Elf detective In Bill D'Agostino's Murray the Elf and the Case of the Missing Mistletoe, the eponymous hero is recalled from the shopping mall by Mrs. Claus to come to the North Pole to solve a mystery. The show goes on at Act II Playhouse, 56 E. Butler Ave., Ambler, at 11 a.m. Sunday and Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. next Sunday. Tickets are $12; $8 ages 12 and under. Call 215-654-0200.
With Tchaikovsky's great score, and George Balanchine choreography, anyone's holiday list should include The Nutcracker. The Pennsylvania Ballet presents the work at noon and 5 p.m. at the Academy of Music, Broad and Locust Streets, continuing with performances on a varied schedule to Dec. 30. Tickets are $20 to $125. Call 215-893-1999.
In Cendrillon, Jules Massenet created an operatic rococo-pastiche treat of the story of the tried and true formula: One neglected stepsister plus fairy godmother and glass slipper equals belle of the ball. The recent production of the work by the Royal Opera House in London is suitably frothy and fanciful, starring mezzos Joyce DiDonato as Cinderella and Alice Coote as Prince Charming. A film of the performance screens at 1 p.m. at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, 824 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr. Tickets are $20; $10 students. Call 610-527-9898.
Old and new
The string quartet Liebesfreud plays an all-Beethoven program, with guest Hai-Ye Ni, cello, at 6 p.m. at Trinity Memorial Church, 22d and Spruce Streets. Tickets are $10. Call 215-732-2515. . . . The PRISM Saxophone Quartet plays an all-Terry Riley program at 7 p.m. at the Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th St. Tickets are $20; $15 seniors and students. Call 215-545-4302.
Jazz singer Mary Ellen Desmond teams with tenor saxophonist Larry McKenna to play seasonal songs at 6 p.m. at the Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany, 330 S. 13th St. Tickets are $20; $10 seniors and students. Call 215-732-1918.
The Montreal-based klezmer band Shtreiml performs at 7:30 p.m. at the Calvary Center for Culture and Community, 801 S. 48th St. Tickets are $10 to $30. Call 215-729-1028.
Next big thing
The Brooklyn-via-Ithaca, N.Y., quartet Ambassadors put out one of the best albums of the year in their debut Litost, a collection of percussive, chamber-pop gems. It may not be on anybody else's list, but it's on ours. They play at 8 p.m. at Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St. Tickets are $8. Call 215-291-4919.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz's sophisticated 1951 comedy People Will Talk is a red-scare critique in which a progressive gynecologist and college professor (Cary Grant) is hounded by a reactionary colleague over his methods and personal life. Meanwhile, the prof finds himself falling in love with one of his students - who's suicidal and left pregnant by her fiance, a soldier killed in Korea. Yeah, we're amazed this movie ever made it to the big screen back then, too. The Chestnut Hill Film Group screens the film at 7 p.m. at the Woodmere Art Museum, 9201 Germantown Ave. Admission is free. Call 215-247-0476.
As if Ahmir Thompson is not busy enough as the drummer and general organizer of the Roots, producer of records, and on-call session player, he finds time to man the turntables. DJ ?uestlove & Friends get the groove going at 9:30 p.m. at Soundgarden Hall, 520 N. Columbus Ave. Tickets are $13. Call 484-557-5566.
Conductor Bramwell Tovey leads the Philadelphia Orchestra in selections from its CD The Glorious Sound of Christmas, including works by Holst, Delius, Handel, and carols. The program, with soloist Ashley Thouret, soprano, and guests the Mendelssohn Club, goes on at the Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall, Broad and Spruce Streets, at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Tickets are $40 to $124. Call 215-893-1999.
Want to hear something new? Good time to visit the Fire, 412 W. Girard Ave. (call 267-671-9298): D.C. pop perfectionist Olivia Mancini headlines a five-band bill at 9 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $8. . . . Berks bluegrassers Manatawny Creek Ramblers head up a five-band bill that has the added attraction of longtime local impresario (and fine guitarist) Jesse Lundy, on stage for a change, at 9 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $7.