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Holiday Season is Busy Time on Local Stages

Photo by Kyle Dahl, 2016.
Kaori Higashiyama of the Sacramento Ballet in Ron Cunningham's "The Nutcracker."

The holiday season means one thing above most others for Sacramentans: “The Nutcracker” performed by the Sacramento Ballet.

Ron Cunningham’s version of the ballet has become a staple of Christmas-time entertainment during its three decades of performances. This will be the last year the ballet will be presented under the artistic direction of Cunningham and wife Carinne Binda, who will be replaced as creative heads of the dance company at the end of this season.

“The Nutcracker” tells the story of a little girl whose Christmas gift of a nutcracker doll comes to life and escorts her on a magical journey through exotic lands. Beautiful sets and costumes, a tree that “grows” on stage and snow that falls upon the dancers are hallmarks of this family favorite.

There will be four opportunities to get a special behind the scenes glimpse of “The Nutcracker.” Those who arrive at the Community Center Theater by 12:30 p.m. (for the 2 p.m. performance) on Dec. 9, by 11:45 am. (for the 1 p.m. show) on Dec. 10 and 17, or 5:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. program on Dec. 15 will get to watch the end of a company class on stage, see the stagehands begin preparations for the production and talk to the artistic directors, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier about what makes the ballet so special.

There will be 12 performances of “The Nutcracker” between Dec. 9 and Dec. 23, seven of them performed to live music by the Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera Orchestra. Tickets are $30-$89 for shows with the live orchestra and $25-$74 for those with recorded music. For more information, go to sacballet.org.


Another Holiday Classic Returns

Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” returns to Sacramento Theatre Company after a five-year hiatus. Adapted by local playwright Richard Hellesen, with original music by David de Berry, the production will feature Matt K. Miller reprising his bah-humbug-y role as Ebenezer Scrooge.

This sumptuous production takes us through Scrooge’s greedy past, his miserable present and the sad fate that awaits him if he doesn’t change his ways. It is a story of redemption just perfect for the holiday season.

Performances in the Main Stage theater are Wednesday through Sunday, Nov. 29-Dec. 24. Tickets are $20-$40. For more information, go to SacTheatre.org.
Finishing up at STC’s Pollock Stage is the fine drama “Kings of America” local playwright Sean Patrick Nill.  A teenage boy named Noah suffers from recurring dreams populated by former presidents who reveal both their flaws and their humanity in a way that helps the troubled teen come to grips with a tragedy in his life.
Performances continue Wednesdays to Sundays through Dec. 10.  Tickets are $20-$38. Information also is at SacTheatre.org.
Truly Moving
B Street Theatre will be moving from its current location to a new home The Sofia arts complex in Midtown at the end of the year. This gives added meaning to the title of the play that closes the old home: “A Moving Day.”
Written by B Street’s Buck Busfield and Dave Pierini, this gentle story of a man who is losing his home to foreclosure but can’t let go until he reconciles his past life in the house with his future life without it. It’s a heartwarming tale just right for the holidays.
“A Moving Day” continues Tuesdays to Sundays through Dec. 24. Tickets are $27-$39.  There’s more information at BStreetTheatre.org.
A Capital Idea

Capital Stage has a special holiday production opening Dec. 6 and running through Dec. 30: “Miss Bennet: Christmas a Pemberly” It’s a sequel to “Pride and Prejudice” in which middle sister Mary has grown tired of her siblings’ romances and wants one of her own.  An unexpected guest at the family’s Christmas celebration sparks Mary’s interest mightily.

Performances are Tuesdays through Sundays, with tickets priced $32-$42. For more information, go to CapStage.org.


The popular practice of “regifting” presents is the subject of the comedy “The Regifters” at Chautauqua Playhouse. A couple passes along a not-so-great gift only to learn that it was worth a fortune. Naturally, they set out to get it back. But there’s a hitch: They aren’t the only regifters in this package’s past and everybody is trying to get it back.
Performances are Fridays to Sundays, Dec. 8 – Jan. 12. Tickets are $19-$21. For more information, go to CPlayhouse.org.

About the author

Jim Carnes

Jim Carnes has masters degrees in English and journalism and is a former National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow in popular culture at Stanford University. He has covered Sacramento arts and entertainment for more than 20 years. He currently writes about and reviews theater, dance, music and events in the Sacramento area.

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