Pause and breathe deeply. Today is the last day of calm before holiday entertainment shifts into high gear.

But remember, the holidays are a marathon, not a sprint. It’s best to stockpile your energy.

With that in mind, here is a sampling of the first wave of holiday openings during the next two weeks:

“THE SANTALAND DIARIES,” Friday through Dec. 18, Studio Theater at Portland Stage Company, 25 Forest Ave.: Dustin Tucker revives his role as the angry elf in the David Sedaris classic. This adult-oriented comedy sells out quickly, so don’t dawdle if you think you want to go.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to Dec. 2; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3; 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. Dec. 4; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6-7; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8. Through Dec. 18.

HOW MUCH: $17 to $20

INFO: 774-0465;

“THE NUTCRACKER,” Saturday through Dec. 4, Maine State Ballet, Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland: Nearly 300 dancers from Maine State Ballet and other dance schools will take the stage over seven performances beginning Saturday. This traditional version of the popular ballet features music by the Maine State Ballet Orchestra, the Musica de Filia Girlchoir and the Westcustogo Youth Chorale. (See related story on Page E21.)

WHEN: 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; 7 p.m. Dec. 2; 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 3; 2 p.m. Dec. 4

HOW MUCH: $15 to $55

INFO: 842-0800;

“JOYOUS SOUNDS FOR A FESTIVE SEASON,” Tuesday, University of Southern Maine School of Music Chamber Singers, Williston-Immanuel United Church, 156 High St., Portland: The singers will fill the church with the sounds of the season, recalling favorites and introducing new songs. Robert Russell conducts.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

HOW MUCH: $9/donation

INFO: 780-5555;

“BROADWAY AT GOOD THEATER,” Dec. 1-4, St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St., Portland: Good Theater will host its annual holiday concerts with leading man Kevin Earley, who appeared in “Les Miserables,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and other shows on Broadway. He will be joined by Marva Pittman, Kelly Caufield, Lynne McGhee, Stephen Underwood, David Goulet, Grace Bradford, Joe Bearor, Marc Brann, Todd Daley, Marie Dittmer, Deirdre Fulton, Meredith Lamothe, Jen Means, Erik Moody, Taylor Palmer, Amy Roche and Benjamin Row.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Dec. 1; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2; 3 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3; 2 p.m. Dec. 4

HOW MUCH: $25, $30

INFO: 885-5883

“A CELTIC CHRISTMAS,” Dec. 1-11, American Irish Repertory Ensemble, Lucid Stage, 29 Baxter Blvd., Portland: Fiddlers, Irish step dancers and a juggler will add to the merriment as AIRE presents the family-oriented “A Celtic Christmas.” As part of the show, AIRE introduces a new piece, “The Legend of the Wren,” an original Irish Christmas tale featuring live music and dancers from the Stillson School of Irish Dance.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1-2; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3; 2 p.m. Dec. 4; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6-9; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10; 2 p.m. Dec. 11

HOW MUCH: $12 to $22

INFO: 799-5327;

“THE SNOW QUEEN,” Dec. 2-24, Portland Stage Company: For many years, Portland Stage has presented “A Christmas Carol” as its principal holiday offering. This year, the theater company has created an adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Dec. 2; 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 3; noon Dec. 4; 7 p.m. Dec. 8. Through Dec. 24.

HOW MUCH: $30 to $40

INFO: 774-0465;

“THE WANDERING BEGGAR OR THE ADVENTURES OF SIMPLE SHMEREL,” Dec. 2-18, Acorn Productions: Based in the Dana Warp Mill in Westbrook, Acorn presents an adaptation by local playwright Howard Rosenfield of a book by Solomon Simon. The book was written in Yiddish and first published in 1931. “The Wandering Beggar” includes a series of vignettes in which the title character encounters a series of dishonest servants and greedy kings, overcoming each obstacle with a direct and honest approach. Harlan Baker directs the production, which features an ensemble of 11.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2-3; 2 p.m. Dec. 4. Through Dec. 18.

HOW MUCH: $12, $15

INFO: 854-0065;

“CHRISTMAS AT THE CATHEDRAL,” Dec. 3-4, Choral Art Society, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 307 Congress St., Portland: The annual performance features the Choral Art Society Singers, the Portland Brass Quintet and organist Dan Moore. Tickets are available in advance at Longfellow Books and Starbird Music in Portland, Nonesuch Books in South Portland, Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick and Book Review in Falmouth, as well as through the website and phone number listed below.

WHEN: Noon Dec. 3 (preview); 8 p.m. Dec. 3; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4.

HOW MUCH: $10 at the door for preview; $20 and $30 for other performances

INFO: 828-0443;

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: pphbkeyes


filed under: