Spice up the holidays with a trip back to the swing era in Point Park University Conservatory Dance Company's production of "The Jazz Nutcracker."
Conceived and choreographed by Doug Bentz, the not-your-ordinary "Nutcracker" follows Clara to a cabaret, where she meets such sultry characters as Sugar Rum Cherry, Hong Kong Charlie and The Arabesque Cookies. A Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn-based musical arrangement, played live by the Benny Benack Band, will accompany dancers.
It's 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Rockwell Theatre at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, Oakland. It also will be staged next weekend at the same times. Tickets: $18-20, with special student and group rates available, at 412-392-8000 or www.pittsburghplayhouse.com.
Handmade Arcade, Pittsburgh's oldest and largest independent craft fair, will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown.
The event will feature 150 local and national craft vendors selling products ranging from t-shirts and children's clothing to jewelry and pillows; all ages art activities; lunch and refreshment booths; and live music by Instead of Sleeping, David Pohl, J. Malls & Michael Seamans, Bad Seed and The Garment District.
Admission is free, but a $15 Early Birdie Pass gets you in an hour before the public opening, plus goodies, coupons and raffle entry (children 12 and under are free with an adult). For music schedule, vendor list, visit www.handmadearcade.com.
Doo Wop Holiday
Kenny Vance lost his Belle Harbor, N.J., beach home and most of his prized memorabilia in Hurricane Sandy.
He best outlet now, he told the New York Times, is playing for crowds. The singer-songwriter-musician from Jay and the Americans, which opened for the Beatles and Rolling Stones, headlines the Doo Wop Holiday Reunion Show XI at the Consol Energy Center Friday with his band The Planotones.
Along with being a musician, Mr. Vance was the musical director for such films as "American Hot Wax" and "Animal House," and television shows, including "Saturday Night Live."
He is joined by The Chantels ("Look in My Eyes"), The Dupress ("You Belong to Me"), The Edsels ("Rama Lama Ding Dong"), Jimmy Gallagher and the Passions ("Just to Be With You"), Herb Cox and the Cleftones ("Heart and Soul"), The Capris ("There's a Moon Out Tonight") and Tommy Mara and the Crests ("16 Candles").
The show is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $21-$95; www.ticketmaster.com; 1-800-745-3000.
PANDEMIC, the Brillobox DJ dance night that celebrates Balkan beat, bhangra, cumbia, Afrobeat, gypsy brass, ska, baile funk, calypso and more, celebrates its seventh anniversary with a special party on Friday night.
Over the past seven years, Pete Spynda (aka Pandemic Pete) has presided over 100 dance parties and produced over 25 live shows for touring artists from all across the world.
Joining him on Friday will DJ Joro Boro, former resident DJ at Mehanata Bulgarian Bar who has toured with Balkan Beat Box and played with likes of Tinariwen, Bassnectar and Gogol Bordello.
It begins at 9:30 p.m. Go to www.pandemicpgh.com
Holiday music old and new
Rebecca Rollett strikes again with another creative and compelling holiday concert. As artistic director of the Pittsburgh Camerata, she has built a reputation as a tireless researcher always on the lookout for new-to-you music (often from centuries ago). Her chamber choir concerts -- especially the Christmas ones -- are a fascinating journey through time and geography. This December will be no exception.
Anchored by the 15th-century English carol, "A Babe is Born," the program stretches out to other music and carols that "lift us out of the cold and the dark; into the light of the Christmas season."
Telling the story of Christmas through ancient and modern song (including works by Gustav Holst and Stephen Paulus), she was inspired by a quote from a Laurie Lee poem: "No night could be darker than this night, no cold so cold, as the blood snaps like a wire and the heart's sap stills, and the year seems defeated." The poem "captures the essence of midwinter, when all are searching for light," she says in her notes to the concerts. Flutist Josie Kost and oboist Lenny Young join the vocal ensemble to connect the choral selections.
"The Light of Christmas" takes place at 8 p.m. Fri. at Sixth Presbyterian Church, Squirrel Hill, 8 p.m. Sat. at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Highland Park and 8 p.m. Dec. 15 at Mt. Lebanon United Methodist Church. $5-$20. 412-421-5884 or pittsburghcamerata.org.
Pittsburgh's Dave Klug has an impressive resume here as a drummer (Hector in Paris, The Spuds, Aviation Blondes, etc.) and visual artist, with everyone from The Wall Street Journal to Sesame Street Magazine and Highlights Magazine (Hidden Pictures).
On Saturday, he opens a new show, "New Classic Images," at Panza Gallery,115 Sedgwick Street, Millvale, with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m.
It includes about 30 works, 12 of them handmade silk screens done at Artist Image Resource on the North Side. There area also limited edition prints as well as a new book, "Common Dog Commands for the Uncommon Dog."
The shows plays off of a lot of classic imagery from history and creates new classics, hence the name of the show," he says. "It showcases my stylized art, sense of humor and love of animals. Of course you've heard of Whistler's Mother, but I opt to focus on Whistler's Dog."
It runs through Dec. 31.
NEED TO KNOW
• Children's Festival Chorus' "One Singing World" mixes classical, folk and traditional selections in languages from around the world. Saxophonist (and other jazz instruments) Mike Tomaro will join the children. 4 p.m. Sunday at East Liberty Presbyterian Church. $15-$26; www.showclix.com or 888-718-4253.
• Tom Roberts, a prominent stride pianist from Swisshelm Park who has toured with Leon Redbone and performed on Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator," will lead a tribute to the great Fats Waller at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Irish Center, 6886 Forward Ave., Squirrel Hill. He will be joined by a band of local musicians. Admission is $15.
• Camp Lo, the Bronx rap duo of Sonny Cheeba and Geechi Suede, is marking the 15th anniversary of its debut album "Uptown Saturday Night" by performing it in its entirety on a tour that stops at the Shadow Lounge, East Liberty, at 10 tonight. Camp Lo will also mix in some new music and vintage songs such as "Coolie High." Go to www.shadowlounge.net
• The Mansion at Hartwood will be open for special holiday tours Friday and Dec. 14. A performance on its restored pipe organ will be part of a re-creation of Christmas parties that took place in the time when the mansion was built (1929). 6 and 8 p.m. $25, reservations only; 412-767-9200.
• Word just broke that Tex-Mex band The Mavericks will release their first album in seven years in early 2013. In the meantime, singer Raul Malo plays the New Hazlett Theater, North Side, at 8 tonight. Tickets are $27-$30; www.ticketfly.com
• Pittsburgh synth-rock band Falling Andes unveils a new four-piece lineup when it plays The Club at Stage AE, North Shore, Saturday with electronic duo Mad Rapture and indie-rock band Household Stories. Doors at 6:30 p.m. $12 advance; $10 door. www.ticketmaster.com