• Choreographed by Artistic Director Salwa Rizkalla, Festival Ballet Theatre’s enchanting production of “The Nutcracker” returns with performances December 13 through 24 at Irvine Barclay Theater. Local students in children’s roles join FBT’s company dancers and guest artists from American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, and “Breaking Pointe” star and Ballet West principal Beckanne Sisk. More info: thebarclay.org.
• Newport Theater Arts Center is staging a holiday variety show December 20-22, and it’s perfect for the whole family. Created by two local theater moms, “Let’s Put On a Jolly Holiday Show” offers a series of acts showcasing various talents including magic, dancing, singing, and more. There will also be pre-show entertainment, refreshments and a holiday boutique. Tickets are only $10 for adults and $5 for children. Call (949) 631-0288 or visit NTAConline.com.
• Maple Youth Ballet presents Artistic Director Charles Maple’s own charming version of “The Nutcracker” at Northwood Performing Arts Theatre in Irvine December 21 through 23. Fun activities for children take place in Clara’s Tutu Tent one hour prior to each show and during intermission. More info: maplesconservatory.com.
· A festive sing-a-long and Santa Claus top off the excitement of Pacific Symphony’s Family Musical Mornings presentation of “Nutcracker for Kids,” a 45-minute version of the story of Clara and her newfound friends, enlivened by dancers from Festival Ballet Theatre. December 14 at 10 and 11:30 a.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. A Merry Musical Carnival for children is held at 9 a.m. (for the 10 a.m. concert) and 12:15 p.m. (for the 11:30 a.m. concert). More info: PacificSymphony.org.
• Trumpets, timpani, and a joy-filled chorus bring refreshing relief for holiday weariness when Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale join forces for an uplifting afternoon resonant with the glorious beauty of Handel’s baroque masterwork, “Messiah.” December 15 in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Details: PacificSymphony.org.
• Grammy Award-winning group The Manhattan Transfer make a rare Orange County appearance on December 16 for “The Manhattan Transfer Holiday Concert” featuring songs from their popular holiday recordings as well as some of their biggest hits such as “Birdland” and “Java Jive.” Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Details: scfta.org.
• Nostalgia abounds as holiday classics receive fresh arrangements for the return of Pacific Symphony’s annual “Holiday Organ Spectacular” on December 17. Played by virtuoso organist Todd Wilson, the majestic William J. Gillespie Concert Organ shines, sharing the spotlight with Broadway soprano Lisa Vroman and accompanying Pacific Symphony musicians. Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Details: PacificSymphony.org.
• The holiday season gets capped off with the heartwarming and spirited talents of Grammy Award-winner LeAnn Rimes, making her Pacific Symphony Pops Series debut December 19 through 21 in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Rimes will share music from her 2004 holiday album, “What a Wonderful World,” along with well-known hits. Details: PacificSymphony.org.