Seven weekends of holiday festivities culminate over the next few days with a series of Christmas, Chanukah, and solstice celebrations, including the Ballet & Beer Bash and a performance of The Nutcracker, productions of A Christmas Carol and The Gift of the Magi, a concert by the Madison Bach Musicians, a Second Harvest benefit with Harmonious Wail, the Last Day of Class Mustache Bash with steez, a visit by Waylan St. Palan & the Magic Elves, Kids in the Rotunda with Yid Vicious, the Mad Rollin' Dolls season opener, the Brink Lounge Holiday Extravaganza and the Mad Men Holiday Soiree, and Destroy All Christmas VII with Droids Attack. The calendar also includes: a production of Rent; the Hold'em with HospiceCare benefit; a performance by the Arcos Trio; live music from Control, The Fray, Brett Newski, and Hanah Jon Taylor & Hamid Drake; and the Inferno 15th anniversary party and a Madison Hip-Hop Awards benefit.
NOTEWORTHY: Protesting American colonists throw a Boston Tea Party, 1773.
Ballet & Beer Bash
Overture Center, 5:30 pm
Mix and mingle with dancers from Madison Ballet on the Overture Center's regal stage, where jazz bands will perform and Ale Asylum will serve up its latest craft brews. Wear anything you'd like, from pearls to jeans to a furry red Santa suit. Enter at the backstage door, 120 N. Henry St.
A Christmas Carol
Overture Center's Playhouse, 7 pm. Also Saturday (2:30 & 7 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), Dec. 17 & 18
Children's Theater of Madison brings back Dickens' yuletide classic. The production stars two luminaries of the local stage, American Players Theatre's James Ridge -- classically curmudgeonly as Scrooge -- and Colleen Madden, who wrote this adaptation.
Bartell Theatre, 7:30 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm), Saturday (7:30 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), Dec. 15, 17 & 18
Four Seasons Theatre and Madison Theatre Guild present Jonathan Larson's Puccini-inspired Broadway smash about young bohemians in New York City. If you don't walk up the aisle humming "La Vie Boheme," a cold heart beats inside you.
Project Lodge, 8 pm
Though local trio Control describes itself as "post-everything," good, old-fashioned rock 'n' roll is at its core. Revel in the sweet noise of the band's newest recording, a three-part music-and-art project with a segment named after local graphic designer Craig Grabhorn. With Laarks.
Orpheum Theatre, 8 pm
The Fray play piano-based rock that's not like much else you hear on hits radio these days. That hasn't stopped the Denver quartet from launching numerous monster singles, including the 2006 smashes "How to Save a Life" and "Over My Head (Cable Car)."
Madison Bach Musicians
First Congregational United Church of Christ, 8 pm
At some groups' holiday concerts, you might hear "O Holy Night," or maybe "Jingle Bell Rock." With this holiday performance, Trevor Stephenson's early-music ensemble keeps it real with fare like Heinrich Schütz's "Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr" (1639). Also on the program: music by Vivaldi, Bach and Corelli.
Second Harvest Benefit with Harmonious Wail
Brink Lounge, 8 pm
The Wail share their catchy gypsy swing tunes, and perhaps a few Noel-themed ditties, at this fundraiser for food-bank supplier Second Harvest.
Last Day of Class Mustache Bash
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Steez rolls out its eclectic collection of instruments, which includes an accordion, an oboe, a saxophone and a smattering of guitars and drums, for a funky jam to hail the end of UW-Madison's fall semester. Minneapolis five-piece Roster McCabe joins in with a dance-friendly, reggae-fueled set.
Waylan St. Palan & the Magic Elves
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
Hometown Sweethearts frontman Nate Palan morphs into St. Nick's drunken uncle for a wacky musical tribute to the yuletide season. With the Stu Stoinski Trio.
Mickey's Tavern, 10:30 pm
Fans of quirky UW rockers the Nod must have been simultaneously pleased and distressed last summer when the group 1) put out a new album and 2) broke up. Frontman Newski did what any musician would do -- booked a solo tour of Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, the Philippines and Hong Kong. During his travels he recorded an album, In Between Exits, and tonight he celebrates its release. With the Choons, Tommy Shears and Cousin Martin.
