THE LOWER DEPTHS
Opening: Nimbus has adapted the Maxim Gorky play about impoverished people living near the Volga River. Director/playwright Josh Cragun has placed the work in the American 1930s — the Great Depression. Gorky’s theme has to do with the acceptance of harsh reality versus the self-illusion of comfort. It can be a tough, dark play to watch but Gorky’s value is in his rich admiration for the integrity of citizens on the margin. Cragun directs a large ensemble cast. (8 p.m. Sat., 3 p.m. Sun., 7:30 p.m. Thu., next Friday. Ends Dec. 22; Nimbus, 1517 Central Av. NE, Mpls.; $10-$18. 612-548-1380 or www.nimbustheatre.com)
GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER
Friday-Saturday: “The Nutcracker” is not usually a ballet defined by its subtleties. When the holidays roll around, it seems everyone wants this classic to be as grand and sugary as possible. The Moscow Ballet grants this wish with its “Great Russian Nutcracker” production to be performed this weekend at the Orpheum Theatre. The cast features 40 dance artists from Russia plus some touches of magic like falling snow on stage, a growing Christmas tree and enchanted toys that seem to come to life within the infinite boundaries of a young girl’s dream. (7:30 p.m. Fri., 3 & 7 p.m. Sat., $32-$92 (plus fees), Orpheum Theatre, 805 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 1-800-982-2787, www.ticketmaster.com.)
THE NUTCRACKER ACCORDING TO MOTHER GOOSE
Friday-Saturday: There are many different ways to tell “The Nutcracker” story, and Zenon Dance Company has one that is particularly original. “The Nutcracker According to Mother Goose,” choreographed by Seán Curran, uses the talents of the Zenon dancers to bring to life favorite storybook characters, from Little Bo Peep and Mary (of Little Lamb fame) to Wee Willie Winkie, Jack and Jill plus many others, all performing to Tchaikovsky’s holiday score. As fun for the adults as it is for the kids, this production combines the magic of storytelling and the virtuosity (as well as the humor) within dance. (7 p.m. Fri., 11 a.m. & 2 p.m. Sat., $24, The Cowles Center, 528 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 612-206-3600 or www.thecowlescenter.org.) C.P.
HIJACK at 20
Ends Saturday: It’s hard to believe, but 20 years have gone by since Kristin Van Loon and Arwen Wilder formed HIJACK. This weekend they celebrate the anniversary with “redundant, ready, reading, radish, Red Eye” at Walker Art Center. The name of the concert alone gives a strong indication of the revolutionary onstage world created by the innovative duo. Language is fair game and so are dance conventions, pop culture, science and other fascinating details of life. Guest artists including Jennifer Arave and Morgan Thorson will join in on this evening of finding every way possible to blow up nostalgia and look to the future. After all, HIJACK is nothing if not forward-thinking. Perhaps that’s why, two decades later, they remain so relevant in the local postmodern dance and performance communities. (8 p.m. Thu.-Sat. $20-$25. Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 612-375-7600 or www.walkerart.org.) C.P.
NUTCRACKER – NOT SO SUITE
Opening Friday: Ballet of the Dolls returns to the dizzying array of holiday performances. Myron Johnson’s version involves Barbie and Ken, a groovy 1970s setting and a trip to the wild side when Marie (Stephanie Fellner) journeys to New York City’s Lower East Side instead of the land of sweets. Some fresh additions for 2013: an updated score from DJ Dandy plus new costumes created by Grant Whittaker. Definitely a best bet for revelers who like their “Nutcracker” with more of a bite. (8 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun., ends Dec. 31, $23.50-$29.50. Cabaret tables for four with a bottle of wine: $135-$150, Ends Dec. 31. Ritz Theater, 345 13th Av. NE., Mpls., 612-436-1129. www.ritzdolls.com.) C.P.