What’s on Tap

Tidings of Tap!

Caroling is so anaerobic. You haven’t experienced “Winter Wonderland” until it’s been sweated out by a pack of hardcore hoofers. Case in point: Chicago Tap Theatre’s Tidings of Tap!, featuring choreography set to seasonal tunes from the Grinch theme to Hanukkah songs. Performances run 8 p.m. Friday the 12th and Saturday the 13th, 3 p.m. Sunday the 14th at U.I.C. Theater (1044 W. Harrison St.; chicagotaptheatre.com). Tickets are $18 to $30. Across town, Reggio “The Hoofer” McLaughlin leads his annual production The Nut Tapper (get those snickers out of the way now), a loose interpretation of, yes, The Nutcracker that incorporates tap, flamenco, and swing dancing, at the Athenaeum Theatre (2936 N. Southport Ave.; 773-935-6860), 4 p.m. Sunday the 14th. Tickets are $15 to $25.

Best Bets for Things to Do This Week

If your kids aren’t already begging for a drum kit this Christmas, better leave them at home: Taiko Legacy 5 ups the ante (and the volume) with a performance of the full-body, bone-rattling, absolutely stunning Japanese drumming technique known as taiko. The bill convenes the local troupe Tsukasa Taiko with masters from San Francisco and Japan, 7:30 p.m. Saturday the 13th and 3 p.m. Sunday the 14th at the Museum of Contemporary Art (220 E. Chicago Ave.; mcachicago.org). Tickets, $15, are available at the door.

Tchaikovsky and Dickens have been reimagined left and right, so it’s only fair that Handel should have a turn. Too Hot to Handel remakes the composer’s Messiah as one big jazz-gospel hurrah, with 200 singers and musicians letting the “Hallelujahs!” fly. The show runs 7:30 p.m. Friday the 12th and 3 p.m. Sunday the 14th at Auditorium Theatre (50 E. Congress Pkwy.; ticketmaster.com). Tickets are $30 to $65.

Less toe-tapping but equally moving is the return of the former CSO music director Daniel Barenboim. The world-famous conductor packs away his baton for a rare solo piano recital, one of only three such performances Stateside in 2008. The all-Liszt concert begins 7:30 p.m. Thursday the 18th at Harris Theater (205 E. Randolph Dr.; harristheaterchicago.org), and tickets are $68 to $120.

Contestants, start your burners: In Spertus Museum’s Latke Battle (610 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-322-1757), members of the public challenge onsite chef Laura Frankel of Wolfgang Puck to a no-holds-barred potato-pancake smackdown, Sunday the 14th. Registration is closed, but watching is free; the cookoff begins at 12:30 p.m. Or just come for brunch, $42, at 11 a.m.

It’s a holiday scene straight out of Currier and Ives: free sleigh rides down Prairie Avenue and parlor games at the Clarke and Glessner House Museums (188 S. Prairie Ave.; 312-326-1480), two historic homes decked out for the season and rife with holiday cheer. Tours, $2 to $15, run 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday the 13th, or opt for a candlelight version, every half hour between 5:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, $14 to $18. Meanwhile, over in Oak Park, the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio (951 Chicago Ave., Oak Park; gowright.org) throws open its doors from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday for a free family-friendly morning of touring, cocoa, and holiday music.

Or ditch the Victorians for an otherworldly evening of fortune telling, dancing, free-flowing drinks, and a visit from the Christmas Wizard at Crystal Ball, this year’s edition of the annual fundraising bash from the local art-centric nonprofit Threewalls. The party—which includes an art auction and ever-popular photobooth—starts at 8 p.m. Saturday the 13th (1513 N. Western Ave., 3rd floor; three-walls.org). Tickets are $20 at the door, or add an extra ten bucks and get a take-home piece of artist-designed stemware. Costumes encouraged. (Seriously. You don’t want to upset the Christmas Wizard.

Photograph: Josh Hawkins