Ways to have a jolly Bay Area holiday season online, part 1

I’ll be home for Christmas. You can plan on me.

But then again, so will most of the rest of us, as the pandemic has us more or less pinned in place for now.

But COVID-19 can’t kill the holiday spirit, as the dozens of celebratory events planned by arts and entertainment presenters all around the Bay Area can attest. 

Here is a roundup of some of them — many beloved staples returning this year in formats transformed for our social-distancing enjoyment — featuring those starting now through Dec. 11. Come back next week for our list of virtual holiday celebrations from Dec. 12 and beyond.


ACT’s longtime production of the Charles Dickens classic comes to life this holiday season as a radio play, “A Christmas Carol: On Air.”

American Conservatory Theater’s “A Christmas Carol: On Air”: Actor James Carpenter will be back bah-humbugging it as Ebenezer Scrooge, he as been for many years, but the 45th version of the company’s production of the Dickens tale will be a radio play running from Dec. 4-31. Most of the rest of the cast will be there, and the opening night performance at 6 p.m. Dec. 4 and a special 6 p.m. Dec. 23 performance will feature a virtual lobby and pre- and post-show interactions with the cast. Tickets, $40-$60, are available at www.act-sf.org or 415-749-2228.


Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir 35th Annual Holiday Concert: Artistic director Terrance Kelly once again assembles his family of choirs from around the Bay Area for this now-traditional uplifting of holiday spirits through song. Actor-comedian playwright Don Reed hosts and guest artist JaCoree sings in a Zoom concert that features a pre-show performance by Kelly at 6 p.m. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5. Tickets, $10-$75, are available at www.oigc.org/oigc35.TAGGED: “A Christmas Carol: On Air”“Deck the Hall”“It’s a Wonderful Life”“Nutcracker Online”“Rise Up for Change”“Three Decembers”American Conservatory TheaterChristmasGlide MemorialOakland Interfaith Gospel ChoirOpera San JoseSan Francisco BalletSan Francisco Symphony


Susan Graham stars as Madeline Mitchell in Opera San Jose’s production of Jake Heggie’s “Three Decembers.” (Courtesy of David Allen)

Opera San Jose presents “Three Decembers”: No less a superstar than mezzo-soprano Susan Graham takes the main role in this 90-minute staging of Jake Heggie’s work about famed opera star Madeline Mitchell and her two adult children’s encounters on three holiday occasions over a 20-year period. OSJ resident artists soprano Maya Kherani and baritone Efraín Solís also star. Streaming begins Dec. 3 with a gala performance that will include a post-show discussion with Graham, Heggie and the rest of the artistic team. Tickets are $50 for the entire gala, or $40 without the post-show event, and access will remain available for a limited time. www.operasj.org or 408-437-4450.


Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” leaps back this year, on a virtual stage at San Francisco Ballet. (Courtesy of Erik Tomasson/S.F. Ballet)

The San Francisco Ballet’s “Nutcracker Online”: Clara, the Nutcracker, the Mouse King and Herr Drosselmeyer return to the stage in a new, high-def recorded performance that will include a virtual tour of the War Memorial Opera House, some downloadable treats and a visit, if you’d like, to the Ballet’s online holiday shop. Streaming begins at noon Nov. 27 and continues through Dec. 31. Your $49 ticket will get you access for 48 hours. www.sfballet.org.


San Francisco Symphony’s “Deck the Hall”: The 40th anniversary of the holiday special, hosted by conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, is a program of seasonal music and sing-alongs, including selections from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker Suite.” NBC anchor Raj Mathai narrates Harry Simeone’s “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and members of the Symphony Chorus and the San Francisco Boys Chorus sing. The concert goes online and will be broadcast at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 5 on NBC Bay Area, repeating at 11:30 a.m. Dec. 6 on Telemundo 48, and will remain available for streaming at sf symphony.org.


“It’s a Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Play on Zoom”: George Bailey famously wrestles with his conscience on Christmas Eve, and Clarence the angel lends a helping wing in this production from Contra Costa Civic Theatre. It streams at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays from Nov. 27 to Dec. 20, with links emailed on the day of performance. Ticket packages are $20-$50, available at ccct.org

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