It's time to get out the calendar and mark down some dates. There is a lot looming on the horizon in the world of arts and entertainment -- and a lot that comes with high anticipation. So we asked our Bay Area News Group arts and entertainment writers to pick events they are most looking forward to in the coming 12 months. From Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" and the music of Muse to China's terra-cotta warriors and the return of "Star Trek," here are our 13 top picks for 2013:
Find your Muse
Muse's big, bold update on Queen-style rock has been hit or miss in the studio. Yet the band always seems to impress onstage, following in the mightyfootprints of U2, Radiohead and, yes, Queen by combining high energy with high concept in ways that make the music compelling. Does it matter that its latest album "The 2nd Law" is hardly Muse's finest hour? Not really. We've seen Muse enough times in concert to believe that frontman Matthew Bellamy and his mates will once again shine under the lights. Muse performs Jan. 28 at Oracle Arena in Oakland. Band of Skulls opens the 7 p.m. show. Tickets are $55-$69.50 at www.ticketmaster.com.
-- Jim Harrington
Off to see the wizard
Monkeys, witches and munchkins: Oh, my! Some of author L. Frank Baum's beloved characters hit the iconic Yellow Brick Road once again in director Sam Raimi's "Oz: The Great and Powerful." This Disney prequel of sorts cyclones its way into theaters on March 8 and, based on trailers, it looks like it'll be swirling with eye candy, from the dazzling special effects to its hot cast: James Franco as the magic man behind the curtain and Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis as three witches of varying repute. Let's just hope it turns out to be good; make that, wickedly good.
-- Randy Myers
Return to the final frontier
The reboot of the "Star Trek" franchise in 2009 was so good that expectations are really high for the next "Trek" film, which opens June 4. Happily, director J.J. Abrams returns for "Star Trek Into Darkness" along with the original cast (Chris Pine as the young Kirk, Zachary Quinto as the young Spock) and some writers with real fanboy cred -- Damon Lindelof ("Lost") and Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (the reboot) -- have whipped up the script. The first trailer for the film shows what appears to be a battle royale that destroys much of Starfleet and Starfleet Command in San Francisco, which means, of
-- Charlie McCollum
Another degree of Kevin Bacon
"The Following," a creepy psychological crime thriller starring Kevin Bacon, has piqued my interest on two fronts: As a TV fan, I'm curious to see where the story takes us. As someone who covers television, I want to see if a cablelike show can attract the masses needed for broadcast success. After viewing the pilot, I'm riveted. Bacon is fantastic as a troubled former FBI agent who is called back into action to hunt down a serial killer. But "The Following" is much more dark, intense and gory than your typical broadcast show. Can it become a hit on Fox, a network known for "Glee" and "American Idol"? We'll soon find out when it premieres 9 p.m. Jan. 21.
-- Chuck Barney
The warriors of China
Unless something is added at the last minute, there's no question what the hot ticket will be on the Bay Area museum scene this year. San Francisco's Asian Art Museum has scored a biggie with China's "Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor's Legacy," a show that will feature 120 rare objects from themassive tomb complex of China's first emperor. The centerpiece: 10 of the 8,000 extraordinary life-size terra-cotta figures that fill much of the tomb. (China only allows a maximum of 10 figures to go out of the country for any exhibit.) "China's Terracotta Warriors" will open Feb. 22 and run through May 27. Tickets ($8-$22) are already on sale; www.asianart.org.
-- Charlie McCollum
A look at war
The National Theatre of Scotland's celebrated Iraq War drama "Black Watch," which has gotten raves from London to New York, takes a deeply piercing look at the human cost of war. Gregory Burke wrote the site-specific piece based on exhaustive interviews with members of the 300-year-old Scottish regiment who'd served in Iraq. The unflinching drama, hailed by critics as thrilling and transfixing but also disturbing, will be staged May 8-June 9 in San Francisco's historic Armory building (333 14th St.) by the American Conservatory Theater. The New York Times called it "a necessary reminder of the transporting power that is unique to theater." Tickets are $100, www.act-sf.org.
-- Karen D'Souza
'The Wild Bride' returns
Theatergoers and critics alike fell hard for the "The Wild Bride" in 2011, so it's no surprise that the Berkeley Rep wanted to bring the show back for a well-deserved encore. Directed by Emma Rice, who also helmed Kneehigh Theatre's lovely "Brief Encounter," this is a devilishly moving fairy tale that mashes up Faustian themes, Brothers Grimm monsters and Southern Gothic atmosphere. It's a whimsical tale of wonder and woe shot through with blues, puppetry and dance that is guaranteed to leave you smitten with the pleasures of live performance. The English import returns Jan. 26-Feb. 17 at the Rep, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley. Tickets are $22.50-$89; 510 647—2949, www.berkeleyrep.org.
