Knock your Christmas socks off

Whether you see understudy PaviElle French, who knocked our socks off on opening weekend, or stage star Greta Oglesby as featured female soloist in the annual “Black Nativity,” it doesn’t really matter. Director Lou Bellamy’s production delivers the soulful essence of the story of the birth of Jesus. The soloists, including Dennis Spears, Yolande Bruce and Deborah Finney, are backed by the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church Choir and a tight Sanford Moore-led band. Dancers Taylor Collier and Randall Riley offer two potent bursts.ROHAN PRESTON

Ends Dec. 23, Penumbra Theatre, St. Paul, $15-$25.

It’s no surprise that Smokey Robinson was awarded the Gershwin Prize this year for his contributions to popular music. An MVP at Motown, he helped shape soul music from the 1960s to the ’80s as a singer, songwriter, producer and executive. Hear the Rock Hall of Famer sing hits he recorded (“Tears of a Clown,” “Ooo Baby Baby,” “Cruisin’ ”) and wrote for others (“My Girl,” “Ain’t That Peculiar,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do”). He might add a holiday tune.


8 p.m. Sat. Mystic Showroom, Prior Lake, $69-$109,

Want to see “The Nutcracker” this holiday season but don’t particularly care to see your neighbor’s kid run the wrong way in the snow scene? Or really, anybody’s kid? To catch an all-professional “Nutcracker,” head not downtown, but to a movie theater in the ’burbs. A performance by Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet will be screened at North American cinemas.


12:55 p.m. Dec. 18 Oakdale Cinema, Roseville 14, Brooklyn Center 20, Eden Prairie 18, Rosemount Cinema and Carmike 15; $16-$19,

After an eight-year absence, “A Christmas Carole Petersen” retains its funny-sweet, heart-on-sleeve appeal. Tod Petersen is reprising his charming, campy and funny homage to his mother, his family traditions and his own journey from the high of his childhood role in “A Christmas Carol” to the low of feeling alienated from all things Yule. He can still make us weepy with the earnest sincerity he always has worn on his sleeve.


Ends Dec. 23, Ritz Theater, Mpls., $35-$48,

Lighter, leaner, faster. In recent years, that’s how the trends in performing Handel’s great oratorio “Messiah” have been going, as historical research discovered that a cast of hundreds takes you away from the composer’s intent. English conductor Paul McCreesh’s penchant for crisp, athletic tempos and lean, incisive singing should draw fresh results from the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Minnesota Chorale.


8 p.m. Fri., Basilica of St. Mary, Mpls.; 8 p.m. Sat. & 2 p.m. next Sun., Ordway, St. Paul; $15-$53,

Although there is no longer a parade, Holidazzle still sparkles and shines. See the interactive illuminated art installations, including a wolf and moose. Saturday features fireworks at 6:30 p.m. Go skating or take a carriage ride around Loring Park. Of course, Santa will be there for photos and wish lists. On Sunday night, Disney fans can view a screening of “Frozen.” Brrrrr.


11 a.m.-7 p.m. today and next Sun.; 5-9 p.m. Thu.; 5-10 p.m. Fri.; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat. Loring Park, Mpls.,

Sunny Sweeney has been a fresh voice in country music, delivering old-school honky-tonk with a sharp and twangy tongue. She’s teaming up with Brennen Leigh, Courtney Patton and Jamie Lin Wilson for “Hard Candy Christmas.” Sweeney’s song titles pretty much tell the story: “Staying’s Worse Than Leaving,” “Drink Myself Single” and “From a Table Away” (she watches her lover dine romantically with his wife).


8:30 p.m. Thu. Hook & Ladder, Mpls., $10-$15,

London pop/rockers Bastille broke big in 2013 with their Imagine Dragons-like, bravado-laden hit “Pompeii,” and then the band graduated from First Ave to Wilkins Auditorium the following year. Dan Smith & Co. are back to tout their lukewarmly received sophomore album, “Wild World,” as headliners of Go 96.3’s Snow Show ’16. Moved from Target Center, the lineup also includes California electropop singer Banks, Judah & the Lion and Coin.


7 p.m. Thu., Myth, Maplewood, $37.63,

The great crunch-rock band of 1992’s “Unsung” fame, Helmet has returned strong on its first album in six years, “Dead to the World.” The veteran New York band makes for a commendable pairing with fellow ’90s alt-metalists Local H.


8 p.m. Wed., Fine Line, Mpls., $20-$25,