Arts & Events

Don't Miss This: Seasonal Treats

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Monday December 13, 2010 - 06:47:00 PM

"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose." You're probably far too busy wrapping packages, addressing cards and baking fruit cakes, to be roasting chestnuts. And you may well be looking around for festive events to celebrate Christmas and New Year's. So, herewith are holidays activities that may strike your fancy without hitting your budget. 

First of all, what would the holiday season be without the ever-popular "Nutcracker Ballet", now receiving two excellent performances? One very handsome production is that of the S.F. Ballet at the War Memorial Opera House, Dec. 12-27. For reservations, call (510) 865-2000. And the Oakland Ballet Company, with members of the Oakland East Bay Symphony, conducted by Michael Morgan, is presenting its own "Nutcracker" at the Paramount Theatre, Dec. 23-26. (800) 745-3000. 

The Smuin Ballet will perform their Christmas Ballet at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts through Dec. 19. (415) 978-2787. 

Christmas Revels, celebrating its 25th Anniversary, performs music and stories of Ireland and the British Isles, Dec. l7-l9, Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. Oakland Scottish Rite Center, 1547 Lakeside Drive. (510) 452-8800. 

The highly regarded Chanticleer, an all-male chorus touring the Bay Area with its new program, "A Chanticleer Christmas" will sing at the First Congregational Church in Berkeley Dec. 17th at 8 p.m. $30-52. (800) 407-1400. And "Christmas at Grace Cathedral", features the Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys performing Dec. 18 and 19 at 3 p.m.; Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15-50. (415) 392-4400. 

Closer to home, Annalee Allen, a writer for the Oakland Tribune recently provided a colorful history of several historic house museums here in the East Bay, several of them offering traditional teas. One is the Pardee Home Museum, 672 11th Street, Oakland, now decked out for the holidays and offering a Light Dessert Tea at $15 per person, High Tea $25.00. For reservations, call (510) 444-2187. As 2011 begins, a Victorian New Year's Tea will be featured at the landmark Cohen-Bray House, 1440 29th Avenue, January 2, with three sittings -- 12:30, 2:00 and 3:30. (510) 524-5780. 

Theatre lovers aren't forgotten, as there are three plays receiving excellent reviews: Admirers of the famous California architect, Julia Morgan will be happy to hear of a new play, "Becoming Julia Morgan," by playwright Belinda Taylor, directed by Barbara Oliver, offered at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Avenue (one of Julia's finest buildings) at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday, through January 9th. One of the East Bay's finest theatre groups, the Shotgun Players, performs a very ambitious play, "Of the Earth: The Salt Plays, Part 2, John Tracy's Homeric epic, "Odysseus" at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Avenue, through January 20. (510-841-8500. For a very different Cinderella story, the African-American Shakespeare Company presents a black "Cinderella", starring Khamara Pettuss and Matt Jones, Dec. 19th at the Buriel Clay Theatre, in the African-American Arts and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton Street, S. F. (800) 838-3006. 

A program at the San Francisco Zoo will delight children (and their parents), with its "Winter Goes Wild." program Dec. 18 and 19. You're asked to bring an unwrapped toy of about $5.00 value, for the S.F. Firefighters' Toy Program. 

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair will be held at the Exhibition Hall at Cow Palace Dec. 19th, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Come and meet "Old Father Christmas". 

Not forgetting sports lovers, Dollar Day NFL Football is held every Sunday at Golden Gate Fields, $1.00 general admission. (510) 559-7300. 

A musical that's receiving great reviews is "Shrek", playing at the Orpheum Theatre in S.F., Dec. 14, 15 and 16 at 8.p.m. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to Children's Hospital Research Center. 

Last, but certainly not least, if you're running out of ideas for gifts, do take in the Berkeley Artisans Holiday 20th year Open Studios -- 37 galleries with original, finely crafted items. Likewise, you're sure to find gifts of imagination and great variety at the Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 18 and 19, Thursday and Friday, Dec. 23 and 24th. 11:00 - 6:00. More than 200 artists, and bargain prices!