What would winter be without sugar-plum fairies pirouetting around a snowy stage, or toymaker Herr Drosselmeyer giving gifts that come to life, or even the evil Rat King setting out to ruin an otherwise magical fantasy? No need to worry, because Tchaikovsky's legendary, beautiful and romantic ballet, "The Nutcracker," written in 1892, returns to Glendale this year. Media City Ballet's production features Arsen Serobian as The Snow King who inhabits the dream of young Clara, whose beloved nutcracker leads her through a colorful fantasy world of dew drop and snowflake waltzes, marzipans and dancing flowers. 2:30 p.m. $20-$45. Also, Dec. 9. 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. For tickets, call (818) 243-2539 or visit www.alextheatre.org.
Jewish Journal columnist and author Bill Boyarsky will discuss his new book, "Big Daddy: Jesse Unruh and the Art of Power Politics," about the fascinating life of one of California's most influential and charismatic politicians after World War II. Unruh is famous for saying, "Money is the mother's milk of politics." 3-5 p.m. Free. Palms-Rancho Park Branch Library, 2920 S. Overland Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 840-2142. www.lapl.org.
Chavurah by the Sea and Congregation Am Hayam provide the dreidles, songs, jelly doughnuts and beverages for this warm family gathering on the fifth night of Chanukah. Bring your own menorah and candles to fill the synagogue with light. 6:30-8:30 p.m. Free. Congregation Am HaYam, 4839 Market St., Unit C, Ventura. (805) 236-7484. www.chavurahbythesea.org.
In this town, there are enough Chanukah parties to keep you party-hopping all eight nights. However, Temple Beth Israel's Chanukah Party has a special feature: a Latke Fry-Off. So bring your (secret) recipes to spread all over town. The host will supply potatoes, onions, oil and frying pans -- unless, of course, your kosher secret is organic potatoes. Everyone is invited to bring canned food for the SOVA food pantry, and it's worth noting there are some pretty fabulous menorahs being raffled off, so buy a ticket ... or five. 5:30 p.m. $5 (per raffle ticket). Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock, 5711 Monte Vista St., Los Angeles. (323) 255-5416. www.tbila.org.
Tchaikovsky meets klezmer in the Shirim Klezmer Orchestra's self-described "manic and humorous" re-interpretation of the classic non-Jewish holiday favorite, "The Nutcracker." In "Klezmer Nutcracker," there will be a dancing potato latke queen, marching Macabees, playful tunes and melancholy music all rolled into one big klezeriffic performance. 8-10 p.m. $30. Meng Concert Hall, Cal State Fullerton's Performing Arts Center, 800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton. (714) 278-3371.
There's no hiking or biking involved at the "Fabulous Hanukkah House Party," organized by Mosaic Outdoor Club of Greater Los Angeles and Nexus. The only physical effort you'll have to exert is lifting your arm to hug a friend, light a menorah or pop a latke in your mouth. For the potluck dinner and gift exchange guidelines and RSVP instructions, visit the detailed listing on our online Community Calendar. 6:30-11:30 p.m. $5. Private home in Granada Hills. Hanukkah07@yahoo.com.
SUN | DECEMBER 9
It's hard to really know the enigmatic Danny Kaye. He was rumored to have had love affairs with men and women, and he endured accusations by the FBI for dodging the draft. Yet the world-famous comedian and beloved film actor channeled his troubles into entertainment. In "The Kid From Brooklyn: The Danny Kaye Story," his life, relationships and career are chronicled in an intimate musical that portrays his wife, Sylvia Fine, as the guiding light that solidified his stardom -- lending credence to the aphorism that behind every great man is a great woman. 8 p.m. (Thu.-Sat.), 3 p.m. (Sat.-Sun.). $35-$50. El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hollywood. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111. www.kidfrombrooklynthemusical.com.
Light the menorah and dance the horah at one of the many Chabad Chanukah festivals all over town. "Chanukah at Fashion Island" will have a huge canned-food menorah that will then be dismantled and distributed to families in need, face painting and a collection of unwrapped gifts for needy children. The Klezundheit group will be lending a hand and their voices to the celebration. 3-4:30 p.m. Free. Fashion Island, Bloomingdale's Courtyard, 401 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach. (949) 721-9800. www.jewishnewport.com.
Attack of the jelly doughnuts! Well actually they're not attacking -- they're stacking at The Giant Doughnut Menorah Lighting, Chabad's one-of-a-kind, delectable, incredible, powder-sugary holiday treat! 4 p.m. Free, but bring your I.D. for security. The New JCC at Milken, 22622 Vanowen St., West Hills. (818) 337-4544. www.chabadofwesthills.com.
