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Hot Picks

Northeast Ohio produces more events each week than it would be possible to attend, even if you had a full-time maid, chef, and/or babysitter. Hot Picks: This Week’s Smart Stuff sorts through the lists of concerts, festivals, exhibits, plays, readings and all sorts of other events and pulls out a few that seem out-of-the-ordinary. There will be new things each week, with the list updating each Monday.

Even though we like to think of ourselves as “in the know,” there will always be things that escape our notice. Please feel free to make suggestions to (be aware, we make no promises and the final decision rests with us). Enjoy!


The SantaLand Diaries
Nov. 28 - Dec. 21
Outcalt Theatre, PlayhouseSquare

Meant for a more mature audience, "The SantaLand Diaries" tells the story of an out of work actor who takes a job as a Macy's Christmas elf for the holidays in 1989. Now 50 years old, the man recounts his time as Crumpet the Elf for a hilarious play that could put a smile on anyone's face.

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Conni's Avant Garde Restaurant
Dec. 4 - Dec. 20 at 7 p.m.
Gordon Square Theatre, Cleveland Public Theatre

Enjoy a delicious meal and a hilarious musical with a show The Plain Dealer called "a deliciously demented feast for the holidays." Featuring cabaret performances, comedy, dancing, game-show competitions, and more, this is a night of theatre that will leave you wanting even more.

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Helen Welch's Jingle Bell Swing Christmas Show
Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Akron Civic Theatre, Akron

Joined by her trio, as well as special guests from the Hudson and Fairlawn Schools of Music, Helen Welch presents a night full of traditional and popular holiday tunes. With some cheeky humor and feel-good music, this show is sure to have you laughing and singing along.

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Chris Isaak
Dec. 16 at 8 p.m.
The Kent Stage, Kent

Finally creating the album he's always wanted to make, Chris Isaak released his first Vanguard Records release on Oct. 18. Reminiscent of some of the greats from the 1950s, "Beyond the Sun" is sure to become a new favorite.

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Natalie MacMaster: Christmas in Cape Breton
Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Severance Hall, Cleveland Orchestra

Considered one of the most versatile artists on the folk and Celtic scenes, Natalie MacMaster will have you tapping your foot along to her beautiful music.

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Holiday Pops: Home for the Holidays
Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m.
EJ Thomas Hall , The University of Akron

For the first time, the Akron Symphony Chorus, Akron Symphony Orchestra, and Gospel Meets Symphony Choir will perform together for the annual holiday celebration. Featuring traditional carols and some new favorites such as "Let it Go" from Disney's "Frozen" and a visit from Santa, this is an evening of holiday fun the entire family can enjoy.

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Cats on Holiday Holiday Show
Dec. 19 at 7 p.m.
Music Box Supper Club, Cleveland

Joined by the eight-musician blues band Blue Lunch, the self-proclaimed “swamp-pop” band Cats On Holiday is coming to the area to deliver a new kind of holiday show. Having opened for The Iguanas, Los Lobos, NRBQ, and Leon Russell, Cats on Holiday will perform an unplugged version of its new material, as well as some familiar favorites.

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Christmas Candlelight Concert
Dec. 19 - Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m.
St. Bernard's Church, Akron

Featuring the Masterworks Chorale, Touring Choir, and Concert Choir, this show will be a different kind of holiday show. With Latin America traditions accompanied by guest soloists and a mariachi orchestra, this new kind of tradition will have you singing along in your seat.

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35th Annual Tuba Christmas
Dec. 20 at noon
EJ Thomas Hall , The University of Akron

Tuba Christmas combines hundreds of tubas, with some decorated with tinsel, lights and other decorations, for a festive concert the entire family can enjoy. Sing along to familiar tunes and celebrate The University of Akron's 35th annual Tuba Christmas.

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2014 Holiday Tasting Series: Holiday Spirits - Whiskey and Bourbon
Dec. 20 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Warren H. Corning Visitor Center, Holden Arboretum

Enjoy an evening learning about and tasting some new kinds of holiday spirits. Paired with hors d'oeuvres, this is sure to be a fun holiday activity you can enjoy with friends new and old.

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