8 p.m. Thursday, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday, Helium Comedy Club
The onetime Portlander—whose underachiever persona belies a whip-smart comedic zing—returns to town for a weekend of shows. Back in 2013, Torres won Helium’s Funniest Person Competition, and has since then made the rounds at festivals across the country, and appeared on Comedy Bang Bang and Last Comic Standing.
2 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday–Friday, noon Saturday, Keller Auditorium
It’s not December without the pirouetting sugarplum fairies and sword-wielding mice of Balanchine’s beloved ballet. If you don’t like your Tchaikovsky canned, Friday evening's performance features a live orchestra.
Cirque Dreams Holidaze
7:30 p.m. Thursday–Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Part circus, part Broadway musical, Cirque Dreams Holidaze pays tribute to the holiday season in a way that everyone can enjoy—at least everyone who loves winter wonderlands full of original music, dizzying acrobatics, and dazzling illusions, as performed by elaborately costumed penguins and gingerbread men. How did it all come to be? The show’s producer, Neil Goldberg, grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family but was always enchanted by the splendor of modern Christmas.
Cheer the F**k Up: An OK Chorale Holiday Pop Songs Sing-Along
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Mississippi Studios
The OK Chorale, a drop-in pop chorus with live musical accompaniment, invites singers of all skill levels to belt out some non-traditional holiday faves, from Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal” to Joni Mitchell’s “River,” and maybe—fingers crossed—some Wham! Drinking is encouraged.
CLOSING Venus and Adonis
7:30 p.m. Thursday–Saturday, Shaking the Tree
Top-notch performers Rebecca Ridenour and Matthew Kerrigan put a theatrical twist on Shakespeare’s erotic poem about love goddess Venus and her obsession with the beautiful, uninterested Adonis. (Extra incentive: the poem also features a vicious wild boar and a horny horse.)
CLOSING A Tuna Christmas
7:30 p.m. Thursday–Friday, Winningstad Theatre
Oregon Repertory Theatre invites audiences to witness the trauma of the holiday season as experienced by the citizens of Tuna, Texas, where Patsy Cline reigns eternal. Jeffrey Jason Gilpin and Alan King portray all 22 characters—with the help of some split-second costume changes—in the second in a series of four plays about Texas’s third-smallest town.
CLOSING A Civil War Christmas
2 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday–Friday, Artists Repertory Theatre
Populated by the Lincolns, Ulysses S. Grant, and Robert E. Lee, Pulitzer winner Paula Vogel’s song-studded, DC-set drama travels back to Christmas Eve, 1864. The New York Times called it “a beautifully stitched tapestry of American lives.”
7:30 p.m. Thursday–Friday, Venetian Theatre
Before Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan got mail, there was this 1936 Hungarian play by Miklós László about feuding perfumery employees who’ve fallen in love as anonymous pen pals. This version, presented by Hillsboro’s Bag & Baggage Theatre, was adapted by László’s nephew, E. P. Dowdall.
Calvin Chen and Patricia Lay-Dorsey
Noon–5 p.m. Thursday–Saturday, Blue Sky Gallery, FREE
In Tea for Two, photographer Lay-Dorsey chronicles small moments at home with her husband—little glimpses into the shared life of an aging couple. Chen’s black-and-white series Cómo Juegan Los Niños documents children at play across the globe.
Contemporary Prints from Crow's Shadow
11 a.m. –5 p.m. Thursday–Saturday, Hoffman Gallery at Oregon College of Art and Craft, FREE
This wide-ranging showcase of 21 prints made on-site at Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts—a nonprofit in Pendleton that works to provide opportunities for Native American artists, as well as training in Native art practices—includes work by Wendy Red Star, James Lavadour, and Rick Bartow.
10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Thursday–Saturday, Elizabeth Leach Gallery, FREE
In Gut, the multimedia artist—known for work created from chewing gum and cigarette butts—examines maleness and aging via materials that, in his words, “droop and sag.” We've got more on the show here.
CLOSING Jaik Faulk
Noon–6 p.m. Thursday–Saturday, Nationale, FREE
A still life series that is equal parts jubilant and dismal, Louisiana painter Jaik Faulk’s I feel alright with azaleas around is an ode to the dichotomy of Southern life: hospitality and charm juxtaposed with a haunting undercurrent symbolized by skulls and dark hues.
5:30–9:30 p.m. Thursday, 5–11 p.m. Friday, 5–9 p.m. Saturday–Sunday, Portland International Raceway
Picture the scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on the boat in the chocolate river, and Gene Wilder is singing, with some pretty disturbing imagery superimposed thereon. Now, add hundreds of Christmas lights and animated holiday scenes, and tip the scales from creepy to fun, and you’ve got a small idea of what’s in store at this drive-through light show at Portland International Raceway... or maybe you should just check it out for yourself.
Christmas at the Pittock Mansion
11 a.m.–4 p.m. Thursday–Saturday, Pittock Mansion
Portland’s beloved West Hills mansion gets some holiday flair for the 50th year running. The tradition of decorating the Pittock dates back to 1966, when a group of Laurelhurst Elementary students made ornaments to trim the tree. This year’s display spans 15 spaces inside the mansion, with 39 Christmas trees, kilometers of lights and holiday-themed decoration, and live music daily. BYOSEN (Bring Your Own Spiked Egg Nog).
The Grotto Christmas Festival of Lights
5–9:30 p.m. Thursday–Saturday, The Grotto
There may be no better way to fully immerse yourself in the delirious glee of Christmas than by strolling through the Festival of Lights at the Grotto. This year, expect nearly 160 choral performances from some of the most renowned church, school, and civic choirs in the region. Come all ye faithful, whatever the faith: this’ll bring out the joyful and triumphant in you.