Bay Area arts: 12 shows & concerts to catch this weekend (2023)

As the holiday season kicks into high gear, there are a lot of shows to take in this weekend. Here’s a partial rundown.

On stage: ‘Mahalia’ world premiere; ‘Little Shop’

A world premiere musical about gospel legend Mahalia Jackson a new take on the classic musical comedy “Little Shop of Horrors” are coming to Bay Area stages. Here’s a look.

“Little Shop of Horrors”: If you’ve ever seen the deliciously silly black comedy/musical by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman and wondered what it be like if they set the action in San Francisco’s Chinatown, you’re about to get your answer. TheatreWorks Silicon Valley is reviving the show, with direction by Jeffrey Lo, and indeed setting the action in San Francisco’s Chinatown and exploring the nature of the vibrant, cross-cultural community. The show of course will retain its classic storyline — a hapless flower shop owner who cultivates a bloodthirsty plant — and its awesome rock/doo-wop soundtrack.

Details: In previews through Friday, main run is Saturday through Dec. 24; Lucie Stern Theatre, Palo Alto; $30-$90;

“Halie”: Lorraine Hansberry Theatre Company presents the world premiere of this musical about legendary gospel singer and civil rights activist Mahalia Jackson, written by Wendy E. Taylor and Darryl V. Jones and directed by Jones. The show follows Jackson’s life, from her start in New Orleans to achieving international fame and acclaim as the Queen of Gospel and a voice for African American rights and racial equality. Jones completed developing the musical after Taylor passed away in 2019.


Details: Friday through Dec. 24; Magic Theatre at Fort Mason Center, San Francisco; $15-$50;

— Randy McMullen, Staff

Two concerts at SF Opera

From the world premiere of John Adams’ “Antony and Cleopatra” to Gluck’s “Orpheus and Eurydice,” the San Francisco Opera’s fall 2022 offerings have been nothing short of dazzling. But there are two more events still on the calendar this weekend. “The Future is Now: 2022 Adler Fellows Concert” features this season’s Adler Fellows appearing in a program of arias, duets, and opera scenes, accompanied by company music director Eun Sun Kim; and “The San Francisco Opera Chorus in Concert,” led by Chorus Director John Keene. Both offer wide-ranging programs by a diverse array of composers.

Details: Adler Fellows, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3; Herbst Theatre, San Francisco; $39-$69; Opera Chorus in Concert, 2 p.m. Dec. 4, Taube Atrium Theatre, Veterans Building, San Francisco; $42 general admission;

— Georgia Rowe, Correspondent

A Holocaust ‘Lesson’ in Berkeley

If there is such a thing as an opposite to the “boy who cried wolf” phenomenon, Jan Karski would be it. The Polish resistance fighter during World War II witnessed firsthand the Nazi atrocities against Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto and the Belzec death camp, and reported his harrowing observations to a variety of Western leaders and officials, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt. His reports drew a variety of reactions – shock, concern, also doubt – but no concerted action. After the war, when his warnings had been tragically verified, Karski ceased talking about what he witnessed, even as he was employed as a teacher at Georgetown University. It wasn’t until more than three decades later, when filmmaker Claude Lanzmann interviewed him for his epic documentary on the Holocaust, “Shoah,” that Karski repeated his accounts of the acts of genocide he had witnessed. On Friday, Berkeley Repertory Theatre opens the solo stage show “Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski.” David Strathairn, a Bay Area native and Oscar-nominated actor well known locally for his performances at American Conservatory Theater and Berkeley Rep, portrays Karski, as he has in several previous productions of the show. It might seem an odd fit for a holiday run, but at a time when racism and antisemitism are on the rise (we’re looking at you, Kanye West), and when Donald Trump, who still has a legitimate shot at being re-elected president, hosts White Nationalist and Holocaust-denier Nick Fuentes at his home, is there any doubt that Karksi’s story is as relevant as ever? The show plays at Berkeley Rep through Jan. 1. Tickets are $20-$94; go to

— Bay Area News Foundation

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Holiday concerts on tap

Orchestras, choruses and more are serving up sparkling holiday concerts this season; here are three you can catch this weekend.

Join the chorus:Yes, you can sing with the pros in “Family sing: A Holiday Singalong,” presented by the San Francisco Girls Chorus in collaboration with Amateur Music Network. Recommended for ages 10 and up, those who love singing can join, either in person or online, in this program of holiday favorites; Valérie Sainte-Agathe conducts, and downloadable charts are available.

Details: 6:30 p.m. Friday; Kanbar Center, San Francisco; in person $25 adults, $12.50 kids, or $50 family; $15 online only;

“Magnificent Wonders”:The Ragazzi Boys Chorus brings together three of its top ensembles for this holiday concert featuring carols, classic choral works, and more.

Details: 1 p.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto; 4 p.m. Dec. 11 at Old First Presbyterian, San Francisco; $15-$45;

Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra: The orchestra presents “Holiday Rhapsodies and Reveries,” featuring Fantasia on “Greensleeves,” by Vaughan Williams; Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” (featuring pianist Paul Schrage); Vivaldi’s Bassoon Concerto in E Minor (featuring the orchestra’s Lisa Canter) as well as works by Debussy and Liszt.

Details: 4 p.m. Saturday at Las Lomas High School Theater, Walnut Creek, 4 p.m. Sunday St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Orinda; $7-$20;

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— Georgia Rowe, Correspondent

Holiday dance shows take off

Fans of “The Nutcracker” and other holiday dance shows, your time is at hand. Here are three productions you can catch this weekend and beyond.

Mark Foehringer’s Dance Project|SF: “Mark Foehringer’s Nutcracker Sweets” is a well-known Bay Area tradition, abridged to 50 minutes with younger viewers in mind.

Details: Saturday through Dec. 18; Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco; $22.50-$44.50;

Smuin Ballet “The Christmas Ballet”: The company’s production is a treasured staple of the Bay Area holiday scene, with several new and beloved works ranging from playful to poignant.

Details: Today through Dec. 4 at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, Mountain View; Dec. 9-10 at Sunset Center, Carmel; Dec. 14-24 at Blue Shield of California Theater at YBCA, San Francisco; $25-$99;

“Velveteen Rabbit”: ODC/Dance has been serving up its popular adaptation of the Margery Williams kids book since 1986. The production features narration by Geoff Hoyle, and costumes and sets by Brian Wildsmith. Details: Through Dec. 11; Blue Shield of California Theater at YBCA, San Francisco; $15-$100;

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— Andrew Gilbert, Correspondent

Puts goes ‘Home’ again

The Bay Area premiere of an important new work by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts highlights a chamber concert in the gorgeous Elizabethan Great Hall of Burlingame’s Kohl Mansion, now celebrating its 40th season, and the artists presenting it are the members of the Miró Quartet, champions of Puts’ music for the past decade.

“Home” for String Quartet, written in response to the migration crisis and in search for the essence of the idea of home, was written in 2019 specifically for the Miró, violinists Daniel Ching and William Fedkenheuer, violist John Largess and cellist Joshua Gindele. They will play it again on a program that will also feature the Haydn String Quartet in B-flat Major and the Beethoven Quartet in C-sharp minor at 7 p.m. Sunday.

A pre-concert conversation with the artists will be conducted by St. Lawrence String Quartet cellist Christopher Constanza in the Kohl Mansion Library.

Details: Dec. 4, 6 p.m. preconcert talk, 7 p.m. concert, Kohl Mansion; $25-$55;

— Bay Area News Foundation

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Jul 17, 2023

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