Every Thursday, WGBH Arts Editor Jared Bowensums up the exhibitions, theater, movies and music you should check out in and around Boston.

A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCESplaying at the Huntington Theatre Company's BU Theatre through Dec. 20

Synopsis: Nick Offerman, best known for his character in "Parks and Recreation," has donned a fat suit and highbrow personality to play Ignatius J. Reilly, the protagonist of John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel set in 1960s New Orleans.

Jared says: "I was very, very struck by how [Nick Offerman] just captures the essence of Ignatius J. Reilly. Where it somewhat falls apart for me, though, is in losing the frenzy, the mania of the novel."

DISNEY’S THE LITTLE MERMAID, presented by Fiddlehead Theatre Company at the Strand Theatre through Dec. 6

Synopsis: Hear Disney classics, as well as new tunes, in the Fiddlehead Theatre Company’s last show at the Strand. Emerson College theater student Jesse Lynn Harte swims into her first professional production as Ariel, who sacrifices her voice to her odious aunt Ursula for a chance to hang out with humans—and fall in love with prince charming.

Jared says: "If you want to see a show just for an actor … here you want to see it for Shana Dirik, who plays Ursula… It’s just one of the best performances I’ve seen all year."

ELF THE BROADWAY MUSICAL, playing at the Wang Theatre through Dec. 6

Synopsis: Just like in the 2003 Will Ferrell movie, Buddy the orphan crawls into Santa’s bag of toys and grows up in the North Pole believing he's an elf, until he's so tall and out of place that Santa must tell him that he's actually human. The news drives Buddy to find his real father in the Big Apple, a place, he discovers, that is short on Christmas spirit.

Jared says: "Sometimes I have a problem with these holiday shows because I feel like they don’t put a lot into the costumes, the sets, the dancing. Here they do… The music isn’t that terrific. The show just moves along. If you like the film, it’s just a nice way to gather with the family."

Have you, like Jared, never seen the Christmas classic "It’s a Wonderful Life"? Well, Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m., WGBH is hosting a special, free screening at the Brattle Theatre, in Harvard Square. Join him and a theater full of first-timers at this festive event. More information at Brattlefilm.org