Ah, squirrels--so cute... so deadly. Don't let the bushy tail fool you; have you seen what those guys can do to a nut? The main character of Circumference of a Squirrel knows what we're talking about. He's terrified of squirrels, ever since his father was bitten and had to endure painful rabies shots (and you know where those go). Only one day, fate takes a 180--his father realizes he can terrorize the squirrels he's been running from. "It's this legacy of fear and hatred that the son is trying to come to terms with in the course of the play," explains playwright John Walch, a former Austinite turned Brooklynite. This one-man show, produced by Dallas' excellent Kitchen Dog Theater Company and starring David Goodwin, is by turns quirky and dark, an anti-holiday rumination about the bonds of family and phobia. "I guess it pushes the boundaries of what has been typically thought of as 'normal' squirrel and human interaction," Walch says. "It also explores the outer spheres of what one man can do with an inner tube." The show runs November 19 through December 18 at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. Call 214-953-1055. --Sarah Hepola
Practice makes perfecter. While that's not grammatically correct, it describes this year's "Behind the Scenes" Holiday Performance Series by the Dallas Black Dance Theatre. Each year the theater previews their performances for February's Cultural Awareness Series. But last year, DBDT's Tatum Rodgers says, visitors asked for more. And they're getting it. The dancers will perform in full costume, and the shows are less workshop-style and more like an actual performance. On Monday and Tuesday, the main company performs "Smoke," which uses the music of Ray Charles; new works by Kevin Wynne and Alonzo King; and an excerpt of a piece commissioned for the Nasher Sculpture Center. On Wednesday, the secondary company performs the new works "Pedestals," "Shifting Sand" and "Falling Into Water," plus "No More Dry Tears," which they inherited from the main company. Each show also includes a question-and-answer session and a reception where visitors can mingle with the dancers. The Monday through Wednesday shows are noon to 1 p.m. at the Plato Karayanis Opera Rehearsal Hall, 4301 S. Fitzhugh Ave. in Fair Park. Admission is free. Call 214-871-2390 to reserve some of the limited seating. --Shannon Sutlief
This Rabbit Hops
Every child wants to believe his stuffed animals can come to life. The Dallas Children's Theater makes that happen with the story of The Velveteen Rabbit told through puppetry and live performances, bringing the world of magic, love and floppy-eared bunnies to life just like the title character. The show runs 7:30 p.m. Fridays, 1:30 p.m. Saturdays and 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Sundays through December 19 at the Baker Theater, Rosewood Center for Family Arts, 5938 Skillman St. Tickets are $18 for adults and $15 for children. Call 214-740-0051 or visit www.dct.org. --Mary Monigold
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Nutcracker, Part 1
For 12 years now, the Moscow Ballet has brought the Great Russian Nutcracker to American cities typically unfamiliar with ballet: Reno, Nevada; Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; Biloxi, Mississippi, to name a few. The cast of 50 are all graduates of either the Moscow Choreographic Institute or the Vaganova Institute, an indication of accomplishment that makes this first Nutcracker of the season the best as well. The performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday at the Majestic Theatre for $20 to $65 from Ticketmaster. --Claiborne Smith
Real Real Time
Well, Texans, you did it. Your blazingly red votes in this year's presidential election have attracted angry mobs of famous, outspoken liberals to our state in anger and protest. Well, at the very least, comedian Bill Maher's coming to town. But if he starts a trend, who knows who will show up next. Michael Moore? Bono? Even--gasp!--Ralph Nader? And, assuming none of these visitors engages in homosexual matrimony or checks out "questionable" books from a library while in town, there's nothing anybody in Dallas can do to stop their liberal ways. With that in mind, you might as well calm down, accept the inevitable and at least enjoy the liberal deluge by catching Maher's 8 p.m. appearance Friday at the Lakewood Theater, 1825 Abrams Parkway. In all honesty, Maher has as levelheaded a liberal bias as you'll find on television these days, evidenced by his discussion-comedy show Real Time on HBO and countless appearances on CNN's Larry King Live. There's something to be said about a liberal who can invite conservative nutball Ann Coulter to his program and wittily counter her arguments without slapping her in the face. That's tenacity if we've ever seen it. And if Maher's insightful comedy doesn't get your attention, his passion for analyzing and destroying all political and social conventions should, as the man makes sure that neither Democrats, Republicans nor even Independents get off the hook easily. What's more, his stop in Dallas won't feature his show's usual celebrity discussions, which means nobody, not even Bono, will be able to interrupt Maher's tirades. Tickets are $35 to $75 by calling Ticketmaster at 214-373-8000. --Sam Machkovech