South Bay offers a variety of virtual holiday happenings

Neither the Grinch nor COVID-19 can dampen the holiday season in the South Bay. Theater companies, choral groups and dance troupes are all preparing socially distanced holiday offerings to brighten these chilly winter days. Here’s a roundup of virtual activities and events that might bring some holiday cheer into your home.
CITY LIGHTS THEATER COMPANY: In addition to its regular Friday night offerings of virtual workshops, trivia nights, cabarets, dance classes and readers’ theater, the San Jose theater company has a couple holiday shows lined up. A one-man adaption of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” written and performed by Mark Anderson Phillips, will have its world premiere via a recorded version available on demand Dec. 15-Jan. 5. As a mainstage show, it’s free to season-ticket holders and $10-$30 for non-subscribers.
City Lights will also release a new audio version of its 2014 world premiere of “Truce: A Christmas Wish from the Great War” by Kit Wilder and Jeffrey Bracco on Dec. 8. Nearly all of the original 2014 cast will return for this new version. It will be available free on City Light’s Filament podcast as well as other podcast channels. 408-295-4200, www.cltc.org.
HERITAGE THEATER: Grammy-nominated songwriter/pianist Jim Brickman will offer his concert, “Comfort and Joy at Home Live” to benefit Campbell’s Heritage Theater on Thursday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. Brickman will blend his Yuletide memories and holiday carols with some of his own hit songs like “Sending You a Little Christmas,” “Angel Eyes” and “If You Believe.” A portion of each ticket purchased benefits the Heritage Theatre. Tickets range from $40 for the concert to $125 for the concert, a “meet-and-greet” after the show and a Christmas gift delivered to homes. Purchase them at www.jimbrickman.com.
HERSHEY FELDER: Live from Florence, Italy, virtuoso pianist/performer Hershey Felder presents a special performance of “Tchaikovsky,” based on his original production of “Our Great Tchaikovsky.” It will be live-streamed at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 20. Felder will include an extended presentation of “The Nutcracker Ballet” in honor of the Christmas holidays. Ticketholders get access to a recording of the production that can be viewed for one week after the live-streamed presentation. Tickets are $55 per household or $99 for a holiday pass that enables the buyer to watch both “Tchaikovsky” and Hershey’s performance of Claude Debussy in “A Paris Love Story.” www.hersheyfelderlive.com
HILLBARN THEATRE: “Holiday Cabaret” will be streamed on demand Dec. 4-20, featuring a large cast of local performers. Directed and hosted by Executive Artistic Director Dan Demers and Hillbarn Conservatory Director Randy O’Hara, the virtual production will feature pre-recorded performances from 22 artists including Melissa WolfKlain and Antone Jackson. The “pay-what-you-will” show offers several tiers of financial support that give a household the opportunity to view the performance. www.hillbarntheatre.org, 650-349-6411.
LYRIC THEATRE, SAN JOSE: Fresh off a virtual showing of its 2002 production of “The Merry Widow,” Lyric Theatre will stream a one-act opera, “Truce of Carols,” from. 21 – 27. The show tells the story of the spontaneous Christmastime truce of World War I. www.lyrictheatre.org
OPERA SAN JOSE: A fully staged production of Jake Heggie’s chamber opera, “Three Decembers,” was set to begin on-demand streaming on Dec. 3. Based on an unpublished Terrance McNally play called “Some Christmas Letters,” “Three Decembers” features world-renowned mezzo-soprano Susan Graham in the central role. The production will also be offered with Spanish and Vietnamese subtitles. Tickets are $40 per household for on-demand streaming access or $50 per household for the opera and admission to a post-show gala. 408-437-4450, www.operasj.org.
PALO ALTO CHRISTMAS: On Dec. 12 and 13, four local Palo Alto churches have arranged to have a display of interactive holiday components for their parishioners. Originally the plan was for local residents to participate more directly, but due to Santa Clara County moving to the purple coronavirus tier, plans were revised. The special displays to celebrate traditional Advent themes will be on view 5-8 p.m. each evening at Palo Alto First Christian Church, 2890 Middlefield Road. No registration or tickets required. Free. www.paloaltochristmas.com
PALO ALTO PLAYERS: Who doesn’t love a holiday sing-along of Christmas favorites? The Players offer a nightly opportunity to do just that from the comfort of your home Dec. 4-13. It’s a virtual cabaret of holiday classics as well as a few “offbeat tunes that define this festive time of year,” says Managing Director Elizabeth Santana. To make it more family-friendly, evening performances will begin at 7 p.m. and matinees at 2 p.m. Each ticket entitles a household to watch live at showtime or have access to view on demand for 24 hours after the show. Single streaming tickets are $20. 650-329-0891, www.paplayers.org.
