Pixar’s got ‘Soul’

Bloomington native Pete Docter returns to the internal territory he staked out in “Inside Out” with a comedy/drama about a jazz musician (voiced by Jamie Foxx) who dies and goes into a limbo where he helps a nascent soul (Tina Fey) understand what is beautiful about life on Earth. Starting with pizza. She, meanwhile, guides him toward his purpose in life. (Streaming on Disney Plus starting Dec. 25.)


Streaming like the Dickens

Scrooge will still get his transformational visitations by ghosts at the Guthrie Theater this season, but in a virtual adaptation filling the holiday slot that has entertained millions over 45 years. Produced by artistic director Joseph Haj and directed by E.G. Bailey, “Dickens’ Holiday Classic” features a quartet of “Carol” regulars delivering four chapters from the Charles Dickens book. Charity Jones and Nathaniel Fuller, who have played Scrooge at the Guthrie, carry the pandemic-altered holiday tradition on their capable shoulders along with Ryan Colbert and Meghan Kreidler. (Dec. 19-31. $10 per household, free to schools, guthrietheater.org)


‘A Midwinter Gathering With Kevin Kling’

The Minnesota Orchestra’s heartwarming holiday show will have a simple theme made more complicated by the pandemic — gathering. “Those things that perhaps we took for granted somehow feel sacred in this moment,” said Peter Rothstein, who directs the evening. Hosted by Kevin Kling, the show will feature music from the orchestra, led by Sarah Hicks, and the Border CrosSing chorus, led by Ahmed Anzaldúa. Storytellers JuCoby Johnson, Ifrah Mansour and Kao Kalia Yang will share words. It will be aired live on TPT, Classical MPR and the orchestra’s website. The group considered pre-taping segments, Rothstein said, but instead will spread artists out in empty Orchestra Hall. “We decided there was something wonderful about it all being live.” (8 p.m. Dec. 18, free, available thereafter at minnesotaorchestra.org)


‘The Hip Hop Nutcracker’

An annual Ordway tradition, you can still experience this popular touring production as a livestream, or as an on-demand video after the performance. Filmed at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the production fuses Tchaikovsky’s melodies with the beats of hip-hop, featuring 12 dancers performing to music spun by a DJ and played by a violinist. Experience the land of sweets through a visual array of digital graffiti in this timeless tale of dreams, love and magic. MC Kurtis Blow reprises his intro to the show with a short set at the beginning of the program. (7 p.m. Nov. 27, $20, online via ordway.org)


A holly, Dolly ‘Christmas’

Country music legend Dolly Parton contributed 14 new songs for “Christmas on the Square,” a holiday special for Netflix. Parton plays a guardian angel trying to find the goodness in a businesswoman (Christine Baranski) who’s three times more coldhearted than Jolene. Like Parton’s “Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol,” a stage production that premiered at the Ordway two years ago, it borrows heavily from the Charles Dickens classic, but this outing has elaborate choreography from director Debbie Allen and Jenifer Lewis belting out gospel tunes. (Now streaming on Netflix)


Sounds of Blackness

COVID-19 won’t stop the mighty Sounds from presenting their 42nd annual African American take on “The Night Before Christmas.” But this virtual performance is going to be more of a concert than a theatrical presentation. The Grammy-winning ensemble will feature their usual original holiday songs — plus a few reimagined carols — along with characters like Rappin’ Rudolph and the Dancing Chitlins. With 17 singers and 10 instrumentalists, the concert is being filmed over four days at the Ordway. (Dec. 19-31, $15 per household, ordway.org)


‘Laura Ingalls Wilder’

This highly anticipated edition of “American Masters” wouldn’t be complete without a focus on Minnesota, where the author spent much of her storied childhood. Filmmaker Mary McDonagh Murphy leaned on both Twin Cities Public Television and the Minnesota Historical Society in her tribute to the pioneer who inspired so many children with her “Little House on the Prairie” series. Expect lots of footage from her former homes in Walnut Grove, Minn., Pepin, Wis., and De Smet, S.D. TPT also will provide additional material that sheds even more light on her Minnesota roots. (Dec. 29, TPT, Ch. 2)


