1) In 1993, musician/rock band manager Paul O’Neill hit upon the idea that Christmas tunes could be totally progressive and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra was born. The TSO plays holiday music, traditional and its own, with a Rush level of elaboration and technical skill that has racked up multiple millions of album sales. You probably know the band’s wailing, synth-infused version of “Carol of the Bells.” It’s one of the most hardcore tracks DJs pull out each December. Music like this of course deserves the arena treatment, with a light show and all, and the TSO makes the rounds at the end of each year. Today, the ensemble comes to Consol Energy Center for two shows guaranteed to make this holiday season seem like the most epic one since the last one. 3 and 7:30 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown.
2) Songwriters in the Cellar is a musical showcase series presented by Pittsburgh Winery. Curated by Cindy Howes from WYEP/Morning Mix, tonight’s event features Bill Deasy, Brian Webb, and Rachel McCartney. The artists will perform, collaborate on each other’s material, and tell stories. This event should provide some interesting insights into the art of songwriting. 9 p.m. 2815 Penn Ave. Strip District.
3) Judy Holliday, who put on a silly Betty Boop-ish accent to play ditzy blondes in movies of the 1950s, was in fact considered one of the smartest women in show business. She won an Oscar for Best Actress as a naïve but not-so-dumb gangster’s moll in Born Yesterday, navigated niftily between Hollywood and Broadway, and outfoxed interrogators who wanted her to name names of suspected Communist sympathizers during the blacklisting era. Smart Blonde traces Holliday’s remarkable life and times in a music-filled new play commissioned and given its world premiere by City Theatre. Playwright Willy Holtzman also wrote The Morini Strad, which City premiered in 2010. Smart Blonde, with Andréa Burns in the title role, is at the Lester Hamburg Studio Theater adjacent to 1300 Bingham St., South Side. 5:30 and 9 p.m. Continues through Dec. 21.