Things To Do

December 18, 2018
Back when I was an actual staff writer/editor for newspapers, not a freelance writer as I am now, the year-end holidays were kind of difficult.

Arts & entertainment sections — my preferred places in the journalism world — often had plenty of space to fill, but most of what was actually going on in the arts world had already been written about!

John Orr

The actors, singers, dancers, directors and so forth had already been interviewed, and their shows were either continuing with nothing new starting, or had already faded off the stage.

But now, in Regarding Arts, I have a lot more freedom to do whatever the heck I want to do! Sweet!

What I want to do this year is start a column, in a regular space in RegardingArts.com. Sometimes the column will be, like this one, a listing of stuff you can do to be entertained. Plays, shows, ballets, whatever. With, perhaps, commentary.

Sometimes the column may be some kind of rant, or other passing of oxygen from my lungs to your brains.

We’ll just have to see, won’t we?

If you want to comment, or alert me to something to which you’d like me to bring attention, email me at johnorr@regardingarts.com.

So. Shows you might want to see:

“Tuck Everlasting” is continuing at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto, through December 30, 2018. The show is TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s big gift (though not free) to its audience, something meant to be enjoyed by all ages. Lily Janiak at The Chronicle said, “The musical makes the simple act of going through life — aging, losing older family members and gaining younger ones, accepting your own end of life — seem as enchanting, as charmed as anything the fountain of youth might offer.” Janiak gave the show the best Little Man, the one leaping out of his chair. Read her review here: https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/theater/theatreworks-tuck-everlasting-makes-regular-life-seem-magical.

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“The SantaLand Diaries,” TheatreWorks other holiday show, the one for adults only (or at least, very sophisticated teens) only has a few days left to run. It closes on Sunday, December 23, 2018. It’s at the Lohman Theatre on the Foothill College campus in Los Altos Hills. I saw this show last year, and am so happy Max Tachis is back as Crumpet the department-store elf in this hilarious David Sedaris comedy. Jeffrey Lo, the hardest-working man in theater business, again directs. You can read Tony Lacy-Thompson’s review of last year’s show at http://regardingarts.com/theater/tw_santaland.html.
“The Christmas Ballet” is at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts through Christmas Eve. This delightful show began with Smuin founder Michael Smuin (who died in 2007), and still includes some of his choreography, including the gorgeous, sexy, “Santa Baby.” Plus new choreography as this company continues to do fine work. “The oscillations in mood and style keep the audience on its toes, and it is this element of surprise that Smuin nails in ‘The Christmas Ballet,’” said Vanessa Ochavillo in her review: http://regardingarts.com/theater/smuinchristmas18.html.
“Hip Hop Nutcracker” is brought in by Peninsula Ballet Theatre to the Fox Theatre in Redwood City, December 21 and 22, and December 28 and 29, 2018. I’ve never seen it, but it sounds intriguing: music by Tchaikovsky, plus beats and moves by modern hip hop folks. Advertising material says the show always sells out, but the Fox has a lot of seats, so check it out at https://www.peninsulaballet.org/hiphop-nutcracker.
“Alcoholidaze Another Round” at The Stage in San Jose is where I’d be on Friday and Saturday nights (December 21 and 22, 2018) if I could afford it. (Hey! Christmas time means I use my money to buy gifts for others, not for me!) Tickets are $38-$50, and for that you get to see five fabulous musical theater performers entertain you, up close and personal. No fourth wall! And, for a bit extra, they will mix drinks for you on stage and bring them to you in the audience. It’s a fundraiser for The Stage, which does great stuff. Performers are Keith Pinto, Alison Ewing, Allison F. Rich, Courtney Hatcher and Will Springhorn Jr. Read my story about it at http://regardingarts.com/theater/sjs_18cabaret.html.
“A Christmas Carol” at ACT in San Francisco only got a sitting up straight little man from Lily Janiak at the Chronicle, but that’s still pretty good. And, the great James Carpenter stars as Ebenezer Scrooge! The show runs through Christmas Eve at the Geary. Read Janiak’s review at https://www.sfchronicle.com/performance/article/ACT-s-Carol-has-big-payoff-but-for-not-10801288.php





Dean, Pallozzi
Chris Hardy / Smuin
Terez Dean, left, and Mattia Pallozzi celebrate the season in "Winter Weather," part of Smuin’s The Christmas Ballet touring the Bay Area through December 24, 2018.
"The Christmas Ballet" is always a fun, sexy treat filled with excellent dancing and good humor. Vanessa Ochavillo reviews this year's edition.

The Stage
The Stage
Promo for "Alcoholidaze Another Round"
"Alcoholidaze" is drinking for a good cause -- raising money for The Stage in San Jose. Plus, it's a good party, with very talented people singing clever songs to entertain you! John Orr spoke with Allison F. Rich about the event.

