The sugar plum fairies in OBT's 'The Nutcracker'

Holiday guide
 
Competitive gift wrapping. Groaning platters of empty calories. Company parties with too much, or too little, Christmas cheer (meaning booze, of course). Yes, the holidays can be more treacherous than Santa's red-nosed—and seatbeltless!—sleigh ride through the Arctic sky. That's why we compile our annual Holiday Guide: to keep your spirits high what blizzards may come. Here's a sample roundup of this weekend's festive favorites:
Theater
 
Thursday–Sunday, Winningstad Theatre
Following on the heels of last year’s holiday-season production of the fantastically farcical and incredibly demanding Noises Off!, Third Rail presents this equally challenging comedy by Charles Ludlam. The mystery satirizes Victorian melodrama, vampire stories, and Hitchcockesque psychological thrillers with local powerhouses Isaac Lamb (left) and Leif Norby playing eight characters, which requires some 35 costume changes.
 
E. E. Cumming's Santa
Thursday–Sunday, Back Door Theater
"Small, spontaneous, and strange." That's how Liminal co-artistic Director John Berendzen describes this five-part modern allegory culled from e.e. cummings texts like Santa Claus and Little Tree. Are Death and Santa long-lost twins? Do you really want to visit Casa Claus? Online shopping: what would e. e. cummings do? If this comedy is anything like Liminal' production of Our Town last year (also directed by Berendzen; see our review here), expect the wrapping on this holiday hodgepodge to resemble no other gift of the season.
 
 
CONCERTS
 
Thursday at 7 pm, Aladdin Theater
The singer-songwriter released Vibrate: The Best of Rufus Wainwright this past spring, a career-spanning retrospective of the baroque pop sensibilities he’s mined since his acclaimed self-titled debut in 1998. Presumably he takes us through the best of it tonight. 
 
Saturday at 9 pm, S1
The budding electro-R&B duo has collaborated with Shy Girls, produced for Stewart Villain, and been named one of Willamette Week's Best New Bands—and they're only on their sophomore album. Just out, Push Thru blends synth-laden, remix-inspired beats with glossy, wistful lyricism. Read our profile with of local duo here.
 
Sunday at 9 pm, Doug Fir Lounge
What sets this four-piece apart from the legion of similar acts exploring the sonic possibilities of the folk and Americana tradition is actually neither of the brothers in question. It’s their harp player, Sarah Page, whom Brad Barr met when he heard her playing in the apartment next door to his.
 
 
COMEDY
 
Late Night Action with Alex Falcone
Thursday at 8 pm, Whitsell Auditorium
Hosted by comedic powerhouse Alex Falcone and sidekick Bri Pruett, Late Night Action delivers all the things you love in a talk show but with a decidedly Portland twist. December's show takes over the Whitsell Auditorium in the belly of the art museum with artist Wendy Red Star, writer and Live Wire producer Courtenay Hameister, photographer Holly Andres, Seattle comedian Scott Losse, and music from Portland rock pianist Bryan Fre. Read more about Falcone and Pruett in our roundup of four hot comics.
 
Greg Proops
Thursday–Saturday, Helium Comedy Club
Veteran and host of the popular podcast The Smartest Man in the World, Proops comes to town with a brand-new stand-up show.
 
 
CLASSICAL MUSIC 

Andre Watts
Saturday–Monday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
The celebrated pianist, who won the first-ever Grammy for Best New Classical Artist, in 1964, returns to perform Sibelius’s Symphony No. 4, Copland’s Suite from Appalachian Spring, and the underappreciated American Romantic Edward McDowell’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

Metropolitan Youth Symphony
Sunday at 7:30 pm, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
See the best of the area’s young classical performers in action at MYS’s annual winter show, featuring all three of the organization’s full orchestras.
 

DANCE
  
BodyVox Presents: Firewall
Thursday–Saturday, BodyVox
This new piece from artistic directors Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland explores the realm of optical illusion and perspective through BodyVox’s signature embrace of mixed-media possibilities. 
  
Friday–Sunday, The Vestas Building Atrium 
Every year for its “un-holiday” show, NWDP’s artistic director, Sarah Slipper, lets her talented company members assume the choreography duties for an intimate weekend of refreshing performances. 
 
 
BOOKS AND TALKS
 
Friday and Saturday at 7 pm, Disjecta Contemporary Art Center
Ever wish the literary world could have just a bit of the fashion world's glamour? Well, try this on for size: a showcase of new poetry where, just as designers display their work on models, poets choose readers and performers that they feel will best represent their work.
 
Sunday at 2 pm, Portland Art Museum
As part of the “Critical Voices” lecture series, dedicated to the spirit of celebrated art critic Clement Greenberg, the Portland Art Museum hosts this painter, visual artist, and MacArthur “genius grant” recipient known for his unyielding exploration of black identity in Western artistic traditions.
 
 
ART
 
Closes Friday, The Art Gym at Marylhurst University
Setting out to explore the intersection between humor and art, Paraprosdokians and Rubber Chickens features artists both Portland-based and beyond (including recent NW Bowen Award-winner Ralph Pugay), who employ comedic tropes and a far-reaching range of mediums—including painting, sculpture, video, performance, photography, drawing, prints, and installation art. 
 
 
FILM
 
The Found Footage Festival
Saturday and Sunday at 7 pm, Hollywood Theatre
The Found Footage Festival is a celebration of bloopers, outtakes, screw-ups, and unimaginably genuine 80s infomercial footage. The festival is brought to you by Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher, humorists whose credits reach from The Onion to Letterman and Colbert. They're also pranksters, seasoned at the art of duping local news shows (exhibit A: Fake Chef Pranks Morning TV Show). Still unsure what this is? Take a look at the festival trailer:
 
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