[image-1]THEATER | Elf wanted, apply within

I am a 33-year-old man applying for a job as an elf. I often see people on the streets dressed as objects and handing out leaflets. I tend to avoid leaflets, but it breaks my heart to see a grown man dressed as a taco.” ­­ — Santaland Diaries

Counter excessive holiday cheer with this caustic comedy by best-selling author and humorist David Sedaris. The play sardonically recounts Sedaris’ experience working as the Christmas elf Crumpet at Macy’s in New York City. A reading of this account on NPR launched the career of the Time magazine Humorist of the Year and author of Me Talk Pretty One Day in 1992 and later became this successful short play. Greg Tavares of the Have Nots! returns to the Charleston Stage after a four-year absence to direct Matt Bivins of Jump, Little Children and Cabaret Kiki in his Charleston Stage debut. Santaland runs the same time as Charleston Stage’s family friendly and music-and-special-affects-laden production of Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast, but this show’s a little different. “It’s an anti-holiday show,” Charleston Stage marketing manager Clint Carter says. “We were looking for something edgier because we have a smaller space this season that lends itself to more intimate, contemporary style shows.” Get tickets early ­— sales are already doing well, and the American Theater has only 175 seats. —Rachel Ward Dec. 12-14, 20, 21, 8 p.m. Dec. 8, 15, 22, 6 and 9 p.m. $26.50/adults, $24.50/seniors, $19.50/students, (843) 577-7183, www.charlestonstage.com. American Theater, 446 King St. (843) 722-3456.

EVENT | Life in the fab lane

Chances are you haven’t even started your Christmas shopping, but don’t despair — there are some shopping events this weekend to help you feel better about being a slacker. Over 100 Lowcountry retailers are donating 10 percent of their Saturday sales directly to Lowcountry AIDS Services as part of the fourth annual Shopping with Friends event. With so many stores to choose from (like Ann Long Fine Art, B’zar, Urban Outfitters, Dolittle’s, Poe Studio, Stella Nova, and Yves Delorme), you won’t have trouble finding something for everyone on your list. On Friday night, Saks hosts a cocktail party featuring champagne and hors d’oeuvres from Charleston Cooks! as well as the premiere showing of lines from designers like Diane Von Furstenberg and Edward Wilkerson. On Saturday morning, kick off your shopping day at a champagne brunch hosted by Elle Magazine, Charleston Magazine, and Lacoste USA at the Rennaisance Charleston Hotel. Sample the full brunch menu; enjoy complimentary manicures, mini massages, and style consults; and bid for goodies in the silent and live auctions. The silent auction offers original signed sketches from designers Badgley Mischka, Stuart Weitzman, and Tory Burch, while the live auction includes sweet packages like a trip to New York to see Project Runway and tickets to the U.S. Open. ­Last year, shoppers raised over $100,000 in retail donations for LAS — a great help for an organization that runs without state funding, due to S.C.’s abstinence-only stance. It should be clear what you’ve got to do. Get out there and charge! —Erica Jackson FRIDAY & SATURDAY Dec. 7 & 8.

[image-2]DANCE | Classic Christmas magic on pointe

If The Nutcracker isn’t part of your family’s annual holiday tradition, this is the year to start. Charleston Ballet Theatre’s version is set in Charleston in 1855, making it a unique Lowcountry experience. But it’s still Tchaikovsky, and it’s still the same old story set around the magical world of Maria, played by Jennifer Balcerzak Muller. The Nutcracker is marked by dazzling displays of both classic and modern dance. The land of the sweets is a continuous parade of talented dancers performing for the Sugar Plum Fairy (Jessica Roan). The Spanish fandancers delight with their fandango and fiery red costumes, while the tempo slows to a sultry beat as the Arabian Lovers defy gravity with one-handed lifts and the Chinese acrobats fly through the air. All of this is a dream, it seems, as the ballet comes to an end with Maria waking from her fantasy beneath the Christmas tree. —Madelyne Adams Dec. 8-9. $30-$45, (843) 723-7334, www.charlestonballet.com. Gaillard Auditorium, 77 Calhoun St. (843) 577-7400.

