is $9; call 216-231-4600. -- Lucy McKernan

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