The Yuletide arts season peaks this weekend with the annual productions of the Children's Theater of Madison's A Christmas Carol and Madison Ballet's The Nutcracker; concerts by the Madison Area Concert Handbells, Madison Bach Musicians, and Festival Choir of Madison; the Old Time Radio Holiday Special; a tribute to "The Christmas Song" by Steve March-Tormé; the Mad Men Holiday Soiree; and, "Here Comes Slamma' Claus" at the Mad Rollin' Dolls season opener. The calendar also includes: book readings by Soledad O'Brien, Jerry Apps, Michael A. Black, and Dan Manoyan; the SoundWaves: The Consequence of Sequences music discussion; benefit shows for Porchlight, Komen for the Cure, and the American Red Cross; a Daft Punk vs. LCD Soundsystem dance party and the Live on U Dub release show; and, more live music from Steve Freund with Mike Morrison, Oedipus Tex, Steve March-Tormé, The Tiny Band, Alex Wilson Band, Every Time I Die, and Greg Cahill with Josh Williams.
NOTEWORTHY: Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi throws shoes at President George W. Bush during news conference in Baghdad, 2008.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 7 pm. Also Saturday (2:30 & 7 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), Dec. 15 & 16
Children's Theater of Madison mounts its magical adaptation of the Dickens classic, with James Ridge of American Players Theatre reprising his vivid portrayal of the miser Scrooge. The Dec. 14 performance features a Victorian holiday party at 6:15 pm in the Capitol Theater lobby.
DreamBank, 1 N. Pinckney St., 7 pm
Join one-woman melting pot Soledad O'Brien, CNN anchor, author and documentarian (Latino in America), for this book-signing and lecture, which draws from her book The Next Big Story: My Journey through the Land of Possibilities.
Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 7 pm
An eclectic group of UW-Madison scientists and musicians, ranging from Genome Center director Lloyd Smith to plant pathologist Kristen Bernard to cellist Parry Karp, explain why patterns and order are so essential in nature.
Middleton-Cross Plains Area Performing Arts Center, 7 pm. Also Saturday, Dec. 15, 7 pm
The ensemble makes a unique sound with its arsenal of bells, both large and small. A holiday concert features music by Handel, Tchaikovsky and Louis Bourgeois.
First Congregational United Church of Christ, 8 pm. Also Saturday, Dec. 15, 3 pm
The local chamber ensemble gets into the Baroque holiday spirit with music by Bach, Vivaldi and Handel. Kids are encouraged to come to Saturday's family show.
Inferno, 9 pm
Don your grass skirt, donate a can of pineapple rings and watch the saucy ladies of Peach Pies Caburlesque shimmy and shake at this Hawaiian-themed fundraiser for Porchlight, which helps Madison's homeless.
Knuckle Down Saloon, 9 pm
Freund, a California musician known for his concerts with blues greats Koko Taylor and Luther Allison, will swing through Madison to take part in this DVD recording session helmed by local blues guitarist A.J. Love. Sharing the bill is Morrison, a bassist who's recorded with Buddy Guy and opened for Led Zeppelin. With Chris Sandoval.
Majestic Theatre, 10 pm
Oil your hinges, then bust out your best robot-inspired dance moves during hits such as Daft Punk's "Around the World" and LCD Soundsystem's "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House."
Dragonfly Lounge, 10 pm
Get acquainted with lean acoustic tunes from Borracho Corazon, the most recent solo album by El Valiente frontman Eric Caldera. This record earned a coveted spot on Scott Gordon's list of top Madison albums released in 2012 (see Music). With Land of Vandals and Twin Brother.
NOTEWORTHY: Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution goes into effect, ending Prohibition, 1933.
Wisconsin Historical Museum, 11 am
The prolific Wisconsin author signs the latest novel in his Ames County series, Tamarack River Ghost (University of Wisconsin Press), which tell the story of agribusiness encroaching on a serene farm community.
Booked for Murder, 1 pm
The mystery novelist reads from Sacrificial Offerings, in which cop Frank Leal is forced to deal with a homicide, a nerdy new partner and... Twitter.
University Book Store-Hilldale, 2 pm
Manoyan presents his book Alan Ameche: The Story of 'The Horse' (University of Wisconsin Press), the first biography of the legendary UW football star of the 1950s. It'll make nice airport reading for your trip to this year's Rose Bowl.
Heid Music, 2 pm
Mel Tormé's kid is an accomplished singer in his own right. In this free concert/discussion with a jazz trio, he offers a timely tribute to his dad's holiday classic, "The Christmas Song."
Overture Hall, 2 & 7:30 pm. Also Sunday, Dec. 16, 2 pm
The troupe's annual Nutcracker offers all the traditional pleasures: fabulous dancing, extravagant sets, and Tchaikovsky's luscious score. Live music returns this year, with John DeMain conducting members of the Madison Symphony Orchestra.
MadCity Music Exchange, 2 pm
The Tiny Band will rock out on miniature guitars and drums at this third and final Heat Aid concert benefiting the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund. With Dietrich Gosser.
Dane County Coliseum, 6 pm
Our homegrown roller-derby queens kick off their ninth home season as the Reservoir Dolls take on the Quad Squad and the Vaudeville Vixens go up against the Unholy Rollers. The holiday-oriented theme is "Here Comes Slamma' Claus."
Brink Lounge, 7 pm
Fight cancer at a benefit featuring the earthy folk-rock of the Beth Kille Band, the soulful stylings of the Eddie Butts band, an appearance by Miss Wisconsin USA and a meet-and-greet with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
First Baptist Church, 7:30 pm
The heavenly voices offer "Perspectives on the Nativity," with both traditional and new music focusing on a certain significant event in Bethlehem.
UW Vilas Hall's Buck Studio, 8 pm
Return to the days of yesteryear with this live radio performance by the 9XM Players of "Berlin: 1945," in which GIs prepare a Christmas feast in postwar Germany, and "My Friend Irma's Christmas Episode." Hosted by the golden-voiced Norman Gilliland, with seasonal music by the Kat Trio.
Majestic Theatre, 8:30 pm
Don your finest '60s-inspired getup for the Majestic's second annual holiday bash featuring vintage cocktails and dance music. Rat Pack aficionado Joe Scalissi will appear as Dean Martin, and DJ Nick Nice will play tunes that range from easy-listening schmaltz to early Motown gems (see Music).
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
Like superheroes with electric guitars, three local bands -- Little Legend, Golden Donna and Colorphase -- will join forces in the name of good at this music-fueled fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy victims.
Dragonfly Lounge, 9:30 pm
DJ Kayla Krush, of WSUM's U Dub program and Murfie's music podcast, will unveil an album of reggae tracks recorded on her show, and local acts T.U.G.G., Roots Collective and Kingtown Rockers will perform live.
Harmony Bar, 9:45 pm
Wilson picked up a guitar at the tender age of 5 and became infatuated with the blues, paving the way to gigs with Stevie Ray Vaughan and an impressive collection of Wisconsin Area Music Industry awards.
NOTEWORTHY: Taj Mahal admits visitors for the first time, 1903.
Loft, Goodman Community Center, 6:30 pm
This hardcore punk and metal outfit will celebrate their 15th anniversary of Southern-fried face-melting in 2013. Show your appreciation with some spirited headbanging as they perform selections from their latest album, Ex Lives. With the Chariot, Letlive and Kills & Thrills.
High Noon Saloon, 7:30 pm
Two award-winning strummers and pickers -- Special Consensus banjoist Cahill and Tony Rice Unit singer-mandolinist Williams -- will share the High Noon's stage at this celebration of bluegrass music.