Ah, December. When family and friends pile into town. When schools set the students free. When you go nuttier than a dozen polvorones trying to figure out how to to entertain everyone.

Here’s help.

December is fat with arts events. Too many, really, to see. We’ve culled through what’s happening and have a suggestion a day for you. Many of the performing arts events have multiple performances — if you can’t make something on the day we suggest, check Tucson.com/calendar for additional performances. And then there’s this: There’s so much more going on, so check the calendar, too, for a more comprehensive lineup.



Damon Martinez, left, Calem Tanner, Emily Muirheader and Calvin Wright

are onstage as CYT presents its production of the musical version of “A Christmas Story” and Ralphie’s quest for an air rifle.

CYT launches the month with its production of “A Christmas Story: The Musical.” Based on the much-loved 1983 movie, it’s about the exploits of 9-year-old Ralphie, who is wanting, wishing, hoping for a Red Ryder air rifle for Christmas. It’s at 7 p.m. at the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway. $17. 751-7510, cyttucson.org


Reveille Men's Chorus never fails to impress with the voices and the shows. You can catch their annual "Holiday Spectacular" — it’s the 23rd one. — at 2 and 7:30 p.m. at the Leo Rich Theatre, 260 S. Church Ave.. $27. 304-1758, reveillemenschorus.org


The talented dancers and choreographers studying at the University of Arizona’s School of Dance will show us what they’ve learned in “In the Moment: Student Spotlight.” There’s a reason the school is considered one of the best in the country. The performance is at 1:30 p.m. at the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre, 1713 E. University Blvd. $25. 621-1162, dance.arizona.edu


How does a little interactive dinner theater sound? You’ll get that at “Murder in Paradise.” And it really is interactive: You’ll be assigned a character, you can question the suspect, and, of course, help solve the mystery. While you play, a three-course meal will be served. It’s at 6 p.m. at the Gaslight Music Hall, 13005 N. Oracle Road. $38.95. 529-1000., gaslightmusichall.com


Broadway in Tucson brings the musical “Cinderella” to town, featuring the glorious music of Rodgers and Hammerstein. It’s at 7:30 p.m. at Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd. on the UA campus. Tickets are $19-$100. Purchase them in person at the Centennial Hall Box Office and you avoid the hefty Ticketmaster charge. 1-800-745-3000, broadwayintucson.com


The Sons of Orpheus will join voices with those of the children from the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind for the annual "Food Bank Benefit Holiday Concert." It’s at 7 p.m. at the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway. Admission is a nonperishable food item or a cash donation to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. 850-8095, sonsoforpheus.org



Harpeth Rising performs Dec. 7 at Monterey Court.

Harpeth Rising consists of three classically trained musicians. Their original music is a fusion of folk, newgrass, rock and classical. The Ronstadt Brothers open the concert. It’s 7 p.m. at Monterey Court, 505 W. Miracle Mile. $15 in advance, $18 the day of the show. 207-2429, harpethrising.com


A Desert Voices concert shimmers with fun and talent. The chorus’ “Rock the Holidays” performance is designed to put us all in the mood. It’s at St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church, 3809 E. Third St. Tickets are $20. 791-9662, desertvoices.org


The Tucson Symphony Orchestra and Chorus bring Handel’s "Messiah" to Catalina Foothills High School, 4300 E. Sunrise Drive. Expect to join in for the Hallelujah Chorus. It’s at 4 p.m. $45-$55. 882-8585, tucsonsymphony.org


Tucson Regional Ballet’s “A Southwest Nutcracker” is Dec. 9-10.

The Tucson Regional Ballet takes the "Nutcracker" and sets it in our backyard. “A Southwest Nutcracker” features music by the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, with coyotes and rattlesnakes among the characters. It’s 2 p.m. at the Tucson Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave. $30-$36. 886-1222, tucsonregionalballet.org


Take a little break from performing arts and check out Reid Park Zoo’s sparkling Zoo Lights. There will be snow, music and Santa, too. It’s 6 to 8 p.m. at the zoo, 3400 E. Zoo Court. $10.


