Minnesota-made whiskey, weird U.K. commercials: A-List 11.29-12.5

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Anhauser Busch

This week's top events include a wintertime Ferris wheel ride, a free screening of Elf, and a whiskey-release party. Come take a look.

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WEDNESDAY 11.29

Betty Danger’s Winter Wonderland

Betty Danger’s Country Club

Most of the time, carnival rides are best experienced during the summer. Betty Danger’s infamous Ferris wheel is an exception. During the winter months, the northeast Minneapolis bar, restaurant, and mini-golf course decks its ride with holiday cheer. For what’s been dubbed a “vertical sleigh ride,” folks will be able to hop into a booth. Not only will people be treated to views of the city and the river, Betty Danger’s rooftop will be festooned with vintage decorations and lights. Ticket prices score you a seat in your own Ferris wheel bucket, a hot chocolate or cider, and a warm blanket. Spike your drink for an extra $3. 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. $8-$11. 2501 Marshall St. NE, Minneapolis; 612-315-4997. Through February 3, 2018 —Jessica Armbruster

JR Brow

Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy

JR Brow is a standup comedian and musician who is now an author after having just penned a book. “It’s about my career, and basically what got me to where I am and where I’m going now,” he says. “Basically, it’s a book of advice for others who want to go down this road. It’s calledQuit, which you can’t, and that’s the irony behind the name.” For years Brow, as part of his act, would hilariously demonstrate how many songs are quite similar. These days, he’s up to something new. “I started thinking how cool it would be to auto-tune comedy,” he says, “because every musician and singer has an auto-tune pedal.” He’s posted a sampling on his website. “It’s the very first comedy video on YouTube,” he insists. “I made sure of that. So if you see anyone else doing that they’re a hack.” 16+; 21+ later shows. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; 9:45 p.m. Friday; 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 9:30 p.m. Saturday. $16-$42.95. 408 E. Broadway, Mall of America, Bloomington; 952-858-8558. Through Sunday —P.F. Wilson

Wells Fargo WinterSkate

Rice Park

Once again, downtown St. Paul will be turning into a winter wonderland for the season. That includes WinterSkate, a charming ice rink located right across the street from Rice Park. The space will be open daily, so you can bring the kids during vacation, woo a date in the evening, or kill time before dinner with friends. Free skating lessons will be offered on special dates. If you can’t make it to the rink during the holidays, fret not: Weather permitting, it will be open during the Saint Paul Winter Carnival on into mid-February. If you’re in Minneapolis and St. Paul is too far of a schlep, consider heading to Loring Park before Christmas Eve for free skating during Holidazzle. 11 a.m. to 4:50 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays. Hockey- or figure-skate rentals are $4, or free with a Wells Fargo credit or debit card. 400 N. Market St., St. Paul; 612-749-0435. Through February 11, 2018 —Jessica Armbruster

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Caroline Yang

THURSDAY 11.30

Black Nativity

Penumbra Theatre 

Lou Bellamy won’t be narrating Black Nativity this year—but it’s not because he’s slowing down. “It has to do primarily with The Wiz, because I’ll be in rehearsal for that,” says Bellamy, referring to an upcoming co-production with the Children’s Theatre Company. Bellamy has recently passed the position of Penumbra Theatre artistic director on to his daughter Sarah Bellamy, but the founding father is still directingBlack Nativity, and he plans to stay the course he’s followed in recent years’ productions. Setting aside some of the flourishes that characterized earlier versions of the gospel show, which Penumbra has been staging for three decades, Bellamy has returned Black Nativity to its roots as the simple, devout, and joyous African-American Nativity celebration Langston Hughes debuted in 1961. “People love it,” says Bellamy. “It’s a wonderful story, and it’s one of the few shows around Christmastime that celebrates what Christmas is about.” In addition to narration by Jennifer Whitlock, Bellamy says, attendees can expect to see and hear beloved local talents including Greta Oglesby, Dennis Spears, and Yolande Bruce, with musical director Sanford Moore and choreographer Uri Sands. “That story hasn’t changed in a few thousand years,” chuckles Bellamy, emphasizing the value of tradition. “It is something that many Twin Cities families mark their celebration by.” 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays; 2 p.m. Saturdays; 4 p.m. Sundays. $15-$40. 270 N. Kent St., St. Paul; 651-224-3180. Through December 24—Jay Gabler 

Sam Morril

Acme Comedy Co.