A real house on the prairie

Our homespun celebrations may be altered a bit this year, but you can still harken back to the days when farmers rolled up their sleeves for a hard day’s work without modern conveniences. Visit a farmstead in Eagan, settled in the 1870s by the Holz family. Guests can take a self-guided tour to learn about rural life through the eyes of those who lived during the Great Depression and World War II, before Eagan became a developed suburb. Check out a vintage tractor and participate in period-themed activities. (Noon & 1:45 p.m. Dec. 6. $3. Holz Farm, 4665 Manor Dr., Eagan. discovereagan.com)

Melissa Walker

‘The Snow Queen’

Ballet Co.Laboratory premieres a new ballet virtually. Filmed at Cowles Center, it’s about a young girl named Gerda who journeys to the Snow Queen’s palace to save her brother from an enchanted fragment of a magic mirror, meeting new friends and getting into adventures along the way. Set to a score by English composer Ethyl Smyth (1858-1944), the work promises to become a holiday tradition. The online offering will include behind-the-scenes footage and a live Q&A. (7 p.m. Dec. 19, 2 p.m. Dec. 20, $40 per household, balletcolaboratory.org)


‘Christmas With Cantus’

From the beginning of the coronavirus shutdown Twin Cities vocal group Cantus has been recording new content for an online audience, making a string of videos in COVID-compliant conditions. Its latest offering is a two-part program in which the eight-man ensemble puts a contemporary spin on the classic “Nine Lessons and Carols” tradition made famous by King’s College, Cambridge. Expect immaculate vocalism and a canny mix of old favorites and newer compositions. (Dec. 11-13 & 18-20, $5-$20 or pay-what-you-can, cantussings.org)


Frost Fest at Franconia

Franconia Sculpture Park hosts a one-day holiday market and bazaar with pottery, jams, candles, jewelry, home decor and more by 20 local artisans and vendors. The event coincides with the launch of a new community ice rink that’ll be open daily through February (weather permitting) featuring a light sculpture by Jason Peters to give skaters their art fix while grooving on the ice. Franconia is open 365 days a year, so visitors can roam the park and view 100-some sculptures in a welcome alternative to housebound COVID life. (Frost Fest: noon-4 p.m. Dec. 5, free but reserve in advance at franconia.org. Park and ice rink hours: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily. 29836 St. Croix Trail N., Shafer, Minn.)


Davina & the Vagabonds

After inaugurating the Hook & Ladder’s HookStream virtual series — a truly kicking celebration of riot-ravaged E. Lake Street — piano tickler Davina Lozier and her horn-entwined band are returning to spread some more needed joy to their world. The jazzy, New Orleans-infused groovers have held down New Year’s Eve and other December slots at the Dakota in recent years, but this will be their first full-fledged holiday show complete with all the wrappings. They’re recording the virtual concert for an album, too. (8 p.m. Dec. 5, $15, thehookmpls.com)

Chris Riemenschneider

‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’

Viola Davis plays the mercurial blues star, with the late Chadwick Boseman as one of her musicians, in August Wilson’s fictional tale about an actual person (its title comes from a 1927 Rainey song). The 1920s entry in Wilson’s Century Cycle of 10 plays — one for each decade of the 20th century — this new film version set in a recording studio as Rainey’s band awaits the singer, with barely hidden tensions coming to the surface. (Streaming on Netflix starting Dec. 18)


‘A Crooners Christmas’

Twin Cities maestro Sanford Moore has been a force behind many a musical revue. Despite the pandemic, the piano-playing musical director has assembled a live holiday treat featuring Moore by Four members Ginger Commodore, Connie Evingson and Dennis Spears plus Ashley Commodore, who sings with #Mpls, and special guests whom he’s calling Sanford’s Helpers. (7 p.m. Dec. 18 & 23, Crooners, 6161 Hwy. 65 NE., Fridley, $40-$50, croonersmn.com)



Girl Friday Productions brightens the solstice with a streaming show of seasonal poems, songs and stories by such luminaries as Willa Cather, O. Henry, Gertrude Parthenia McBrown and W.E.B. Du Bois. Directed by Craig Johnson, a cast that includes Kirby Bennett, Taj Ruler and James Rodriguez presents the pieces in three, roughly 17-minute, episodes. (Free, starting Dec. 14, 21 & 28 at girlfridayproductions.org)