Tandy Beal & Company
Wasnak, Raz
Cliff Warner photo
Diane Wasnak (Pino) and Jeff Raz (Razz) with the cast in Tandy Beal & Company's holiday show "JOY!," featuring circus, live music, and stunning visuals. "JOY!" will play November 23-December 2 in Santa Cruz and December 7-9, 2018, in San Jose.
"JOY!" is the delightful show from Tandy Beal that combines dance, music and circus in magical ways. Vanessa Ochavillo reviews.

Randy O'Hara
Hildebrandt, Sammon, O'Hara, Reber
Mark and Tracy Photography / Hillbarn Theatre
Sammi Hildebrandt, Brenna Sammon, Randy O’Hara, and Christopher Reber, from left, in Hillbarn Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol,” which runs November 29–December 16, 2018.
Randy O'Hara often is called on to wear a ton of costuming and makeup. In "A Christmas Carol" at Hillbarn Theatre, he also gets to play a handsome young man as well. He spoke with John Orr.

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley
Rudd, Sullivan, Gambardella
Kevin Berne / TheatreWorks
Michael Gene Sullivan as The Man in the Yellow Suit, center, rejoices at discovering the secret to the Tuck family's eternal youth, with carnival workers Marissa Rudd,left, and Giana Gambardella in “Tuck Everlasting,” presented by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto, November 28 – December 30, 2018.
"Tuck Everlasting" is delighting audiences at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto with its magical tale of living forever and the meaning of familial love. Tony Lacy-Thompson reviews.

The Stage
Amador, Callender, McCormick
Dave Lepori / The Stage
Juan Amador, L. Peter Callender, and Rondrell McCormick, from left, in "Between Riverside and Crazy." The Stephen Adly Guirgis play runs at The Stage November 21 to December 16, 2018.
"Between Riverside and Crazy" is a rich and rewarding play built with multiple levels and stunning ironies. It's getting an excellent production in San Jose, with a deeply impressive performance by L. Peter Callender. John Orr reviews.

City Lights
Marquis, Torre, Ryan
Taylor Sanders / City Lights
Mary Lou Torre as Ruthie, center, referees a fight between Maria Giere Marquis as Maddie, left, and Jeremy Ryan as Richard. "Making God Laugh" is at City Lights, November 15-December 23, 2018.
"Making God Laugh" is getting some laughs and some sober reflection, thanks to an excellent cast delivering the Sean Grennan play. John Orr reviews.

Broadway By The Bay
Raquel Nicole Jetè
Mark Kitoaka / Broadway By The Bay
Raquel Nicole Jetè in the title role of “Aida” in Broadway By The Bay’s production, playing November 2-18, 2018, at the Fox Theatre in Redwood City.
"Aida" is getting a beautiful, charming, for-the-whole-family production in Redwood City. Tony Lacy-Thompson reviews.

Palo Alto Players
Gough, Monagle
Joyce Goldschmid / Palo Alto Players
Tom Gough as Sen. Hubert Humphrey, left, and Michael Monagle as Lyndon B. Johnson in Palo Alto Players' "All The Way," running Nov. 2-18, 2018, at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto.
"All The Way," Robert Schenkkan's Tony winning play, is getting an excellent production in Palo Alto, with a powerful cast, including Michael Monagle as LBJ. Tony Lacy-Thompson reviews.


For ears and eyes

Judy Garland was an amazing talent, unmatched in many ways. Want the proof? Lend eyes and ears to her singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in a poor quality recording from the ancient days of TV. Fabulous.
Some guys singing "Bad Romance." It's so much fun.
Molly Bell is amazing. We have a profile of her here in Regarding Arts, but here's a favorite video of her performing in Divas for Life.
Lake Street Dive is a band formed by Rachael Price, who is a wonderful vocalist. I love this tune, which I heard on A Prairie Home Companion. Then I found this video.
"Laundry Room." Another from The Avett Brothers. Here is another tune that delves deep into emotion and yearning.
"While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Fabulous band performs in 2004 to honor George Harrison upon his posthumous induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Jeff Lynne, Steve Ferrone, Dhani Harrison and Prince. Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers does the early solo stuff. Prince shows up and takes over.
Tim O'Brien: "Hey, Joe," at Celtic Connections 2009, Glasgow Scotland.
Trucks & Tedeschi Band: "Midnight in Harlem," at the 2010 Guitar Festival.
Asylum Street Spankers: "Monkey Rag," and "If You Want Me to Love You."
OK Go: "This Too Shall Pass." Incredible Rube Goldberg machine video.
Willie Dixon: "I'm Nervous." Funny and charming video of the great songwriter, singer and bassist.
John Lee Sanders: Fabulous musician. Give a listen to "Midnight in New Orleans".
"Let's Go Get Stoned" is the first thing the friend of a friend said when he got off the plane from Vietnam in 1967 or so. It's also the title of this fab song by Ray Charles.