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Making Merry

First Night
I Am the Walrus: The Cirque du Silly appears at the First Night New Year's bash. bash.

Photo by Janet Orsi



Our highly arbitrary guide to bopping and blitzing through the holidays

By Gretchen Giles and Marina Wolf

WHEW. Seems like not nearly a year that we celebrated the holidays, and yet here they are again, as regular as Earth's revolution around the sun. Go figure. But when figuring how to celebrate and cherish the darkest days of winter with loved ones, we like to focus less on the eight days of Hanukkah gifts or the goodies left by that weight-challenged guy in the red suit than we do on activities--times spent together with those whom we love--doing things that matter:

Gleefully skimming the high notes of Handel's Messiah; bundling the kids up and pushing their frightened little bodies toward a Santa clone; supping from a paper cup of hot cocoa while watching the lights first go on in the town's community Christmas tree; or dressing up for a performance of The Nutcracker.

From making the simplest canned food donation to attending the most elaborate holiday get-together--these are the days to celebrate one another.

Below we humbly offer a few suggestions to help make such celebrations linger in memory the year round, even though experience shows that it's all bound to happen soon again.



Santa Sightings
Geez, from his daily gig at every mall in America to all of those special events, it seems as if the old guy is just about everywhere. We demand to know: Who's overseeing the toys?

One If by Boat, One If by Truck
In our fast-paced world, it's a relief to see one person who still remembers how to take it slow. The Petaluma Queen riverboat, with the Big Bearded Man himself on board, sidles up to the docks at B and Water streets on Nov. 29. Santa disembarks at noon to deliver candy canes to the masses and lead a holiday horse procession (more alternative transportation!) through historic downtown, which will be bright until 5 p.m. with Christmas lights and open houses in the shops. The parade winds down Petaluma Boulevard North and Kentucky Street--don't you wish you could wind down that easily? Free. 769-0429.

The west county gets a double whammy this winter with at least two confirmed visits from St. Nick (other would-be Santas, of course, are proliferating all over the country at this time. Get it in writing, kids!). First he'll be showing up at the Sebastopol Town Plaza tree lighting on Dec. 4. This coincides with ARTwalk and the First Thursday Plaza Series, so Santa'll have plenty of company, with musical performances and fun children's activities. 5 to 8 p.m. Free. 823-3032.

We've never understood why Santa frequently hits the streets in a fire truck. Like a big guy in a fur-trimmed red suit wouldn't get enough attention? Be that as it may, that's how he's comin' to Sonoma on Dec. 5 for a sitting with the kids on the Plaza, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Free. 996-1033.

The sirens sound again for the Big Man in Healdsburg on Dec. 7 at noon, when he'll lead a parade from Piper and Center streets to the Plaza. Parents can stick around for a vintage home holiday tour between 1 and 4 p.m. (431-9221), or dump those kids with a sitter and come back for a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown between 2 and 8 p.m. (rides will be offered Dec. 13-14 and 20-21 as well).

Or, you and the kids can all stay home and say hi to Santa on his very own talkline Dec. 9-10, from 6 to 8 p.m. Free. 763-6051.

Next, Santa drops anchor at the Bodega Harbour Yacht Club (21301 Heron Drive, Bodega Bay) on Dec. 13, leaving him just enough time to hie it back to the North Pole and crack the whip over them elves. Noon to 2 p.m. Free. 874-1714.



Tinsel
Miscellany, bits, Bobs, and other small swipes of good cheer

Big-Hearted Bob
Each year this humble Forestville boater keeps rolling out the activities and community events that generate a little more joy in the hearts of kids with life-threatening illnesses. On Dec. 3, join Bob Burke and his many friends--including Smokey the Bear, Clo the Cow, and Santa the, uh, Claus--for a free buffet supper and entertainment by the Barn Burners, the Ric Cutler Band, Kathy Shallot, and other musical guests. Donations at the door go for presents and field trips all year round. Farmhouse Inn, 7871 River Road, Forestville. 5 to 9 p.m. For details, or to find out how you can help even if you can't attend, call 887-2222.

Chill, Baby
Frostier than five Sonoma County winters or one stupid Batman sequel, the "Charles Schulz Presents" variety show "A Cool Christmas" etches the ice at the Redwood Empire Ice Arena Dec. 5-28. World-renowned skaters like Richard Dwyer, Frank Sweidling, and Anita Hartshorn mingle with Bay Area blading talents in a New York winter, a New Age forest, and--where else?--Joe Cool's Cafe with a skating Snoopy. Rink-side champagne might be a little too cool, but coffee's lovely, thank you. 1667 W. Steele Lane, Santa Rosa. Shows at 3 and 7 p.m. most days. Tickets are $10-$35 and go as quickly as a popsicle in July. 546-BASS.

Tree Lightings
Hospice of Petaluma (778-6242) takes over three trees in Center Park in downtown Petaluma on Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. Meanwhile, Hospice of Marin (935-7504) comes to the southwest corner of the Sonoma Plaza for its 12th annual tree lighting Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. (What, there aren't any good trees down south?) A tax-deductible 10 bucks to either organization gets you a light on its trees to remember a loved one, with the donation benefiting programs for the terminally ill and their families.

The City of Cotati Community Services Commission throws the switch at its annual tree-lighting on Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. in the downtown La Plaza Park. At 6:30 p.m. the celebration adjourns to the former Cotati Middle School multi-use room (on East School Street next to City Hall), where goodies and caroling abound. Bring a new or gently used toy or non-perishable food items for needy Cotati citizens. Free. 792-4600.

Spirit of Christmas Crafts Faire
The mother of all crafts events, this two-weekend do features locally made gifts, live elves, kids' stuff aplenty, and excellent music, including Michael Bolivar (Dec. 5), Dan Hicks and his Reindeer Express (Dec. 6), the Gospel Hummingbirds (Dec. 7), the Celtic groove of Spiralbound (Dec. 12), harmonica man Charlie Musselwhite (Dec. 13), and the Rangers (Dec. 14). At the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Dec. 5-7 and 12-14. Friday, from noon to 9 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. Admission is $2-$4. 575-9355.

Petaluma Boat Parade
Seafaring types show some seasonal spirit at the annual boat parade into Petaluma River's Turning Basin on Dec. 6. Visitors can view the flotilla of holiday-strung boats all evening behind the Petaluma Mill at Petaluma Boulevard North and B streets, perhaps snag something to eat in that high-intensity glow, and forget for one peaceful evening what your father always said about operating electrical items near water. 6:30 p.m. Free. 769-0429.

Once upon a Time ...
... when the Santa Claus franchise hadn't been picked up by Hallmark yet, and no one had a VCR, our ancestors celebrated the turning of the seasons with stories that were at once entertainment and preservers of culture. In this spirit, members of the Storytelling Guild of Sonoma County hold forth with tales from many spiritual and cultural paths. The stories are intended for adults and children 12 and up. Dec. 6 at Santa Rosa Junior College, Newman Auditorium, 1501 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Admission is $5-$7. 433-8728.

Holiday Tea
Mmm ... tea and tasty tidbits in a lavish Victorian setting, with proceeds to benefit the Petaluma Historical Museum and Library, and you barely have to lift a finger. Well, a pinky finger, maybe. Maria of London, Petaluma's tea connoisseur, will be seating guests at 1 and 4 p.m. on Dec. 7 for afternoon tea, which includes a discussion on the history and etiquette thereof. Probably a good thing, because who knows what "tender scones with lashings of cream" might entail. Masonic Hall, 9 Western Ave. Admission is $25. 778-4398.

Follow up your tea with an evening tour of four Victorian parlors, complete with treats, carolers, and properly attired docents. You can get some ideas for your own holiday trimmings and finish off what Martha Stewart left of your homemaking ego. Dress warmly, wear soft-soled shoes, and carry a big flashlight. Tickets are $8; available at the Petaluma Historical Library and Museum at 20 Fourth St. 762-3456.

Parade of Lights
Four Alexander Valley wineries (Chateau Souverain, Canyon Road, Geyser Peak, and Trentadue) get that certain unmistakable glow with light displays and luxurious open-house activities like music, winetasting, and fittingly festive food samples. If you drive to them all, remember to spit, not swallow! Dec. 13, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Absolutely free. 857-3417.

Bags of Fire
The Luminaria Fiesta sets the Petaluma Adobe aglow on Dec. 13 with traditional candles, carolers, dancers, and a vivid re-enactment of the "Las Posadas" procession, in which Joseph and Mary are portrayed looking for shelter. Drop by between 3 and 5 p.m. for homemade empanadas and Mexican hot chocolate, then stroll the courtyard and the rest of the park for a feel of old California. Rain date: Dec. 20. Free. 769-0429.