-- Karen D'Souza
A new home
When the $64 million SFJAZZ Center opens Jan. 21, it could be a game changer for the Bay Area jazz scene. The amphitheater-style performance space -- down the block from the San Francisco Symphony and War Memorial Opera House -- is intimate, with adjustable seating for 350 to 700 concertgoers. No seat is more than 55 feet from the stage, which will be filled with luminaries at the first concert, Jan. 23: emcee Bill Cosby, pianists McCoy Tyner and Chick Corea, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, saxophonist Joshua Redman, bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding and others. That show is sold out, but most of those performers will stick around through Jan. 27, performing each night with the all-star SFJAZZ Collective. Crazy, right? Then, SFJAZZ brings in more top-tier artists (i.e., bassist Dave Holland, fado singer Mariza, percussionist Zakir Hussain, pianist Brad Mehldau), each for four days at a time, often with a different band each night. Tickets: $50-$150 for opening week, then generally in the $25-$70 range; 866-920-5299, www.sfjazz.org.
-- Richard Scheinin
A Dutch treat
One of the world's most famous paintings is paying a visit to the Bay Area. Johannes Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring" is the centerpiece of the new exhibit: "Girl With a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis" which opens Jan. 26 and runs through June 2 at San Francisco's de Young Museum. Drawn from the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in The Hague, this traveling show -- the de Young is one of only two stops for the full exhibit -- includes 35 works from the Dutch Golden Age. Also on display: "The Goldfinch" by Carel Fabritius and four works by Rembrandt van Rijn. The exhibit not only deals with artistic innovation of the 17th century in the Netherlands, but it also places the works in the context of the country's economic and technological achievements. Tickets to "Pearl Earring" are $15-$25 and include general admission to the museum. The de Young is located is located at 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, http://deyoungmuseum.org.
-- Charlie McCollum
In with the new
As Charles Anderson, Company C Contemporary Ballet's artistic director once said, "Our audience expects curveballs." And, boy, does the Walnut Creek dance troupe deliver. This is the company, after all, that built a work around bluegrass versions of Led Zeppelin songs. Company C opens its 11th season this month with three intriguing world premieres, including Brian Reeder's "dinner party gone wrong" piece "Being Served"; Anderson's romance-themed "Beautiful Maladies," set to ballads by jazz legend Chet Baker; and Patrick Corbin's sure-to-be provocative "For Use in Subhuman Primates Only," another look at relationships, set to tracks from the famed U.K. trip-hop act Massive Attack. Performances are Jan. 17-19 at Walnut Creek's Lesher Center for the Arts ($23-$45, 925-943-7469, www.lesherartscenter.org) and Feb. 7-10 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco (415-978-2787, www.ybca.org).
-- Randy McMullen
More car thievery
There are plenty of ambitious games in the pipeline. Irrational Games' "BioShock Infinite" and Naughty Dog's "The Last of Us" are proof of that. But Rockstar North's "Grand Theft Auto V" will likely top both in terms of size and scope. This is the studio's first game since 2008's "Grand Theft Auto IV," and it brings the series back to Los Santos, the franchise's twisted take on Los Angeles. With three protagonists and the Southland as a playground for crimes and misdemeanors, there's plenty of opportunity for skewering and satirizing California life. "Grand Theft Auto V" is scheduled for release in the second quarter of 2013.
-- Gieson Cacho
A worldwide centennial celebration of Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" ("Le Sacre du Printemps") is about to break out. When "The Rite" was given its premiere by Ballets Russes in Paris on May 29, 1913, it caused a near riot. Now San Francisco Ballet presents the world premiere of choreographer-in-residence Yuri Possokhov's interpretation of "The Rite," Feb. 26-March 10 at War Memorial Opera House. ($20-$295; www.sfballet.org). Next, June 19-22, Michael Tilson Thomas leads the San Francisco Symphony in a Stravinsky mini-festival: two programs revolving around "The Rite," while exploring its folk influences and folding other Stravinsky masterpieces into the mix. ($15-$155; www.sfsymphony.org). Later in the spring, the Ojai North! festival, co-presented by Cal Performances at UC Berkeley, June 13-15, is abundant with cutting-edge programs. On opening night, Ojai offers the world premiere of choreographer Mark Morris' new take on "The Rite," danced by the Mark Morris Dance Group to music performed by The Bad Plus, which will play its own arrangement of the Russian masterwork. ($20-$110; www.calperformances.org).
-- Richard Scheinin
Inside a conspiracy
Here's an action novel to savor by the fireplace. In "The Third Bullet" (Jan. 15, Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 496 pages), Stephen Hunter brings back his former Marine sniper/hero Bob Lee Swagger to revisit one of the most tantalizing mysteries of the past half-century: the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Ballistics expert Swagger wants to know why only the third bullet (the fatal shot) exploded and how a killing that has remained controversial for so long could have been planned and executed in just the two and a half days after the motorcade route was announced. Using the established data as his base line, Hunter jumps between 1963 and today to create a terrific thriller that "answers the question 'What if?' in astonishingly plausible detail," according to best-selling author Vince Flynn. Crime novelist Michael Connelly ranks "The Third Bullet" as "Hunter's best so far." That's good enough for me.
-- Bruce Manuel