7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, at Yardley Hall
The comic strip that became a Broadway play that inspired a movie that inevitably led to a film remake returns to the stage with a touring production directed by the original lyricist and director, Martin Charnin. In case you’ve forgotten, this is the musical that gave us the song of eternal optimism, “Tomorrow,” as in “The sun’ll come out tomorrow.” JCCC Carlsen Center. 913-469-4445. jccc.edu/theseries. $44-$54.
“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play”
Opens 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, at Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre
The classic holiday movie undergoes an interesting transformation for this stage presentation. Actors portray multiple characters, including George Bailey and his guardian angel, in a 1940s radio broadcast complete with sound effects. “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” premiered in 1996 at the Stamford Center for the Arts in Stamford, Conn., and has since been produced around the country. Runs through Dec. 11. 816-569-3226. metkc.org. $15-$30.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, at Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
The Harriman-Jewell Series first brought the famous jazz ensemble to Kansas City in 1999, but its “Big Band Holidays” concert will be a first. Nine-time Grammy winner Wynton Marsalis is director and trumpeter for the 15-member orchestra, which will be joined by vocalist Catherine Russell. The performance will blend classical, jazz and holiday favorites, including “Jingle Bells,” “White Christmas” and “Zat You, Santa Claus?” 816-415-5025 or 816-283-9921. hjseries.org or midlandkc.com. $30-$85.
Kansas City Symphony, “Handel’s Messiah”
7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1; 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 2-3; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4; at Kauffman Center
The Independence Messiah Choir has performed George Frideric Handel’s masterpiece since 1916; since 2005 it has partnered with the Kansas City Symphony for joint concerts. This year will be the groups’ last collaborative “Hallelujah” chorus. Helzberg Hall. 816-471-0400. kcsymphony.org. $25-$65.
Paul Mesner Puppets, “The Nativity”
10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2; 2 and 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3; 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4; at Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral
A cast of more than 40 puppeteers will bring giant characters to life in what has become an annual spectacle of biblical proportions. The puppets, standing 7 feet and taller, will be joined by live musical and choral accompaniment as they glide through the aisles of the 120-year-old cathedral. 816-235-6222. paulmesnerpuppets.org. $11-$16.
Arts & Crafts Beer Festival
6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2; noon Saturday, Dec. 3; 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4; at Screenland Armour Theatre
Festivalgoers will have more than 200 beverages to sample, including rare, exclusive and home-brewed beers. Between chugs, they can watch a movie, listen to music by one of the local bands scheduled to play or visit the crafts and vendors. The event benefits the KC Pet Project. eventbrite.com. $30-$140.
Kansas City Ballet, “The Nutcracker”
Opens 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at Kauffman Center
This annual extravaganza is for kids and adults alike. The Kansas City Ballet launched a new “Nutcracker” last year with reimagined costumes and innovative choreography by artistic director Devon Carney, and the presentation broke box-office records. You’ll have 23 chances to see it before Christmas. Runs through Dec. 24. Muriel Kauffman Theatre. 816-931-2232. kcballet.org. $60.50-$135.50.
3:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at Sprint Center
With an assist from PBS, the progressive rock band Trans-Siberian Orchestra has become a holiday tradition. Its “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve” began as a 1999 made-for-TV movie and has evolved into a rock opera that has been shown countless times during fundraising efforts on public television. Among the songs are “Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24,” “O’ Come All Ye Faithful,” “Good King Joy” and “Christmas Canon.” 816-949-7000. sprintcenter.com. $35.50-$72.
Kansas City Jazz Orchestra
7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, at Kauffman Center
Those who like a little sizzle in their holiday music will want to check out “The KCJO Swings The Nutcracker.” Clint Ashlock, the orchestra’s artistic director, has incorporated Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn into new arrangements from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker Suite.” Helzberg Hall. 816-225-4949. kcjazzorchestra.net. $20-$55.
“The Book of Mormon”
Opens 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, at Music Hall
In case you’re wondering how serious this play is, consider that it was created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who also gave us the animated TV show “South Park.” “The Book of Mormon” follows two missionaries trying to spread the gospel in Uganda. Until “Hamilton” came along, it was considered by many to be the best musical of the 21st century, having won nine Tony Awards after opening on Broadway in 2011. Runs through Dec. 11. 816-421-7500. theaterleague.com/kansascity. $45-$159.
Joyce DiDonato and Il Pomo d’Oro
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7, at Folly
Born in Prairie Village, Joyce DiDonato always finds time to return home to perform. This Harriman-Jewell Series presentation will team the world-famous mezzo-soprano with Italian chamber orchestra Il Pomo d’Oro for “In War & Peace: Harmony Through Music,” which DiDonato recently released as an album. She will return to town next for an appearance with baroque orchestra the English Concert on April 28 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. 816-415-5025. hjseries.org. $30-$85.
Opens 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7, at Unicorn Theatre
Jennifer Mays will be a busy actress for the three weeks of this comedy’s run. The UMKC graduate will play the main character, admissions officer Christine, as well as more than 40 other characters. It is the first day on the job for Christine, and she must navigate the cutthroat world of kindergarten admissions at a New York private school. Runs through Dec. 26. 816-531-7529. unicorntheatre.org. $30-$40.