Other Traditions
Although it may come as a surprise to some retailers, much of the world's population has nothing whatsoever to do with trees, tinsel, and red-nosed reindeer.

Mazel Tov
In celebration of the Hanukkah holy days, the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center sets up the Latke Cafe and Hanukkah Shuk on Dec. 14. Shuk means "marketplace" in Hebrew, and it sounds like a real deal here, with crafts, hot latkes, activity booths, a sing-along, and entertaining education about the Festival of Lights. 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael. Noon to 3 p.m. Admission is free if you bring a new toy or clothing, or a non-perishable food item for those in need. 415/479-2000.

Santa Rosa's Congregation Shomrei Torah takes a more serious approach with a Dec. 17 class on the roots of Hanukkah and its modern interpretations in America and Israel from 7:30 to 9 p.m.; free. A special Shabbat/Hanukkah service will be led by Rabbi Gittleman on Dec. 26 at 8 p.m. Then on Dec. 27 at 6:45 p.m., unwrap the menorahs and get ready to dance at the family celebration, where there will also be songs, goodies, and a special Hanukkah tale. 1717 Yulupa Ave. Call 578-5519 for details.

The fun-loving folks at Congregation Ner Shalom are back with their community Hanukkah party on Dec. 27. The rituals of the day will be observed, along with a potluck vegetarian dinner (more latkes!), storytelling, songs, and games. BYOM (Bring Your Own Menorah), and candles, too. 85 La Plaza, Cotati. 5:30 p.m. For details, call 664-8622.

Kwanzaa
This African-American holiday has been around for only some 30 years, but already many families have welcomed its symbols and principles into their winter traditions. In conjunction with its exhibit "Rivers of Hope, Rivers of Change: The African-American Experience in Sonoma County," the Sonoma County Museum is proud to offer an afternoon of Kwanzaa celebration on Dec. 27 at 1 p.m., with a ceremony, storytelling, music, and refreshments. 425 Seventh St., Santa Rosa. Call 579-1500 for price and details.



Pagan's Progress
Just because their winter celebrations are older than the Bible itself doesn't mean that pagans don't still shake a leg over the holidays. After all, they invented them.

Antenna Theater
David Allen

Pulling the Plug: Antenna Theater takes 'A Christmas Carol'
into a whole new age.

Oh My Goddess
A shopping mall for the woman-loving pagan in all of us, the Winter Solstice Goddess Festival offers earthy crafts for gift-giving and entertainment that'll bring wild winter on home, including feminist poetry and the Sisters of the Moon, a perennial dance favorite. Annie, get your drum! Dec. 13 at the Community Center, 390 Morris St., Sebastopol. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is $3-$13, sliding scale; partially benefits women's charities. 795-8403.

Winter Solstice Celebration
'Tis the reason for the season, some say, and the Artemis Institute for Feminist Magic does it up right with a high-energy, women-only ritual and vegetarian potluck feast in honor of the earth's return to light. Join priestess Felicity Artemis Moonflower for an evening of ecstasy on Dec. 20 at the Community Center, 390 Morris St., Sebastopol. 7 p.m. Admission is $10. 795-8403.



Songs of the Season
Like riding a bike, like the lyrics to "It's a Small World," like remembering that hitting your funny bone is never, ever, funny, holiday songs--once learned--just never go away. This is the time to enjoy them.

Golden Bough
Something about Celtic music makes you want to be wrapped up in a bear robe, drinking mulled wine and watching the snow blowing through the castle ramparts, don't it? Well, you can't always get all of what you want, but you can get some of it this year with traditional Celtic caroling and unique songs of winter from these modern-day minstrels over in Napa. Nov. 28 at the Kolbe Academy Playhouse, 1600 F St., Napa. 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10-$12.50. 256-4307.

Carols in the Caves
Some traditions place baby Jesus in a cave, not a barn. And why not? The acoustics are great for hosannahs and other expressions of joy. Instrumentalist David Auerbach knows this well, as he has been strumming and piping in area wine caves for over a decade now. Audiences at the upcoming concerts can expect good wine, a fine winter chill, and beautiful low-tech music. Auerbach plays at the Hans Fahden Vineyards in Calistoga (4855 Petrified Forest Road) Nov. 29-30 at 2 p.m. each day. Napa County venues include the Folie à Deux Winery (Dec. 6-7 and 13-14) and Carneros Alambic Distillery (Dec. 20-21). Admission is $25. 224-4222.