Join Fairfax-district dwellers and tourists at the Farmers Market Chanukah festivities, held all afternoon today. Children can make dreidels and a menorah out of LEGOs, families can enjoy the traditional music of Alula, and everyone can light the sixth candle together. Co-hosted by Temple Israel of Hollywood and Chabad of Miracle Mile. 2:30-7 p.m. Free. Farmer's Market, corner of Third Street and Fairfax Avenue. (323) 933-9211. www.farmersmarketla.com.
Pack a picnic and your menorah for a community-wide Chanukah Family Party. Latkes and jelly donuts will already be on the scene for this special celebration of family welcoming the whole community. 5:30 p.m. Free. Beth Shir Sholom, 1827 California Ave., Los Angeles. Reservations required. Call Brenda, (310) 453-3361.
After the candles, the doughnuts, the dreidels and the presents, pack the whole family into the car for a rockin' Chanukah concert by Moshav. Their music -- which appeals to all ages -- is a fun mixture of folk, rock and reggae that blends Israeli and American cultures. 7-9 p.m. $15-$25. Shomrei Torah Synagogue, 7353 Valley Circle Blvd., West Hills. (818) 346-0811.
Afternoons at a Haifa beach ... Shabbat dinners in Jerusalem ... Chanukah in the Holy Land ... if you're contemplating a move to Israel, a perfect place to start your planning is at the Jewish Agency for Israel's "See the Lights Israel Fair." Get the lowdown on aliyah rights and benefits, employment opportunities and grants for college, while enjoying the sounds and tastes of Israel. 2-5 p.m. Free. Steven S. Wise Temple, 15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive, Los Angeles. (866) 835-0430. www.aliyah.org.
MON | DECEMBER 10
Stephen Sondheim's musical thriller, "Sweeney Todd," has been adapted into a highly anticipated film directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham-Carter, Alan Rickman and Sasha Baron Cohen. Catch a sneak preview of the film at Stephen Farber's Reel Talk series, which always includes a lively discussion with one or more of the film's key figures. 7 p.m. $20. Wadsworth Theatre, Veterans Administration grounds, Building 226, 11301 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 479-3003. www.landmarktheatres.com.
Debi Derryberry, whose name is almost as cute as her Web site music video featuring a dancing banana, talking gorilla and singing duck, earned her claim to fame voicing the character of Jimmy Neutron. She will perform a special "Hanukkah Happening" concert sure to delight kiddies ages 2-7. 3-4 p.m. Free. Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles, 6505 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 761-8648.
Students from Stephen S. Wise schools and schools citywide constitute the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra, a religiously diverse ensemble dedicated to performing classical works, Jewish music and new compositions by professional musicians. 7 p.m. $10-$15., Robert Margolis Performing Arts Center, Milken Community High School, 15800 Zeldins' Way, Los Angeles. Tickets available at the door or by calling (310) 903-5712. www.layouthorchestra.org.
Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wisc.), a champion of campaign finance reform, will be the keynote speaker at this year's Carmen and Louis Warschaw Distinguished Lecture. The USC Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life created this lecture series in 1999 to explore how Judaism influences individuals in public life. Feingold's talk is titled, "Judaism, Progressive Values and Public Policy." 3-5 p.m. Free. USC Davidson Conference Center, 3415 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles. (213) 740-3405. www.usc.edu/casdeninstitute.
Calling all swingin' seniors! Put on your holiday best and head to the JCC for "Chanukah Swing." Big Band music by Harold Kaye and The Sophisticated Swingers, a 16-piece dance band, will keep you boppin' while you devour gourmet latkes and delectable tea sandwiches from the buffet. Vivian Florian will chime in with a piano performance, and cantor Harris Shore will lead a round of rousing Chanukah songs. 2-5 p.m. $3-$5. Westside JCC, 5870 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 938-2531, ext. 2231.
TUE | DECEMBER 11
What could top a giant menorah made of jelly doughnuts (see Dec. 9 listing)? A giant menorah made of ice! The Hollywood and Highland Center Chanukah Celebration with Congregation Kol Ami will feature a lighting ceremony (yes, they will be lighting the ice menorah and no, you cannot lick it), performances by children's choirs, arts and crafts stations and holiday treats provided by Wolfgang Puck Catering. Yum. 6 p.m. Free. Hollywood and Highland Center, Central Courtyard, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 467-6412. www.hollywoodandhighland.com.
