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CALIFORNIA REVELS Lia Gips plays a jester in this year's rendition of "The Christmas Revels."

The Bay Area holiday season ushers in events and performances ranging from resplendent and traditional to drag-queen comedies and star-studded fundraisers. Here's a partial rundown:

NUTCRACKERS & DANCE

Contra Costa Ballet: The company's annual "Story of the Nutcracker" is a particularly kid-friendly hourlong version of the classic; eight performances today through Sunday; Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek; $23-$33; 925-943-7469, www.lesherartscenter.org; http://contracostaballet.org.

"The Velveteen Rabbit": KT Nelson's dance work might not be as beloved as the 1922 children's story it's based on, but it's getting there. The holiday show by ODC Dance Theatre is back for its 26th year; through Dec. 9; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; $15-$50; 415-978-2787, www.ybca.org, www.odcdance.org.

Black Diamond Ballet Theatre: Billed as East Contra Costa County's first professional ballet company, Black Diamond Ballet is bringing its lavish, evening-length production of "The Nutcracker" to Pittsburg High School's Creative Arts Building; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7-8, 2 p.m. Dec. 9; $15-$20; at www.blackdiamondballet.org.


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Berkeley Ballet Theater: The company's annual production of "The Nutcracker" is considered one of the best in the Bay Area; Dec. 7-16; Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, Berkeley; $29; 510-830-9524, www.berkeleyballet.org.

Valley Dance Theatre: The 32-year-old Livermore company's annual "Nutcracker," accompanied by Livermore Amador Symphony, is a proud Tri-Valley tradition; Dec. 8-16; Bankhead Theater, Livermore; $24-$34; 925-373-6800, www.valleydancetheatre.com.

Ballet Folklorico Costa de Oro: The company devoted to traditional Mexican dance and music presents the colorful "Fiestas Navideñas" holiday show; 2 p.m. Dec. 8; Cal State East Bay Theatre, Hayward; $17-$25; www.bfcostadeoro.com.

Smuin Ballet holiday show: New works by company choreographer Amy Seiwert and dancer Jane Rehm highlight the always-festive holiday show from this San Francisco troupe; Dec. 14-23; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; $36-$65; www.smuinballet.org.

Ballet Joyeux -- Once Upon Christmas: The kid-friendly dance/theater show returns to Walnut Creek's Lesher Center for the Arts; 7 p.m. Dec. 21, 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 22; $25; 925-943-7469, www.lesherartscenter.org.

THEATER/COMEDY

"It's a Wonderful Life": The play adapted from Frank Capra's charming tear-jerker of a movie is Town Hall Theatre Company's holiday offering; today through Dec. 16, Town Hall Theatre, Lafayette; $12-$32; 925-283-1557, www.townhalltheatre.com.

Big Bubbly Holiday Spectacle: Holidays or no, Louis Pearl -- aka the Amazing Bubble Man -- is always a treat for kids and adults. His holiday show runs through Jan. 6; Marsh Berkeley; $11-$50; 415-826-5750, www.themarsh.org

"Bah, Humbug!": This adaptation of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" has lots of local twists thrown in; Friday-Dec. 15; Front Row Theatre, San Ramon; $11-$16; 925-973-2787 or www.sanramonperformingarts.com.

"A Broadway Holiday": Cantare, the San Leandro community choirs, presents a holiday show featuring songs from suchg Broadway favorites as "Les Miserables" and "Ragtime": Friday through Dec. 9; California Conservatory Theatre, San Leandro; $10-$25; 510-909-9516, www.curtaincallperformingarts.org.

Cantare Con Vivo: The East Bay choir presents "All I Want for Christmas Is You," a concert featuring Benjamin Britten's famed "A Ceremony of Carols"; 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church; 4 p.m. Sunday at First Presbyterian Church, Oakland; $10-$35; 510-836-0789.

