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Globe West Arts

Dazzling array of holiday shows

Guest artists Cheryl Madeux Abbott and Vitali Krauchenka will lead a local cast in the Franklin Performing Arts Company's performances of ''The Nutcracker'' this weekend. Guest artists Cheryl Madeux Abbott and Vitali Krauchenka will lead a local cast in the Franklin Performing Arts Company's performances of ''The Nutcracker'' this weekend.
By Denise Taylor
December 4, 2008
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Human dreidels, dancing nutcracker bears, and giant Renaissance Christmas puppets - this year's local holiday shows offer much to dazzle both the eyes and the spirit. Here are a few of our favorites.

A Reagle Christmas

There's no shortage of glitz, garlands, or joy in "It's Christmas Time," the annual holiday spectacular by Waltham's Reagle Players. From a brigade of toy soldiers high-kicking through a classic Radio City Music Hall routine to 26 Santas playing xylophones to nutcracker bears pirouetting with Clara, this show delivers top-flight, nonstop magical cheer from the moment you sit down until the standing ovation at the end. More than 50 local talents take to the stage alongside Broadway guest stars, including golden-voiced, show-stopping soprano Sarah Pfisterer. Opening tomorrow, running through Dec. 14. Shows at 7 p.m. Fridays; 12 and 4 p.m. Saturdays; 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7; and 1 p.m. Dec. 14 at Waltham High School, 617 Lexington St., Waltham. Tickets: $35-$49; $1 off for seniors; $25 for ages 5-18. 781-891-5600, www.reagleplayers.com.

Winter Revelry

It's the eve of the holidays and all through a boarding school the students are stirring before the teacher lets them out. So begins the Performing Arts Center of MetroWest's original "Holiday Revelry" show set in the imaginary town of Eastboro, Mass. This romp through winter holidays, from Hanukkah to Kwanzaa to Christmas, gets its spirit from an all-ages homegrown cast and a glittering parade of song, dance, and drama. Special guests include the Stardust Chorus a cappella troupe, the Brophy School Recorder Club, and teenage English rapper sword dancers the Pocket Flyers. 7:30 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday at the Framingham Civic League, 214 Concord St., Framingham. Advance tickets: $12; youths under 18, seniors $10; $2 extra at door. 508-875-5554, www.pacmetrowest.org.

Nutcracker sightings

Take your pick of Nutcrackers this year. The Franklin Performing Arts Company brings Tchaikovsky's score to life with a 27-piece professional orchestra and an all-ages cast of 100. Led by principals Cheryl Madeux Abbott, formerly of the Joffrey Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, and Vitali Krauchenka, of the American Ballet Theatre, this annual production is always magical and always fun. Shows 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday at Thomas D. Mercer Auditorium, 224 Oak St., Franklin. Tickets: $24-$26. 508-528-8668, www.fpaconline.com.

Professional ballet company Dance Prism brings its acclaimed traveling production of "The Nutcracker" to Sudbury on Sunday. It packs all the spectacle that fans expect from this classic, including falling snow, a reindeer-drawn sleigh, and a magically growing Christmas tree. Shows 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, 390 Lincoln Road, Sudbury. Tickets: $22; youths, seniors $16. 978-371-1038, danceprism.com.

In Weston, the Commonwealth Ballet presents "The Nutcracker" with a cast of local talents led by American Ballet Theatre members Gennadi Saveliev and Hee Seo. 7 p.m. Dec. 12; 1 and 6 p.m. Dec.13; and 1 p.m. Dec. 14 at Regis College's Casey Theatre, 235 Wellesley St., Weston. Tickets: $23-$33; students, seniors $20-$28. 978-263-7794, commonwealthballet.org.

A flurry of flutes

In 2002, a dozen flutists from the New England Conservatory's Metropolitan Flute Orchestra formed the group Harmonie Transverse, and tomorrow night they present a holiday concert in Berlin. The heavenly harmonies of this flute choir emerge from the silvery notes of piccolos, C flutes, G alto flutes, and bass flutes. Consider it the sound snowflakes would make if you could hear them gently falling. 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at 1870 Town Hall, 12 Woodward Ave., Berlin. Donations accepted. 978-838-2575.

