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The Polar Express courtesy of Houghton Publishing Company. Snowy Sounds For many kids, an afternoon at the symphony sounds about as fun as a Glenn Beck story hour. But we promise this afternoon of music devoted to The Polar Express is not to be missed. And we implore you to show up early to amble through […]


The Polar Express courtesy of 
Houghton
Publishing Company.

Snowy Sounds

For many kids, an afternoon at the symphony sounds about as fun as a Glenn Beck story hour. But we promise this afternoon of music devoted to The Polar Express is not to be missed. And we implore you to show up early to amble through the instrument “petting zoo” and helm the conductor’s station to see what it’s like to steer an orchestra. This first-ever MSO foray into the Caldecott winner will be directed by associate conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. He’s promised a few surprises with a little help from the Milwaukee Children’s Choir. If seeing is believing, Junior should have no trouble holding on … for at least one more year. (Tim McCormick)


The Polar Express (Dec. 6). Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. 929 N. Water St., 414-291-7605, 
mso.org.



Valley of the Dolls courtesy of 
Off the Wall Theatre.

Bright Lights, Big Drama 

Before “Girls” and “Sex and the City,” there was Valley of the Dolls. Jacqueline Susann’s tawdry tale includes the antics of three pill-popping friends trying to make it in the big city; Mary Tyler Moore, they are not. The novel became a best-seller and the movie became famous for, among other things, its cast, which included Sharon Tate, Patty Duke and, for a time, Judy Garland. Dale Gutzman’s Off the Wall Theatre takes this camp classic for a spin with its own adaptation, which promises “a theatrical catastrophe,” including “cat fights and really lousy songs.” Audience members will receive their own bag of pills to join in the fun. (Paul Kosidowski) 

Valley of the Dolls (Dec. 31-Jan. 11, 2015). Off the Wall Theatre, 127 E. Wells St., 414-484-8874, offthewalltheatre.com.



Shakey Graves.

Rocking Steady 

Austin, Texas-born Alejandro Rose-Garcia was once a one-man band and a part-time actor, a schtick that saw him through two EPs; the latest, Roll the Bones, released in 2011. Playing under the moniker Shakey Graves, this time around, he’s decided to include a few musical friends on his full-length October release, And the War Came. His mostly folk-heavy melodies melt bluesy notes with country twang, but, as on “If Not For You,” his guitar work can reach grunge levels – with the aid of a tambourine. If millennials are a generation raised on remixes, Graves is a near-perfect representation of genre-mixing – the nostalgia-heavy folk answer to pop’s persistent hip-hop leanings. Fans of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros will admire Graves’ pared-down, but equally rousing jams. (Claire Hanan) 

Shakey Graves (Dec. 4). Turner Hall Ballroom. 1040 N. Fourth St., 414-286-3663, turnerhall.org.


Canopies courtesy of 
Alexis
Poquette.

A Long-Awaited Release

Remaining silent for a couple years often foretells a breakup, especially in Milwaukee’s music scene. But for Canopies, the three-year silence wasn’t due to creative differences. Instead, the five-piece electro-pop group locked the doors to its studio to perfect the infectious, psychedelic material found on its 10-song full-length album, this month’s Maximize Your Faith. The calculated approach worked wonders, and contains more hooks and danceable moments than its predecessor, while also widening the spectrum for weirder experimental deviations. Canopies might be the city’s only band that could cause audiences to test the strength of the Summerfest benches before Ariana Grande and also burn through some scorchers during Milwaukee Psych Fest. (Kevin Mueller)

Canopies (Dec. 12). The Polish Falcon. 801 E. Clarke St., 414-264-0680.


Big Band
Holidays: Jazz at Lincoln Center courtesy of 
Frank
Stewart.


All That’s Jazz
Wynton Marsalis’ official title with Jazz at Lincoln Center, the New York cultural landmark devoted to America’s original art form, is that of artistic director. But this New Orleans native might as well carry that designation for the jazz world at large. When he’s blowing his trumpet, the notes that come out have won him an armful of Grammys. And his work leading the center and its eponymous orchestra has made him the genre’s No. 1 ambassador. Lately, he’s touring with the playful Cécile McLorin Salvant, whose vocal talent can command a concert hall. Together with the orchestra, they’ll burn through arrangements from the likes of Ellington, Mingus and Coltrane. The evening promises to keep Uihlein Hall hot, even in December. (Tim McCormick)

Big Band Holidays: Jazz at Lincoln Center (Dec. 1). Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. 929 N. Water St., 414-273-7206, marcuscenter.org.

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