Venice Baroque Orchestra
Venice Baroque Orchestra (Anna Carmignola)

With winter settling in, here's my second annual sampling of potentially hot classical concerts and theater productions that just might help you feel toasty during the cold weeks that lie ahead:

Instead of curling up by the fire with a Charles Dickens novel, you can see one brought to life onstage at Everyman Theatre (315 W. Fayette St.; everymantheatre.org). "Great Expectations," the saga of orphan boy Pip and the many characters he meets, will be played by six actors and directed by Tazewell Thompson. Feb. 1 to March 5.


Center Stage (700 N. Calvert St.; centerstage.org) will welcome patrons to its brand-new Head Theater with "The White Snake," an adaptation by Mary Zimmerman of an ancient Chinese fable about spirits of animals taking human forms. Count on visual spectacle to go with this exploration of love and loss. Feb. 24 to March 26.

Indelible songs and a great back story will fill the Hippodrome Theatre (12 N. Eutaw St., france-merrickpac.com) when Baltimore gets its first taste of "Beautiful, the Carole King Musical." Jan. 24 to 29.

Nothing like a murderous monarch to get the blood pumping on a chilly day. "Richard III," chronicling the king who finds himself without a horse at a terribly inopportune moment, will be staged by Chesapeake Shakespeare Company (7 S. Calvert St.; chesapeakeshakespeare.com). Feb. 10 to March 5.

For a harrowing intimate drama, consider David Harrower's "Blackbird" at Fells Point Corner Theatre (251 S. Ann St.; fpct.org). The play concerns a man and woman forced to face their pasts, when he was in his 40s, she a girl of 12. Jan. 13 to 29.

Charlie Bethel returns to Theatre Project (45 W. Preston St.; theatreproject.org) with his one-man adaptation of "The Call of the Wild," Jack London's tale about a determined dog in turn-of-the-century Alaska. Jan. 12 to Jan. 29.

Iron Crow Theatre (ironcrowtheatre.org) will present "[Expletive] A" — that's the safest I can make the title — by Suzan Lori-Parks. Inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter," the play deals with abortion and other thorny issues. At Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston St. Feb. 3 to Feb. 12.

And Single Carrot Theatre (2600 N. Howard St.; singlecarrot.com) offers Lauren Yee's "Samsara," a dark comedy about two Americans trying to have a baby and their Indian surrogate. Jan. 18 to Feb. 12.

Then there's "The Complete History of America (Abridged)," opening tonight at Vagabond Players (806 S. Broadway; vagabondplayers.org) and running through Feb. 5. This comic romp promises "600 years of history in 6,000 seconds."

Note, too, the world premiere of Amy Bernstein's "Exit Pluto" at the recently opened Strand Theater (5426 Harford Road; strand-theater.org), Baltimore's woman-centric company. The work concerns a bakery owner trying to cope with various kinds of change. Jan. 12 to 29.

On the music front, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (bsomusic.org) has slated lots of great repertoire, starting with Tchaikovsky's brooding Symphony No. 6 conducted by Dima Slobodeniouk, tonight and Sunday at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St. (Also Saturday at Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda.)

For a major winter-buster, there's Bruckner's ardent Symphony No. 4, dubbed "Romantic," with Markus Stenz conducting. And the rich voice of Center Stage artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah will be heard narrating Copland's "Lincoln Portrait" on a program led by Marin Alsop on Feb. 16 and 19. (Both events are at the Meyerhoff and Strathmore.)

A busy winter at the Peabody Institute (17 E. Mount Vernon Place; peabody.jhu.edu) includes a hearty program of Barber, Strauss and Shostakovich from the Peabody Symphony Orchestra led by Alsop on Feb. 4. And Peabody Chamber Opera will offer an intriguing triple bill of contemporary works under the heading "Women in the Dark," running Feb. 16 to 19 at Theatre Project.

Peabody-trained organist William Wisnom performs a recital of rich French repertoire for Community Concerts at Second (4200 St. Paul St.; communityconcertsatsecond.org) on Jan. 22. That organization will also present adventurous chamber music with BSO members Feb. 12, and a concert by stellar flutist Marina Piccinini and the Beijing Guitar Duo on Feb. 26.

Concert Artists of Baltimore (cabmusic.org) gets into a post-winter mindset with Beethoven's "Spring" Sonata and other chamber works Jan. 22 at the Garrett-Jacobs Mansion, 11 W. Mount Vernon Place. Baltimore Classical Guitar Society (bcgs.org) presents rising guitarist Meng Su on Jan. 28 at Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive.


The Baltimore Chamber Orchestra (thebco.org) will kick up its heels Feb. 12 with the help of tap dancer Max Pollak and a Morton Gould concerto at Goucher College's Kraushaar Auditorium, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road. And Pro Musica Rara (promusicarara.org) has vowed to perform Bach's "Wedding" Cantata on Feb. 5 at Baltimore Museum of Art.

On Jan. 22, Shriver Hall Concert Series (3400 N. Charles St.; shriverconcerts.org) will showcase top-drawer pianist Inon Barnatan, clarinetist Anthony McGill and cellist Alisa Weilerstein. And at Shriver on Feb. 12, you can think about more than just winter when the Venice Baroque Orchestra performs Vivaldi's evergreen "Four Seasons."