Bay Area Best Bets | December 13 – 15

The Oakland Symphony pays tribute to Aretha Franklin with its holiday concert, “Let Us Break Bread Together,” on Dec. 15 at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland. (Image courtesy of the Oakland Symphony)

The Bay Area is a hub of artistic expression, attracting artists, writers and musicians from around the globe to live, work and create. We highlight some of the offerings here.

• Breaking Bread with Aretha: Oakland Symphony’s annual holiday concert, titled “Let Us Break Bread Together,” tends to be a wonderful blend of classical, spiritual and seasonal music. This year’s show features a tribute to the late soul icon Aretha Franklin, with special guests including Adam Theis and his Jazz Mafia band, and the terrific Bay Area singer Tiffany Austin. The performance is at 4 p.m. on Dec. 15 at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland. Tickets are $15-$70 at

• The mother of all ‘Nutcrackers’: It was 75 years ago on Christmas Eve that San Francisco Ballet staged the first full-length production of “The Nutcracker” in America. And it has kept classic ballet coming year after year ever since, even though “The Nutcracker” at first was not a big hit, especially in its native Russia. Whether you are a dance history fan, or just love a night out for an opulent holiday performance, the company on Dec. 11 opens a milestone production of “The Nutcracker.” Performances run through Dec. 27 at the War Memorial in San Francisco; tickets are $25-$325 at 415-865-2000, Another popular, long-running “Nutcracker” opens this weekend as well, performed by Valley Dance Theatre. The productions runs Dec. 14-22 at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore; $42; 925-373-6800,   

• Humbug of the highest order: Two terrific, long-running stage productions of Charles Dickens’ beloved “A Christmas Carol” are up and running. At the American Conservatory Theater, James Carpenter is back as Ebenezer Scrooge in the production that runs through Dec. 24 at the Geary Theater in San Francisco ($10-$150; www.act-sf.orgAnd in the East Bay, Center Repertory Company’s production stars Michael Ray Wisely. It runs Dec. 12-22 at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek ($29-$50;

Justin Mortelliti, left, Mary Mattison and Monique Hafen Adams star in TheatreWorks’ production of “Pride and Prejudice” in Palo Alto. (Photo by Kevin Berne/TheatreWorks Silicon Valley)

• Austen classic — with songs: Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is a beloved romantic story that has seen all manner of adaptations for the screen and stage. Now there’s a musical, too. TheatreWorks Silicon Valley just opened a world premiere musical based on the novel about two independent-minded (OK, stubborn) people falling in love in spite of their best efforts not to. Created by Paul Gordon, the two-hour, 25-minute musical runs through Jan. 4 at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto. Tickets are $30-$100 at

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