;;The Nutcracker Frolicking to Tchaikovsky's chestnut as it always does this time of year, Orlando Ballet does have a twist to its 2006 performance: They're doing it at the Osceola County Performing Arts Center. Why? Because The Lion King has displaced it from its usual holiday home, the Carr Performing Arts Centre. Still, this is a splendid tradition that employs the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra for lush live music. Since you're going to be in Gatorland territory anyway, might as well plan a two-fer, starting the adventure with a year-round red-and-green adventure: green gators tearing into bloody chicken carcasses for the Jumperoo show. (7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday at Osceola Performing Arts Center, Kissimmee; $5-$50; 407-426-1739;



;Home for the Hanukkahs;Of all the many forms of theatrical cruelty to pass through the Orlando Fringe Festival, the most discomfiting has to be the Feldman Dynamic. Creator/director Brian Feldman should take that as a high compliment, since his family's unique brand of overly personal onstage intimacy would make Artaud squirm. To celebrate the season, Orlando's No. 2 theatrical troupe (according to this paper's 2006 Best of Orlando) returns to the Lowndes Shakespeare Center for a weeklong run of Home for the Hanukkahs. There are no characters, no plot; just the reality of four Feldmans sitting down to a typically neurotic Jewish holiday dinner. The joy and agony comes from watching as the self-proclaimed "most dysfunctional family in town" hurls abuse at each other. It's guaranteed to make you feel better about your own screwed-up clan. (5:30 p.m. daily, through Dec. 22 at Goldman Theater, Lowndes Shakespeare Center; $10; 407-792-9421;



;Creating a Successful Independent Film Movie-making takes more than free doughnuts and fancy costumes. Dov Simens would know — he's taught some of the best in the business. Now, he brings his critically acclaimed two-day film school to Orlando. Simens' classes are nationally acclaimed and he's acquired an impressive list of alumni, including Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), Paul Brooks (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) and Guy Ritchie (Snatch). The price tag is high (a stinging $389.99), but seeing as classes are usually offered only in New York and California, this is a rare opportunity. Students will learn the business of film production as well as network with Simens and other film types. If you're serious about moviemaking, you'll beg on your knees for this gift. (9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Gallery at Avalon Island; $389.99; 321-274-9678;

;;International Festival of Cinema and Technology Celebrating its fifth anniversary, the IFCT has hosted events this season in Sheffield, England, Los Angeles and New York; the Orlando date wraps it up in the festival’s hometown. With one feature, a handful of docs and an expansive slate of shorts programmed into blocks of “international,” “experimental,” “action and animation” and, most interestingly, a “study of the relationship,” IFCT is jamming a whole lot of film into this all-evening program. Multiple formats and disciplines will be on display, and given the hospitable (read: beer-friendly) environment at Austin’s, it should be an excellent way to lay eyeballs on some brave new works by up-and-coming filmmakers. (4 p.m. at Austin's Coffee & Film; $8; 407-975-3364;


;Merry Tuba Christmas The brainchild of the Harvey Phillips Foundation kicks off its 11th year in Central Florida, though it began in New York City approximately 32 years ago. The free show features local musicians performing holiday classics. Crack out and dust off your old tubas and sousaphones and prepare yourself for the ad hoc brass jam session in honor of William J. Bell, an artist and teacher. This is only one of the foundation's many tuba-related soirees around the country; others include Tuba Santas, Octubafest, Summertubafest, Tuba Company, Tuba Ranch and Tuba Jazz. No, we didn't make any of those up. Bring your own chair and snacks. (10 a.m. registration and 1 p.m. show at Central Park, Winter Park; free-$7; 407-296-5560)


;It's a Wonderful Life It may not quite be the fictitious "crummy little town" of Bedford Falls, but Avalon Park — a distant Alafaya Trail subdivision that may or may not exist (we don't like to drive that far) — is a far cry from the juke-joint sleaze of the truly fictitious Pottersville. Immaculate and eerily well-paced, the idyllic community seems almost too perfect a venue to rehash the black-and-white tears of George Bailey and his bad ear. A quaint Town Center (one that even boasts, gasp, a tavern) will serve as the backdrop for this Christmas classic, and good feelings are expected all around; every time a bell rings, an angel … whatever. But if anybody stands up and initiates a Charleston contest, all bets are off. We think there's something Stepford in the aquifer that makes people a little too nice, especially around the holidays. Don't drink the water. (7 p.m. at Avalon Park Town Center; free; 407-658-6565)