Christmas Revels: This unique winter solstice show and Bay Area tradition returns for its 27th year and incorporates a cast of dozens, traditional music, dance, demonstrations and theatrical elements to tell the story of a 16th-century multicultural celebration in the Adriatic village of Prosecco. Dec. 6-17; Scottish Rite Theatre; Oakland; $20-$55; 510-452-8800, http://californiarevels.org.

"A Merry Forking Christmas": The San Francisco theater/comedy production company Piano Fight reprises this adult comedy about less-than-holy doings at a mall on Christmas Eve, with the audience getting to vote on how the show ends; Dec. 6-30; Traveling Jewish Theatre, San Francisco; $18-$40; www.pianofight.com.

"The Golden Girls -- The Christmas Episodes": The Girls, a four-man drag act that re-creates episodes of the iconic 1980s sitcom, presents two holiday-themed episodes of the show; Dec. 6-30; the Victoria Theatre, San Francisco.; $30; http://goldengirlssf.eventbrite.com.

"Puss in Boots": The "fractured fairy-tale" musical comedy is presented by Pleasanton Civic Arts Stage Company; Dec. 7-15; Amador Theater, Pleasanton; $10-$18; 925-931-4848, www.firehousearts.org.

"The North Pole Revue": The teen theater troupe Center Stage of Diablo Valley presents an original holiday musical show; Dec. 7-16; Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek; $15; 925-943-7469, www.lesherartscenter.org.

"Wavy Gravy and his Guided Mistletoes": The counterculture icon presents a semi-holiday show with music and stories, for ages 15 and up; Dec. 13-23; the Marsh, San Francisco; $15-$50; 415-826-5750, www.themarsh.org.

"The Biggest Gift": The Fantasy Forum Actors Ensemble youth theater troupe presents its annual holiday show about a plucky elf and his toy friends saving Christmas; Dec. 13-16; Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek; $14; 925-943-7469, http://fantasyforum.org.

"Brian Copeland's The Jewelry Box, a Genuine Christmas Story": The popular Bay Area writer and performer weaves a family-friendly tale about holiday shopping in Oakland; Dec. 14-29; The Marsh, San Francisco; $20-$50; 415-826-5750, www.themarsh.org.

"Mittens and Mistletoe -- A Winter Circus Cabaret": The family-friendly holiday show is presented by Sweet Can Productions; Dec. 21-24; Dance Mission Theater, San Francisco; $15-$60; 415-225-7281, www.brownpapertickets.com; www.sweetcanproductions.com

Kung Pao Kosher Comedy: The annual comedy show returns with performers, including Judy Gold, Adrianne Tolsch, Mike Capozzola and event founder Lisa Geduldig; Dec. 22-25; New Asia Restaurant, San Francisco; $44 (with cocktail and snack), $66 (includes dinner); 925-855-1986, www.koshercomedy.com.

Concerts

An International Christmas: The Ascension Liturgical Choir performs with guest soloists, the Kairos Youth Choir, members of the Young People's Symphony Orchestra and others in a program of traditional carols, Greek Orthodox Christmas hymns, excerpts from Handel's Messiah as well as a brief sing-along; 8 p.m. Friday; Ascension Cathedral, Oakland; free; 510-531-3400; www.groca.org.

Dave Koz and Friends: The smooth jazz sax man brings his holiday show back to San Francisco, with David Benoit, Sheila E., Javier Colon and Margo Rey; 8 p.m. Monday; Warfield; $39.50-$125.50; www.ticketmaster.com.

Kitka: The Bay Area women's choral group presents its annual holiday concert series, including a free sing-along; 8 p.m. Dec. 7 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Oakland, $20-$135, 510-444-0323, www.brownpapertickets.com; 8 p.m. Dec. 8 at Old First Concerts, San Francisco; $15-$20, 415-474-1608, www.oldfirstconcerts.org; Wintersongs Community Sing; 5-7 p.m. Dec. 9 at Nile Hall at Preservation Park, Oakland, free (donations accepted), 510-444-0323, www.brownpapertickets.com.

