Archive for December, 2013

Bay Area Pet Expo 2014

The Bay Area Pet Expo at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds is Saturday January 11, 2014. Admission is free (Parking $8.00) and pets are welcome — all pets must be on a fixed lead or in a carrier with proof of age-appropriate vaccinations.
The Expo features pet-friendly exhibitors and rescue groups, pet care tips, along with live demonstrations in agility, obedience training, and more.
Fun includes the pet fashion show, costume contest, and the pet/owner look-alike contest.
In addition, low-cost immunizations and pets will be available for adoption.
Free nail trims, discounted vaccinations, microchipping and heartworm & flea preventatives.

You will be required to sign a pet waiver at the entrance or you may fill your pet waiver form out in advance here.

The Expo is indoors.

Bay Area Pet Expo
Santa Clara County Fairgrounds
44 Tully Road, San Jose 95111

Saturday January 11, 2014
10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Admission: Free
Parking: $8.00

Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II

Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II is an orchestra-and-film concert this weekend (December 28-29, 2013). Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Pepe Le Pew, Tweety, Sylvester, Wile E. Coyote, and Road Runner along with others are projected on the screen while their original scores are played live by Symphony Silicon Valley.

Symphony Silicon Valley
Center for the Performing Arts
255 S Almaden Blvd, San Jose, CA ‎

Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013 at 2:30pm, 7:30pm
Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013 at 2:30pm

Tickets here

KDFC Sounds of the Season

Classical KDFC presents holiday music featuring choral, brass and string quartet arrangements beginning noon Christmas Eve through Christmas Day.

KDFC is listener-supported; donations welcome — 1-888-966-5332

Stations in your area:
San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland
South Bay & Peninsula
In The Wine Country
Los Gatos, Saratoga

Little Women brings Big Surprises and Holiday Joy

(l-r) Arielle Fishman, Emily Koch, Sharon Rietkerk, and Julia Belanoff star as the March sisters - Amy, Jo, Meg, and Beth. Photo credit: Mark Kitaoka

Little Women the musical, produced by TheatreWorks, is quite simply one of the best shows I’ve seen this year (and this year has been full of some fantastic shows).  One of the best (and rare) parts of reviewing theater is coming across an unexpected gem, and Saturday evening’s Opening Night was the Hope Diamond.

“Little Women”, by Louisa May Alcott, is the story of four sisters who vow to stick together forever when they are young in the 1860s.  Father is off in the war, and while the family is short on money, they have an abundance of love.  Jo March, the second sister, narrates the story and has ambitions of being a writer.  For many young girls who read the book, Jo is the favorite as she insists on living life according to her own terms and not 19th century society’s.

(l-r) Jo (Emily Koch) and Professor Bhaer (Christopher Vettel) imagine a scene from Jo's novel, portrayed by Justin Buchs, Sharon Rietkerk, and Elizabeth Palmer. Photo credit: Mark Kitaoka

I loved the book when I was young, but even so I never imagined a Jo as charismatic and exuberant as the one Emily Koch brings to the stage.  Her joy in narrating her stories to the audience is palpable, and her physical acting makes it clear this character is made for pants, not long and stuffy skirts.  I cannot state enough how much every single actor in this show is perfection, and yet Ms. Koch raises it to a level even beyond that.  Jo is the girl we want to be, and later the woman we look up to as a role model.

I was not so sure how well it would work turning Little Women into a musical, but this show is so perfect, and the actors are such incredible singers, that it becomes one of those shows you don’t even realize is a musical.  The songs fit so well they are just part of the story and the experience.

And what a story for the young women of today, or any day.  This is not merely a story of a girl who refused to put aside her wants and needs in life so she could be someone’s wife, but neither is it a story against marriage.  It is a story of deciding what you want from life and accepting nothing else – and sometimes that means changing your mind.  Sometimes it means getting married.  The right choice is the choice that a woman makes for her own self.  And every character in this story does just that.

It’s a joyful story and a heartwarming one, but of course it also has a couple incredibly sad scenes that left everyone in my row wiping their eyes, and the theater was full of sniffling and shaking shoulders when Marmee sings “Days of Plenty”.