December just wouldn’t be right without a "Sonoran Bells Holiday Concert." The handbells will start ringing at 7:30 p.m. at St. Mark's Presbyterian Church, 3809 E. Third St. Admission is a $10 suggested donation. 405-3210, sonoranbells.org


Sonora Winds — an all-wind-instruments symphony — will play tribute to the elements with music that represents earth, wind, fire and water (think the "Ritual Fire Dance" by Manuel de Falla). And there will holiday tunes, as well. It’s at 7 p.m. at Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 2331 E. Adams St. It’s free, but donations are always welcome. 731-1997, sonorawinds.homestead.com


Jonathan Heras, left, Bella Vivante and David Grijalva in Borderlands Theater’s production of “A Tucson Pastorela.”

Borderlands Theater opens its annual “Pastorela.” It’s the story of the shepherds' journey to Bethlehem, but it weaves in local and national events of the year, is written in rhyme, and has devils and angels. It’s at 7:30 p.m. at the Leo Rich Theatre, 260 S. Church Ave. in the Tucson Convention Center. Tickets are $27. 882-8607, borderlandstheater.org


Ballet Rincon’s annual “Nutcracker” opens at the Vail Theatre of the Arts, 10701 E. Mary Ann Cleveland Way in Vail. The performance is at 7 p.m. $16. 574-2804, ballet-rincon.com


Arts Express stages “A Christmas Carol,” a musical based on the Charles Dickens' book with that famous Scrooge. There’s a Dickens fest before and after the performances, too. It’s at 1 and 7 p.m. at the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway. $20. 319-0400, arts-express.org


Arizona Repertory Singers’ “Heaven Full of Stars” wraps up it’s weekend of concerts at Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 2331 E. Adams St. The concert includes the premiere of Karen Siegal’s composition “Festival of Lights.” Members of the choir will be required to play tuned wine glasses while they sing. $20; $18 in advance. It’s at 3 p.m. 792-8141, arsingers.org


The Manhattan Dolls are among the performers at the “Christmas Jamboree” Dec. 18 at the Gaslight Music Hall.

Some of the Gaslight Theatre and Gaslight Music Hall favorites come together for a “Christmas Jamboree.” Performers include Robert Shaw, Charlie Hall and The Manhattan Dolls. It’s at the Gaslight Music Hall, 13005 N. Oracle Road. $20.95. 529-1000, gaslightmusichall.com


“Heaven,” by Ludmila Pawlowska, will be among the artist’s works on view at St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal Church.

Lots of music this month. If you need a breather, consider paying a visit to the “Icons in Transformation” exhibit at St. Philip’s Church, 4440 N. Campbell Ave. The show, which has traveled across Europe and the U.S., features more than 100 pieces of Ludmila Pawlowska’s art, inspired by traditional Russian icons. It’s open 1-5 p.m. and it’s free. 299-6421, stphilipstucson.org


The Tin Litho House, decorated for a mid-century Christmas, is part of the holiday display at the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures.

Want to see what Christmas is like around the world? The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures has a Wee Winter Wonderland, which includes 15 miniatures decorated to depict the holidays in different eras and different places. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but on this day, at 10:30 a.m., it’s Tiny Tales for Tots — stories told by costumed characters. It’s at 4455 E. Camp Lowell Drive. Admission is normally $9; but Thursdays are adult discount day and admission is the same as for children 4-17: $6. Ages 3 and under are free. 881-0606, theminitimemachine.org


How does an evening with the likes of Cher, Dolly Parton and Barbra Streisand sound? It’s what impersonators extraordinaire the Edwards Twins offer. They'll recreate some of the holiday variety shows that were so popular in the 1970s and '80s, at the Gaslight Music Hall, 13005 N. Oracle Road. Showtime is 6 p.m. $35-$55. 529-1000, gaslightmusichall.com


Brian Levario and Crystal Stark send musical island greetings during “In the Christmas Mood,” coming to the Fox Theatre Friday, Dec. 22. They’ll be joined by the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus and others.

