'Loyce Houlton's Nutcracker Fantasy'

"Nutcracker Fantasy" has been delighting audiences for nearly 50 years. It's easy to see why. Minnesota Dance Theatre, now under the direction of Lise Houlton, revels in all the magic of the holiday season. This year Minneapolis native Charles Askegard, who recently retired from the New York City Ballet, will be featured as the Prince/Cavalier opposite Raina Gilliland in her premiere as the Sugar Plum Fairy (Dec. 24 and 26 and 6 p.m. on Dec. 28). As a young dancer Askegard got his first taste of the spotlight in this same MDT show. The performances on Dec. 27 and 28 feature a pre-show tea party and a post-show backstage tour, complete with an opportunity to meet the cast. Dec. 24 is already sold out, so purchase tickets in advance. --Caroline Palmer

'Always and Forever'

This soulful revue, whose hard-working cast members are jumping from show to show this holiday season, has a little family twist. Jackson Hurst, who last year played an eager youngster who is mentored by three men at a barbershop, returns to the same role. He is joined by his real-life father, David Hurst, who replaces T. Mychael Rambo, who is performing at Park Square Theatre in "The Soul of Gershwin." The rest of the cast remains intact. Dennis Spears is in the show again, as is Julius Collins, fresh off his run of "Hot Chocolate" at Park Square. --Rohan Preston