Christmas classics It's a Wonderful Life was a box-office failure in 1947 and a setback for director Frank Capra. The film also wasn't really intended as a holiday movie - it was released the week after New Year's. But given that it finishes with a big Christmas epiphany for the everyman hero George Bailey, it's become a tradition. Steve Murray's stage adaptation of the film, This Wonderful Life, a tour-de-force in which one actor plays all the roles, keeps the boffo yule ending, but also critiques the sentimental patina that's accumulated on the story over the decades, with the fourth wall being broken for commentary. The show goes on at 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday at People's Light and Theatre Company, 39 Conestoga Rd., Malvern, and continues on a varied schedule to Dec. 23. Tickets are $25 to $35. Call 610-644-3500. . . . The venerable Hedgerow Theatre presents Nagle Jackson's version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, with the show going on at 2 p.m. Sunday at the company's theater, 64 Rose Valley Rd., Rose Valley, and continuing on a varied schedule to Dec. 24. Tickets are $10 to $32. Call 610-565-4211.
Holiday music Conductor Peter Nero leads the Philly Pops in sounds of the season, with vocalist Capathia Jenkins and organist Peter Conte at the Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall, Broad and Spruce Streets, at 3 p.m. Sunday, 8 p.m. Wednesday and Dec. 19, 3 p.m. Friday through Sunday and Dec. 22. Tickets are $26 to $111. Call 215-893-1999.
A heroic life In memory of New York Times foreign correspondent Anthony Shadid, who died in February while covering the antigovernment uprising in Syria, the Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble and the Philadelphia Arab Music Ensemble will play and the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist's wife, Nada Bakri, will read excerpts from his posthumously published memoir, House of Stone. The program goes on at 4 p.m. at the Trinity Center for Urban Life, 22d and Spruce Streets. Admission is free. Call 267-809-3668.
Funny lady With her wild persona of a loud, eccentric housewife, Phyllis Diller was a pioneer, single-handedly clearing a space for women in the 1950s hip world of stand-up comedy. The incomparable Jennifer Childs created, and performs in, A Tribute to Phyllis Diller, weaving personal recollections of the comedian with classic bits and songs (she was an accomplished pianist). The 1812 Productions show goes on at 7:30 p.m. at Plays and Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Place. Tickets are $30. Call 215-592-9560.
Chamber music The Brentano Quartet teams with Anthony McGill, clarinet, for Mozart's Quintet in A major, plus works by Haydn and Brahms at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater, Broad and Spruce Streets. Tickets are $25. Call 215-569-8080.
Chords of memory U.S. poet laureate Natasha Trethewey delves into literary and social history, weaving in her own background as a biracial Mississippian, daughter of a poet, and Southern writer to make a case for the unique complexity of the American experience. The Pulitzer Prize winner discusses her work at 7:30 p.m. at the Free Library, 1901 Vine St. Tickets are $15; $7 students. Call 215-567-4341.
A peace story The trouble had gone on so long that Lev and Ali grew tired of avoiding each other each time a rocket was fired or a bomb dropped. They were friends, after all - it was silly to look away and mumble when they ran into each other. So they took action, making a point of going to the pub together, requesting the sound be turned down on the TV news images of mayhem, and making a specific selection on the jukebox: Matisyahu singing "One Day" ("It's not about / win or lose / we all lose when they feed on the souls of the innocent").
The once-bearded, once-Hasidic, but always spiritual and observant reggae rap star is likely to do that one, along with his wonderful Hanukkah song "Miracle" when he plays at 8 p.m. at the Electric Factory, 421 N. Seventh St. Tickets are $39.90. Call 215-627-1332.
Rise and fall You've heard the overture many times (even if your only exposure to the genre is the Bugs Bunny vs. Elmer Fudd epic What's Opera, Doc?). Wagner's 1842 opera, Rienzi, follows the career of the last tribune of Rome in suitably grand style. The intrepid Andrew's Video Vault screens a 2010 film of Philipp Stölzl and Christian Baier's revision of the infrequently performed work, in a performance by the Deutsche Oper Berlin, at 8 p.m. at the Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St. Admission is free. Call 215-735-1685.
Friday & Saturday
People got to move The surprise hit of the last Fringe Festival was the Tribe of Fools theater piece Heavy Metal Dance Fag, according to our Howard Shapiro (he called it "raw-talking, blood-pumping, street-smart, and altogether charming"). If, like us, you missed it, here's a second chance to see the show about a gang of South Philly guys whose secret terpsichorean dreams lead to questions of what makes a man. The show goes on at the Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut St., at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $20 to $30. Call 215-898-3900.