NOTEWORTHY: Wright Bros. Make first flight at Kitty Hawk, 1903.
Kids in the Rotunda
Overture Center's Rotunda Stage, 9:30 & 11 am, 1 pm
Klezmer for moppets is the watchword as Yid Vicious plays Hanukkah music. It's never too early for children to learn to shake their hips with chutzpah.
Overture Hall, 2 & 7:30 pm. Also Sunday, Dec. 18, 2 pm
Madison Ballet celebrates its 30th anniversary with the holiday favorite, the Tchaikovsky-scored tale of a girl transported to the land of the waltzing flowers. Past cast members will be acknowledged at tonight's performance.
Hold'em with HospiceCare
Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 3 pm-midnight
The poker fad was fading well before the feds shut down the biggest Internet poker sites earlier this year, but that can't keep Madisonian-made-good Phil Hellmuth from hosting this benefit tournament. Hellmuth is an 11-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner.
Mad Rollin' Dolls
Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum, 6 pm
The local chapter in the revived roller-derby movement begins a new season tonight. All the talent is homegrown as the Reservoir Dolls take on the Vaudeville Vixens and the Unholy Rollers skate against the Quad Squad. Every athlete should follow the Rollin' Dolls' lead by competing fiercely and wearing fishnets.
Brink Lounge Holiday Extravaganza
Brink Lounge, 7 pm
Milwaukee soulsters Hot Sauce join the blues-infused Beth Kille Band and guitar virtuoso John Masino to create a live soundtrack for frolicking with Santa. Dress to impress: The organizers will award a cash prize to the attendee in the fanciest, most festive attire. With DJ Sherm.
Hanah Jon Taylor & Hamid Drake
Mother Fool's Coffeehouse, 8 pm
Reed man Taylor teams up with drummer Drake for avant-garde improvisation as the coffeehouse serves up hot Alterra coffee and decadent vegan cupcakes.
Mad Men Holiday Soiree
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
Though the hit series won't return to AMC until March, locals can adopt its style and swagger for a holiday party filled with heady vintage cocktails and elegant red carpets. Flaunt your most striking 1960s garb to compete for cash prizes, or share your bounty with the less fortunate by filling the Toys for Tots treasure chest. Joe Scalissi conjures the crooning of Dean Martin for the lovebirds in the crowd, and DJ Nick Nice spins classy old-school tunes all night long.
Inferno 15th Anniversary Party
Inferno, 9 pm
The bar, club and industrial-music haven celebrates being younger than Justin Bieber but older than Rebecca Black. Toast its longevity as DJs WhiteRabbit and Eurotic blast dance classics from the past decade and a half.
Destroy All Christmas VII with Droids Attack
Crystal Corner Bar, 9:30 pm
Burlesque-dancing elves and a robot set on the destruction of snow angels are the icing on the fruitcake at this anti-holiday party hosted by local stoner-rock band Droids Attack. With Whisky Pig and the Ashes.
NOTEWORTHY: Electoral College votes 271-266 for Republican George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore.
Chazen Museum of Art, 12:30 pm
The piano trio, founded in 2005, is emphasizing Latin American chamber music on its current tour. Today's performance, broadcast on Wisconsin Public Radio's Sunday Afternoon Live, features the premiere of a new commission, Roberto Sierra's Trio No. 4 ("La Noche").
The Gift of the Magi
American Players Theatre, Spring Green, 5 pm. Also Thursday (7 pm), Dec. 15
The summer theater troupe's cold-weather, indoor production plays one last weekend, with only two shows not sold out at press time. This musical version of O. Henry's classic story about a financially strapped couple features seven new, original songs.
Madison Hip-Hop Awards Benefit
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
Last month, local talents in rapping, DJing, producing and dancing were honored at the Madison Hip-Hop Awards show. Tonight, winners perform at a benefit concert to help keep the awards enterprise going. With CME, E-Sweez, PWol, J Diamonzz, Motion, Opal Ellyse, 2Raw and Dill.