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25 fantastic things to do this week

By Will Sabel Courtney
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Monday 21

Origami Holiday Tree American Museum of Natural History; Dec 21–Jan 10, 10am; suggested donation $19, seniors and students $14.50, children 2–12 $10.50
This UWS institution's holiday evergreen sticks around into the second week of 2016, but c'mon, go see it before Christmas. Festooned with more than 500 hand-folded paper ornaments, the tree is inspired by the museum’s “The Power of Poison” exhibit, meaning you’ll spot toxic mushrooms, poison ivy, spiders and jellyfish. 

Santastical Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center; Dec 21–24, times vary; $20–$40
Put a little spice in your Yuletime with a trip through this zany holiday house, which offers up a very adult-themed twist on everyone's favorite Christmas traditions. There's an interactive nativity, a fake skating rink, a forest of mistletoe—but the pièce de résistance comes at the end, when you have to choose which of the weird Santas you want to have your picture taken with. Sexy Mrs. Claus? Black Santa? Bernie Santas? Good luck deciding.

Works & Process at the Guggenheim: Holiday Concert Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; 7pm; $8–$40
Add a little bit of class to your Christmas week by heading over to Frank Lloyd Wright's circular museum to hear George Steel conduct the Vox Vocal Ensemble through a performance of holiday music. If you're looking to do it on the cheap, wear comfy shoes; standing tickets are a lot less expensive than ones that score you a seat.

Klea Blackhurst, Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch: A Swingin’ Birdland Christmas Birdland; Dec 21–25, times vary; $30 plus $10 minimum
Three Birdland mainstays—the clarion-voiced Klea Blackhurst, the waggish host Jim Caruso and the velvety pianist-crooner Billy Stritch—get into the swing of the holiday season with a jazzy set of Christmas classics.

Michael Feinstein Feinstein's/54 Below; Dec 21–26, 28, times vary; $85–$155 plus $25 minimum
Earlier this year, Michael Feinstein officially added his name to the marquee of 54 Below, the city's most esssential venue for classic supper-club entertainment. Now the popular and polished standard-bearer of American song performs his first show at the club: his annual set of time-tested Christmas classics.

Handel / Mozart's Messiah Carnegie Hall; 8pm; $25-$90
Once a staple of Christmas concerts, Mozart's 1789 arrangement of Handel's Messiah is now rarely performed. The Oratorio Society of New York offers a chance to hear this baroque masterpiece expanded into a classical sensibility. Mozart added instruments and voices to update the older work. Heard today, it's like two layers of music history.

Chris Gethard: Career Suicide Union Hall, Brooklyn; 8pm; $8
The stand-up, sketch and improv performer known best for The Chris Gethard Show presents an hour-long set covering suicide, alcoholism and other dark themes, with his genuine charm and curiosity. Just what the holidays call for!

Tuesday 22

"Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection" New-York Historical Society; through Feb 28; free with $20 museum admission
Sure, this exhibition is around for a couple more months, but who wants to check out the Holiday Express after the holidays have passed on by? At this exhibit, check out vintage European trains at this premiere museum exhibition of the Jerni toy collection. A diorama of mini choo-choos, bridges, carousels and Ferris wheels, as well as one of the first-ever models of an elevated train station, is populated by figurines in colorful 19th-century garb.

Jeff Koons, “Gazing Ball Paintings” Gagosian Gallery; Dec 22–23, 10am; free
It's your last chance to check out this exhibit, which focuses on some of Koons's latest work. He's reprised the blue-mirrored, gazing-ball lawn ornaments that a few years ago appeared at Zwirner; here, the same objects are tag-teamed with reproductions of paintings by Titian, El Greco, Courbet, Turner and Manet—heavyweight company, to be sure. As is usually the case with Koons's work, it’s hard to tell if he's kidding the viewer...or just himself.

A Christmas Carol at the Merchant's House: Charles Dickens in New York, 1867 Merchant's House Museum; Dec 22–24, times vary; $40–$60
John Kevin Jones plays Charles Dickens in this account of the novelist's classic holiday ghost story, which he adapted with director Rhonda Dodd. The Merchant's House Museum, formerly the home of a wealthy 19th-century family, provides an atmospheric setting for Jones's third annual engagement.

Anonymous 4: The Final Concert The Metropolitan Museum of Art; 6:30pm, 8:30pm; $75
The women of the Anonymous 4 chose the Christmas tree in the Met's Medieval Sculpture Hall for their last concert ever. Expect early, traditional and more modern seasonal songs from the celebrated a capella quartet. (Kids 7-16 can attend for $1 when accompanied by an adult.)

The Last Schmaltz Highline Ballroom; 8pm; $20–$45
If you always had a thing for yacht rock but wish it had a little more chutzpa, then make a beeline for this concert, where native New Yorkers Ariel Hammerstein and Yakob Veivelman dust off the pop hits of the late '70s and early '80 through a distinctly Yiddish lens. But they won't be doing it alone; "Irish Jewish tenor" Chaim O’Shwartz will be there, along with the group's backing musicians, The Full Minyan Band.