Laurie (Matt Dengler) kisses Jo (Emily Koch). Photo credit: Mark Kitaoka

I had had a very long day holiday decorating with my family, and neither my daughter nor myself were keen on driving to Palo Alto to see a show, but never have we felt more grateful that we had done so.  We were enthralled from the first moment, mesmerized by the balletic beauty of Meg (Sharon Reitkerk), the sweetness of Beth (Julia Belanoff), the spoiled petulance of Amy (Arielle Fishman), and the utter joyfulness of Jo.  We never for a moment wanted to close our eyes or miss one moment.  This show is for everyone, including kids perhaps as young as ten (they should be old enough to deal with a very sad death), and it is a perfect show for the holidays and a cold winter night.  My highest praise, from one who sees a lot of shows:  I would see this show again. And again and again.

Little Women the Musical
Extended through January 4
Lucie Stern Theatre
1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
Holiday Tea Luncheon at the Garden Court Hotel
with matinee this Saturday, December 14


The Snow Queen warms winter hearts at The SJ Rep


Jane Pfitsch, Rhett George, Lee Ann Payne, Tim Homsley, Eryn Murmam and Jason Hite. Photo by Ana Zavala.

When San Jose Rep artistic director Rick Lombardo and associate artistic director Kirsten Brandt were planning for this year’s winter show, they soon realized they had already produced most of the popular seasonal shows (some of them to death).  In order to bring something new to the stage, they went above and beyond: they created their own show, and a musical to boot.

The Snow Queen is a fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen.  It follows the fateful travels of young Gerda (Eryn Murman) as she seeks the realm of the Snow Queen (Jane Pfitsch) to rescue her kidnapped friend Kai (Tim Homsley).  Along the way, Gerda comes across many different obstacles in her path, in the form of groups of criminals and magical creatures who want to keep her for themselves.  My daughter described it as having a Wizard of Oz feel.

After partnering with friend Haddon Kime, Lombardo and Brandt were able to turn this into an original pop rock musical, and set the scene in a steampunk world of interesting, quirky characters.  Everyone sings, and almost everyone plays an instrument. It’s a musical, magical show that is perfect for Winter.  With themes focusing on love, friendship and family, it is also a perfect holiday show.  When the show finished on Opening Night most of the audience gave a standing ovation, and everyone was excitedly talking about the show on their way out. It appeared to be loved and adored by all.

There were many stand outs in the show.  I would have loved to see Rhett George have a bigger part (or appear in future shows!) as his rich voice brings the troll to life and his narration sets the tone for the story to come.  Tim Homsley, who I thought was terribly miscast in last season’s The Minister’s Wife, brings his acting skills to play in this show. Starting out as a fun loving boy, he makes a startling transformation to the hypnotized mathematician under the spell of the Snow Queen.

Pictured: Full cast of San Jose Rep’s The Snow Queen. Photo by Kevin Berne.

Cindy Im makes the most charismatic rose you will ever see on stage, and her steampunk flower friends Janice Engelgau (Tiger Lily), and Summer C. Latimer (Hyacinth) were fun and sexy and great singers.  More special attention goes to Jason Hite (Daisy) who also plays Old Crow.

Costume designer Frances Nelson McSherry not only created some terrifically fun steampunk costumes for all, but she made the decision to leave bare the amazing upper arms of Jane Pfitsch’s Snow Queen.  Seriously, those arms were scene stealers. (more…)

Holiday Train 2013

This weekend (December 7 & 8) the Caltrain Holiday Train, a special non-passenger train decorated with more than 60,000 lights, will be making stops at nine different Peninsula Caltrain stations; four on Saturday four other stations on Sunday, and begins at the San Francisco station on both days.

This free, family event gives you a chance to sing along with live holiday music (various chorus and bands) and the kids get a chance to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus along with other holiday favorites; they will get off the train to greet children. Performances at each station begin about 30 minutes before the train’s arrival.

Visitors are encouraged to bring a new toy or book to drop into toy barrels at the stations for the Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program and the Salvation Army’s holiday toy drive.

Visitors are invited to visit the stations and view the Holiday Train show but are not permitted to board or ride on the train.

Always stand well back from the train and behind the yellow line on the platform. Hold onto children’s hands while waiting on the platform. The Holiday Train show will be on the stage car in the middle of the train.

Saturday, December 7 —
San Francisco: 4:00 pm
Burlingame: 5:15 pm
Redwood City: 6:15 pm
Palo Alto (California Ave.): 6:50 pm
Santa Clara: 8:10 pm

Sunday, December 8 —
San Francisco: 4:00 pm
Millbrae: 5:15 pm
San Mateo: 6:20 pm
Menlo Park: 7:45 pm
Sunnyvale: 8:40 pm

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