Katherine Barkman and Joseph Phillips are guest artists in Ballet Mississippi’s “The Nutcracker.” Image: Ballet Mississippi

by Sherry Lucas

Plenty of “Nutcracker” performances — thank you, Ballet Mississippi and Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet! — dance across the weekend, and this year, every one of those shows carries some extra sparkle.

I met principal ballerina Katherine Barkman a year ago this month, and then had the great pleasure of watching her compete in the USA International Ballet Competition — a treat made even better by her partner, Joseph Phillips, an IBC gold medalist from 2002. Barkman, as gracious off the stage as she is graceful on it, won a silver medal in the competition and it’s a thrill to see her and Phillips shine again at Thalia Mara Hall as guest artists in Ballet Mississippi’s “Nutcracker.”

Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet’s “Nutcracker” marks a milestone for Erik Kegler, designer and former professional dancer, whose fun turn as Mother Ginger will mark his 40th straight year in the holiday classic. He’s danced every role but the Rat King or a mouse, he says, and the story of his shot at Sugarplum (he lost a bet) is every bit as comical as his inspired and beloved Mother Ginger. Happy anniversary, Erik!

Get your Tchaikovsky fix, and check out all the cool art opps and music traditions crowded into the days ahead. Keep fueled with holiday cheer and hot chocolate!

The year’s final “Funny for the Free,” 8 p.m. Wednesday at Offbeat, is the “ugly sweater” edition, so feel emboldened on that end (plus give the comedians something to roast!). Admission’s free and donations are encouraged, so come as prepared to laugh as these comedians will be. Rita Brent, Petty Que, Timothy Watkins, Deveron Dennis and Merc B. Williams are just some of those scheduled to appear.

Fondren After 5, starting at 5 p.m. on Thursday, puts the festive focus on our favorite neighborhood, with some of these fun things to check out: Beacon Makers Market at The Beacon; Bounce House at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church; William Goodman clutch painting at Blithe and Vine (noon to 6 p.m.); a Treehouse open house (noon to 7 p.m.); tunes at Sneaky Beans; Laurin Stennis’ opening at Brown’s and Special Olympics Mississippi Gold Gala (7:30 p.m. at Duling Hall, with tickets $75 single/$125 couple).

The Canton Mart Christmas Crawl, 4 p.m. Thursday at Canton Mart Square, is a good time to visit the unique, sparkling small businesses in that charming center, including Latitudes, Haven, Drake’s Designs, Nursery Rhymes, View Gallery, Hickory Pit, Crazy Cat Eat Up, Briarwood Wine & Spirits and more.

Block out time on Thursday for the 5-7 p.m. Thursday opening reception for artist Laurin Stennis at Brown’s Fine Art and Framing. Bold wit, cool visuals and home state love are carved into a Mississippi stamps series and other great works. Ink it in your calendar, folks.

An opening reception for Laurin Stennis is Thursday at Brown’s Fine Art & Framing. Image: Laurin Stennis

Jesse Robinson’s Musician Christmas Ball, 6:30 p.m. to midnight Thursday in the Red Room at Hal & Mal’s, is the 25th annual shindig that serves up the best in blues with unbeatable guitarist Robinson and a host of other musicians, plus complimentary food. There’s a $15 cover at the door.

An opening reception for artist Richard Kelso, 5-7 p.m. Thursday at Fischer Galleries, showcases a lovely collection of Kelso’s new paintings.

An opening reception for Richard Kelso is Thursday at Fischer Galleries. Image: Fischer Galleries

The Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities’ Torchbearers Celebration, 5:30-8 p.m. Thursday at the Arts Center of Mississippi features great food, libations, music by Fondren Guitars’ Patrick Harkins, an art exhibit by VSA Mississippi, auction, Scott Crawford’s “Keep Building Jackson” LEGO display and more. It’s $40 at msccd.org.

The Jackson Indie Music Week (JIM) Donor Party, 6-9 p.m. Thursday at 201 W. Capitol St., will help ensure that the celebration continues to thrive. RSVP to the party or donate to Jackson Indie Music Week at jimweek2019.eventbrite.com.

“’Twas a Night at the Museum,” starting at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Mississippi Children’s Museum, is a “late-night” pajama party that includes holiday activities, a special reading of holiday classics and more. It’s included with general admission or museum membership. Also, enjoy “Journey to the North Pole,” through the month at the museum.

“The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science’s “Snow Much Fun,” at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, gives kids a chance to revel in a snow night, with scheduled “snowfalls,” winter crafts, a frosty selfie with Santa and more. It’s $8 adult/$4 kids 3-18 advance tickets and $10/$6 at the door.

The annual Christmas by Candlelight Tour, 4:30-8:30 p.m. Friday is a stroll through Jackson’s historic jewels decorated for the holiday. Seven sites are open for this 23rd annual tour: the State Capitol, Mississippi Governor’s Mansion, Old Capitol Museum, Manship House Museum, Eudora Welty House and Garden, plus the new Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. Find the model trains of Possum Ridge at the Two Mississippi Museums. Park at the Old Capitol or State Capitol and ride shuttle buses between sites, or drive yourself. It’s free.

