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    Boston-area to do list

    Handel and Haydn Society Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus.
    Kyle T. Hemingway
    Handel and Haydn Society Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus.


    ’Tis the season Handel wrote his “Messiah” for Easter, but its claim to fame is during Christmas. Artistic director Harry Christophers conducts the Handel and Haydn Society’s Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus in the 159th annual performance of Handel and Haydn Society’s “Messiah”7:30 p.m. (through Dec. 2; caroling throughout hall one hour before). $20-$78. Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston. 617-266-3605.


    Without the Abbott When asked why her show is named “Minus 32 Million Words,” Dorchester-raised comedian Sue Costello said: “I read an article . . . that said that poor kids hear 32 million less words than rich kids and thought, I want to bust through those limitations and tell my story, even if ‘they’ say I don’t have the words. The show is about going for your dreams . . . while remembering where you came from.” 7 and 9 p.m. $18, $20 at the door. Red Room at Café 939, 939 Boylston St., Boston. 617-747-2261.

    Topsy-turvy C.S. Lewis got the idea for “The Screwtape Letters” after he heard Hitler’s 1940 Reichstag speech on BBC Radio. “The work into which I had to project myself while I spoke through Screw­tape was all dust . . . and itch. Every trace of beauty, freshness, and geniality had to be excluded.” This adaptation takes place in hell, where God is called the Enemy. 8 p.m. (Dec. 1 at 4 and 8 p.m.). $39-$89, $25 students. Cutler Majestic Theatre at Emerson College, 219 Tremont St., Boston. 617-824-8000.


    Chirpier by the dozen The Grammy-winning male ensemble Chanticleer gets its name from the “clear-singing” rooster in “Canterbury Tales.” At “A Chanticleer Christmas,” the San Francisco-based musical dozen will perform original interpretations of vocal literature, from Renaissance to jazz. 8 p.m. $35 and up. Jordan Hall,
    30 Gainsborough St., Boston. 617-482-6661.


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    Flea fortune For you “Mad Men” fanatics and vintage-obsessed shoppers, The Davis Flea Holiday Vintage Market caters to your every shopping need. Maybe you’ll find the perfect martini glass or skinny tie to give your honey for the holidays. Dec. 1 from 1-8 p.m. (through Dec. 9). Free admission. Uniun Warehouse, 3 Sanborn Court, Union Square, Somerville.


    A Vienna visit Since 1498, the Vienna Boys Choir has worked with musical heavyweights like Mozart and Salieri. And choir alums include Schubert. The lads, ages 10-14, sing at “Christmas at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross With The Vienna Boys Choir” hosted by Ron Della Chiesa. Dec. 2 at 3 p.m. $34. Cathedral of the Holy Cross, 1400 Washington St., Boston. 617-542-5682.