MUSIC | All is not calm

Christmas caroling is so five minutes ago. Boombox caroling? Now we’re talking. Unsilent Night, presented by the New Music Collective, is New York musician Phil Kline’s epic, modern take on traditional caroling. The city-wide installation consists of people carrying boom boxes, iPods, or anything that’ll play music created by Kline — just sign up early enough and NMC will create a tape or CD for you to be able to participate. This holiday season Unsilent Night will fill the streets of New York, Houston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Hamburg, and of course Charleston, among many other cities. To participate or just observe the beautiful clamor, bundle up and head to City Gallery at Waterfront Park at 8 p.m., where you’ll start walking through the streets of downtown, boom box on shoulder, ending about an hour later at Redux, where there will be an Open Studio Show. To participate, contact NMC Artistic Director Nathan Koci at nathan@newmusic collective.org. —Erica Jackson SATURDAY Dec. 8. Free. City Gallery at Waterfront Park. (843) 724-7305.

[image-3]CARS | Va va zoom

Over 1,000 growling hot rods will make their way down the sleepy, live oak-lined drive of Boone Hall Plantation this weekend in the hopes of being recognized as one of the hottest cars in the Southeast. Over 250 trophies will be awarded during the competition, for everything ranging from best muscle car, import, exotic, and paint job to loudest exhaust, stereo, and horn. Participants can register and place their cars on Friday, followed by a VIP party, and they can continue to place their cars from 6-10 a.m. the next morning. On Saturday, the public starts trickling in at 11 a.m. to the tunes of N.C. bluegrass greats The Hackensaw Boys. The awards ceremony is at 2:30 p.m., followed by a performance from Florida-based alt-rock band Sister Hazel. The 7,000-some expected guests will also enjoy an appearance from NASCAR legend Ernie Irvan, along with food and drinks and a kid-pleasing magician. Get your Corvette (or Tercel) nice and shiny and head to Boone Hall for the weekend. —Erica Jackson SATURDAY Dec. 8, 10 a.m. $17.50, $7.50/children, (843) 529-2499, www.crippledog.com. Boone Hall Plantation, 1235 Long Point Road, Mt. Pleasant.

[image-4]MUSIC | Canucks play their brasses off

In 1981, the Canadian Brass performed for the Charleston Concert Association at the tender age of 11. Now, over 20 years later and in its 37th season, the internationally-acclaimed quintet will perform at the Gaillard on Monday night. The Brass is comprised of two original members, Charles Daellenbach on tuba and Eugene Watts on trombone, along with Jeff Nelsen on horn, and Joe Burgstaller and Manon Lafrance on trumpet. Lafrance is the first female member of the group, as well as the first French Canadian. From their humble, experimental beginnings, the fabulous five have grown into veritable rock stars of the concert music world. They spend most of their time on tour, performing with major symphony orchestras all over the world and influencing brass musicians everywhere. They’ve broken through the traditional expectations for brass players, daringly branching out into jazz and popular songs, often peppering their concerts with lively dialogue and theatrical effects. Monday night’s performance will include works from Bach, Vivaldi, Giovianni Gabrieli, Peter Schickele, and Samuel Barber, along with a “Ringtone Medley.” —Erica Jackson MONDAY Dec. 10, 8 p.m. $15-$55, (843) 571-7755. Gaillard Auditorium, 77 Calhoun St. (843) 577-7400.

MUSIC | Hallelujah for the holidays

The Charleston Symphony Orchestra branches beyond the peninsula for its annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah with performances in Johns Island and Summerville churches. The concerts cater to the symphony orchestra’s faithful audience members from Seabrook and Kiawah islands along with church members and other off-peninsula residents who don’t always make it downtown. The feel is a far cry from that of the Gaillard as the large churches fill up with a bigger-than-usual audience drawn in by the Christmas tradition built around one of the most popular choral works ever written. Resident Conducter Scott Terrell conducts the performance for the third year, and the all-volunteer Charleston Symphony Orchestra Chorus performs with the orchestra. The four guest soloists include Mt. Pleasant neighbors soprano Margaret Kelly Cook and countertenor Ricard Bordas along with tenor Jeffrey Picon, who performs with the New York City and San Francisco operas, and baritone Ryan Taylor who sang at last year’s performance. Buy tickets for Handel’s Messiah in advance or at the door. Other Christmas concerts on the orchestra’s calendar include the the Brass Christmas Concert Dec. 8 and the Christmas Pops concert Dec. 15. After the holidays, the orchestra continues in the new direction it began this season. Expect more fast-paced and fresh performances geared toward a younger audience in the new and wildly successful Backstage Pass Series. —Rachel Ward THURSDAY-SUNDAY Fri. Dec. 7, 7:30 p.m. Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 2545 Bohicket Road, Johns Island. Sun. Dec. 9, 3 p.m. Saint Theresa The Little Flower Catholic Church, Summerville, $15, $5/student with ID. (843) 723-7528. www.charlestonsymphony.com