Visions of sugarplums

The holiday isn't complete without the Pennsylvania Ballet's performance of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker," complete with stunning choreography by George Balanchine. The production is decked out in completely new sets and costumes.

Academy of Music, Broad and Locust streets, 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. today; noon and 4 p.m. tomorrow, plus 18 more performances through Dec. 31, $13-$112, 215-893-1999,

Reindeer rivalry

The delightful children's theater production "Comet, the Fifth Reindeer," puts the spotlight on one of Santa's lesser known sleigh guide.

Media Theatre for the Performing Arts, State and Monroe streets, Media, 11 a.m. today and Dec. 29; $8-$10, 610-891-0100.

Happy talk

Robbi K, a longtime backup singer with artists Mary J. Blige, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin and others, has reinvented herself as a children's musician, incorporating her background in jazz, pop and world beat music into a delightful interactive show of holiday tunes. "Music Makes Me Happy!" is the show's name and Robbi K's mantra. After the show, enjoy a family friendly buffet (not included in ticket price).

World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., 11:30 a.m. today, $10 adults, $7 kids, 215-222-1400,

It's a wonderful rifle

How did the 1983 film "A Christmas Story," adapted by Jean Shepherd from his memoir "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash," become a holiday classic? Maybe its the combination of nostalgia and satire in this first-person story about a 9-year-old boy's singleminded mission to score a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. This slice of 1940s Americana was a bust at the box-office but has been warming hearts each Christmas since.

Colonial Theatre, 227 Bridge St., Phoenixville, 2 p.m. today, $4, 610-917-0223.

Believe in magic

Fred's Magic World's holiday show "Winter Wonders 2007" is a family friendly manic and mirthful hour of comedy and magic. You'll see dueling magicians, psychic sisters and a Houdini-like straightjacket escape.

Adrienne Theater, Second Stage, 2030 Sansom St., 2 and 7 p.m. today, 2 p.m. tomorrow, 2 p.m. Dec. 28, 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 29, 2 p.m. Dec. 30, $10-$15, 215-627-6564.

A Thurber tale

Humorist James Thurber's whimsical fairytale "Many Moons," about a princess who wishes for the moon and her father's attempt to get it for her, is a tale that delights both children and adults. The Players Club of Swarthmore Theater presents it and another piece by Thurber, "The Fox and the Crow," in a week of holiday performances. Because these plays are so short, they'd be an excellent way to introduce children to the theater.

Swarthmore Theater, 614 Fairview Road, Swarthmore, 2 and 7 p.m. today, Thursday and Dec. 28-29, $5, 610-328-4271.

No place like Doc's

for the holidays

Comic Energy presents a special holiday sketch comedy show, "No Place Like Philly for the Holidays!" for one show only. There's a parody of Charlie Brown's Christmas, celeb impersonations (including Neil Diamond) and tunes from the Comic Energy jazz band.

Doc Watson's Pub, 216 S. 11th St., 7 tonight, $10, 215-397-3040.


Klezmer at Keneseth

A Chinese dinner follows a Klezmer concert by Ken Ulansey and his orchestra, but that's just the beginning of the Shultide evening. Israeli dancing, salsa, line dancing for the grownups and arts and crafts for little ones are also on the agenda.

Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, 8339 Old York Road, Elkins Park, 6 p.m. Monday, $30 adults, $5 children, 215-887-8700.

Big time tinkering

Here's something to do with the kids during this holiday week - visit Franklin Institute's Giant Tinkertoys exhibit and build something humongous. Children will love manipulating the giant blocks, using tools that are up to 3 feet long.

Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th St., 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Dec. 28-31, $13.75 adults, $11 children, 215-448-1254.

Oz fest

"The Wizard of Oz," L. Frank Baum's enduring tale of Dorothy's trip down the Yellow Brick Road, gets the full musical treatment at the Mitchell Performing Arts Center in Bryn Athyn. Children over 3 will enjoy this play, which is less scary than Judy Garland's classic flying-monkeys version.

Mitchell Performing Arts Center, 800 Tomlinson Road, 11 a.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Dec. 28-30, $10-$12, 215-659-8550.