There will be a whole slew of talent on the Fox Tucson Theatre stage this day. Crystal Stark, Brian Levario and Annmarie Rosano and the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus get together for "In the Christmas Mood," a benefit for the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona. It’s happening at 7:30 p.m. at 17 W. Congress St. $24. 547-3040, foxtucson.com


Ballet Tucson’s “The Nutcracker” is 2 and 7:30 p.m. at the Tucson Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave. The professional dancers in the company join with children from Ballet Tucson’s dance school to bring the story to life. $30-$58. 1-800-745-3000, ballettucson.org


Unscrewed Theater has the younger set in mind with it’s “Elves Gone Bad” improv show. There will be Santa, those elves and a pirate — and expect the kids to participate. Geared toward children 4-8. It’s at 1 p.m. at 3244 E. Speedway. $5. 289-8076, unscrewedtheater.org


The Winterhaven Festival of Lights is packed with imaginative Christmas lights, music — there's even theater in the neighborhood. This annual event is a perfect walk after a big dinner. And it’s free, but donations to the Tucson Community Food Bank are happily accepted. 6-10 p.m. The Winterhaven neighborhood is bordered by North Country Club Road, East Fort Lowell Road, North Tucson Boulevard and East Prince Road. winterhavenfestival.org


“Christmas in the Big Apple” is playing at The Gaslight Theatre.

The Gaslight Theatre takes us back to 1933 and New York City for “Christmas in the Big Apple.” And trouble is brewing there: Vonda DeCringe wants to take over Pennypacker’s Department Store, and she plans to disrupt the season to do it. Performances are at noon, 3 and 6 p.m. at 7010 E. Broadway. Tickets are $20.95. 886-9428, thegaslighttheatre.com


It’s nearly impossible to resist “Man of La Mancha.” The songs are glorious, the story about Don Quixote is mesmerizing. Arizona Theatre Company is staging the musical; performances are 2 and 7:30 p.m. at the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave. Tickets are $46-$73. 622-2823, arizonatheatre.org


Former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno is bringing his stand-up to Casino del Sol Event Center on Dec. 28.

Ready to lighten things up? Comedian Jay Leno can do just that. He’s performing at Casino del Sol at 8 p.m. at 5655 W. Valencia Road. It’s a 21 and older show. Tickets are $45-$85. 1-855-765-7829. casinodelsol.com


A little soul music is good for, well, the soul. And George Howard plays it very well. His Motown and Soul dance party is at 7 p.m. at The Gaslight Music Hall, 13005 N. Oracle Road. $12.50. 529-1000.


Johann George Edlinger’s “Court Scene” circa 1790. Oil on canvas, 28 by 39 inches.

The Tucson Museum of Art has totally revamped its space. Now there is more gallery space — and more room to exhibit pieces from its permanent collection. The current show is "Dress Matters: Clothing as Metaphor," which features works with clothing as a central theme, and it's a knockout. There's also an exhibit looking at Tucsonans who have designed for and dressed us over the past half-century or so. TMA is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. It's at 140 N. Main Ave. Admission is $12; free to children 12 and under. 624-2333, tucsonmuseumofart.org


Standing O Entertainment’s production of “A Christmas Carol” stars James Gooden as the grumpy guy.

Standing O Entertainment brings back its production of the classic “A Christmas Carol.” The three ghosts, Mr. Scrooge and the rest of the Charles Dickens’ gang perform at 7 p.m. at the A Christmas Carol Theatre in the Foothills Mall, 7401 N. la Cholla Blvd. Tickets are $22.50. 325-3715.

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at kallen@tucson.com or 573-4128. On Twitter: @kallenStar