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Christmas Shows & Performances

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > The Arts, Books, Entertainment, & Media > Christmas Shows & Performances


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Non-religious holiday performances for an 8-y-o

Nov 2003

I'm looking for some non-religious local performances to interest an energetic but music-loving 8 yr old boy. Any feedback on: Mark Morris Hard Nut (appropriateness?), Harlem Boys Choir, Velveteen Rabbit (too young for him?), or other suggestions? Thank you!


I definitely don't think an 8 year old is too old for ODC's ''Velveteen Rabbit''. That's a great choice. I do think he may be too young for ''The Hard Nut'', not because there's anything particularly inappropriate in it, but because the humor in it is most appealing to people who grew up in the 70s and/or have seen ''Nutcracker'' one too many times. One really good choice for kids is the Revels. Their performances are non- religious and tend to focus on the winter solstice, not Christmas. There's audience participation (singing and dancing) that makes it fun for the kids. Patty
Peter and the Wolf is coming to town mid-December! Also, try the local symphonies. I'm assuming that Nutcracker's Christmas theme is too religious for you . . . but it really is only a backdrop of a tree, nothing further, if you are considering it. Kathleen
I absolutely love the Dance-Along Nutcracker, which is at the Yerba Buena Center in SF the first weekend in December -- silly show tunes, usually hillarious, sometimes performed in drag, interspersed with music from the Nutcracker that the entire audience dances to. Tu-tu's to rent if you don't have your own, and lots of silly costumes. It's entirely carefree, nonjudgmental, beautifully executed, not passive, and fun for both adults and kids. nelly
I don't know if this is local enough for you, but we just got tickets for the SF Symphony's performance of ''Peter and the Wolf'' on December 14. It should be a lot of fun! Lauren
Check the December issue of ''Parents' Press,'' which has special listings of ''Nutcrackers,'' menorah lightings, Kwanzaa events, etc., as well as its usual events calendar--lots of holiday performances noted there as well. Melanie
My kids were pretty young when we began taking them to the Christmas Revels to celebrate the winter solstice; I'd guess they were seven or eight. Now they're teenagers, and we take their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents, whoever is in town, each year. I absolutely treasure this beautifully crafted jewel of community musical theater. You can sing, dance, or just quietly hum along to a different presentation each year. It's held at the magnificent Scottish Rite Theater near Lake Merritt in Oakland. The large cast of great performers of all ages includes the wonderful Wendell Brooks, of Berkeley High fame; this year, Geoff Hoyle returns as a Shakespearean fool, and Deborah Doyle reigns as Queen Elizabeth I, a powerful woman calling for peace and justice (and yes, it's almost always timely). Order your tickets online at www.calrevels.org or call Frantix at 415-621-1216. There are matinee and evening performances on Dec 13, 14, 20, and 21 and evening performances only on Dec 12 and 19. Welcome Yule! Melissa
The Oakland Civic Orchestra is performing a free concert, ''Music for the Whole Family,'' on Sunday, Dec. 14. Although it is not all holiday music, we will be performing the Nutcracker Suite, as well as Strauss's Blue Danube Waltz and Thunder and Lightning Polka and Bach's Concerto for Two Violins (The Bach Double). This will be a family-oriented concert; we are planning special kid activities and opportunities for kids to participate. The music, while classical, is all very accessible. The concert starts at 3 pm and is at the Oakland Veteran's Memorial Building, 200 Grand (at the corner of Grand and Harrison, near Fairyland). Feel free to email me with any questions, or you can call (51) 834-4314 during business hours. Pam

A Christmas Carol

Nov 1999

I would be grateful for any comments on the ACT production of "A Christmas Carol." In your opinion, is it appropriate for young children? I would imagine that it is not. My child is 4 yrs. old, and able to sit through and enjoy "The Nutcracker" ballet, so behavior in a theatre during a somewhat lengthy performance is not my concern. Content is my concern for the performance scary? Any comments?


I haven't seen the ACT's Christmas Carol, but I had a holiday tradition of taking my daughter to the production at Mills College. I love the play, but taking a young child, I realized how wordy it is, lots of long speeches with not too much action (long on plot, in other words), and she was bored most of the time when I took her as a pre-schooler. I don't think at that time that she even realized that the ghosts were supposed to be ghosts, and thus scary. Basically I would advise not taking a young child, but instead familiarizing her with the story by having her watch the old movie, or one of the cartoon versions. Then in a year or so, she will enjoy the play more by knowing what is going to happen ahead of time.
The Muppet Movie version of C.C. is available on video and it is EXCELLENT!
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