Prolific Israeli songstress and outspoken peace activist Chava Alberstein consistently wows audiences with her wide range of songs -- tender, loving, political, defiant, melancholy. The legendary performer, who was named the most important female musician in Israel's history by that country's largest newspaper, will sing in Hebrew, English, Ladino and Yiddish at "An Evening With Chava Alberstein," a special one-night concert at the American Jewish University. 8-11 p.m. $45. AJU, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. (310) 440-1537. www.ajula.edu.
The women of Yemen developed their own musical sound, illuminated by traditional songs that reveal insight into how they lived. Led by Margalit Oved -- who was raised in Amed, Yemen, and later became a dance star in Israel's Inbal Dance Troupe -- along with Yuval Ron, the Yemenite Song Workshop is a cultural celebration of women and their music. 7 p.m. $12 (under 18 free). Kahal Joseph Congregation, 10505 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. For more information, call (310) 474-0559.
WED | DECEMBER 12
Sing along with Troy, Gabriella and the rest of the "High School Musical" gang as Disney's mega-hit makes its way to the stage this month. With a live orchestra, 34 talented performers -- including Beverly Hills native Lizzie Weiss, who plays Martha -- and two new songs written especially for the stage, the show is sure to be a delightful holiday treat for "Musical" fans of all ages. After hearing the CD 50 times in the car, how can you not hum "What I've Been Looking For" at work? 7:30 p.m. Additional performances, Tue.-Sun. through Dec. 23. $23-$73. Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Highland Center, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (213) 480-3232. www.kodaktheatre.com.
Singer Gilat Rapaport and her orchestral band InJoy will entertain at this festive Chanukah Party with DJ's spinning international music, live dancers and a feast of specially made jelly donuts. What's sweeter than that? 9 p.m. $20. Club Rio Kosher Restaurant, 15910 Ventura Blvd., Encino. For reservations, call Eli (323) 972-9577.
THU | DECEMBER 13
West Hollywood, hot latkes, hot singles and a hot cause -- that's the holiday ticket this year at The W Group's Fourth Annual Hanukkah Party and Fundraiser. The young professionals group of Stephen S. Wise Temple is throwing a huge bash to celebrate Chanukah and raise money for Jewish World Watch. They're also sponsoring a silent auction with luxurious spa packages, restaurant gift certificates and coveted tickets to sporting events, so head on over and place your bid. 8 p.m. $10. Guy's, 8713 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 476-8561 ext. 2230.
FRI | DECEMBER 14
Snarky, irreverent and wisecracking, the East Coast-based music duo of Good For the Jews pride themselves on their own brand of "Jewy" pop. Creator Rob Tannenbaum, who first gained acclaim in a preceding duopoly of Jewish jokedom "What I Like About Jew," continues pandering to The Simpsons and South Park crowd with his dirty humor and risqué lyricism, and is now joined by indie rocker David Fagin. New York Magazine wrote about this "cutting new band that makes Adam Sandler sound like an altar boy," and they will be "Putting The Ha! In Hanukkah" to honor the "11th" night of the holiday. 7:30 & 10:30 p.m. $15. Knitting Factory Hollywood, 7021 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. For tickets, call (323) 463-0204 or visit www.knittingfactory.com.
NextAid, a non-profit organization that parlays partying into economic and environmental benefits for Africa is teaming up with SCO Studio Architecture for their next fundraising bash Shelter. L.A. break beat crews are sending their top DJs to fire up the dance floor for an all-night energy mixer. Proceeds will go toward construction of an ecological village in South Africa that will shelter children orphaned by AIDS. 8 p.m.-4 a.m. $12. Cre8tivity, 13456 Washington Blvd., Marina Del Rey. For more information, call (213) 840-1201 or visit www.nextaid.org or www.cre8tivity.com.
Delve into a world of magical illusion and tricks of dizzying deception with Michael Gutenplan as he performs death-defying feats, bullet catching, mind-reading and sleight of hand card tricks at his singular holiday act Extraordinary Deceptions: A Magical Holiday Extravaganza. Through Dec. 30. 8 p.m. (Fri), 2:30 and 7:30 p.m.; (Sat) 2:30 p.m.; (Sun). $25. The Powerhouse Theatre, 3116 Second St., Santa Monica. For tickets, call (310) 396-3680 or visit www.powerhousetheatre.com.
In his first solo show in the United States, a Brazilian-born artist explores diverse ideological themes in religion, gender and power using tools of mixed media like acid, lacquer and charcoal. "Walter Goldfarb: D + lirium" showcases the artist's three distinct styles, the first using stark black and white canvases to depict religious conflict and loss juxtaposed with symbolic updates of classical art works by El Greco, Vermeer and Goya. More recent works reflect the changing political and social consciousness of the 1960s. Through May 18. $5-$7.50. Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach. For museum hours, call (562) 437-1689 or visit www.molaa.org.