There are a few things during the holiday season that are as familiar as decorating a Christmas tree, and UNC School of the Arts’ The Nutcracker is one of them. This annual tradition is one that hits close to home and is a wonderful way to celebrate the season with the whole family. For starters, it’s absolutely incredible to see how athletic the dancers are. I think people forget that sometimes because ballerinas are so elegant and graceful, but they are also muscular and it’s stunning to watch.

UNCSA always does a wonderful job with the production and never holds back on the costumes or set either. I saw the performance last year and was pleased to see their attention to detail. My favorite part was actually two years ago during the revealing, or rather building, of the giant Christmas tree right on stage. It added an extra touch of magic. The production never fails to impress, year after year, and is certainly a magical one not to be missed. It will perform through Sunday at The Stevens Center in Winston-Salem.

New this week is Twin City Stage’s family-filled and family-friendly production, Macy’s Yes, Virginia The Musical, at the Arts Council Theatre.

And speaking of traditions, Triad Stage is up keeping a few as well. Its annual production of A Christmas Carol is running now through Dec. 24 at the Hanesbrands Theatre. The heartwarming, yet ghostly show also runs pretty close to the classic but with a few wonderful re-imaginings by director Preston Lane.

At its Greensboro location, in The Pyrle Theatre, Triad Stage is producing a holiday show with a much different tone—a twang, in fact. Beautiful Star: An Appalachian Nativity is a toe-tapping, funny and heart-warming production that fuses holiday cheer with bluegrass music and country hospitality. It runs now through Dec. 24 as well.

Also continuing its holiday productions are Theatre Alliance with another light-hearted holiday tale, The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical, and Open Space Café Theatre with The Secret Garden, a musical about an 11-year-old orphan and her uncle’s magical garden. !