Joey Bada$$ + G Herbo + Father + Smoke DZA + Cousin Stizz + Zuse PlayStation Theater; 8pm; $32.50
Brooklyn MC Joey Bada$$ boasts a smoother-than-most flow, plus a fine line in mellow beats and keys. Ditching his usual Pro Era posse, he headlines here with a lengthy roster of up-n-comers including G Herbo (formerly known as Lil Herb) who he makes a potent combination with on their latest collaboration single, the relentless "Lord Knows."

Ronnie Spector City Winery; Dec 22–23, 8pm; $50
Charismatic queen of the Ronettes Ronnie Spector stages her multimedia extravaganza, Beyond the Beehive, at City Winery. Spector says she’ll set the record straight at these shows: “Whether I’m talking about girl groups, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, you will hear the truth.” She’ll also belt out the hits at this "Best Christmas Party Ever," accompanied by a full band. That means “Be My Baby,” folks—need we say more?

Wednesday 23

"How Cats Took Over the Internet" Museum of the Moving Image, Queens; Dec 23–27, 30–31, times vary; $12
Whether you’ve read a Pusheen Web comic, posted the perfect lolcat on your Tumblr or even sat through Lifetime’s Grumpy Cat movie, you’re officially part of the Internet’s cat cult. Learn about the history of this feline phenomenon, and maybe discover an amazing meme you have missed, at this purrfect (come on, we had to say it) exhibit.

The Little Match Girl Passion Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium (at the Metropolitan Museum of Art); 7pm; $65
Rarely do we get to add works into the Christmas canon, but David Lang's Pulitzer Prize winning adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen tale may prove to be a new annual tradition in New York. The Choir of Trinity Wall Street sings the ethereal song cycle alongside Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols. (Kids 7-16 $1 when accompanied by an adult.)

Judy Gold Carolines on Broadway; Dec 23–25, times vary; $26 plus two-drink minimum
Gold's long list of accolades includes two Emmy Awards and a pair of American Comedy Award nominations, and she's done specials for HBO, Comedy Central and Logo. Her stand-up is a tour de force, and now she's ready to bring the Hanukkah spirit to Christmas.

I Don't Get It: A Comedy Show HiFi; 8pm; free
Matt Schwartzer and Gary Levitt host this comedy variety show featuring NYC's top stand-up comedians, sketch teams and improv groups. Past guests include Nick Vatterott, the Internet Disagrees and more.

Terese Genecco: Have Yourself a Merry Little Big Band Iridium; 8:30pm, 10:30pm; $30 plus $15 minimum
Terese Genecco’s snappy, zippy swing leaves you feeling happily woven into an inner circle of frisky retro fun. Here she leads an eight-piece band in a musical sleigh ride.

Thursday 24

Christmas Eve Celebration Bargemusic, Brooklyn; 7:30pm; $75
What better way to spend Christmas Eve than on a barge with Bach and Beck? The talented Steven Beck will play the Goldberg Variations while you gently rock on the East River, sipping cider and noshing on chocolates.

Creek Cave Live: Christmas Eve Edition! The Creek and The Cave, Queens; 8pm; free
Ariel Elias hosts this show featuring the Creek and the Cave's favorite alternative stand-ups in NYC. Tonight, escape your family and get a free PBR for showing up, plus everyone who sits in the front row gets a free shot!

Jewess Eve Cantina Rooftop; 9pm; $10–$15, at the door $20
Shana Cohen presents the debut of Jewess Eve with DJ Dandy, a sexy Christmas Eve dance party for Jewish women and the shiksas that love them.

Christmas Eve Jewbilee Stage 48; 9pm; $20, at the door $25
With all of the goyim tucked in their beds, dreaming of sugar fairies or whatever, the city's gay Jews (and their "goy toys") are invited to dance the night away at the ninth annual edition of this Chosen Christmas Eve bash presented by Hebro.

Mass for the Eve of the Nativity of Our Lord Holy Trinity Lutheran Church; 10:30pm; free
While Holy Trinity's Sunday Vespers services are largely dedicated to the mastery of Bach, for Christmas Eve the church is turning to a much lesser known name. Bach contemporary Marc-Antoine Charpentier wrote over 200 motets, 35 oratorios and 11 masses, including the Messe de Minuit pour Noel (c. 1690), which will be presented tonight as the hour draws toward midnight.

Waverly Midnights: "Wes Craven's Nightmares" IFC Center; Dec 24–26, midnight; $9–$14
Wes Craven’s passing this year marked the end of a glorious era for horror fans. IFC is celebrating the slasher master’s work with screenings of some of his most iconic and underrated movies. For Christmas week, they're featuring Craven's 1972 classic, The Last House on the Left.

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