The Alley Theatre had planned to update its nearly ten-year-old production of A Christmas Carol, A Ghost Story for Christmas this year with a new version directed by Michael Wilson, artistic director of the Hartford Stage Company and the man who originally adapted Charles Dickens's tale for the Alley in 1989. But as the new designs began rolling in, Alley artistic director Gregory Boyd checked the late date and thought better of it: They're going to wait until next year for the overhaul. So tonight the same old "true meaning of Christmas" story is stuck with the same old multi-level set, the same old "eerie" special effects -- and, on the plus side, the same actor James Black doing a mean old Scrooge. And as they say in TV rerun land, if you haven't yet seen it, it's new to you. Through December 27. 7:30 p.m. tonight; other showtimes vary. The Alley Theatre, 615 Texas Avenue. Call 228-8421 for tickets. $34-$46.
The only thing new to Houston's other holiday standard, The Nutcracker, is a new crop of Houston Ballet corps members making their debuts in principal roles: Nicholas Leschke and Elye Olson will try their hands at the partnering Prince, and Sara Webb will test the ice as the Snow Queen. Ben Stevenson's seasonal casting of unseasoned dancers has been at times a very good thing and at times a very bad one, but the annual suspense makes the old ballet interesting. No matter the artistic outcome, this is the ideal production with which to give the kids a little culture: They'll be entertained by the gymnastic feats, a 40-foot-high "growing" Christmas tree, and the 75 other little ballerinas-to-be in mouse suits. And you'll be in and out in two hours. Through December 27. 7:30 p.m. tonight; other showtimes vary. The Wortham Theater Center, Texas at Smith. Call 227-ARTS for tickets. $11-$61.
Shooting the moon is a dying art. Same goes for walking the dog, rocking the baby, skinning the cat and sleeping. If you or anyone you know can do these or any other yo-yo tricks, you have a moral obligation to share your talent with the rest of the yo-ing community. The only opportunity to do so this weekend is Hyper Yo-Yo's Houston Spin Fest X-Brain Yo-Yo Competition. All ages and skill levels can yo for the glory starting at 10:15 a.m. at Baybrook Mall, 19400 Gulf Freeway. Free.
Baby-faced comedian Doug Stanhope usually starts his stories innocently enough: There was that time he was in Phoenix ... But he invariably ends them raunchy: ... and got blown by a transvestite hooker. He's "experienced" with everything from dwarves to fruit, and he really likes to talk about it. Yet, curiously, all kinds of people like this lewd, crude Sam Kinison-style comic. He's even cleaned up enough for cable TV with appearances on A&E's An Evening at the Improv and Comedy Central's Make Me Laugh. Decide for yourself when he headlines and records his new live CD at the Laff Stop tonight at 8 p.m. (It's his last show in town; practice runs start Nov. 25. Other showtimes: Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.) 1952-A West Gray, 524-2333; www.laffstop.com. You might also run into Stanhope cruising our town's topless bars (three-foot rule or no) in search of new "semi-autobiographical" material.
Today's the last day to hear University of Houston M.F.A. student Averill Curdy read about going to the state fair and bathing her mother on PhoneWorks, DiverseWorks's 24-hour poetry and short fiction hotline for those who just don't get enough simile and metaphor in everyday life. Tomorrow Curdy's work will be replaced by the prose of UH-Downtown Assistant Professor Jane Creighton. Call 228-2882 anytime. Stay on the line for the entire reading and you get to leave a recorded comment for the author. Free.
Each December, Day Without Art recognizes the talent and beauty lost to AIDS with the cloaking of public art, the darkening of exhibition halls and the silencing of public performances. But this year in Houston, two groups will be speaking out. The Holocaust Museum Houston presents a lecture entitled "Homosexuals and the Holocaust," by University of Massachusetts professor and author Warren J. Blumenfeld. According to Blumenfeld's article, History/Hysteria: Parallel Representations of Jews and Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals, Nazi ideology accused homosexuals (like Jews) of trying to control the banking system, spreading diseases, destroying "civilized society" and causing economic hard times. Blumenfeld traces the parallels in persecution from World War II all the way up to current political beliefs. 7 p.m. Holocaust Museum Houston, 5401 Caroline, 942-8000 ext. 104. Free.