Arts Listings

A Guide to Bay Area Holiday Events

By Ken Bullock
Friday December 21, 2007

As Advent draws to a close, the holiday events in the Bay Area roll on, unabated, with something nearly every day for the believer, the enthusiast, the festive, the funseeker—as well as the Grinch and the Scrooge. 

Speaking of Scrooge, stage productions of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (and a comic spinoff) are still playing: at Oakland School for the Arts through Saturday; ACT’s adaptation by Carey Perloff running through Sunday; and Sonoma County Rep, up in Sebastopol, doing Jonathan Moscone’s version. 

At the S.F. Playhouse off Union Square, loopy and cynical Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge, directed by Joy Carlin, starring Joan Mankin, adds a little salutary bile to heart-warmth as Christopher Durang’s play hauls up Dickens’ creatures into the New World Order. 

The Nutcracker is very much alive and well since Oakland Ballet was reborn as Oakland Ballet Company under the continued guidance of Ronn Guidi. His version, the oldest in the area, runs at the  

glorious Paramount through a Christmas Eve matinee.  

S.F. Ballet’s four-year-old Helgi Tomas-son version goes on at the Opera House through Dec. 30. Alameda Civic Ballet performs in the island’s Kofman Audi- 

torium through Sunday at 2 p.m.  

Ballet San Jose, with Dennis Nahat’s choreography, is on at the San Jose Center. S.F.’s Smuin Ballet presents the late dancemaster’s Christmas Ballet pieces at Yerba Buena Center. 

And Mark Morris’ popular riff on Tchaikovsky-E. T. A. Hofmann classic, The Hard Nut, is at Zellerbach. 

Other stage shows include that chestnut Miracle on 34th St. at the Lafayette Town Hall Theatre through the 29th, as well as those with an unusual spin on tradition: Theatreworks in Palo Alto has reset Twelfth Night in Haight-Ashbury in the Summer of Love, with Ron Campbell’s expert clowning; Dan Hiatt has a tour-de-force solo show of Frank Capra’s beloved movie with Jimmy Stewart, This Wonderful Life, for the stage; Faye Carol is featured in Lorraine Hansberry Theatre’s annual gospel musical Black Nativity in downtown San Francisco, and a new interpretation of the Xmas pantomime Cinderella is offered by the African-American Shakespeare Co. at the Zeum in the Moscone Center—the last two running into Kwaanza, through Dec. 30.  

Holiday circus and sideshow treats for the whole family include Cirque de Soleil’s Kooza at San Francisco’s AT&T Park; Habitat at Dance Mission Theater—and at The Marsh, also in San Francisco’s Mission district, Magic Holiday, two magicians and a juggler—all running past Christmas. 

Also at The Marsh, an alternative holiday show for families: Siddhartha, The Bright Path, Marsh Youth Theater’s tale of the young Buddha, with music and dance. Not particularly holiday-themed, but another family treat: Really Rosie, Maurice Sendak’s charming kids’ musical “play-within-a-play” at San Francisco’s New Conservatory. 

For more alternative stage shows: David Sedaris’ monologues The Santaland Diaries & Christmas Greetings are ongoing at San Francisco’s Eureka Theatre; Impact has their special and loopy Money and Run white trash-meets-mafia-meets-mad scientist manger scene at La Val’s, Berkeley, through Saturday; and there are those two contemporarily nascent traditions: Nuncrackers, the Nunsense Xmas musical, at Willows Cabaret in Martinez, and A Tuna Christmas, set in the third smallest Texas town, at San Jose Stage. 

Musical events feature extravaganzas like Jeffrey Thomas conducting the American Bach Soloists in Handel’s Messiah—and Constantine Kitsopolous leading the San Francisco Symphony with The Wizard of Oz on the silver screen at Davies, tonight and Sat. Also tonight, the Women’s Antique Vocal Ensemble sings Byrd, Buxtehude, Biebl and others in the Lake Merritt Methodist Church at 8 p.m. The Golden Bough acoustic trio presents A Celtic Christmas at 8 p.m. in San Francisco’s Old First (Presbyterian) Church. Cafe Du Nord on Market has A Bluegrass Christamas.  

