Holiday time means a whole lotta "Nutcracker" around L.A., but it's not all exactly what you'd expect. Besides the tried-and-true versions, there's a hot chocolate "Nutcracker," a swing "Nutcracker," a marionette version and more — plus great shows from the Radio City Rockettes, the county's 51st annual holiday celebration, film screenings and more. The following list should help you get out with the kids to see some live entertainment.
Debbie Allen's "Hot Chocolate Nutcracker" offers plenty to satisfy that sweet tooth — it's Christmas Eve, the Johnson Family is hosting a grand party and young Kara receives a nutcracker filled with hot chocolate. With Allen herself starring, new music, spectacular dancing and three wisecracking mice to narrate the adventure, this chocolatey makeover of a holiday classic takes the audience on a magical odyssey. Royce Hall, UCLA, 405 Hilgard Ave., Westwood. 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 11, $20-$45, (310) 825-2101. http://www.thehotchocolatenutcracker.com.
The Nutcracker Swings The classical compositions of Pyotr Tchaikovsky and the 20th century jazz stylings of Duke Ellington fuse in "The Nutcracker Swings," the City Ballet of Los Angeles' innovative and exhilarating retelling of the classic piece. Set in 1942, the story focuses on Maria's love for Jim, a World War II hero whose gift to the heroine of a nutcracker doll sparks a fantastical journey through Christmas wonder. By combining classical and contemporary dance theater, the ballet company's artistic production offers a sophisticated homage to the original. Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, 4718 W. Washington Blvd., L.A. 8 p.m. Friday; 1 and 8 p.m. Saturday. $25 in advance, $35 at the door. http://www.cityballetofla.org.
Now celebrating its 18th annual tour of the U.S., Anatoly Emelianov's "Nutcracker" is a chance to witness the famous Moscow Ballet. But the world-class dancing isn't the only thing that sets this "Nutcracker" apart. Set against Valentin Fedorov's spectacular scenic design, the lush production features dancing puppets and a Rousseau-inspired backdrop of unicorns, exotic birds and animals. La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada. 3 and 7:30 p.m. Dec 19, $40-$120, http://www.nutcracker.com.
If you've never witnessed Bob Baker's whimsical world of puppetry, then make it a must-see this season. Join a host of his masterfully made marionettes for an original version of the classic ballet, featuring Baker's famous puppet versions of the sugarplum fairies, the Mouse King and, of course, the Nutcracker, in a holiday extravaganza sure to please kids of all ages. Bob Baker Marionette Theater, 1345 W. 1st St., L.A. 10:30 a.m. Tuesday to Friday; 2:30 p.m. Sat and Sun. (through Jan. 16). Adults $20, children $15, children 2 and younger free. (213) 250-9995; http://www.bobbakermarionettes.com.
For the littlest ones in the family, the Shushybye Holiday Concert is sure to be a big hit. Starring Michael North and the Dreamsterette Singers, the Shushybye's first-ever holiday show will include appearances by the Shushybye Dream Band (Snoozles, Dozie and Zees) and the all-new Dreamsters (PJ the DJ, Starbright, Snore and Captain John Yawn). Rumor even has it that there will be a surprise appearance by a certain Mr. Claus. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West L.A. 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Saturday. $15, (310) 477-2055; http://www.shushybye.com.
The Radio City Rockettes are a staple of Christmas in New York, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy them in sunny Southern California. With dazzling costumes and signature Rockette numbers like "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" and "Living Nativity," this family-friendly production captures the holiday spirit in that larger-than-life, legs-a plenty Rockette way that has kept audiences coming back for more than 75 years. Honda Center, 2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim. 7:30 p.m. Monday; 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, $58-$108. (714) 704-2500; http://www.hondacenter.com. Nokia Theater, 777 Chick Hearn Court, L.A. (at L.A. Live). Dec. 9-12, (check website for times) $35-$94 (213) 763-6030; http://www.nokiatheatrelalive.com.
The company's production of the holiday classic, with original choreography by Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary, offers a few unique twists, including Catherine Kanner's set design (the action takes place in 1912 Los Angeles) and Mikael Melbye's costume design. Alex Theatre, 216 North Brand Ave., Glendale, Dec. 4, 5. Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive, Westwood, Dec. 18, 19. Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Redondo Beach, Dec. 24, 26. For tickets and showtimes: (310) 998-7782; www.losangelesballet.org.
