A holiday favorite of young girls in taffeta dresses - and, really, anyone who likes great music and dance - the Pennsylvania Ballet's annual performances of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, with choreography by George Balanchine, go on at the Academy of Music, Broad and Locust Streets, at noon and 5 p.m. Sunday; 2 p.m. Monday; noon Tuesday; 2 and 7 p.m. Thursday; 2 p.m. Friday; 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday; and noon and 5 p.m. next Sunday. Tickets are $25 to $125. Call 215-893-1999.
It's a panto, wise guy
The British holiday tradition of the panto - featuring fractured fairy tales with topical jokes, audience participation, a "messy bit," and silly songs - has become an area staple, thanks to the People's Light & Theatre Company. This year's offering presents Cinderella as a gangster fairy tale. The show goes on at 2 p.m. Sunday at the company's theater, 39 Conestoga Rd., Malvern, and continues on a varied schedule through Jan. 12. Tickets are $35 to $50. Call 610-644-3500.
Man out of season
The musical Elf adapts the 2003 film about a young orphan mistakenly brought to the North Pole and raised as one of Santa's little helpers (though he's, ah, neither). The show goes on at 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday at the Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St., and continues Tuesdays through Sundays through Jan. 5 (no shows Christmas Eve or Christmas Day). Tickets are $10 to $95. Call 215-574-3550.
This elf for hire
The famed North Pole gumshoe returns in Bill D'Agostino's interactive comedy Murray the Elf and the Case of the Terrifying Tinsel, in which the title guy is called in to investigate when a Tinsel Monster appears and Santa's workshop grinds to a halt. The show goes on at the Act II Playhouse, 56 E. Butler Ave., Ambler, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday and Fridayand 11 a.m. Saturday and next Sunday. Tickets are $12; $10 seniors; $8 ages under 12. Call 215-654-0200.
Presented by the deliciously monikered sketch-comedy troupe Secret Pants with comedian Chip Chantry as emcee, Do the Peppermint Twist: A Yuletide Variety Show! also features the local comic ensemble Daring Daulton, New York City improv duo We're Matt Weir, musicians Emily & Micah McGraw, and burlesque by Randi Warhol. The show goes on at 9 p.m. at Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave. Tickets are $10. Call 215-739-9684.
Our favorite way to get ready for the big night (and day) is with Frank Capra's 1946 fantasy, It's a Wonderful Life, which reminds us: No one is a failure who has friends. The film screens at 2 p.m. at the Colonial Theatre, 227 Bridge St., Phoenixville. Tickets are $9; $7 seniors and students; $5 ages under 13. Call 610-917-0223
Comedian Cory Kahaney hosts the Moo Shu Jew Show, with guest comics Mike Fine and Harrison Greenbaum, plus a multicourse Chinese banquet, at 6 p.m. at Ocean Harbor Restaurant, 1023 Race St. Tickets are $80 (including dinner). Call 215-703-7329.
Jazz with noodles
Continuing a holiday tradition started in 1955 at New York City's Confucius Room by legendary pianist Lennie Tristano, the All Star Jazz Trio and Chinese food feature at 7 p.m. at Square on Square, 1905 Chestnut St. No cover; reservations required. Call 215-568-0088.
It's hard to believe a TV show that's more than 60 years old maintains such strong appeal and influence, but the groundbreaking creation of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball is more than a sitcom - it's a cultural touchstone (everybody loves Vitameatavegamin!). I Love Lucy - Live on Stage, adapts two episodes of the beloved TV hit - "The Benefit" and "Lucy Has Her Eyes Examined." The show goes on at the Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St., at 2 and 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; and 1 and 6:30 p.m. next Sunday. Tickets are $25 to $75. Call 215-893-1999.
Friday & Saturday
Boston jam-band maestros Dopapod bring their intricate, cerebral mix of electronica, prog rock, and jazz fusion to the Theatre of the Living Arts, 334 South St., at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $19. Call 215-922-1011. . . . Smart-punk party guy Andrew W.K. presents his one-man holiday special at the Note, 142 E. Market St., West Chester, at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $20. Call 484-947-5713.