Vienna Choir Boys
They might be loud little monsters with perfect pitch when they're at home, but when they're on the road with this choir that's been singing for almost 500 years, these little men are silver-throated angels. The special holiday program mixes sacred works and more secular operetta excerpts and folk music. Nov. 30 at the Marin Center, Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. 3 p.m. $9-$24. 415/472-3500.

Tim Cain
In the category of "they're never going to take a nap now ... ," Marin musician Tim Cain gets his youthful audiences going with lively repertoire and happy-happy holiday tunes. Even the Grinch would crack under this kind of pressure. Dec. 3 at the Polly Klaas Arts Center, 417 Western Ave., Petaluma. 7 p.m. Admission is $5-$6; kids under 2, free. 765-1962.

Petaluma Sings!
Excelling at getting singers from a wide range of ages into its various choruses, the Petaluma Sings! group is apparently looking to, ahem, diversify its talent base, too, by inviting untrained audiences to sing along at upcoming holiday concerts. The Women's Chorus and Advanced Children's Chorus tackle Vivaldi and Porpora by themselves at the 8 p.m. performance on Dec. 5 (tickets are $4-$8), bravely returning with other children's choruses for a family celebration on Dec. 7 at 3 p.m. ($3-$5). Both concerts take place at St. Vincent de Paul Church, Howard and Bassett streets, Petaluma. 778-7441.

Occidental Community Choir
For 19 years, this unusual choir has been getting that ol' laugh-and-cry response from west county audiences, and this winter's performances promise to be no exception, with Gustaf Holst's "In the Bleak Midwinter," a musical poetry piece about the return from the dark time, comic turns on old seasonal favorites, and a good mix from Christmas, Hanukkah, and solstice traditions. Dec. 5-6 and Dec. 13 at St. Philip's Parish Hall, 3790 Bohemian Hwy., Occidental. Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 3 p.m.; and Dec. 13 at 8 p.m. Also appearing Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Sebastopol United Methodist Church, 500 N. Main St. $5; free admission for children and students. The Dec. 6 matinee is free to all. 823-0974.

Fiesta Navidad
A south-of-the-border Christmas celebration always includes a "Las Posadas" processional, re-creating Joseph and Mary's desperate search for lodging on the first Christmas Eve. The dancing and singing accompanying the fiesta are always more lively than the original event, no doubt, especially this year at the Luther Burbank Center, when Ballet Folklórico Ollín joins forces with Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano, a favorite at mariachi festivals all over the Americas, on Dec. 6. 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 8 p.m. Tickets are $15-$25. 546-3600.

One Lump or Two?
Sweeten your cup at a traditional afternoon tea on the mezzanine with art, song from the Old World Carolers, and holiday gift shopping at the Sonoma County Museum on Dec. 13. 425 Seventh St., Santa Rosa. 2 to 4 p.m. $10-$12. 579-1500.

Sebastopol Sing-Along 'Messiah'
Some professional choirs train for weeks to get this celestial classic right. But who's to say that high-spirited, well-meaning civilians, powered by nothing more than tattered old scores (and maybe a few toddies), can't have more fun with it? It's like a hundred people singing in the shower, and having conductor John Maas and local musicians crowded in the steam with you make it even better, on Dec. 13. Sebastopol United Methodist Church, 500 N. Main St. 3 p.m. $5; $12 for families. 829-4797.

Sonoma Valley Chorale
The valley rings with 150 voices as this community chorus celebrates its 25th anniversary season, starting with "Songs of Christmas" Dec. 13-14. Saturday at 8 p.m. Sunday at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Veterans Bldg., 126 First St. W., Sonoma. Tickets are $10-$12. 935-1576.

Meshed 'Messiah'
The 17th annual Redwood Empire Sing-Along Messiah returns to the Luther Burbank Center for another people-powered performance on Dec. 17. The Baroque Sinfonia, Santa Rosa Symphonic Chorus, and members of First Presbyterian and First Methodist churches will lend onstage musical leadership to this benefit for Hospital Chaplaincy Services. Bring your own score or borrow one at the door. 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 7:30 p.m. $10-$12.
539-0495.

