Out and about: Things to see and places to be this weekend

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The holiday fun continues this weekend (Christmas is less than a week away!), with musical spectaculars, plays, dance performances and family friendly art exhibitions. Oh, and let’s not forget about the homecoming of a well-known “Cheers” actor.

Holiday music: In what has become a long-standing holiday tradition, Greenwich native Rob Mathes returns to to lead his 20th Christmas Concert on Friday, Dec. 20, and Saturday, Dec. 21, at the Performing Arts Center at Purchase College. The same days, “Holiday Spectacular,” an annual Radio City-style production starring Tony-winner Debbie Gravitte, returns to the Ridgefield Playhouse. Lastly, Stamford resident Frank Mastrone presents “A Christmas with Frank Mastrone & Friends,” at St. Cecilia Roman Catholic Church in Stamford on Friday, Dec. 20. The evening, which serves as a benefit for Stamford Young Artist Philharmonic, will feature a tribute to Charlie Brown and the music of Vince Guaraldi.

Holiday music that rocks: Kung Fu, the Connecticut Award-winning jam band, hosts their annual holiday show with The Stepkids at Toad’s Place in New Haven on Saturday, Dec. 21 (expect a few funkadified holiday tunes). The same day, pop composer John Tesh and his big band perform a special Christmas show at the Ridgefield Playhouse. Also, stop by the The Westfield Connecticut Post Mall on Sunday, Dec. 22 to hear emerging pop stars Whitney Wolanin and Elizabeth Chan sing some holiday numbers.

Theater and dance: What would the holidays be without the production of Tchaikovsky’s timeless ballet? The New England Ballet Company presents “Nutcracker” Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 21 and 22 at the Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport. If you’re willing to travel a little further afield, you can see the Warner Theatre’s presentation of a new musical about Charles Dickens and the holiday season — “Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens” — in Torrington on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 20 and Dec. 21.

Johnny Rat returns: Through all of his show-business success — including a stint as know-it-all mailman on the long-running NBC sitcom, “Cheers,” — John Ratzenberger has never lost touch with his roots in Bridgeport. On Friday, Dec. 20, he will be honored with a special event at the Bijou Theater.

For the art lovers: The annual holiday show is back at Gregory James Gallery — Fine Art & the Art of Framing in New Milford, featuring works by Thomas Adkins, of Southbury, and Vincent Girrano, of Washington, among others. On view at The Bruce Museum is “Inside The Artists’ Studio,” an exhibition featuring staggeringly detailed miniatures of artists’ work spaces. Lastly, lenticular prints by Westport artist Miggs Burroughs are on display in an exhibition, “Fairfield: Back & Forth,” at the Fairfield Museum and History Center.

Until next time…

Scott Gargan

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