Sam Morril isn’t afraid of a dark premise. “Sometimes I’ll say stuff and there’s an awkward silence and I’ll tell them, ‘There’s a joke coming. I’m not just telling you something horrible.’” He gives an example: “I have a joke that’s about the baby that got eaten by the alligator at Disney World, and it’s really not about that. I just use that to get to something else. It’s really about a woman who got really offended by that joke and I break down that.” Morril reasons the stage is one of the last places one can speak openly. “Socially you’d be a pariah, unless you hang out with comics all the time.” And sometimes that’s what the audience wants. “They want something they wouldn’t normally hear every day,” he adds. “There’s a challenge to making someone laugh with a dark premise, and that makes me excited about writing a joke.” But that’s not all, or even most, of what he does. “I like writing a good relationship joke or a joke about anything.” 18+. 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $15-$18. 708 N. First St., Minneapolis; 612-338-6393. Through Saturday —P.F. Wilson 

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Image courtesy event organizers

FRIDAY 12.1

12 Bars of Christmas

Various locations

The 12 Bars of Christmas is an annual downtown Minneapolis crawl that has outgrown its name: This year there will be 14 bars to make your way to. Early ticket buyers get a T-shirt that earns them happy-hour prices and free admission. Those late get the same deal, but with a snappy wristband instead. There will be holiday cheer as people make their way to different bars, all in pretty close proximity. Participating spots include the Gay 90’s, Alibi, Exchange, Loon Café, Sneaky Pete’s, Kieran’s, and the Pourhouse. This pre-holiday tradition raises funds for Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota. Tickets and more info can be found at www.12boc.com. 21+. 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. $30-$35. Check-in is at the Pourhouse (10 S. Fifth St., Minneapolis; 612-843-2555). —Loren Green

2017 British Arrows Awards

Walker Art Center

Although the British Arrows Awards spotlight different ads from across the pond each year, there’s a certain soothing predictability to the commercials’ tone and content—a fact that’s helped to make the annual screenings at the Walker Art Center an apt, if quirky, holiday tradition. There are the giggle-worthy domestic fails (this year, a series demonstrating the utility of IKEA organizers). There are the adorable vignettes (a tear-jerking short about a pair of aging teddy bears navigating Heathrow airport). There are the epic clips starring footballers (Cristiano Ronaldo swaps bodies with a young player in a Freaky Friday-style Nike ad), and the name-that-voice celebrity cameos (listen for Nick Offerman in an amusing HomeAway commercial). Then there are the ads that pull us down to earth. This year, two heartrending short films draw attention to the ongoing refugee crisis, including a Unicef clip that brings a young Syrian boy together with an aging WWII survivor. Sometimes, things stay the same, but not in a good way. Showtimes vary, check online at www.walkerartcenter.org to reserve a seat. 1750 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-375-7600. Through December 30 —Jay Gabler

Hatchet Lady

The Red Eye Theater

Best remembered for using a hatchet to bust up establishments serving alcohol nearly two decades before Prohibition became the law of the land, Carrie Nation is often caricatured as a delusional zealot of the early temperance movement. An alternate view of the saloon-smashing dissident, however, is offered by Savannah Reich in her work, Hatchet Lady: Carrie Nation, Angel of Destruction. Commissioned by Walking Shadow Theatre Company, Hatchet Lady asserts that the belittling of Carrie Nation’s character is further evidence of the power harbored by those she dared to oppose, namely the institutional patriarchy. By assaulting a symbol of cultural complacency, Nation was striking a blow against the prevailing view of female subservience. This interpretation is given a convincingly kinetic kick with a bold production that depicts Nation’s crusade with the anarchic energy of a rock musical. Providing that propulsive score are “The Hatchetations,” a quartet combining the talents of local musicians. This righteously raucous production, under the deft direction of John Heimbuch, looks intent to demolish inequity wherever it imbibes. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, plus December 5 and 13; 2 p.m. Sunday, December 10. $10-$26; pay-as-able Tuesday. 15 W. 14th St., Minneapolis; 612-870-0309. Through December 16 —Brad Richason

Chess

Gremlin Theatre

Chess might be a game characterized by quiet contemplation, but its namesake musical thrives on dramatic confrontation. The unruliness arises from the tumultuous relationship between Freddie, the hot-tempered American champion, and Anatoly, the calculating Soviet master. The machinations between the two are not merely professional, but convey the weight of oppositional Cold War forces. Add in a love triangle involving Florence, Freddie’s ex-lover/chess second, and all composure is bound to go by the wayside. Playwright Richard Nelson weaves in a web of intrigue and duplicity that extends far beyond the chess board, and the musical numbers by ABBA members Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, with lyrics by frequent Andrew Lloyd Rice collaborator Tim Rice, emphasize emotional bombast. Set to make a striking impression with live music, a promising cast, and the co-direction of Bradley Donaldson and Jim Vogel, Chess can be considered something of a theatrical gambit, defying traditional conventions for something far more unpredictable. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, Monday, December 4; 2 p.m. Sundays. $22-$25. 550 Vandalia St., St. Paul; 952-232-0814. Through December 17 —Brad Richason

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Lynette Black, 'When Darkness Comes'

Prints on Ice: The 32nd Cooperative Exhibition

Highpoint Center for Printmaking

Local printmakers—30 of them, in fact—who are members of Highpoint’s cooperative present their work for viewing, admiration, and purchase during this annual pre-holiday exhibition. Such local print luminaries as Eric Carroll (abstract imagery rendered via polymergravure, an old photo technique), James Boyd Brent (intricate and detailed reminders of our natural heritage), Mike Elko (zany and wonderful takes on nostalgic shenanigans), and Kurt Seaberg (delicate and revelatory insights into nature) are among the members participating. There will be an artists’ reception on Friday, December 1, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Free. 912 W. Lake St., Minneapolis; 612-871-1326.Through January 20, 2018 —Camille LeFevre

