IT WAS the mid-1980s when Joe Camilleri gathered together a group of musician friends and dubbed them The Black Sorrows. Since then, the band has included 40 talented Australian musicians at different times, and has launched the careers of many successful musicians including Vika and Linda Bull and Jen Anderson. The current Black Sorrows line-up sees Joe Creighton on bass, Tony Floyd on drums, Claude Carranza on guitar, Atlanta Coogan on vocals and, of course, Joe Camilleri celebrate Christmas in two shows at Oakleigh's Caravan Music Club.
Friday and Saturday 8pm, Caravan Music Club, 95-97 Drummond Street, Oakleigh, $30-$38, caravanmusic.com.au
LOCAL independent label Mistletone is packing a lot into its Christmas bash; it's also its sixth birthday party and label singer/songwriter Ross McLennan's latest single launch. Performing at the Manatee Matinee Xmas Party alongside the daydream-inspired McLennan will be Wintercoats, who make music with violins, voices and a loop pedal, the Orbweavers Duo and Mistletone DJs.
Sunday 2pm, Northcote Social Club, 301 High Street, Northcote, $20, 1300 724 867, northcotesocialclub.com
THE Melbourne Ballet Orchestra breathes life into wood and brass for A Nutcracker Christmas! Michael Woods conducts the orchestra through a greatest hits of ballet, including Tchaikovsky's suite from festive-themed The Nutcracker, Prokofiev's Dance of the Knights from Romeo and Juliet, and Adagio from Spartacus by Kachaturian.
Saturday 7pm, Melbourne Recital Centre, corner Southbank Boulevard and Sturt Street, Southbank, $20-$41, 9699 3333, melbournerecital.com.au
THE National Theatre of Great Britain's blockbuster stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's novel War Horse is about to open in Melbourne. War Horse tells the epic story of Joey, young Albert Narracott's beloved horse, who is sold to the cavalry at the outbreak of World War I and shipped to France. Unique to the show are the uncannily lifelike horse puppets created by South African Handspring Puppet Company using steel, leather and aircraft cables. Runs until March 3, with previews starting this weekend.
Sunday 3pm, State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, city, $79.90-$129.90, 1300 182 183, artscentremelbourne.com.au
A SLAVE to the stage, Geoffrey Rush heads up a new production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Set in ancient Rome, the farce follows slave Pseudolus (Rush) as he attempts to win back his freedom by helping his master's son woo the girl next door. The award-winning musical, featuring songs by Stephen Sondheim, runs until January 6.
Friday 8pm, Saturday 2pm and 8pm, Sunday 3pm, Her Majesty's Theatre, 219 Exhibition Street, city, $40-$200, 1300 795 012, ticketek.com.au
IRISH comedian Jason Byrne recently told The Guardian that Melbourne is the city where he would most like to live. It seems the warm feelings are returned, as the Irish comedian's fan-base in this city continues to flourish. The Edinburgh Comedy Festival fixture is presenting a Massive Christmas Special, which he promises is "jammed packed with festive fun and bollix, sorry, frolics".
Friday, Saturday and Sunday 7.30pm, Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins Street, city, $59.90, 132 849, ticketek.com.au
EXPLORATIONS 2012 at La Mama is a series of quick-fire, three-night-only seasons of new works, allowing artists to experiment with form and explore new ideas in an expansive development program. Third off the rank is apocalyptic one-hander The Book of Revelations, created and performed by independent theatre maker Alison Richards with music by Faye Bendrups. Ends Saturday.
Friday and Saturday 7.30pm, La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street, Carlton, $15, 9347 6142, lamama.com.au
HOLY SHIP is a musical spectacular promising a smorgasbord of song, dance, circus, racy burlesque and drunken sailors. The tale is of love, loss and hard drinkin', told with the help of a male and female chorus-line who tap-dance and contort themselves through three acts. Also features six original big band numbers.
Saturday 7pm, Red Bennies, 1/373 Chapel Street, South Yarra, $25, 9826 2689, redbennies.com
AM I Good, Friend? is a live theatre experiment using story and improvisation to discover the essential qualities that make a good friend. Inventive and filled with astute observations, the debut solo show by Yve Blake sold out seasons in Adelaide and Sydney, as well as touring to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Concludes Sunday night.
Friday and Saturday 9pm, Sunday 8pm, The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank Street, South Melbourne, $15-$23, thebutterflyclub.com
JERSEY Boys, the rock'n'roll musical charting the highs and lows of '60s group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, ran for an impressive 13 months when last in Melbourne in 2009. The Australian production returns for a 14-week season with a new cast of leading lads Dion Bilios, Declan Egan, Anthony Harkin and Glaston Toft performing hits such as Sherry, Big Girls Don't Cry, Oh What a Night and Can't Take My Eyes Off You.
January 10, Princess Theatre, 163 Spring Street, city, $75-$149, 136 100, ticketmaster.com.au
THE Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne, and fellow band members bassist Geezer Butler and guitarist Tony Iommi, have announced a second Black Sabbath show in Melbourne. The metal icons are recording their first new studio album in more than 33 years. Produced by seven-time Grammy winner Rick Rubin, it’s due for release next year.
April 29, Rod Laver Arena, Olympic Boulevard, Melbourne, $120-$160, 132 849, ticketek.com.au
SWEDISH sisters Johanna and Klara Soderberg, better known as First Aid Kit, perform a headline show at the Forum Theatre in January, after gracing the stage at Falls Festival. The duo’s reverb-soaked harmonies and familiar Americana-inspired melodies have won them fans around the world since their first appearance as fresh-faced teens in a YouTube cover of Fleet Foxes’ Tiger Mountain Peasant Song. Supported by Fraser A. Gorman and Big Harvest.
January 2, The Forum, corner Russell and Flinders streets, city, $59, 136 100, ticketmaster.com.au