"Amahl and the Night Visitors": Gian Carlo Menotti's Christmas-themed one-act opera is presented by Livermore Valley Opera; 2 and 5 p.m. Dec. 8; First Presbyterian Church of Livermore; $12-$25; www.livermorevalleyopera.com.

Magnificat: The musical group dedicated to music of the 17th century performs Marc-Antoine Charpentier's "Nativity Pastorale"; 8 p.m. Dec. 8 at St. Mary Magdalen, Berkeley; 4 p.m. Dec. 9 at St. Mark's Lutheran, San Francisco; $12-$35; 800-595-4849, http://magnificatbaroque.com.

Help Is on the Way: Cast members from "The Book of Mormon" and "The Lion King" join Mary Wilson, Bruce Vilanch, Tim Hockenberry, Paula West and more in the annual fundraiser for Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10; Marines Memorial Theatre, San Francisco; $40-$60 (show only), $100 (show and reception); 415-273-1620, www.helpisontheway.org.

San Francisco Boys Chorus: The Grammy-winning choir presents "Navidad Nuestra," a Nativity-themed work by Argentine composer Ariel Ramírez; 2:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at St. Dominic's Church, San Francisco; 8 p.m. Dec. 15 at Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland; $19-$20; 415-861-7464, www.sfbc.org.

Jeff Bordes and Friends: The trumpeter and Pleasanton native and his band presents "A Jazz-Funky Christmas" concert for a hometown crowd, with organist/vocalist Don Lewis and other guests; 8 p.m. Dec. 8; Firehouse Arts Center, Pleasanton; $12-$25; 925-931-4848, www.firehousearts.org.

A Chanticleer Christmas: The Bay Area a cappella group's beloved holiday show is one of the can't-miss tickets of the season; Dec. 10-23; various venues; $35-$65; www.chanticleer.org.

"A Down Home Christmas": Nell Robinson and Jim Nunally perform a country-themed holiday concert featuring such songs as "If We Make it Through December" and "Daddy Looked a Lot Like Santa," along with original tunes; Dec. 13-21; Aurora Theatre, Berkeley; $25-$28; 510-843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org.

"Have Yourself a Little Gospel Christmas": Stevie Wonder keyboardist Victoria Theodore heads a band presenting a night of inspirational holiday songs; 8 p.m. Dec. 14; Del Valle Theatre, Walnut Creek; $10-$20; 925-943-7469, www.lesherartscenter.org.

VOENA: The Benicia children's choir (the title stands for Voices of Eve and Angels) has played for presidents, a pope and at the opening of the London Olympics in July. Now the chorus is set to play a homecoming holiday show; 4 p.m. Dec. 15; Empress Theatre, Vallejo; $25; 707-552-2400, www.empresstheatre.org.

Solstice Celebration: A community sing-along led by Betsy Rose; 1:30-4:30 p.m. Dec. 16; Sacred Stream Center, Berkeley; $15-$25 (suggested donation); www.betsyrosemusic.org.

Franc D'Ambrosio's Christmas in New York: Mr. "Phantom of the Opera" performs Broadway favorites in a benefit for the Peter Pan Foundation and Children's Hospital and Research Center in Oakland; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21; Rheem Theatre, Moraga; $50-$150; 925-388-0751; www.lamorindatheatres.com.

Hawaiian Christmas: Singer-songwriter Willie Kahaiali'i -- aka Willie K -- backed by the Kalama Brothers, presents this holiday show built on traditional island music and pop, rock and blues; 8 p.m. Dec. 21; Bankhead Theater, Livermore; $14-$43; 925-373-6800, www.mylvpac.com.

Moscow Boys Choir: The famed touring Russian chorus brings a program of traditional melodies, folk songs and Christmas classics to the East Bay; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 22; Bankhead Theater, Livermore; $14-$63; 925-373-6800, www.mylvpac.com.

A Toast to the Holidays: California Symphony and Voices of Musica Sacra present a night of traditional holiday tunes; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 23; Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek; $35-$55; 925-943-7469, www.californiasymphony.org.

Contact Randy McMullen at rmcmullen@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him on Twitter.com/randymac57.