European Christmas Market

Union Depot

Once again, the Union Depot in Lowertown St. Paul will be a hub for holiday festivities. While this happening could be considered complementary to Minneapolis’ Holidazzle in Loring Park, St. Paul’s celebration offers more old-school charm. Things kick off on Friday, December 1, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. with a tree lighting ceremony. American Idol contestant Eric Gordon will serenade crowds, followed by fireworks. Inside, families can enjoy a free screening of Elf. The European Christmas Market runs through the 10th, and features traditional crafts, foods, mulled wine, and handmade gifts. The North Pole Express will also be coming to the Depot during the season, offering kids a chance to enjoy a ride on a vintage steam engine in the company of Santa and his elves. The ever-popular bake sale will offer treats from top Twin Cities bakeries on December 9. Market hours are 4 to 9 p.m. Fridays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays, and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. Most events are free; train rides and the bake sale require tickets. Find more info at www.uniondepot.org/holiday. 214 E. Fourth St., St. Paul; 651-202-2700. Through December 10 —Jessica Armbruster

Local holiday markets

Various locations

Another weekend, another chance to shop local this holiday season. Things kick off with Holiday No Coast Craft-O-Rama, an uber-popular event featuring makers sharing wares running the gamut from twee to edgy. Check out prints, shop homemade coasters, pick up adorable onesies and Minnesota-themed home goods. This two-day happening runs from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Midtown Global Market (920 E. Lake St., Minneapolis; visit www.nocoastcraft.com for more info). Also opening Friday is SooVAC’s (2909 Bryant Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-871-2263) holiday gift shop, where you can pick up paintings, prints, sculptures, and more from Twin Cities artists. The show and sale runs through Christmas Eve, and is open during gallery hours. Lots of things are happening in Northeast on Saturday, including handmade sales at the Island of Misfit Makers from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Food Building (1401 Marshall St. NE, Minneapolis; 612-545-5555); Holiday Craft Hop, from noon to 5 p.m., at Grain Belt Brew House (1224 Marshall St. NE, Minneapolis); and the Bizarre Bazaar from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Betty Danger’s Country Club (2501 Marshall St. NE, Minneapolis; 612-315-4997). All of these events are free to attend. —Jessica Armbruster

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L-R: Work by Julie Liger-Belair, Jenny Brown, Shawna Gilmore

SATURDAY 12.2

Open Door Thirteen

Rosalux Gallery

Rosalux Gallery’s annual group exhibition has reached its lucky 13th anniversary. Danielle Krysa selected this year’s works. She’s the intellect and enthusiast behind the Jealous Curator, a website and podcast celebrating covetable art, ideas, and inspiration. With books, a TEDX talk, and even Oprah appearances on her ever-expanding CV, she’s the boss on creativity and what holds us back from lighting our inner creative fires. Krysa is sure to assemble an inspiring roster of artists and works that leaves everyone wanting to get right back into the studio and start making work. The call for this show was open to North American residents working in 2D and 3D media and video. There will be a public reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, December 9. Free. 1400 Van Buren St. NE, Minneapolis; 612-747-3942. Through December 30 —Camille LeFevre

Grand Meander

Grand Avenue

Hop on the trolley: Grand Meander is here. The annual event, organized by the Grand Avenue Business Association, highlights the many locally owned businesses in the area by hosting holiday festivities. Hear carolers as they sing your favorite tunes, and make a date with Santa for breakfast to let him know you’ve been good this year. There’s also plenty of art shows and receptions, soup tastings, shopping, and activities for kids and adults alike. Pick up your Christmas tree, and enjoy the twinkling lights along beautiful Grand Avenue via the free trolley. Find the full schedule and more info at www.grandave.com/events/grand-meander. 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. Grand Avenue, from Dale to Fairview, St. Paul; 651-699-0029. —Sheila Regan 

Whiskey Release Party

Bent Brewstillery

Minnesota’s first “brewstillery” is back with a second whiskey offering. Yes, that’s right: They brew beer and distill spirits in the same magical Roseville building. This Saturday, the three-year-old Bent unveils One-Twenty Barrel-Strength Single Malt Whiskey with a daylong party with whiskey, cocktails, and beer. “Barrel-strength” means it’s bottled at the same alcohol level as when it came out of the oak. At 120.6 proof, this Minnesota-made brown liquor is described as, “vicious, robust, and spicy.” To show off its versatility, Bent will serve cocktails during the day, but it’s also recommended that you enjoy One-Twenty with ice or a dash of water. Limited bottles will be for sale, so come early. Bottles of their first whiskey sold out in less than three hours last August. Noon to midnight. Free. 1744 Terrace Dr., Roseville; 844-879-2368. —Loren Green


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