The Chocolate Nutcracker is an adaptation of the holiday classic, with a twist. More than ten years ago, playwright LaVerne Reed wrote the play as an alternative to the original, which, let's face it, gets old after you've seen it 15 times. This story takes place in the home of an African-American family, where the main character, Lea, discovers her African roots and hears stories from ancestors. Of course, there is also dancing, although a little less ballet and a little more jazz, hip-hop, and possibly even break dancing. The performance also includes stilt walkers, African drummers, and traditional African dance and music. The play goes on at 7:30 p.m. Friday and at 4 and 7 p.m. Saturday at the African-American Research Library, 2650 Sistrunk Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $10 for children. Call 954-765-4544. -- Audra Schroeder
The Snow Queen
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One of Hans Christian Anderson's many child-friendly fables comes to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale) Thursday when The Snow Queen opens. Hudson Vagabond Puppets, a troupe using larger-than-life puppets, recounts the story of a young girl who rescues a friend from the Snow Queen with the help of animal friends. Shows are at 10 and 11:30 a.m. Thursday and 1 and 3 p.m. Sunday, with another at the Rose and Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center (3100 College Ave., Fort Lauderdale) at 7 p.m. Friday. Tickets cost $11. Call 954-462-0222. -- Dan Sweeney
The tendency in Hollywood to carbon-copy whatever makes a lot of money is older than, well, Hollywood itself. A fine example is Victor Herbert's Babes in Toyland, which he put together for the stage to capitalize on the success of The Wizard of Oz. Normally, this would mean no one would have ever heard of it again -- after all, remember the Robin Hood picture that came out right after Kevin Costner's? But Herbert's operetta defied this rule. With its stunning settings and playful renditions of popular storybook characters, the play became a classic in its own right. And because Christmas is the toy-giving time of year, the play has become closely associated with the holiday, making it perfect timing when the American Family Theater puts on a performance at War Memorial Auditorium (800 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale) at 10 a.m. Friday. Call 800-523-4540. -- Dan Sweeney