MORE CRITICS CHOICES

The Baltimore Sun

FILM

'It's a Wonderful Life'

The Senator Theatre hosts its annual benefit for the GEDCO CARES Food pantry Sunday with its traditional double-bill. You can view Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life (11 a.m., 3:45 p.m., 8:30 p.m.) either as a heartwarming tale of a well-spent life or a devastating account of an existence so miserable that only the intervention of an angel can redeem it (James Stewart, who stars, is so good it works either way). Then exult in the pathos-streaked exuberance of the premium 1951 British version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, starring Alastair Sim as Scrooge (1:45 p.m., 6:30 p.m.). Admission: $6 worth of nonperishable food items or $6 at the box office. The Senator is at 5904 York Road. Call 410-435-8338 or go to senator.com.

POP MUSIC

Lafayette Gilchrist

The gifted Baltimore musician freely and colorfully mixes elements of soul and pop into his jazz brew. The pianist's style has been rightfully compared to Thelonious Monk and Billy Preston. See Lafayette Gilchrist on Saturday at the 8X10, 10 E Cross St. Tickets are $10 and are available through Ticketmaster by calling 410-547-7328 or going to ticketmaster.com.

CLASSICAL MUSIC

Gabriela Montero

The powerhouse pianist Gabriela Montero has earned a solid reputation for two kinds of playing - what's written (her repertoire ranges from Bach to Rachmaninoff and beyond), and what's improvised on the spot. The Venezuelan-born Montero typically asks for suggestions from the audience on tunes and then freely develops them in a variety of styles. She will demonstrate this improv talent throughout her recital for the University of Baltimore's new Great Pianist's Series at 8 p.m. Saturday at the UB Student Center, 21 W. Mount Royal Ave. Tickets are $20 to $25. Call 410-837-4053 or go to etix.com or ubalt.edu.

Classical guitar

The Baltimore Classical Guitar Society offers an intriguing opportunity to delve into the world of baroque plucked instruments. Hopkinson Smith, a Harvard-trained specialist in these instruments, will devote half of his recital to the baroque lute and half to the baroque guitar. Smith, who founded the highly respected early music ensemble Hesperion XX, has won particular praise for his lute transcriptions of Bach's solo violin works. The recital will be at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Museum Drive. Tickets are $20 to $25. Call 410-247-5320 or go to bcgs.org. (Smith will also give a public master class 2 p.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at the Peabody Conservatory.)

ART

Maryland artists

Works by two prominent Maryland artists with connections to the Maryland Institute College of Art, Grace Hartigan and Reuben Kramer, go on display this weekend at two local galleries. Grace Hartigan Works on Paper runs through Jan. 10 at C. Grimaldis Gallery, 523 N. Charles St. Hartigan, who died at 86 on Nov. 15, was the founder and longtime director of MICA's Hoffberger School of Painting. Go to cgrimaldisgallery.com. Drawings by Reuben Kramer from the Collection of the Maryland Institute College of Art opens Sunday with a reception from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and runs through March 2 at Galerie Francoise II, Studio 20, 3500 Parkdale Ave. Kramer, who died in 1999, graduated from MICA in 1934. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Kramer's work will benefit MICA's annual fund. Go to galeriefrancoiseesf.com.

ARCHITECTURE

Law center designs

Scale models and drawings depicting five designs for the University of Baltimore's $105 million law center are on display in the lobby of the current law school, the John and Frances Angelos Law Center, at the northeast corner of Maryland and Mount Royal avenues, during school operating hours, through Dec. 19. A team headed by German architect Stefan Behnisch and Baltimore architecture firm Ayers Saint Gross won an international competition this month held to select the architect for the project, due to open in 2012. This is the first public display of the design submissions.

THEATER

'This Is How We Fall'

Colleen Thomas, a New York-based choreographer, created this piece in August while watching television coverage of the Democratic National Convention. The program also includes works by University of Maryland students and faculty members. This Is How We Fall/divided can be seen at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, Route 193 and Stadium Drive, College Park, at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday. Tickets are $25; $7 for students. Call 301-405-2787 or go to claricesmithcenter.umd.edu.

'Every Christmas Story Ever Told'

This Baltimore Shakespeare Festival production is the holiday equivalent of fruitcake: a little spicy, a little sweet, with a lot of nuts. The show packs together classic tales, from the Grinch to Frosty the Snowman to the Gift of the Magi. It just might inspire you to start in early on the spiked eggnog. Every Christmas Story Ever Told can be seen at St. Mary's Outreach Festival, 3900 Roland Ave., tomorrow through Dec. 21. Showtimes vary. Tickets are $20-$25. Call 410-366-8596 or go to baltimoreshakespeare.org.

OTHER PICKS

Mummies

Join art curator Regine Schulz and Dr. Barry Daly for a lecture on the mystery of ancient Egyptian death rituals and mummification at the Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Charles St. The presentation will take place at 12:15 p.m. today in the Graham Auditorium. The event is free, but registration is recommended. Call 410-547-9000, ext. 238, or go to thewalters.org.

Elvises

Celebrate the 15th Night of 100 ELVISes, with more than 24 artists, including Elvis tribute bands. There will also be an Elvis cake from Charm City Cakes and free Southern food and drinks with the purchase of a $55 ticket in advance or $65 ticket at the door. Shuttle transportation is also included in the ticket price. The event runs from 7 p.m.-2 a.m. tomorrow and Saturday at Lithuanian Hall, 851-3 Hollins St. Call 410-494-9558 or go to nightof100elvises.com.

Washington Monument

Watch the 37th annual Washington Monument lighting and enjoy entertainment, fireworks and a holiday village with crafts and food in Mount Vernon's West Park. Events begin at 5:30 p.m. today; the lighting and fireworks are scheduled for just before 7:30 p.m. Free. Call 410-244-1030 or go to godowntownbaltimore.com.

Mayor's Parade

Watch motorcycles, floats, marching bands and more come together in the 35th annual Mayor's Christmas Parade at 2 p.m. Sunday. The event will feature the Mummers String Band from Philadelphia and various local bands. The parade's starting location is at Poly/Western schools on the corner of Cold Spring Lane and Falls Road, and ends at Chestnut Avenue and West 37th Street. Go to mayorschristmasparade.com.

Stars

Get lost in the sky with a stargazing event sponsored by the Anne Arundel Community College Astronomy Club. The event takes place from sunset-11 p.m. Saturday at the college's Arnold campus, 101 College Parkway. Bring your own telescope or binoculars to this free event. Call 410-777-1820 or go to www.aacc.edu/science/observatory.

Compiled by Lindsey Citron, Meredith Cohn, Edward Gunts, Mary Carole McCauley, Rashod D. Ollison, Tim Smith and Michael Sragow.

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