Top Tickets: December 5-11
Diablo’s can’t-miss events of the coming week: A Christmas Carol, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and two special events to light up the night.
A Christmas Carol / photo by Kevin Berne
My plans to do some holiday frolicking last weekend at one of the East Bay’s many tree lightings or festivals took a back seat to another event that had some pretty interesting entertainment and cultural relevance: a day-long high school wrestling tournament. My freshman son was one of what must have been up to 200 contenders from 20 different East Bay high schools at a JV invitational hosted by Valley Christian High in Dublin.
I know next to nothing about wrestling, other than that it’s an ancient sport that is the stuff of myth, legend, and literature. Novelist John Irving said wrestling gave him the discipline to write, and Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius said: “The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing.”
As I saw at the tournament, wrestling is the ultimate contact sport—very intense, totally mano a mano. But that’s not the only thing that struck me as I sat in the Valley High gym, watching match after match. It was the wide racial and socioeconomic diversity of the participants. These boys—and a few girls—represented public and private schools from all parts of the East Bay: from affluent Danville to Emeryville, a city of 21st century progress whose public school district nonetheless serves mostly poor, minority kids. There were also kids from East Contra Costa, Livermore, and Lamorinda.
It was cool to see how truly diverse our East Bay community is, and to see these kids from all different backgrounds go to the mats, and, for a few short intense minutes, put their entire bodies and souls into a battle of trying to take each other down. When the ref blew the whistle, then raised the hand of the winner, the two competitors shook hands respectfully and moved on to the next round. Yeah, that’s life.
December 6–16: A Christmas Carol
Center Rep presents one of the Bay Area’s most sumptuous and entertaining versions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The Lesher Center’s in-house theater company dresses up the supernatural tale of redemption with rich costumes, heart-pounding special effects, and joyful musical numbers. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek, times vary, $27–$49, (925) 943-7469, tickets: lesherartscenter.org, more info: centerrep.org.
December 6–February 17: Broadway Revealed: Behind the Theater Curtain
Bedford Gallery’s new exhibition, Broadway Revealed, offers viewers a behind-the-scenes look at world-class theater productions. The 360-degree photos by East Bay photographer Stephen Joseph, known for his panoramas of Mount Diablo, capture the complex interplay of actors, props, costumes, and set and lightning designs that create the magic of theater. Bedford Gallery, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek, closed Mondays, $3–$5, (925) 295-1417, bedfordgallery.org.
December 7: Mount Diablo Beacon Lighting
Since 1964, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association has memorialized Pearl Harbor Day, and all those who have served and sacrificed in America’s wars, by turning on the summit beacon atop Mount Diablo. The beacon is lit at sunset and shines all night. Mount Diablo summit, 3:45 p.m., free, (925) 947-3535, savemountdiablo.org.
December 7–8: Holiday Home Tour
Get some holiday ideas by touring six homes in Danville, Alamo, and Walnut Creek whose halls have been decked out for the season. The local branch of the American Association of University Women invites the public to visit a California cottage, a Tudor home, a mid-century classic, and more to help raise money for local women in pre- and post-graduate programs. Purchase tickets online or at the East Bay Flower Company, 206 Sycamore Valley Rd. West, Danville, tours 10 a.m.–4 p.m., $30–$35, aauw-da.org.
December 7–16: Christmas Revels
The California Revels’ unique annual holiday performance celebrates the Winter Solstice by featuring traditional music, dance, and folk plays—from a medieval English Court to a Russian village to an Appalachian homestead. Performers include a large volunteer chorus of children and adults and a number of professional actors and other performing artists. Scottish Rite Center, 1547 Lakeside Dr., Oakland, $20–$55, (510) 452-8800, californiarevels.org.
December 8–16: The Nutcracker
The Valley Dance Theatre, accompanied by the Livermore-Amador Symphony, presents a full-length version of the holiday ballet classic, The Nutcracker, complete with the swirl of snowflakes, dancing mice, and the Sugar Plum Fairy herself. Bankhead Theater, 2400 First St., Livermore, times vary, $24–$34, (925) 373-6800, tickets: livermoreperformingarts.org, more info: valleydancetheatre.com.
December 9: Menorah Lighting
Chabad of Contra Costa brings back its holiday tradition of lighting the grand menorah in the promenade of Broadway Plaza for Hanukkah, December 8–15. Join in a community celebration on December 9, which includes live music, dreidels and donuts, and activities for kids. Broadway Plaza promenade, 4–6 p.m., free, (925) 937-4101, jewishcontracosta.com.
December 9: Let Us Break Bread Together
Oakland’s finest—that is, its musical finest—come together for an inspiring evening of gospel music, classical music, and sing-a-longs to holiday favorites. Directed by Michael Morgan, the concert features the Oakland East Bay Symphony, the Oakland Symphony Chorus, the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir and several youth groups. Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland, 4 p.m., $15–$50, (510) 465-6400, paramounttheatre.com.
For even more events happening this week, or to submit an event for consideration, visit Diablo’s Community Calendar. Follow Diablo on Twitter or Facebook (links below), and you'll be notified as soon as Top Tickets posts each Wednesday morning.