Jackson’s Christmas by Candlelight Tour is Friday. Image: Mississippi Department of Archives and History

The Harlem Globetrotters take to the court at the Mississippi Coliseum, 7 p.m. Friday. Find tickets, $13-$90 and up, at ticketmaster.com.

Enjoy a new adaptation of “A Christmas Carol — A Ghost Story” at New Stage Theatre, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, with more shows as the run extends through Dec. 21. Tickets are $35/$28 seniors, students and military, at the box office, newstagetheatre.com or 601-948-3533.

HRC Drag Bingo with Miss Catastrophe, 6:30-10 p.m. Friday at Hal & Mal’s means fabulous entertainment as well as support for the work of statewide equality for LGBTQ Mississippians. Find tickets at act.hrc.org — $10 donation advance, $15 door.

The Art House/Tech House — Open House, 7-10 p.m. Friday at the Imari Obadele Center for Community Production, 922 W. Capitol St., is hosted by the Community Production Cooperative and Cooperation Jackson and provides a showcase for artists Bro Shambe, Monique Atkins, Lorenzo Gayden, Tony Davenport and more.

Ballet Mississippi’s “The Nutcracker” brings the classic to charming life in three performances this weekend at Thalia Mara Hall; at 7:30 p.m. Friday (“Ballet, Blue Jeans and Beer” night for a casual evening that includes complimentary hors-d’oeuvres and a cash bar); at 3 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. USA IBC medalists Katherine Barkman (2018 silver) and Joseph Philips (2002 gold) are the guests artists, performing the roles of the Sugarplum Fairy and Cavalier. Performance tickets are $13-$36 at balletms.com or the door. The Sugar Plum Fairy’s Tea Party, at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, precedes the matinees with a festive party, seated tea, “Nutcracker” characters and photos at The Westin Jackson Hotel; the separately ticketed event is $35 per person. Call 601-960-1560.

The Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” turns the Jackson Academy Performing Arts Center stage into the Land of Snow and Kingdom of Sweets, in three performances:: at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Guest artists are Adiarys Almeida (2006 USA IBC finalist) and Taras Domitro, whose dance careers include the National Ballet of Cuba, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet and more. Performance tickets are $20 or $22. The “Nutcracker Sweets” Tea Parties, with a candy buffet, savory menu and desserts, follows the matinee performances at 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, with visits from the ballet’s characters and Santa. Tea Party tickets are $25. Buy tickets at msmetroballet.com or 601-853-4508.

Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” is Saturday and Sunday at the Jackson Academy Performing Arts Center. Image: MMB

Soothe your sweet tooth and indulge your jollies at Sweet Treat with Santa, 1 p.m. Saturday at Nandy’s Candy, where Santa will be available for photos; hot cocoa, divinity, fudge and other treats will be available.

Blues-rock guitarist Chad Wesley brings high-energy showmanship and soulful music to the stage at Duling Hall, 8 p.m. Saturday, for an album release party for his new “Bluezy.” Tickets are $10.

Chad Wesley’s album release concert is Saturday at Duling Hall. Image: chadwesleyband.com

The city of Jackson’s parks and recreation department hosts its annual “Sleigh Bell” Christmas Fashion Show for boys and girls ages 5-12, at e1 p.m. Saturday at the Jackson Medical Mall Center Stage.

The LIT AF Tour hosted by stand-up comedian Martin Lawrence, with DeRay Davis, Rickey Smiley, Adele Givens and Benji Brown, lights up the Mississippi Coliseum, 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Find tickets, $42-$122 and up, at ticketmaster.com.

Browse the beautiful art items in “Through Their Eyes,” a show of art created by the Special Kids Ministry at St. Richard Catholic Church at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Glass artist Jenny Thomas hosts her 10th annual Christmas Trunk Show, “Little Things Mean So Much,” 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at her home in Pearl, with a spotlight on her smallest and best-selling creations. Check her Facebook Event post for more details.

The annual lighting of the Bethlehem Tree, surrounded by 100-plus 18th-century Neapolitan angels and Nativity figures, at the Mississippi Museum of Art is at 5:15 .m. Tuesday in the Trustmark Grand Hall, accompanied by Christmas music from the St. Andrew’s Parish Choir. Malcolm White and Ginger Williams Cook will be on  hand to sign copies of “The Artful Evolution of Hal & Mal’s.”

The Bethlehem Tree Lighting is Tuesday at the Mississippi Museum of Art. Image: Mississippi Museum of Art

Tuesday at Hal & Mal’s, the Mississippi Humanities Council’s Ideas on Tap tackles the topic of “Investing in Green,” focusing on the relationship between environmentalism and economic development, 5:30-7 p.m.

Join The Highland Village Family for their annual Holiday Open House, Jingle & Mingle, Tuesday, 5 – 7 p.m.. Enjoy selfies with elfies, storytime with Santa, face painting, carolers, ornament decorating, letters to Santa and holiday shopping.

Sherry Lucas, a features writer in Jackson for the last 35 years, is here on Wednesdays with “The Mix,” highlighting a curated sampling of creativity and culture from across the metro area. For additional Fondren events, see our online calendar here. Reach Sherry at sherry@finditinfondren.com.

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