1) The Nutcracker by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa is the ballet that even non-ballet fans enjoy. A holiday staple in cities across the U.S., the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre production is a grand one that pulls out all the stops. Choreographed to Tchaikovsky’s music by PBT artistic director Terrence S. Orr, this Nutcracker has a “traditional” feel but includes many custom features you won’t find in other versions. As the story moves from an old-time Christmas party into the realm of fantasy—with the Nutcracker doll coming to life and leading a cast of 170(!) adult and child dancers through the Land of Enchantment—there are dazzling dances, amazing magic tricks, and breathtaking stage effects. 7 p.m. Through Dec. 28. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District.
2) Local rock royalty Joe Grushecky is back in one of his favorite Pittsburgh neighborhoods tonight, the South Side. Grushecky sang about his love for Pittsburgh and the South Side in his ’09 album East Carson Street. He’ll be playing a gig at Club Cafe with his top-notch band, The Houserockers, which includes longtime members Art Nardini (bassist) and Jeffrey “Joffo” Simmons (drummer ). Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers played the legendary Jersey shore club The Stone Pony in August. Their latest album is Somewhere East of Eden. 9 p.m. 56 – 58 S. 12th St.
3) Just about everyone has seen Frank Capra’s 1946 film classic It’s a Wonderful Life, with Jimmy Stewart as the guy who can’t find a reason to live until his guardian angel shows him many reasons. If you have seen Bricolage Adventure Theater in action, perhaps you can imagine what the company’s “Midnight Radio” comedy troupe does with its live-theater rendition of this story. Then again, at Bricolage it’s always wise to expect the unexpected, so all we can say is: Bring the kids. The evening includes interactive games, eggnog, and (as usual) a Happy Half-Hour preceding the show. 8 p.m. Ends tomorrow. Bricolage. 937 Liberty Ave., Cultural District.