8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, Revolution Hall
The Mississippi-born comedian transforms life’s most gut-wrenching events—breakups, life-threatening illness, death—into off-kilter but tender (and occasionally topless) stuff. She’s currently starring in One Mississippi, a semiautobiographical Amazon series about coping with the loss of her mother.
The Siren Theater’s Best Christmas Ever!
8 p.m. Friday–Saturday, Siren Theater
The Siren’s “old-fashioned holiday variety show”—they’re channeling Donny and Marie for this one—promises singing, dancing, and comedy provided by some of the city’s funniest, among them Shelley McLendon, Loren Hoskins, Michael Fetters, and Jed Arkley.
7:30 p.m. Thursday–Saturday, Performance Works NW
Choreographer Katie Scherman, who danced with BodyVox last season, premieres a new trio that delves into femininity, in all its contradictions and confusions, via movement Scherman describes as “highly physical and intricate.”
Superhero Old Folks’ Home
3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday, Echo Theater
Take a dance show. Set it in 2020. In a retirement home. But for retired superheroes. What more could you want? Trapeze? Check. Aerial dance? Check. Puppets? Check. Superhero Old Folks’ Home explores aging and family in all its acrobatic glory. Heroes ahoy!
7:30 p.m. Thursday–Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday–Sunday, 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, seek out one of the eight performances featuring a live orchestra.
Christmas at the Old Church
7:30 p.m. Thursday–Friday, 1, 5, and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 6 p.m. Sunday, The Old Church
Michael Allen Harrison’s prodigious piano playing has decked these halls for a quarter of a century. He’ll be joined by other musicians in the Old Church’s hallowed space for some festive classics.
8 p.m. Thursday, Crystal Ballroom
This third-culture singer of Scottish descent grew up in London, Tokyo, and Hong Kong before moving to LA to start her music career. She’s come a long way from playing three-person crowds in the city of angels—this past year, her song “River” appeared at number 2 on Spotify’s Global Viral 50, and she made her television debut performing the same single on Jimmy Fallon.
It's a Wonderful Life
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Sure, you could watch Jimmy Stewart discover the true meaning of life on network TV. Or you could catch the 1946 classic on the big screen, in its original black and white, soundtracked live by the Oregon Symphony. Your call.
A Byzantine Christmas
8 p.m. Saturday, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, SOLD OUT
Forget black-and-white movies and chestnuts roasting on an open fire—for a real old-school Christmas experience (we’re talking 9th century CE here), join Boston-based vocal ensemble Psaltikon for an evening of Byzantine chant and traditional Greek carols. The concert will be directed by Dr. Spyridon Antonopoulos, who also performs with Portland’s own Cappella Romana.
8 p.m. Saturday, Revolution Hall
“Santa Baby” not your bag? Bazan is here for you. On his collection Dark Sacred Night, the raw-voiced Seattle troubadour—former Pedro the Lion front man and defected evangelical Christian—remixes classics like “Silent Night” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” into melancholy ditties, alongside a few modern tunes and originals.
9 p.m. Thursday–Saturday, Star Theater
What goes together better than stripping, Christmas, and opera? Nothing, that’s what. Based on the life of beloved Portland stripper and author Viva Las Vegas, this one-act opera zeroes in on a stressful family visit over the holidays—because, well, Viva’s dad happens to be a midwestern preacher. For more, read our preview.
7:30 p.m. Thursday–Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, 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.
Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin
7:30 p.m. Thursday–Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday–Sunday, Gerding Theater
Polymath performer and pianist Hershey Felder takes us on a nostalgic spin through the life of legendary songwriter Irving Berlin, with plenty of musical stops along the way—think “Anything You Can Do,” “Easter Parade,” and, of course, “White Christmas.”
A Civil War Christmas
7:30 p.m. Thursday–Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday–Sunday, 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.”
Noon–6 p.m. Thursday–Sunday, 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.
10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Friday–Saturday, Elizabeth Leach Gallery
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.”
OPENING Kris Hargis
10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Thursday–Saturday, Froelick Gallery
In The less I speak, the more I learn, Hargis showcases unstinting self-portraits, including oil paintings, pastel drawings, and an eight-foot-tall sculpture made of wood, clay, hemp, and copper.
9 a.m.–7 p.m. Saturday–Sunday, Portland Mercado
Portland Mercado hosts a weekend-long holiday bazaar complete with piñatas, a pop-up holiday gift shop, live music, and posada, led by St. Andrews Church. Two new additions to the Mercado, Haitian Cookshack Cafe and Carniceria Kaah, will be open for business, along with favorites such as Las Adelas.