- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 29, 2001

Children's tradition

With the wealth of "Nutcracker" performances being staged throughout the area this holiday season, it's worth checking out a unique local favorite. The Puppet Co. presents its own take on Tchaikovsky's classic musical work in a show acted out by puppets for a children's audience. See "The Nutcracker" at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Puppet Co. Playhouse, Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo. Tickets are $5. 301/320-6668.

Pop nutcracker

Over at the Patriot Center, another type of "Nutcracker" is taking place, except this one has no ballet dancers, orchestras or puppets. The HFSmas Holiday Nutcracker showcases the pop-punk of Blink-182, the heavy metal thunder of System of a Down and the mellow Brit-pop of Coldplay, among others. Take a listen at 5 p.m. Saturday at the George Mason University Patriot Center, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax. Tickets are $37.50. 202/432-SEAT

Audience participation

Anyone who's seen the Washington Chamber Symphony knows that music director Stephen Simon likes to have a good time on stage. Now, he's extending that opportunity to the audience with the symphony's annual holiday sing-along concert. Mr. Simon leads the symphony with the Georgetown Chorale, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts show choir and other local groups in an all-ages roundup of popular holiday tunes. Brush up the singing voice and join in the fun at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall, F Street and New Hampshire Avenue NW. Tickets are $12 to $37.50. 202/452-1321.

Meet the artist

It would be hard to visit the Renwick Gallery now and not marvel at the sheer craftsmanship of artist Sam Maloof. His hand-carved tables, chairs and other household items are a testament to the woodworking art, and now's the time to find out what inspires him. Hear him speak about his work at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery, Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th Street NW. It's free. 202/357-2700.

Theatrical dance

Think of it as dance with all the dramatic flair of theater. Writer and theater director Rebecca Rice premieres her new work, "Ecstasy," about the Salem witch trials, alongside choreographer Nancy Havlik's new work, "Monk's Blood," a dramatic rendering of Thelonious Monk's jazzy compositions. See both works come to life at 8 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday at Dance Place, 3225 Eight St. NE. Tickets are $6-$16. 202/269-1600.

Powerful colors

The styles may be different, but the works of local artists Ken and Laura Conley (both on the faculty at the Washington Studio school) are full of vibrant, swirling colors. Through oils they manage to transform both the abstract and the literal into paintings that appear to be moving with a momentum born outside the works. Take a look from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Courtyard Gallery, 3232 P St. NW. It's free. 202/333-2663.

Soul collector

Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov is a man with a plan. Realizing that having serfs (whether alive or dead) adds to his property value, he decides to start collecting dead ones to boost his status in society. The prosperity that follows in Gogol's "Dead Souls" offers a dark, penetrating glimpse into 19th-century Russian society and has made the work a literary classic. See the Stanislavsky Theater's production at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Church Street Theater, 1742 Church St. NW. Tickets are $12 to $30. 202/265-3748.

Local art

Why buy generic art from a large retailer when you can meet the artist face to face? Roughly 20 local artists, including textile artist Ann C. Saunders and painter Judybeth Greene, open up their studios to give holiday shoppers the chance to pick up a unique, personal gift for that special someone. Stop by from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at A Salon, 6925 Willow St. NW. It's free. 202/882-0740.

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