The big holiday weekend is finally here, and Madison celebrates with productions of A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker, and the 'Twas the Brass Before Christmas concert in the Capitol Rotunda. The party gets started this Christmas Eve Eve with performances by Atlas Improv, and live music from The Stellanovas, The Mighty Short Bus, Faces for Radio, and Bi-Polar Bear. Season's greetings!
NOTEWORTHY: President Wilson signs Federal Reserve Act, 1913.
Ruth's Chris Steak House, Middleton, 6 pm
Armed with Hawaiian guitars, accordions and cellos, this local quartet peppers its swinging sets of original songs with creative takes on jazz standards.
A Christmas Carol
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 7 pm
Children's Theater of Madison presents a creative new adaptation of the Dickens tale, freshening up Ebenezer Scrooge's transformation from selfish to selfless. CTM gets all the essentials right: lush costumes, hauntingly beautiful Christmas carols, ghosts that surprise and scare, and a super-sweet Tiny Tim. The cast is strong, particularly American Players Theatre's James Ridge as Scrooge (see Theater).
Overture Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (1 pm) & Monday (2 pm), Dec. 24 & 26
Madison Ballet's annual treat features expensive-looking production values, solid dancing and several touches that distinguish it from other productions (see Dance).
Atlas Improv Company
609 E. Washington Ave., 8 & 10 pm
The local comedy troupe saw their long stint at Electric Earth Cafe conclude last summer. Check out their skillful competitive improvisation in a new space, and be prepared to throw out some clever suggestions.
The Mighty Short Bus
Club Tavern, Middleton, 9 pm
The local purveyors of northern-style Southern rock will polish some new tunes as they warm up for their New Year's Eve show at Great Dane Hilldale and an early-January mini-tour of Colorado's ski-slope towns.
Faces for Radio
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Veterans of Rapscallion and Last Crack -- two local bands with major-label record deals -- join forces to rock so loud that their fans on the coasts can hear them as well. With Magic 7 and Avalanche Lily.
Frequency, 10 pm
The Brooklyn, N.Y., hip-hop duo visit their old stomping grounds for their first live show in years as they ready a new album, When Ledge Is Home. Learn more about the project in this week's Tour Stop. With the Half and DJ Vinnie Toma.
NOTEWORTHY: Madison temperature plunges to minus 28, setting a December record for the city, 1872.
'Twas the Brass Before Christmas
Capitol Rotunda, 11 am
Sandy La Clair & the Impact of Brass play family holiday favorites, providing a box of rhythm instruments that allow kids to get in on the act.
NOTEWORTHY: Mikhail Gorbachev announces resignation as Soviet president, 1991.