Music: Just as you can’t escape the Nutcracker at dance concerts at this time of year, you’re not going to be able to get through the season with encountering part of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, an oratorio written originally for a children’s hospital benefit in Dublin for Easter in 1742. It was a great success, and has been a regular feature of concert programs ever since, now chiefly for the “Christmas portion” of the work, which in full lasts close to 2½ hours. It’s already been performed several times hereabouts in the past week or two, and tonight and Sunday, the Masterworks Chorus of the Palm Beaches offers its annual presentation of the piece, with orchestra and soloists including three members of the Mims family, long associated with Palm Beach Atlantic University. Tonight’s performance is at the Benjamin School in Palm Beach Gardens at 7 p.m.; Sunday’s is at 7 p.m. at the Royal Poinciana Chapel in Palm Beach, and that performance is already sold out. But if you’ve got time tonight, visit masterworkspb.org or call 845-9696; tickets are $25.
Film: For something genuinely original, check out Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, the tale of a mute cleaning woman at a Cold War aerospace facility who finds herself attracted to a finned and gilled sea creature being studied in a top secret project aimed at unleashing him on the Russians. But Elisa (delicate Sally Hawkins) finds herself falling in love with the creature. Not since del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth has there been such a film fantasy grounded in the political situation of its period. Del Toro has made a visually stunning movie, with a host of first-rate performances, including the always ominous Michael Shannon, a sinister force standing the way of Elisa’s happiness, as well as Octavia Spencer as her cleaning sidekick, Michael Stuhlbarg as a marine biologist and Doug Jones (no, not the Alabama senator-elect) as the creature. Opening at area theaters this weekend.
Theater: This is the final weekend to catch FAU Theatre Lab’s world premiere of Most Wanted, a Florida-centric comedy by Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s current events quiz show, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me! Doris (Elizabeth Dimon) and Frank (Michael H. Small) are grandparents who feel their daughter is not allowing them to spend enough time with their granddaughter, so they kidnap the infant and head to the bottom of the country – Key West. Along the way, they encounter lots of Sunshine State eccentrics and Sagal imparts some wisdom about parenting. Curiously, the play was written and published two decades ago, but had not been produced until now. So see this terrific take on the material here, but expect it to soon be playing at many a theater around the country. Through Sunday at FAU’s Parliament Hall in Boca Raton. Call 561-297-6124 for tickets.
Art: Now showing at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens are 24 works by the British artist Gordon Cheung called New Order Vanitas, in which Cheung deconstructs the lush still lifes of the Dutch Golden Age: think Francis Bacon meets Jan Davidszoon de Heem. Cheung says his work is a commentary on a globalized world, in which reality fluctuates “between utopia and dystopia.” There’s a lot of that going around lately, and these inkjet prints, on display through Feb. 4, should give us a lot to admire and think about. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; tickets are $15. Call 832-5328 or visit www.ansg.org.