A Celtic Christmas

From the little known Kilmore carols of Wexford to the Irish-American vaudeville stage, Irish music favorites Robbie O'Connell and Aoife Clancy give voice to Christmas and winter solstice melodies in their "A Celtic Christmas" concert. Be prepared to tap your feet: virtuoso George Keith accompanies on fiddle and concertina. 8 p.m. Saturday at the Homegrown Coffeehouse, First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church, 23 Dedham Ave., Needham. Tickets: $18; students, seniors $15. 781-444-7478, www.uuneedham.org/coffeehouse.

Holiday Pops

Take the spirited Claflin Hill Symphony Orchestra and add in the shimmering vocals of the New World Chorale and you get a holiday show so spectacular that fans keep coming back every year. So, once again, Christmas and Hanukkah tunes will ring out with gusto at Claflin Hill's Holiday Pops concert in Milford. On the program are favorites ranging from "White Christmas" to "The Hallelujah Chorus" and on to a jazzy take on "Stille Nacht." 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13, 3 p.m. Dec. 14 at Milford Town Hall, 52 Main St., Milford. Tickets: $35-$30; students, seniors $25. 508-478-5924, www.claflinhill.org.

Perhaps its members are a wee bit tipsy with holiday spirit, but the Wellesley Symphony Orchestra is offering all kids a chance to conduct (briefly) at the ensemble's annual Holiday Pops concert. Then settle back for a festive sing-along, a visit by Santa, and a program of classical and popular holiday favorites. 3 p.m. Dec. 14 at Massachusetts Bay Community College, 50 Oakland St., Wellesley Hills. Tickets: $22; $17 seniors, students; under age 12 free. 781-235-0515, www.wellesleysymphony.org.

Pageant of the past

Dancing, puppets, and lush Renaissance music carry revelers on a journey to medieval times in the family-oriented "Gloria: A Renaissance Christmas Pageant." A collaboration of early-music ensemble Cappella Clausura and Creationdance, this show features stunning costumes, giant puppetry, and a sing-along to 14th-century hymns. 8 p.m. Dec. 19 at the First Unitarian Society, 1326 Washington St., Newton. Tickets: $15; seniors $12. www.clausura.org.

Hanukkah with Gillman

He started his performing career as a singing waiter, but soon Jackson Gillman became the "Stand-Up Chameleon," a master of all things song, dance, storytelling, and mime. The day before Hanukkah, this one-man spectacle serves up his interactive holiday "shtick" in Natick, promising plenty of fun holiday tales, schlemiels, and a few human dreidels. 2 p.m. Dec. 21 at the Center for Arts in Natick, 14 Summer St., Natick. Tickets: $9; under age 12 $6. 508-647-0097, www.natickarts.org.

Sing it loud chorales

From Steve Risteter's "The Eighth Candle" to 16th-century French carols, the Rivers Edge Holiday Concert packs a wide range of musical cheer including a few sing-alongs. The joint concert features the River's Edge Chorale, River's Edge Community Band, and Pro Musica Youth Chorus. 3:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at Hudson High School, 69 Brigham St. Snow date Dec. 20. Advance tickets: $10; seniors, students $9; $2 more at door. 978-562-1646.

It wouldn't be Christmas without a "Messiah" sing, and the Assabet Valley Mastersingers will oblige once again with their annual, exhilarating sing-along to Handel's masterpiece. 3:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Evangelical Congregational Church, 8 Church St., Westborough. Donation: $5. 978-562-9838, www.avmsingers.org.

First listen to the acclaimed 70-voice Boston Saengerfest Men's Chorus create a stunning cathedral of sound, then add your own voice for a carol sing-along. 4 p.m. Dec. 21 at Regis College Fine Arts Center, 235 Wellesley St., Weston. Tickets: $20. 508-358-4104, www.saengerfest.org.

Have an idea for the Arts column? Please contact westarts@globe.com.

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