Peter and the Wolf: Besides offering its typical detailed stage design and original puppet and marionette creations, the nonprofit Dallas Puppet Theatre offers a musical/educational undercurrent to its holiday production of Peter and the Wolf. The mischievous hero known as Peter and his animal pals each represent a different instrument in the orchestra, so kids can learn about the various musical "voices" that combine to create a symphony. Not to mention that timeless lesson: Don't consort with wolves. Performances run Thursday and Friday, 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 a.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m. through January 5 on the upper level of Valley View Mall, between J.C. Penney and the Disney Store. Tickets are $4-$5. Call (972) 716-0230.
A Canticle of Christmas: Say you can't stand yet another mention of Santa Claus, reindeer, or holiday shopping? "A Canticle of Christmas" is a musical/narrative presentation designed to return audiences to a time when self-reflection wasn't crowded out by mall lines and office parties. Evanston, Illinois resident and national vocal treasure Pilar Noelle Kuhn wraps her muscular soprano around traditional European carols and Anglo art songs. She weaves in historical perspective and prose recitation in narrating the Biblical story of the birth of Christ. Performances happen December 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m. in St. Matthew's Episcopal Cathedral on Ross Avenue. Tickets are $8-$10. Call 1-800-654-9545.
Robert Earl Keen: A veteran of the Texas music scene who's just now finishing his major label debut for Arista/Austin down in Athens, Georgia, Robert Earl Keen has received national attention for a raggedy, soulful tune that best expresses this singer-songwriter's unique mixture of caustic and poignant. You may have heard "Merry Christmas From the Family" on KERA 90.1-FM, either in its 1995 studio version or this year's live recording. The song very neatly summarizes what might be called the manners and mores of a white trash Christmas, complete with a convenience store shopping list that includes "Some ice and an extension cord/A can of beandip and some Diet-Rite/A box of tampons and some Marlboro Lights." Keen will be performing that gem and a host of other originals, with Fred Eaglesmith opening. The show starts at 8 p.m. in the Majestic Theatre, 1925 Elm. Tickets are $16.50-$22.50. For ticket info call (214) 747-7422.
4th Annual Winter SolstiCelebration '96: Every time a press release describes another one of Amy Martin's seasonal observances, the vision of angry figures holding a wet, beating heart comes to mind--the heart is mine, and the angry folks aren't pagans, but Amy and her fellow organizers who caught some flak from ultra-sensitive participants because I described her solstice festivals as containing "pagan rituals." As it happens, the 4th Annual Winter SolstiCelebration does not offer virgin sacrifices to Pan, but rings in the season by making people more aware of the great natural cycles that rule their lives. There'll be Native American-style heartbeat drumming; Tibetan singing bowls; worldwide winter solstice lore; lectures and meditations; and a lineup of local poets including C.J. Critt, Jeff Davis, and Clebo Rainey. The astrological celebration begins at 10 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church of Dallas, 4015 Normandy at Preston. It's free. Call (214) 528-3990.
Ike Morgan and African-American Quilts: The Webb Gallery in Waxahachie has established a national reputation for exhibiting the works of artists who would be considered eccentric even by the most generous standards society is willing to apply to "creative minds." Psychiatry has already passed judgment on the mind of Ike E. Morgan, a 38-year-old native of Rockdale, Texas. Diagnosed a chronic schizophrenic, he has been incarcerated in the Austin State Hospital since the age of 19. What modern medicine cannot explain away is his prolific and powerful artwork, drawings, and paintings in every conceivable media and some heretofore unconceived combinations as well. Webb Gallery mounts a one-man show of some of his work alongside a separate exhibition of quilts made by African-American women. Both shows run through January 26 at Webb Gallery, 209-211 West Franklin, Waxahachie. (972) 938-8085.
A Christmas Carol: Here's our ultimatum: If one more theater company attempts to retell Dickens' far-fetched story about how it sucks to be rich, we're gonna send a care package to an S&L felon in retaliation. But we have to admit Performance, Unlimited! offers a noteworthy twist to the Dickens chestnut, especially for those who can't resist the sight of a cherub face reciting grownup lines. Performance, Unlimited! has distinguished itself in North Texas for presenting children as the leads in plays, but for artistic director Michael Wehrli's new adaptation of the story, the company presents an all-child cast and a female Ebenezer Scrooge. The ghosts appear Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at The Corner Theater of the DeSoto Town Center, on Pleasant Road and Hampton Road in DeSoto. Tickets are $5-$10. For more information call (972) 230-7475.
Stars of Bethlehem: The planetarium at Richland Community College hosts year-round telescope viewings and planetarium shows for free or a nominal admission fee. As 1996 winds down and takes us through the holiday season, the Richland Planetarium hosts a special star show that will remind participants some things haven't changed since Christ's birth. "The Stars of Bethlehem" recreates those glowing gaseous balls from yesteryear (B.C., to be precise) and explores the astronomical changes that the centuries have wrought. The "Stars of Bethlehem" show happens at 2 p.m., the regular Richland Skies at 3 p.m. Both happen at the Planetarium on the campus of Richland College, 12800 Abrams Rd. It's free. Call (972) 238-6013.