Who's on the Roof?
Why, it's the Christmas Jug Band, with a three-evening CD-release party at Mill Valley's Sweetwater Dec. 20-22. These skiffle-swing kings have been getting merry for 21 years now, making them one of the North Bay's longest-running holiday music traditions. Saturday at 9 p.m.; Sunday-Monday at 8 p.m. 153 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley. For details, call 415/388-2820.

A Chanticleer Christmas
Renaissance music gave these Bay Area-based gents their name, but the holiday concert promises to be a unique mix of early chants, joyful spirituals, and other seasonal songs as well. Think Vienna Choir Boys with hair on their chests (or not) on Dec. 23. St. Vincent de Paul Church, Howard and Bassett streets, Petaluma. 8 p.m. Tickets are $19-$29. 800/407-1400.



Lords A'leapin'
Ballet companies all over America are ripping their tights to get a production of The Nutcracker bouncing on the boards, and those in the North Bay are no different.

dancers
Gail Howland

Get Vertical: Julia Becket-Jones and Nicholas Foote dance
in 'Space Ambition.'

Nutcrackers
Performing at the Marin Center and at the Spreckel's Performing Arts Center is the Ballet Califia's vision of sugarplums dancing Dec. 5-7. Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. Call 415/472-3500 for ticket prices. Closer to home, Ballet Califia works its magic at the Spreckels Performing Arts Center on Dec. 19-21 with similar showtimes, although matinees are at 2:30 p.m. 5409 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park. Tickets are $12-$16. 584-1700. Also down south, the Marin Ballet Company presents its 26th annual production of Hoffmann's tale Dec. 13-14 at 1 and 4:30 p.m. Marin Center, Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. Tickets are $12.50-$20. 415/472-3500.

The Petaluma City Ballet and School of Ballet present their production of The Nutcracker, featuring professional and semi-professional dancers leaping around toys, mice, and growing trees on Dec. 5-7. Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. Veterans Bldg., 1094 Petaluma Blvd. S., Petaluma. $9-$15. 762-2660.

Not-crackers
Not surprisingly, the dancers and choreographers at the Redwood Empire Ballet are taking a completely different tack on the ole chestnut, presenting a two-part performance that features "105 Years of The Nutcracker" and "Tale of the Toy Soldier." "105" examines the mutations this venerable ballet has seen since it was first presented in St. Petersburg in 1892. "Tale of the Toy Soldier" is the musical story of toys come to life and is co-directed by the Santa Rosa Players' former director Ross Hagee--this man knows his way around musicals. Dates for these two-parters are Dec. 5-7, 12-14, and 19-21. Friday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; matinees Saturday-Sunday at 2 p.m. Redwood Empire Ballet, 335 O'Hair Court, Santa Rosa. Tickets are $7-$10. 523-3046.

REB begins the holiday season with director Steffon Long's provocative work "Space Ambition," at the Marin Center Nov. 28-30. Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2:30 and 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. Tickets are $12-$14. 415/472-3500.

Beating off the path of tattered point shoes stands the Healdsburg Ballet, presenting "The Night Before Christmas," in full-story length for one performance only, Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. at the Raven Theater. 115 North St., Healdsburg. Tickets are $5.50-$8.50. 431-7617. And en pointe a good long distance from the beaten path is the always irreverent and marvelous choreography of Michael Smuin, who brings his Smuin Ballets/SF company once again to the Spreckels Performing Arts Center in a showcase of "The Christmas Ballet," which has been setting San Francisco audiences on their collective and metaphoric ears.

Beginning with "The Classical Christmas," set to traditional music, Smuin bumps the grind up, opening the second act with "The Cool Christmas" and setting his dancers moving to everything from Lou Rawls to African beats to da king himself, Elvis. Smuin Ballets/SF alights Dec. 13-14. Saturday at 2:30 and 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Spreckels, 5409 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park. Tickets are $22-$25. 584-1700.



Curtain Call
Aisles of smiles are the order of the season at the theater.

1940s Radio Hour
On the Air: Linda McCulloch and Joseph Lustig in Spreckels' '1940s Radio Hour.'

Photo by Baron Wolman



No Static
The Pacific Alliance Stage Company at the Spreckels Performing Arts Center reprises a past success, bringing the live-beat boogie of its 1940s Radio Hour back to the main theater. Set in the breakneck backwater of a small radio station, this evening of song and story presumes to be a live radio show, applause signs and all, and plays Friday-Sunday, Nov. 28-30, and Thursday-Sunday, Dec. 4-7. Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2:30 and 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Spreckels, 5409 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park. Tickets are $7-$14. 584-1700.

