Planet Princeton Weekend Picks, Dec. 12-14

A Christmas Carol. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
A Christmas Carol. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

McCarter Theatre Center’s production of  “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens has become a welcome holiday treat for families across the region.

Ebenezer Scrooge is not a fan of Christmas, not one bit. He relentlessly “Bah, Humbugs” every glimmer of holiday happiness. Cheer is costly and good-will is bad for business. This Christmas, however, things are going to be a little different. Ebenezer experiences a change of heart while traveling through his past, present and future on Christmas Eve. Scrooge’s miraculous transformation opens his eyes and his heart to the things that are truly important.

A McCarter Theatre Center tradition, “A Christmas Carol” is a perfect excuse for families to unplug from the usual hustle and bustle and enjoy a production called “a must-see” by The New York Times.

The adaptation of Dickens’ classic novel runs through Dec. 28 in the Matthews Theatre at McCarter Theatre Center, 91 University Place, Princeton. Tickets on sale online at, by phone at (609) 258-2787, or in person at the McCarter Theatre Ticket Office

This weekend’s performance times are: Friday 7:30 p.m., Saturday 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.,  Sunday  1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

This coming Tuesday night you can join  Planet Princeton, actor Jimmy Ludwig and some of the other cast members from “A Christmas Carol” for a holiday pub crawl to benefit HomeFront. Ludwig plays Fred and the undertaker in “A Christmas Carol.” He is also the co-host of The Happy Hour Guys.” .

Friday, December 12

The Princeton Folk Music Society Presents Bill Staines – Singer and songwriter Bill Staines sings mostly his own songs, combining music and story telling in his performance. He weaves gentle wit and humor into songs that represent a slice of Americana describing the lives of Midwest prairie people, Yukon adventurers, on-the-road truckers, and everyday workers. Nanci Griffith says, “Bill Staines has been my hero since 1977. He carries on where Woody left off – carrying on the tradition of stories and characters you wish you knew.” Christ Congregation Church, 50 Walnut Lane, Princeton. Tickets at the door; doors open at 7:30 p.m.. Free parking. Concert begins at 8:15 p.m. Tickets $20 ($15 members, $10 students, $5 children).

Coalition for Peace Action Holiday Gathering –  Potluck and program to honor Coalition for Peace Action Chair Irene Etkin Goldman. Featuring children’s musician Jonathan Sprout. 6:30 to 8:30 .m. 61 Nassau Street, Princeton.

Dance, Dance, Dance! – Big Band Dance hosted by the Princeton High School Studio Band. Performances by the Jazz Ensemble and Studio Band. Princeton High,  151 Moore Street, Princeton. 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission $6 (all ages welcome – family-friendly dance).

Building a Beautiful Trenton Film Premiere – A Better Way is hosting a film premiere in collaboration with S.A.G.E. Coalition. The two documentaries are titled “The Trenessaince: A Better Way for the Capital” and “High Grade Artistry”. The premiere will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 446 Bellevue Avenue in Trenton, the home of the old Mercer Hospital campus. The films both focus on the resilience of Trenton and Trentonians and highlight the endless possibilities Trenton has within its reach. City Council representatives and Mayor Jackson will be speaking at the event. Live painting and an art auction will highlight the Trenton’s flourishing art scene and support the work of local artists. Donations to the event will go to support the efforts of A Better Way and S.A.G.E. Coalition in continuing to uplift the community.

Clint Holmes Performs at McCarter Theatre – New York cabaret star Clint Holmes performs “Stop This Train.”  The show was awarded the 2013 Cabaret Award for best celebrity male vocalist. Dancers and minimal sets have been added to enhance this production. 8 p.m. Berlind Theatre, 91 University Place, Princeton. Tickets $50 and up.

An Evening of Readings and Carols –  The Westminster Chapel Choir, Westminster Concert Bell Choir, Westminster Choir, Symphonic Choir, Westminster Schola Cantorum, and New Jersey Youth Orchestra perform holiday music for choir, organ, and brass at the Princeton University Chapel. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Admission $40 and up.

Saturday, December 13

Princeton Profile 2014: A Statistical Survey of the Princeton Region –  Join Princeton Future at the Princeton Public Library
as the group reviews results of a statistical survey of the Princeton region for the purpose of creating a master plan. 9:30 a.m. Community Room. Free.

Winter Farmers Market with Slow Food Central New Jersey – Locally grown cheeses, breads, baked goods, produce, jams, wine, mushrooms, and more. Wineries and live music. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. D&R Greenway, Princeton. $3 admission.

Central Jersey Chess Tournament – Join New Jersey Chess at the Princeton Academy. Open to students from kindergarten to grade 12, all levels. All players receive a medal or trophy. 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. 1128 Great Road, Princeton. On-site registration $45.

A Child’s Christmas in Wales – Dylan Thomas’s classic story for ages 10 and older with the Princeton Singers, Trinity Church, 33 Mercer Street, Princeton. 6 p.m. Admission $25.

Ladies Sing the Blues – Vocalists Catherine Russell and Charenee Wade will channel 1920s blues divas Bessie Smith, Mamie Smith, Ma Rainey and Ethel Waters. Pianist Mark Shane will lead a six-piece band featuring arrangements of this era. 8 p.m. Berlind Theatre at McCarter Theater, 91 University Place, Princeton. Tickets $60 and up.

Sunday, December 14

Holiday Open House at Drumthwacket – Self-guided tours of the official residence of the Governor of New Jersey. “Fantasy Through the Arts” is the theme this year. Free event, but registration required. Visit to register. 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 354 Stockton Street, Princeton.

Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra Winter Concert  –   Orchestras and ensembles will perform works by Tchaikovsky, Smetana, Edward Elgar, Richard Meyer and more. 3 p.m. Montgomery High School Performing Arts Center, Skillman.

Eric Mintel Quartet: A Charlie Brown Christmas – Join the Eric Mintel Quartet and catch the Christmas spirit in a special afternoon performance featuring perennial holiday classics and original versions of songs by famed composer Vince Guaraldi, the man behind the classic score of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. This interactive concert will include classic scenes from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in addition to classic holiday standards like “Silent Night,” “Christmas Tree,” and “The Christmas Song”. This Sunday afternoon concert is not only entertaining, but will also introduce children to jazz in a live concert setting. Celebrate the Christmas season with a band that has played for two presidents, the United Nations, and alongside the late Dave Brubeck. Tickets are available at the door half an hour before showtime on a first-come, first-serve basis. Children under 12 get in free with the purchase of an adult’s ticket (one per person). 3 p.m. $10/$8 Arts Council members, students & seniors.

Home for the Holidays with the American Boychoir – Family friendly afternoon features holiday classics, traditional carols, and seasonal offerings from a diverse range of countries.  4 p.m. Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University. Tickets $20 and up.

Hopewell Valley Chorus Holiday Concert – “Heaven and Earth” features Ola Gjeilo’s “Sunrise Mass,” traditional songs and carols and audience singalong. Unitarian Universalist Church at Washington Crossing, 268 Washington Crossing-Pennington Rd., Titusville. Admission is $15, $10 seniors and students.

Traditional Lessons and Carols – Join the Princeton United Methodist Church for an evening of lessons and carols. Performances by the chancel, youth, and handbell choirs with instrumentalists. 7:30 p.m. Nassau at Vandeventer in downtown Princeton. Freewill offering.