After Christmas and Hanukkah are over, come celebrate African culture and values this holiday season with the Lula Washington Dance Theater's 30th Anniversary Kwanzaa Celebration. Having already toured the United States and Russia, this show concludes the year with African drumming and dancing by Lula Washington's Youth Dance Ensemble and performances by members of the acclaimed troupe's international touring company. Lula Washington Dance Theatre, 3773 S. Crenshaw Blvd., L.A. 7 p.m. Dec. 29 and 30. $25 general admission, $15 for senior citizens and children. http://www.lulawashington.org.
There's no better time to introduce the kids to this 1970 holiday film classic, the musical version of "A Christmas Carol" starring Albert Finney and Alec Guinness, and no better theater to see it in than the historic, ornately decorated Million Dollar Theater. And it's easy on the pocketbook. Did we mention the free candy canes? Million Dollar Theater, 307 S. Broadway, L.A. 2 p.m. Sunday, (213) 617-3600; http://www.milliondollartheater.com.
Not to be out-holiday-ed by anyone in the area, Disneyland rolls out the "wow" for kids (and kids at heart) with a variety of spectacles taking place throughout the park. The Candlelight Procession, the Christmas Fantasy Parade, the Reindeer Roundup (with live reindeer!), the Haunted Mansion Holiday, and snow falling on Main Street — it's all done with that classic Disney panache. Disneyland, 1313 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim. Free with price of admission. Ongoing daily, check website for dates and times. (714) 781-4569; http://www.wdwinfo.com/Disneyland
Join the Malibu Civic Ballet for its annual production of this beloved holiday classic, cast with Malibu's own young dancers in support of the local arts community. Reservations are recommended. Smothers Theatre, Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. 2and 7:30 p.m. Friday to Sunday, $25 to $35. (310) 506-4522; arts.pepperdine.edu.
The Inland Pacific Ballet Academy presents its annual production of "The Nutcracker" with more than 100 dancers taking the stage. Following the production, cast members will be available for autographs and pictures. Bridges Auditorium, 450 N. College Way, Claremont. Saturday, Sunday, Dec. 11, 12, 18 and 19. And at Lewis Family Playhouse, 12505 Cultural Center Drive, Rancho Cucamonga, Dec 16 and 17. Saturday shows at 2 and 7:30 p.m., Sunday shows at 2 p.m. $50 premium seats, $40 adults, $32 seniors, $20 children. (909) 482-1590; http://www.ipballet.org.
A beloved tradition showcasing L.A.'s rich and diverse performing arts community, the 51st L.A. County Holiday Celebration takes up the theme of "Childhood Memories." Twenty-four groups and 800 performers in all, the three-hour show includes Dixieland-style tap dancing, Columbian folk accordion music, traditional hula dancing, and for the first time, short film selections from local filmmakers. As always, admission is free for the whole family, and will also be streamed live on KCET-TV, KCET.org and KPFK 90.7 FM. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., L.A.. 3 p.m. Dec. 24. Free. http://www.lacountyarts.org.
In a 25-year-old holiday tradition, Laguna Ballet brings together more than 90 ballet students from around the Orange County area to perform in this full-length production of "The Nutcracker." Professional guest artists from the San Francisco Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theater and Moscow Ballet are featured as well. McKinney Theatre, 28000 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo. 1 and 6 p.m. Dec. 19, $24 general admission, $22 students and seniors, $20 children under 12. (949) 855-4702; http://www.lagunadancetheater.com.
In a tradition that dates to 1973, the Westside Ballet mounts its production of the Tchaikovsky holiday classic. Brought to life by falling snow and a Christmas tree that grows, this is the longest-running production of "The Nutcracker" in L.A. and consistently remains as close as possible to George Balanchine's original version (the one staged annually by the New York City Ballet). Wadsworth Theatre, 11301 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday; 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday; 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 11; 1 and 5 p.m. Dec. 12, $30. (310) 828-2018; http://www.westsideballet.com.
Alt-rockers that appeal to parents and kids alike, EGG will give a holiday concert at DragonFly DuLou. Dragonfly DuLou Inc., 2066 Hillhurst Ave., L.A. 11 a.m. Dec. 12 Free. (323) 665-8448; http://www.dragonflydulou.com.
This full-length, traditional production is choreographed and directed by Festival Ballet Theatre's Artistic Director Salwa Rizkalla, and features a cast of professional dancers and more than 100 Southern California children. Select performances feature internationally acclaimed guest artists from American Ballet Theatre: Gillian Murphy and Gennadi Saveliev (Dec. 11 and 12); Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky (Dec. 17, 18 and 19); and Ashley Ellis and George Birkadze from Corella Ballet (Dec. 21-24). Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine. Dec. 9 thru 24, see website for dates and times. $35-$40. festivalballettheatre.org.