Tomorrow
For all-around feel-good-i-ness, it's hard to beat the Broadway version of that comical girl Annie, presented by the Santa Rosa Players Nov. 28-30, Dec. 4-7, and 12-14. Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m.; matinees Nov. 30, and Dec. 7 and 13-14 at 2 p.m. Lincoln Arts Center, 709 Davis St., Santa Rosa. Tickets are $10-$12. 544-7827.

Two-fer
Main Street Theatre goes into its hunny jar to reprise last year's successful A Winne-the-Pooh Christmas Tail with that silly, willy, nilly old bear, Eeyore, Piglet, and Tigger too on Saturdays, Nov. 29-Dec. 20 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tickets are $5. For the older crowd, the witty revue A Thurber Carnival appears Thursday-Sunday, Nov. 30-Dec. 20. Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m.; Nov. 30 at 2 p.m.; Dec. 7 and 14 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12. 104 N. Main St., Sebastopol.
823-0177.

Snow
The Cinnabar Theater presents what it promises is the last annual production of its commissioned holiday play, The Snow Queen. Gerda is the brave little girl who endeavors to free her friend Kai from the clutches of the evil Snow Queen before his heart freezes. A Petaluma perennial, this holiday show is guaranteed to sell out when it plays Friday-Sunday, Dec. 5-20. Friday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. 3333 Petaluma Blvd. N. Tickets are $5-$8. 763-8920.

Sages
The Cinnabar's adjunct theater space, the Polly Klaas Theater, plays host to an operatic production of Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors. Working the edges of the story of the Three Kings who journey to Bethlehem, Amahl tells of the kings' overnight visit with a poor crippled boy and his mother. When the mother's avarice overcomes her and she tries to steal some of the gifts intended for the Christ child, Amahl comes to her rescue, eventually finding salvation himself. Amahl plays Friday-Sunday, Dec. 6-20. Friday-Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 3 p.m. Polly Klaas Theater, 417 Western Ave., Petaluma. Admission is $9-$13. 763-8920.

Elves
On a more traditional note, the Luther Burbank Center's Children's Performing Arts Program brings in The Elves and the Shoemaker, presented by the California Theatre Center. Gaily portraying the Grimm tale of a poor shoemaker whose fortunes are changed overnight by helpful elves, this production features acrobatics and excellence on Sunday, Dec. 7, at 3 p.m. 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. Tickets are $8-$10; discounts are available. 546-3600.

Stars
The single and only production of The Christmas Carol that we've been able to find in the North Bay requires the use of Walkman portable headsets, utilizes oversized puppets and the art of mask-making, and takes place in an urban factory. Called StarLight, this production of the Dickens classic is presented by the Sausalito-based Antenna Theater, which updates the tale to the grotesque blackness of the modern-day work world and predicates its vision upon the changing nature of the seasons, this being the third in a cycle of four seasonal productions. StarLight plays at the Marin Headlands, Building 952, opening with a preview on Tuesday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m. and playing Thursday-Sunday through Jan. 4. Thursday-Friday and Sunday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 8 and 10 p.m. Tickets are $16-$18. 415/621-7797.



Auld Lange Syne
Sure, every club in the known world (and that includes Graton) will have some sort of shindig planned for the last day of the year, but here are two events you can count on, all while counting on not being at the end of expectorant of any kind.

Johnny Otis
The Luther Burbank Center pulls out the seats when it hosts the inimitable Johnny Otis Show for its annual New Year's Eve dance party. Joining Otis is Dr. Loco and his Rockin' Jalapeño Band, playing a dance-happy amalgam of Tex-Mex, rock, and blues. Party favors, balloons, drinks, and food all guarantee that this will be one great way to say goodbye to the old and hello to the new. Year, that is. 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 before Dec. 15; $30 after. 546-3600.

First Night
Even rain doesn't dampen the spirits of the First Night revelers who crowd the streets of downtown Santa Rosa for our newest tradition: a drug- and alcohol-free arts celebration that promises--and delivers--surprises aplenty. Featuring street performers, resolution sites for making hopeful pledges, and performers performing in unusual places, this family-friendly event is cheap (a $10 badge gets you into everything) and good for you. Festivities begin around 4 p.m. with a children's parade. For details, call the Cultural Arts Council at 579-ARTS.

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From the Nov. 26-Dec. 3, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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