The week between Christmas and New Year's is traditionally the busiest time of the year for the theater, so if you're planning on being in New York and don't already have tickets, you may have to scramble. There is always a multitude of events for the family during the holidays, and this year is no exception.

That old standby, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, is playing through Jan. 7. Its chief competitor, the new production of "A Christmas Carol" with music by Alan Menken, is back for its second year at the Paramount, with the addition of some ringers in the cast: Terrence Mann as Scrooge and Ben Vereen as the Ghost of Christmas Present.

Children will also love the Big Apple Circus, in town for its annual holiday engagement at Damrosch Park in Lincoln Center. This year's edition is called "Jazzmatazz," and uses the music and decor of the jazz age as a backdrop for a series of entertaining circus acts, presented in an intimate one-ring tent.

Clowns extraordinaire Bill Irwin and David Shiner are back for a return engagement on Broadway (through Jan. 7) of their hilarious evening of physical comedy, "Fool Moon." The kids will love this duo's plentiful interaction with the audience and might even be called onstage for some of the action. The Red Clay Ramblers provide musical diversion.

If you have Trekkies in the family (or Trekkers, as they prefer to be called), they will no doubt be clamoring for tickets to see Patrick Stewart, Capt. Jean-Luc Picard himself, starring in the Broadway production of "The Tempest." Stewart is captivating in the role of Prospero, and the kids will get a healthy dose of Shakespeare in the bargain.

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