1) It’s the ballet that even non-ballet fans enjoy. The Nutcracker also provides a huge share of annual ticket sales for ballet companies across the nation, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s production is among the grandest of all. Choreographed to Tchaikovsky’s music by PBT artistic director Terrence S. Orr (who drew in part on the original choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov), this Nutcracker has a traditional feel but includes many custom features you won’t find in other versions. The story is set at an old-time Christmas party in Pittsburgh at the turn of the last century. Then, as we move into the realm of fantasy—with the Nutcracker doll coming to life and leading a cast of adult and child dancers through a visit to the Land of Enchantment—there are dazzling special dances, amazing magic tricks, and breathtaking stage effects. 7 p.m. Performance through December 27. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District. (MV)
2) Maybird’s lead vocalist sounds a bit like The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, although he looks more like guitarist Nick Valensi. The instrumentation dates a little further back, to ’90s alt-rock bands, such as Garbage. Comparisons aside, there’s something original about Maybird’s psychedelic-indie sound. That originality might explain some things. Like why Danger Mouse, who has produced albums by artists such as Gorillaz and The Black Keys, signed the New York quintet to his record label, 30th Century. Or like how, despite releasing only an EP, this year’s Turning into Water, the band is in the middle of a six-state, 10-city tour, one which includes a stop at Club Cafe. Expect a full-length album soon, but in the meantime, enjoy the chance to see a rising act in an intimate venue. Zeve opens. 7 p.m. 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. (CM)
3) Unblurred: First Fridays on Penn features a variety of visual and performing arts at galleries, clubs, and restaurants along Penn Avenue (4800-5500) in the Garfield, Bloomfield, and Friendship neighborhoods. 6 – 10 p.m. Most events are free.
4) On most game days, Pittsburgh is a city united in the belief that the Steelers, Penguins or even, recently, Pirates are the greatest in their respective sports and whatever team they happen to be up against is a pathetic band of sad sacks, and if said opponents don’t suffer a humiliating beat-down, they must have been lucky and/or cheating. Today things are more complicated as the basketball teams of Pitt and Duquesne face off at PPG Paints Arena in the City Game. You might want to take an inventory of college bumper stickers on coworkers’ cars before the usual anti-other-team trash talk at the water cooler. 7 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown.