Entertainment

8 Bay Area arts and entertainment events to check out this week, Nov. 29-Dec. 5

Francois Battiste as Ebenezer Scrooge (center) in BroadwaySF’s “A Christmas Carol.” Photo: Joan Marcus / BroadwaySF

The Chronicle’s guide to notable arts and entertainment happenings in the Bay Area.

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Local actors get rare chance to perform on grand Golden Gate Theatre stage in ‘A Christmas Carol’

BroadwaySF’s Golden Gate Theatre usually hosts touring companies of actors from all over the country and beyond. But “A Christmas Carol” not only rehearsed locally but also cast a bevy of Bay Area actors in its ensemble. That means Samuel Faustine, Rodney Earl Jackson Jr, Annie Sherman, Monica Ho, Ash Malloy, Colin Thompson, Ben Beckley and Wiley Naman Strasser all get to perform on one of the Bay Area’s grandest stages.

Jack Thorne’s music-filled adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novella, which won five 2020 Tony Awards, is known for painting Ebenezer Scrooge less as an out-and-out monster and more as a harried businessman. He’s harder to distance yourself from, harder to peremptorily condemn, when he reminds you of someone you might hasten past in the Financial District.

Matthew Warchus (“Matilda the Musical”) directs, and Francois Battiste stars.

“A Christmas Carol”: Tuesday, Nov. 30; 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1; 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday, Dec. 2-3; 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4. Through Dec. 26. $56-$256, subject to change. Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor St., S.F. 888-746-1799. www.broadwaysf.com

— Lily Janiak

Adeline Thery in “Leda.” Photo: Courtesy of Another Hole in the Head Film Festival

Another Hole in the Head Film Festival returns with hybrid program in 18th year

The Another Hole in the Head Film Festival is devoted to bringing a cross section of quality independent films to the public, from the very low budget to the better-funded and more polished.

This 18th installment will be a hybrid affair, partly streamed, but with a lot of films being screened in person, at the New People Cinema in San Francisco. One of the highlights is the opening night film, “Leda,” which is billed as a tragic fairy tale based on the Greek myth “Leda and the Swan.” Of particular interest is that “Leda” is in 3-D. The 3-D medium, to this point the province of inartistic action films, deserves to be used in more serious movies.

The festival will show 30 feature films and 200 shorts. Streamed films will be shown on the Eventive platform. Full festival passes are available for $160, but tickets can be purchased individually.

18th Another Hole in the Head Film Festival: Begins Wednesday, Dec. 1. Through Dec. 15. $10 for Eventive tickets, $15 for live tickets, $160 for festival pass. Online at Eventive. IN person screenings at New People Cinema, 1746 Post St. S.F. 415-525-8600. https://www.ahith.com/

— Mick LaSalle

Vocalist Mahsa Vahdat Photo: Tehmineh Monzavi

Kronos Quartet joins forces once more with vocalist Mahsa Vahdat

As dramatic and rewarding as its solo shows can be, the Kronos Quartet always adds an extra layer of zest when partnering with a guest artist. The group’s Berkeley recital features a collaboration with the Iranian vocalist and songwriter Mahsa Vahdat, who joined the quartet on the 2019 recording “Placeless.”

Vahdat — who can also be heard two nights later in partnership with Vân-Ánh Võ and the Blood Moon Orchestra — offers her own settings of poems by Hafez, Rumi and contemporary Iranian poets. The quartet’s program also features music by Peni Candra Rini, Terry Riley, Missy Mazzoli and Angélique Kidjo.

Kronos Quartet and Mahsa Vahdat: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2. $48-$72. Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley. 510-642-9988. www.calperformances.org

— Joshua Kosman

D’Arcy Drollinger (left), Matthew Martin, Holotta Tymes and Heklina in “The Golden Girls Live! The Christmas Episodes,” which performs at the Victoria Theatre. Photo: Ashlynn Danielsen

‘The Golden Girls Live! The Christmas Episodes’ returns in person to S.F.’s Victoria Theatre

Defrost the cheesecake and pile on the shoulder pads: “The Golden Girls Live! The Christmas Episodes” is coming back in person to the Victoria Theatre after the show was streamed last year because of pandemic restrictions.

A San Francisco tradition since 2007, the drag version of the beloved sitcom stars Heklina as Dorothy (originally played by Bea Arthur), D’Arcy Drollinger as Rose (originally played by Betty White), Matthew Martin as Blanche (originally played by Rue McClanahan) and Holotta Tymes as Sophia (originally played by Estelle Getty). While the performances by the queens are always memorable, seeing the episodes performed live also reminds audiences just how great the series’ scripts were — and how the show was also ahead of its time in how it handled women’s issues, aging, gay characters and sexuality after a certain age. The two episodes on the bill this year (with added Christmas cheer) are personal favorite “Henny Penny — Straight, No Chaser” from season six and ”An Illegitimate Concern” from season five.

“In the last twelve years we’ve been doing the show at Christmas it’s become kind of an alternative to the “Nutcracker’ and other holiday stuff in the city,” Heklina says.

Given the show’s overall message of chosen family and sticking up for the underdog, seeing “The Golden Girls Live! The Christmas Episodes” feels truly in keeping with the real spirit of the holidays.

“The Golden Girls Live! The Christmas Episodes”: 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday, Dec. 2-3; 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4. Through Dec. 23. $30-60. The Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St., S.F. 415-863-7576. https://www.sfoasis.com/the-golden-girls-live

— Tony Bravo

Shirley Knight and James Caan in “The Rain People” (1969). Photo: Courtesy of the Pacific Film Archive

A Bay Area screening of Francis Coppola’s ‘Rain People,’ a landmark art film from 1969

Following “Finian’s Rainbow,” a splashy musical, Francis Ford Coppola returned to his independent roots to make “The Rain People” (1969) a raw, sober look at American life.

It’s an example of a kind of film that was in the ascendant in that era and that is missing now. It’s the story of a middle-class married woman, who finds out that she’s pregnant and takes off in her station wagon, questioning what she wants in life and needing to examine her life choices. She meets a young former football player, who has suffered an injury that has turned him into a childlike innocent (James Caan), and the two take off on the road.

As film critic Roger Ebert said at the time, it’s a film in the great American tradition going back to “Huckleberry Finn.” But what needs to be acknowledged is that this time it’s a woman taking off down the road — an innovation that anticipated “Thelma and Louise” by more than two decades.

“The Rain People”: 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3. $10-14. UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 2155 Center Street, Berkeley. www.bampfa.org

— Mick LaSalle

Marah Sotelo as Cinderella in Berkeley Playhouse’s “Into the Woods.” Photo: Ben Krantz Studio / Berkeley Playhouse

Racially diverse ‘Into the Woods’ opens in Berkeley following casting controversy in San Jose

In September, San Jose Playhouse canceled its planned production of “Into the Woods” following an online backlash. The reason? All its cast members were white — in a theater in a very multicultural city, for a show set in the fantastical realm of fairy tales.

By coincidence, Berkeley Playhouse scheduled its own, separate “Into the Woods” to run at about the same time San Jose Playhouse’s would have, but its cast is racially diverse. Now, Bay Area audiences have the chance to see what the James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim musical looks like when its actors reflect the racial makeup of our region.

The show weaves together a slew of Brothers Grimm characters including Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella. There’s Jack (of Beanstalk fame) and a baker and his wife and a witch and a cow. They all seem to get their happily-ever-afters by the end of Act 1, but Sondheim and Lapine make clear that uncomplicated, static happiness is a mirage, that a wish fulfilled only begets more wishes.

“Into the Woods”: 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 3-4; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5. Through Dec. 23. $25-$44. Berkeley Playhouse, 2640 College Ave., Berkeley. 510-845-8542. www.berkeleyplayhouse.org

— Lily Janiak

Composer-performer Vân-Ánh Võ Photo: Jason Lew

In her new ‘Songs of Strength,’ Vân-Ánh Võ celebrates international voices

The Vietnamese-born musician Vân-Ánh Võ — a vocalist, composer and virtuoso of the dan tranh, an elaborate 16-string zither — is among the most compelling and inventive creative figures in the Bay Area. In her own work and as a performer of work by other composers, Võ combines expressive intensity with a wide range of alluring instrumental sonorities.

Now she is poised to unveil her “Songs of Strength,” a compendious collection of music mirroring the struggles of women and immigrants from around the world. Joining Võ and her Blood Moon Orchestra is a host of stylistically diverse guest artists that includes Iranian vocalist Mahsa Vahdat, Oakland rapper Kev Choice and break-dancer Tunjie.

Vân-Ánh Võ and Blood Moon Orchestra: 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4. $56. Zellerbach Playhouse, UC Berkeley. 510-642-9988. www.calperformances.org

— Joshua Kosman

Caleb Teicher & Company and pianist Conrad Tao perform the West Coast premiere of “More Forever” at Cal Performances on Sunday, Dec. 5. Photo: Em Watson

Tap prodigy Caleb Teicher to make Cal Performances debut with ‘More Forever’

Caleb Teicher is a Wunderkind of tap, winner of New York’s prestigious Bessie Award while just a teenager dancing in the shows of tap stars Michelle Dorrance and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards.

Since then Teicher, who goes by gender-neutral pronouns, has studied ballet and modern, been commissioned by a raft of prestigious dance festivals, and performed at the Kennedy Center with Ben Folds, Regina Spektor and Jon Batiste. For their first-ever Cal Performances appearance, Teicher brings “More Forever,” inspired by their love for the sheer joy of dancing in Lindy Hop.

With live piano and electronic music by rising composer Conrad Tao, “More Forever” mixes old-school tap and new sounds created when Teicher’s company dances inside a giant sandbox.

Caleb Teicher & Company: 3pm, Sunday, Dec. 5. Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley. $32-$78. 510-642-9988. calperformances.org

— Rachel Howard

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