Everyone hold on to your seats! Now that Thanksgiving is out of the way, we race headlong into a plethora of holiday shows that will leave even the staunchest theater lover breathless.
Town Hall Theatre starts things off as it brings the warmth of Philip Van Doren Stern's holiday gem, "It's a Wonderful Life" to Lafayette from Nov. 29-Dec. 16.
Based on Frank Capra's classic film, the stage version will surely bring a tear to your eye as Clarence, that hardworking guardian angel, tries to convince George just how meaningful his life has been. Call 925-283-1557 or go to www.townhalltheatre.com for tickets.
Onstage Theatre continues the holiday spirit with its funny, slightly irreverent tale of a Christmas program gone awry in Faro, Texas, as the Futrelle sisters bring their own brand of festive cheer to local audiences.
"Christmas Belles" runs Dec. 1-8, at Cue Productions Live, 1835 Colfax St., Concord. The show features Siobhan O'Brien, June McCue, Wayne McRice, Mark Barry, Ryan Terry and a host of other local favorites. Call 925-518-3277 for reservations.
And what would the holidays be like without Center Repertory Company's annual presentation of "A Christmas Carol"?
Luckily, we don't have to contemplate such a disaster thanks to Scott Denison once again directing the beloved story of Tiny Tim and everyone's favorite curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge.
It's amazing how the show gets better and better each year with even more extravagant costumes and special effects. While many favorite actors return to reprise their roles, this year's production introduces a new Scrooge, Mark Anderson Phillips.
"It's not the crotchety mean guy who is hard to portray," Denison says, "It's the reborn man. It's so important to the storytelling. Mark will bring honesty and sincerity. I think he's going to excel at it: he's a workhorse and a brilliant actor."
Performing at the Lesher Center for the Arts, "A Christmas Carol" runs Dec. 6-16. Call 925-943-SHOW (925-943-7469) or go to www.lesherartscenter.org.
Another holiday tradition, especially for the younger audience member, is Fantasy Forum's "The Biggest Gift." The heartwarming story of Tucker the elf and his toy friends as they set out to save Christmas runs Dec. 13—16, at the Lesher Center.
The cast includes Kerri Shawn, Joel Roster and Jessica Fisher. For tickets, call 925-943-SHOW (925-943-7469) or go to www.lesherartscenter.org.
Discover the radio play adaptation of "It's a Wonderful Life" at Walnut Creek's Diablo Actors' Ensemble Dec. 14-16. Directed by Nancy Sale, the 1940s live radio broadcast features five actors performing the dozens of characters as well as the sound effects. Call 866-811-4111 or go to www.diabloactors.com.
The memory of local dance icon Lareen Fender lives on at her ballet school in Walnut Creek, now operated by her granddaughter, Jennifer Denison Perry, and in the annual production of "Once Upon a Christmas."
The colorfully narrated holiday ballet features Santa, his elves and all the toys in the workshop as they create a world where dreams can and do come true. Performed by The Ballet Joyeaux, the performing company of the school, the show performs Dec. 21-22, at the Lesher Center. Call 925-943-SHOW (925-943-7469) or go to www.lesherartscenter.org.
"Phantom of the Opera" star Franc D'Ambrosio will present his "Christmas in New York" for one night only, Dec. 21, at Moraga's New Rheem Theatre to benefit Children's Hospital and Research Center in Oakland.
Sponsored by Lafayette's Peter Pan Foundation, the gala fundraiser marks the group's fifth anniversary. Founded by Lafayette teacher/singer Leslie Noel, the Peter Pan Foundation supports Children's Hospital and other local children's charities while also building self-confidence in children through performance.
"I am so excited and honored to have such an incredible performer, hero and friend giving us his voice and his heart for the evening," Noel says.
Noel and 90 young members of the Peter Pan Foundation will join D'Ambrosio on stage. The fundraiser also includes a silent and live auction, a raffle drawing and appetizers and desserts in addition to the concert. Call 925-388-0751 for tickets.
In case you still desire more holiday entertainment, a short trip through the Caldecott Tunnel will take you to the 27th annual "Christmas Revels."
Running Dec. 7-16 at Oakland's Scottish Rite Theatre, this year's revels are set in 16th-century Italy and feature music from England, the Holy Roman Empire and the Middle East. The story follows pilgrims from all over Europe who have come to prepare for a great feast in the small village of Prosecco on the Adriatic Sea.
Led by the local Guild of Fools, what could possibly go wrong? According to director David Parr, anything and everything that provides laughter and good cheer for the audience. Call 510-452-8800 or go to www.californiarevels.org.
Contact Sally Hogarty at firstname.lastname@example.org.