Holiday treats In England, fair England, they have a few extra holiday traditions, including the Christmas cracker (and our fave, the fortune-telling fish) and the Christmas panto (which never mentions Christmas), which have made their way to our shores, albeit mostly as curiosities. The panto (from "pantomime") became big in the late 19th century (as did many of our seasonal trappings), and follows a strict, if manic format: a fairy tale, slightly bent, with boys played by girls, old women played by men, double entendres, candy thrown to the audience, a silly song, slapstick, a witch, a fairy, a henchman, another henchman, an evil nobleman, a threadbare animal costume, and a magical transformation. The audience is encouraged to boo, heckle and sing.
, a perennial favorite panto, is performed in an adaptation with music by Michael Ogborn, at 2 and 7 p.m. today at
the People's Light & Theatre Company
, 39 Conestoga Rd., Malvern, and continues on a Tuesday-to-Sunday schedule to Jan. 4 (no show on Christmas Day). Tickets are $29 to $48. Call 610-644-3500. . . . Based on the classic Hans Christian Andersen tale of girl's quest to rescue her friend from an evil monarch,
the Enchantment Theatre Company's
The Snow Queen
uses puppets and magic tricks. The show goes on at 1 p.m. today at
the Prince Music Theater
, 1412 Chestnut St., and continues on a Friday- through-Tuesday schedule to Jan. 4. Tickets are $27; $15 for ages 12 and under. Call 215-569-9700.
What's so funny? The estimable
goes all-out for their annual holiday show with
Cherry Bomb: The Worst Act in Vaudeville
, the true story of a sister act so awful it became a huge hit. The show goes on at 2 p.m. today at
Plays and Players Theater
, 1714 Delancey Place, and continues on a varying schedule to Jan. 4. Tickets are $17 to $35. Call 215-592-9560. . . . Roy Smiles' comedy
has an inspired premise: an imagined meeting, during the 1965 Northeast blackout, of Groucho Marx and Lenny Bruce, who debate their comedic styles. The show goes on at 2 and 7:30 p.m. today at
the Wilma Theater
, 265 S. Broad St., and continues on a Tuesday-through- Sunday schedule to Jan. 4 (no shows Christmas Day or New Year's Day). Tickets are $39 to $55. Call 215-546-7824.
Jazz pop Singer
is known for meshing jazz standards with pop melodies (to wit, a dynamite "Summertime" against the Allman Brothers' arrangement of "Whipping Post"). It's no gimmick, but pure craft. On her CD
Smashed for the Holidays
, she puts the twist on seasonal tunes, weaving Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd into the tradition. Get in the spirit at 7:30 p.m. at
World Cafe Live
, 3025 Walnut St. Tickets are $25 and $35. Call 215-222-1400.
Christmas classic It gets a bit lost amid the Nutcrackers and Scrooges, but Gian Carlo Menotti's
Amahl and the Night Visitors
is an annual favorite of ours. The one-act opera, written for TV in 1951 (and regularly rebroadcast into the 1960s) tells the tale of a crippled boy whose home is visited by the Three Kings on their way to Bethlehem.
presents the work at 7 p.m. at
the First Presbyterian Church
, 88 Market St., Salem. Admission is free. Call 267-918-9752.
Local hero Upper Darby native and rock iconoclast
plays at 8:30 p.m. at
Sellersville Theater 1894,
24 W. Temple Ave., Sellersville. Tickets are $49.50. Call 215-257-5808.
The hills are alive Come on, you know the songs ("Doe, a deer . . . "). You can release your inner von Trapp when
The Sing-along Sound of Music
presents the beloved 1965 film in interactive format at 7 p.m. at
the Bryn Mawr Film Institute
, 824 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr. Tickets are $9.50; $6.75 for seniors; students are free. Call 610-527-4008
Making merry The sensational
Ken Ulansey Ensemble
provides the klezmer sounds for
at 8 p.m. at
Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel
, 300 S. 18th St. Admission is free. Call 215-735-5148.
Go outside! After unwrapping the presents, why not work up an appetite for Christmas dinner by
skating at RiverRink
. The rink, Columbus Boulevard and Market Street, is open from 12:30 to 9 p.m. Christmas Day. Admission is $7; skate rental is $3. Call 215-925-7465.
Friday & Saturday
On the bus C.S. Lewis specialist
returns in his powerful adaptation of the author's
The Great Divorce
. In the one-man show, Lawton plays all the characters as a bumbling professor finds himself on a celestial bus ride on a vehicle populated by ghosts and angels. The tour-de-force is presented by
the Lantern Theater Company
St. Stephen's Theater
, 10th and Ludlow Streets, at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m. next Sunday and Dec. 30, 5 and 8 p.m. Dec. 31, 7 p.m. Jan. 1, 8 p.m. Jan. 2, 2 and 7 p.m. Jan. 3, and 4 and 7 p.m. Jan. 4. Tickets are $40. Call 215-829-0395.
Def Comedy Jam
team up at
the Tower Theater
, 69th and Ludlow Streets, Upper Darby, at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $39.50 to $75. Call 610-352-2887.
Jam on A dynamite triple bill: The steel-guitar driven, gospel-funk troupe
Robert Randolph & the Family Band
, the jazzy R&B combo
, and big-voiced blues-rocker
the Electric Factory
, 421 N. Seventh St., at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $30. Call 215-627-1332.