Anna’s JazzIsland in Berkeley has Holiday Caroling with Terrance Kelly and Ellen Hoffman. For a different message musicale to a different crowd, House of Voodoo presents the Saints of Ruin and DJs downstairs at Club Hide on SF’s Folsom St. for Deathmas Ball. For “neo-burlesque” humor, song and dance, there’s the Hubba Hubba Revue Holiday Spectacular, also on Folsom at the DNA Lounge from 9 p.m. Ongoing is the Christmas Crap-Array with the Lesbian/Gay Chorus at San Francisco’s Exit in the Tenderloin, as is one of the last Plush Room shows: drag star Jackie Beal in her annual Give ‘Til It Hurts. 

Saturday is Fiesta Navidad, celebrating La Posada, 8 p.m. at San Francisco’s Davies Hall, with Navidad “Navi” Cano and his Mariachi Los Camperos (who backed up Linda Ronstadt on her Grammy-winning “Canciones de Mi Padre”).  

At Oakland’s Chapel of the Chimes, “From the Darkness, Solace,” a solistice celebration on three candlelit stages. Soulmaster Nicholas Bearde sings jazz, blues and holiday music at Anna’s Jazz Island, while Freight and Salvage holds their Holiday Revue, and Ashkenaz goes Caribbean with Soca king Winston Soso and steel drummers. Also, Oakland’s hip-hop duo do their Blackalicious Holiday Affair at the Fillmore. A Very Merry Disco Christmas is at the Castro Theatre from 7:30 p.m. 

Meanwhile, “carolers” with boomboxes who meet in SF’s Dolores Park at 7 p.m. will be given tapes of Phil Kline’s “shimmering, symphonic ambient score of bells and chimes” to snake through the Mission with (last year saw over 1,000 revelers) in Unsilent Night. And the Kinsey Sicks collide comedy, a cappella and drag at San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre in “Oy Vey In A Manger.”  

Sunday has the Trumpet Supergroup Holiday Concert at Berkeley’s Jazzschool, A Chanticleer Christmas at San Francisco’s St. Ignatius Church and the SF Girls Chorus “Silver Bells, Golden Voices” at Davies—as well as the Classical Christmas Special 2007 at Herbst with ballet, opera, youth musicians, gymnastics ... and former Mayor Willie Brown.  

At Annie’s Social Club on Folsom: Nightmare Before X-Mas, with a karaoke contest hosted by Ghoulina and Brett. 

Down to the wire: Xmas Eve features two great gospel shows: LindaTillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir (including Nicholas Bearde, among other local luminaries) at Yoshi’s-Oakland, and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Ensemble at Slim’s in San Francisco. At the Castro Theatre: the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus with the Lesbian/Gay Chorus, “Home for the Holidays.” At the DNA “A Chaos Christmas Carol” with Chicken John and Friends. A Cuban Christmas Eve at SF’s Biscuits & Blues. SF’s Argus Lounge advertises “Lonely X-Mas w/Visa V; Open Until We Close.” 

On Xmas Day itself: A Yiddish Folk Fest at Berkeley’s Congregation Netivot Shalom with the KlezCalifornia Allstar Band. The Fabulous Bud E. Love’s Holiday Trio Lounge Show at SF’s Red Devil. A free family day at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, with storytellers, singers and dancers.  

Oakland’s Stork Club , after their Sat. Xmas Party, announces a chance for some holiday sharing: “Club Closed for Remodeling: Come Help Paint!” And ongoing at the New Asia Restaurant in San Francisco Chinatown: “Kung Pao Kosher Comedy,” with Esther Paik Goodhart, “the Asian Tammy Faye Bakker,” Palestinean-American comedian Dean Obeidallah—and stand-up legend Shelley Berman.