PEAR THEATRE: “The Path Back to Me” features a pair of one-woman shows which will be shown digitally Dec. 4-20. The productions are “Full Fathom Five” by Annamarie MacLeod, which centers on the playwright’s postpartum depression, and “Becoming Othello: A Black Girl’s Journey,” Debra Ann Byrd’s story of her efforts to play the title role in the Shakespearean tragedy. Produced in collaboration with Perspective Theatre Company, both plays were filmed live. Free to season ticket holders; tickets are $30-$34 and include show video, backstage pass, talk-backs and behind-the-scenes videos. 650-254-1148, www.thepear.org
RAGAZZI BOYS CHORUS: The chorus performs “Beyond the Stars,” a live-streamed concert of holiday songs and other works that honor endurance and optimism, on Sunday, Dec. 13, at 4 p.m. Using innovative technology the chorus has dubbed “Ragazzi Virtual Studio,” the choristers will perform in real time from their homes under the direction of Artistic and Executive Director Kent Jue. Suggested donation is $25 per viewer to support the chorus. www.ragazzi.org
SANTA CLARA CHORALE: “From Our Homes for the Holidays” is the theme for a special Santa Clara Chorale virtual concert on Sunday, Dec. 13 at 4 p.m. on the chorale’s YouTube channel. Included will be composer Mac Huff’s “Home for Christmas,” a humorous take on the lockdown; and John Rutter’s arrangement of the French carol “Noel Nouvelet.” Free, but donations are appreciated. www.scc.org
SANTA CLARA VALLEY OPEN SPACE AUTHORITY: What better way to celebrate the holiday season than with a family-friendly sing-along? The Open Space Authority offers the one-time virtual sing-along on Saturday, Dec. 5, noon-1 p.m. Local musicians Ed and Cathy Hegstrom will lead the free songfest. Register at https://bit.ly/2IMmXqx.
SAN JOSE STAGE COMPANY: Two virtual productions are in the works at The Stage in December. A revival of the 2013 production of “Persuasion,” Jennifer Le Blanc’s adaptation of Jane Austin’s novel, will be available Dec. 23-27. Viewers can enjoy a New Year’s Eve cabaret performance aptly named “Kiss 2020 Goodbye” Dec. 31-Jan. 3. Both events are part of San Jose Stage Company’s virtual season of five productions. Tickets for each show are $40 per person; all-access season tickets are $140-$340. www.thestage.org, 408-283-7142
SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERSITY JAZZ ORCHESTRA: “Cool Yule,” featuring two SJSU jazz ensembles performing classic holiday songs with a jazzy twist, will be live-streamed on Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m. Under the direction of Grammy-winning saxophonist and composter Aaron Lington, the concert will be performed at the Hammer Theatre Center in San Jose. Pay-what-you-can tickets can be purchased at www.hammertheatre.com.
SMUIN BALLET: The first virtual presentation of Smuin’s classic “Christmas Ballet” will be offered Dec. 11-24. Set to holiday tunes, the longtime holiday tradition this year includes ballet, tap, jazz and swing. Each night features live-streamed numbers staged by different “pods” of Smuin artists, dancing both classic “Christmas Ballet” works as well as premieres from company artists and Smuin alumni. Tickets are $49-$139 at www.smuinballet.org.
Smuin will also continue its wide range of social “disdancing” classes through Dec. 23. Since launching last April, Smuin teachers have led hundreds of aspiring dancers through Zoom-based drop-in virtual classes, offered on a sliding scale from $7-$20. Advanced registration is required to www.smuinclasses.org
SOUTH BAY MUSICAL THEATRE: December is a busy month for South Bay Musical Theatre. Upcoming Zoom events include “South Bay Cinema Spotlight: Swing Parade of 1946,” hosted by Michael Paul Hirsch, Dec. 5 at 8 p.m.; “Broadway by the Decade: Underappreciated Gems from the 1960s,” with Ron Susek, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m.; and a tap dance workshop with Francesca Cipponeri, Dec. 12 at 10 a.m. Free; donations appreciated. 408-266-04734, www.southbaymt.com/join-us/estudio.
SUNNYVALE COMMUNITY PLAYERS: The musical “Once on This Island” may seem like an odd choice to present in December, but the Players were all set to open the acclaimed musical in October before the theater shuttered due to the pandemic. Director Gary Stanford, Jr. pivoted to offer the Tony-nominated production via live streaming Dec. 5-20. The theater invested in innovative technology including 4K video, animation and sound to bring “Island” directly into living rooms. Tickets are $24.95 plus a $2.79 service fee at www.sunnyvaleplayers.org.
The company is also streaming the Broadway musical “Estella Scrooge: A Christmas Carol With A Twist,” throughout the holiday season. Tickets for this unique take on the age-old Ebenezer Scrooge story range from $24.99 for a 24-hour viewing period to $49.99 for unlimited viewing and a digital soundtrack that is available in mid-December. A link to the show is available at www.sunnyvaleplayers.org.
THEATREWORKS SILICON VALLEY: “Simple Gifts,” a multicultural celebration of holiday songs and traditions from a swath of diverse backgrounds, will be live-streamed by TheatreWorks Tuesday-Sunday, Dec. 10-27. It will then be available for on-demand streaming Dec. 28-Jan. 1.Created and directed by TheatreWorks Artistic Director Tim Bond, it’s under the musical direction of William Liberatore and with video production by Stephen Muterspaugh. Bond says the production explores a variety of winter celebrations from around the world such as Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Diwali and Los Posadas. Among the cast are Sharon Rietkerk, Velina Brown, Michael Gene Sullivan and Adam Saucedo. Current TheatreWorks subscribers as well as Inner Circle-level donors and patrons whose tickets were cancelled due to the pandemic can access this production at no cost. Streaming access is available to the general public for a donation of $10 or more to support TheatreWorks. www.theatreworks.org

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