If you're looking for a holiday season stage show alternative, travel to "Almost, Maine," at Pennsylvania Playhouse, Bethlehem, through Dec. 21.
Clair M. Freeman, Pennsylvania Playhouse production chair, has gotten outstanding performances from the six-person ensemble in the two-hour, two-act drama-comedy written by John Cariani.
The play, which premiered in 2004 at Portland Stage Company, Portland, Me., opened for a one-month run in 2006 off-Broadway in New York City.
"A Childs Christmas in Wales," 3 p.m. Dec. 15, staged reading, Selkie Theatre, Anam Cara Farm, 2317 Minnich Road, South Whitehall Township. selkietheatre.org, 484-241-9591
"A Christmas Carol," 7 p.m. Dec. 12, 13, 14, 19, 20; 2 p.m. Dec. 14, 15, Civic Theatre of Allentown, 527 N. 19th St., Allentown. CivicTheatre.com, 610-432-8943
"A Christmas Carol," 8 p.m. Dec. 13, 14, 15, 20, 21; 2 p.m. Dec. 15, 22, Crowded Kitchen Players, McCoole's Arts & Events Place, 10 S. Main St., Quakertown. email firstname.lastname@example.org, ckplayers.com, 610-395-7176
This holiday season, the Lehigh Valley again has not one, but three "Nutcracker" ballets: one for each of its three cities.
The Moscow Ballet is at the State Theatre, Easton.
The Pennsylvania Youth Ballet-Ballet Guild of the Lehigh Valley is at Zoellner Arts Center, Bethlehem.
Repertory Dance Theatre is at Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.
Each version has its own merits, with guest soloists in starring roles and from 40 to 100 area participants, from elementary-age students to senior citizens in supporting roles.
Repertory Dance Theatre (RDT) graces the stage of Miller Symphony Hall, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown, for its 27th annual presentation of "Nutcracker," 2 p.m. Dec. 14, 15, with the return of Carolina Ballet Theatre's dance alum Matthew Harvey as the Cavalier and partner Madeline Jazz, also of the Carolina Ballet Theatre, portraying the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Also appearing is former American Ballet Theatre and North Carolina Dance Theatre's Sarah James, an alumna of RDT, now dancing for ABT star Craig Salstein's new company Intermezzo.
"The Great Russian Nutcracker," 2, 5:30 p.m. Dec. 14, State Theater Center for the Arts, 453 Northampton St., Easton, is the Moscow Ballet's version of "Nutcracker and the King of Mice," the original tale by E.T.A. Hoffman, with elements of legendary Russian folk characters Father Christmas and the Snow Maiden.
"It's a very energetic and fun and beautiful show for all ages," says Sally Michael Keyes, public relations director, North America, for the Moscow Ballet.
The Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (PYB) Ballet Guild of the Lehigh Valley celebrates the 45th year of its staging of the "Nutcracker" with an orchestra of 45 musicians, The South Side Sinfonietta, directed by Eugene Albulescu, along with a chorus of 20 children, the Nutcracker Treble Choir, led by choral director Christine Lerew.
PYB's "Nutcracker" is at 1, 4 p.m. Dec. 14, and 2 p.m. Dec. 15, Lehigh University's Zoellner Arts Center, 420 E. Packer Avenue, Bethlehem.
Students from the Northampton Dance Ensemble and the Acta Non Verba dance club will perform pieces choreographed by Northampton Community College dance faculty at a Winter Danceworks event, 11:15 a.m. Dec. 12 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13, Lipkin Theatre, Kopecek Hall, Main Campus, 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem Township.
Admission is free with a donation of a non-perishable food item for a local food bank.
The White House's18-1/2-foot-tall Douglass fir tree grown at Crystal Springs Farm, Lehighton, is one in a long line of Christmas trees supplied to presidents and first families stretching all the way back to the late 1800s.
A slide-lecture about the history behind this and other White House holiday customs will be presented, 1 p.m. Dec. 14, Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum (LVHM), 432 W. Walnut St., Allentown.
Many of the best non-documentary feature films of 2013 have been based on true stories.
These include "Dallas Buyers Club," "12 Years A Slave," "Captain Phillips," "The Butler" and "42."
"Philomena" is another of the year's best films where the adage applies: "Truth is stranger than fiction."
The film should bring an Oscar actress nomination for Dame Judy Dench in the title role.
PRESS PHOTOS BY DEBBIE GALBRAITH
The annual holiday bazaar Nov. 9 at Trinity Memorial Lutheran Church, 535 W. Emaus Ave., Allentown, brings cheer to those who attend as various crafters display their creations.