Holiday happenings: D.C. area full of seasonal cheer

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Entertainment,Robert Fulton

Wytold Lebing felt the holiday classic "Carol of the Bells" would be an ideal song for him to cover, so the Takoma Park-based cellist recorded and looped multiple cello layers to create deep, complex and melodic renditions of that song and more for his new holiday EP, "Do You Hear What I Hear."

"There's something magical about creating that song layer by layer," Lebing said. "It unfolds in front of you and instantly draws you into the holiday experience and the holiday feeling."

Originally from Woodbridge, Lebing performs frequently in the area, utilizing a live looping technique to replicate his recorded work. He has one full-length album available, and a second, "My Regards," is due out early next year, after the current holiday EP.

"I wanted to do something different with holiday music that wasn't easy-listening holiday music," Lebing said. "More like something to think about and a different perspective on familiar tunes."

For more info, visit wytold.com.

Holiday film

There are at least four places to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" in the area: E Street Cinema (Dec. 14 and 15; landmarktheatres.com), AFI Silver Theatre (Dec. 14, 15 and 20 to 24; afi.com/silver), Arlington Cinema N Drafthouse (Dec. 21 and 23; arlingtondrafthouse.com) and Artisphere in Rosslyn (Dec. 22; artisphere.com). But there's more to watch than the Jimmy Stewart classic. AFI features its annual Holiday Classics series all month, the Drafthouse presents its Christmas Movie Festival on Dec. 16, and the National Theatre (nationaltheatre.org) offers its free Holiday Cinema Night on Mondays.

Said Lebing: "My favorite holiday film has to be 'A Charlie Brown Christmas.' I think the music has always struck and resonated with me."

Onstage

"The Nutcraker" can be found at the Warner Theatre (warnertheatredc.com) through Dec. 23 and the Kennedy Center (kennedy-center.org) through Dec. 9. The Kennedy Center also presents a stage production of "White Christmas" Dec. 11 to Jan. 6. Ford's Theatre (fordstheatre.org) offers its annual production of "A Christmas Carol" through Dec. 30; and Signature Theatre (signature-theatre.org) in Shirlington has "The Holiday Follies" Dec. 18 to 23.

"I really like 'The Nutcracker,' " Lebing said. "I know some people get sick of it, but I love it."

Live music

From the traditional to the contemporary, the holidays aren't complete without music. The Kennedy Center presents "Happy Holidays" Dec. 13 to 16 and Handel's "Messiah" Dec. 20 to 23; and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra offers "The Lost Christmas Eve" at the Verizon Center (verizoncenter.com) on Dec. 12. For those who don't want to hear another sappy "Silent Night" or cheesy "White Christmas," don't fear. The Jingle Ball at the Patriot Center (patriotcenter.com) on Dec. 11 features Justin Bieber, Ke$ha and many others; Todd Wright's 10th Annual Santa Clauster f@%! Christmas Spectacular once again takes up shop at Jammin' Java (jamminjava.com) on Dec. 22 and 23; and Godfather of Soul James Brown, who died on Christmas in 2006, gets his due with the Fourth Annual James Brown Death-Mas at the Black Cat (blackcatdc.com) on Dec. 25. Lebing plays Tuesdays at Tryst in Adams Morgan and is performing Dec. 19 on the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage.

Also not to miss:

Rob Tannenbaum and David Fagin return with their hilarious "Good For the Jews: Putting the Ha! in Hanukkah" at Jammin' Java on Dec. 24.

The annual Ice! attraction at National Harbor (nationalharbor.com) features 2 million pounds of its namesake substance as Shrek and his friends celebrate the holidays.

The popular ZooLights transformation brings a twinkle to the National Zoo (nationalzoo.si.edu).

The National Christmas Tree Lighting (thenationaltree.org) is Thursday, and the Lighting Ceremony of the National Chanukah Menorah (afldc.org/ellipse) is Sunday.

Lebing: "If I can't make it out to the actual national tree lighting, I love at least going to see the different trees from each state and maybe some performances that are going on in the little square there."

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Robert Fulton

Examiner Correspondent
The Washington Examiner