Eileen Ivers fronts the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall Thursday Maybe Irish fiddler Eileen Ivers had no choice but to cross over into other musical genres. Born to immigrant parents, she grew up in New York's diverse Bronx. And as a teen, winning medal after medal performing in traditional style at Irish music competitions, she was surrounded by the sounds of the Bronx - from rock 'n' roll to African rhythms to bluegrass. So she was a natural for the multicultural limelight that fell on her when she joined Riverdance in 1995. The show made her a star, and she's continued crossing musical boundaries since then with her band Immigrant Soul, which mixes African and Latin rhythms with traditional Irish tunes and the soulful songs of Tommy "Pipes" McDonnell. She occasionally books crossover gigs with symphony orchestras - not small ones either, but the likes of the Boston Pops and the Pittsburgh Symphony. This week she comes to Severance Hall to perform with the Cleveland Orchestra, directed by the orchestra's 25-year-old assistant conductor, Tito Mu–oz. The program, An Nollaig: An Irish Christmas, named for a recent Ivers album, tells a story through music and dance, with songs and airs from the 12th century to the present. 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Severance Hall, 11001 Euclid Ave. Tickets: $26-$48.Call 216.231.1111 or go to clevelandorchestra.com.
Janice is a 12-year-old girl whose father died a year ago. Her mother fantasizes about Harrison Ford and maintains sanity by losing herself in her baking. Janice, meanwhile, dreams of Justin Timberlake, holds spiteful conversations with dolls and compiles a Christmas wish list that includes bleach and paraffin - stuff to make bombs. Cleveland Public Theatre tells this story in Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake), a play by Sheila Callaghan closing this week in the CPT Bookstore Theatre (6415 Detroit Ave.). All these very plausible if dark details are complicated by a bit of surreality when Ford and Timberlake actually show up, and when the apartment shows that it has a mind of its own. This is not a Christmas show for the kids. Performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tickets: $10-$20. Call 216.631.2727 or go to cptonline.org.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
A growing cult with strong convictions awaits the coming of the Energizer Bunny of holiday theater to the Great Lakes Theater Festival. Its annual production of A Christmas Carol is a holiday tradition that just keeps going and going and going. If you haven't seen it yet, it's not too late: Performances of Ebenezer Scrooge's redemption by ghosts in triplicate continue through Tuesday - not in the company's Hanna Theatre new digs, but at PlayhouseSquare's Ohio Theatre. Ticket: $26-$57. Call 216.241.6000 or go to playhousesquare.org.
The emphasis is on theater and storytelling in Ohio Dance Theatre's production of The Nutcracker. The company has always integrated actors and strong storytelling into its productions, which serves its holiday staple well. Costumes and lighting are also typically terrific. Performances this year are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Lorain County Community College Stocker Center, 1005ÊN. Abbe Rd., Elyria. Tickets: $16 -$26. Call 440.366.4040 or 800.995.5222 ext. 4040.
Rural Ohio can be neither blamed for nor credited with the overdrive schmaltz that is Christmas with the Mannheim Steamroller, even though the group's founder, Louis "Chip" Davis, Jr., was born in Sylvania, outside of Toledo. It's also true that he's responsible for that 1975 CB radio-era story song "Convoy," credited to C.W. McCall. The song grew out of a series of jingles written for an Omaha bakery while Davis was writing music for a Nebraska ad agency. Indeed, he could just as easily have followed that path as become a minor music industry unto himself. He's also applied his marketing savvy to a line of bath and body products. New-age music, though, has been the big thing for Davis, his band Mannheim Steamroller and his record label American Gramaphone, and that's what you'll hear when you come to PlayhouseSquare's Palace Theatre at 7:30 tonight or 2:30 p.m. tomorrow for the Christmas Music of Mannheim Steamroller. Tickets: $10-$85. Call 216.241.6000 or go to playhousesquare.com.