;Munny Show 3: Holiday Heroes Steve Lewis and the rest of the Überbot crew bring back the much-anticipated art show for a third time. Local artists and accomplished comic-book illustrators transform Kid Robot's whimsical vinyl figures through painting, drawing, sculpting and other means. Lewis expects between 50 and 100 Munnys to be turned in — many fewer than last year's record 140 entries — due to new restrictions instituted to make the show easier to manage and enjoy. After the creations are displayed for the one-night-only exhibition, the illustrators' Munnys will be auctioned off on eBay, with all proceeds going to Toys for Tots. Comic-book artists slated to participate include Phil Noto of Birds of Paradise fame, David Johnson (Ben Ten and Justice League animated cartoons) and Mike Wieringo, who recently updated the Fantastic Four, among others. (7 p.m. at Überbot, Winter Park; free; 407-788-8237)



;Twisted Sister This yuletide season, Twisted Sister wanna rock the bells, and we wanna let them. On tour to promote their Christmas album (you heard right), A Twisted Christmas, Dee Snider and company glam up the winter solstice like no other with the power ballad "I'll Be Home for Christmas," featuring the awesomely indifferent return of Lita Ford and the bound-to-be-classic piledriver "Oh Come All Ye Faithful." The rock veterans play this thing straight and expect their following to do the same. So whether you actually remember the band's MTV dominance and need some nostalgia in your stocking, or you're looking for the ultimate ironic meta-event, come prepared with Sister's "12 Days of Christmas" essentials: three studded belts, two pairs of spandex pants and a tattoo of O-O-O-zzy. (7 p.m. at Hard Rock Live; $20.50-$30.50; all ages; 407-351-5483)


;High Tea, High Entertain-ment This eighth annual High Tea affair does indeed benefit women with addiction issues who find their way to the highly respected Lisa Merlin House for help. So snicker away at the double "high" theme of this year's fund-raiser, for which organizers have raised the stakes. A slate of entertainment has been added to the standard tea-and-sweets menu to entice as many attendees as possible. There will be dueling piano music from Howl at the Moon, a fashion-show-themed live auction and a silent auction too. Items up for grabs include a "Girlfriends' Getaway" that'll whisk away seven lucky people for spa treatments at the Gaylord Palms Resort, as well as travel packages to the Rocky Mountains and to Mardi Gras. It's a critical time of year for the privately funded Lisa Merlin House; operating without any government support, the 11-year-old program needs nothing short of a financial miracle in order to continue its mission to heal women and their children and families. Check into the positive outcomes the program has contributed to the community, and you'll feel your own special high at being part of an effective solution. (1 p.m.-4 p.m. at the Peabody Orlando; $65; 407-292-0109;




;John Lennon Acoustic Tribute Show What can we say about John Lennon? Hell, the man's Wikipedia entry is 19 pages long. No single figure better symbolizes the pop counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s. This man urged us all to "Give Peace a Chance" and to "Imagine" a world without borders, possessions or religion. A quintessential ;hippie Lennon was, for sure. But he left a musical legacy to be celebrated (he did have a pretty good run with that pop band of his), and that's exactly what local songwriter/Hindu Cowboys frontman Joseph Martens is doing. It's his third such venture since 2003 — the first coincided with the start of the Iraq War — and this one will supposedly feature a multimedia element in addition to the music. Local musicians will be taking on Lennon's solo work, as well as some of the more Lennon-centric Beatles stuff, like "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" and "Help!" Terri Binion, Jeff Nolan, J-Sun, Michele Lane, Jim O'Rourke, Nathan Adams (of Bughead) and others are slated to perform. (9 p.m. at Room 3-Nine; $3; 407-841-0390)


; Contributors: Jeff Billman, Amber Foster, Seth Kubersky, Billy Manes, Lindy T. Shepherd, Justin Strout and Bart Zino.




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