Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Thanksgiving

graphics-thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Happy Holidays!

christmas
San Jose Metblogs wishing you a wonderful holiday season together with your family and friends as well as a happy New Year!

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:
90.3
San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland
104.9
South Bay & Peninsula
89.9
In The Wine Country
92.5
Ukiah-Lakeport
90.3
Los Gatos, Saratoga

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…)

Christmas in the Park 2013

The Tree Lighting Ceremony is Friday, November 29 – 6:00 pm at the Plaza De Cesar Chavez Park. Then Christmas in the Park is open every day, including Christmas, from 9:00 am to midnight through January 1, 2014.
Christmas in the Park with over 60 musical and animated exhibits, lights and a 60-foot Community Giving Tree. Check out the melting snowman, caroling mice and elf woodcrafters.

Admission is free.
Parking info and validation participants. Better yet, public transportation (VTA).

Plaza De Cesar Chavez
South Market Street, San Jose 95113

At Opera SJ: a tasty childhood tale that also feeds adult attention

This holiday season Opera San Jose is producing Hansel & Gretel.

So let’s just get this out of the way first.  The best part of the show?  A fabulous drag queen witch who travels the stage on a Segway.  It doesn’t get any better than this at the opera.

Cast 1: Tenor James Callon as the witch, soprano Sara Gartland as Gretel and mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich as Hansel. Photo by Pat Kirk. Not pictured: The Segway.

James Callon as the witch absolutely made my day and got me through the show.  BRAVO!

It is difficult for me to give a solid review for this show, even as Opera Novice.  The opera is considered a masterpiece by Engelbert Humperdinck (the 19th century German, not the 20th century Brit – who knew there were TWO??) but while Opera SJ always does an amazing job with every opera, it is still a children’s story which is not my favorite genre.  I had a bit of a love/hate experience with this show (or really a hate/love experience).  So let’s break it down in pieces.

Cast 1: Soprano Sara Gartland as Gretel and mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich as Hansel. Photo by Pat Kirk.

The story: Hansel & Gretel are two children who live in the woods with their very poor parents.  Everyone is hungry and there is no money for food.  The mother sends the kids into the woods to gather berries, but they discover a witch who lives in a gingerbread house.  Said witch cannot wait to fatten up the children so she can eat them.  You know, your typical children’s bedtime story.

All things opera: The members of Opera SJ really can do no wrong. Whatever show they put on you can be assured that you are receiving the best production of the show possible.  The usual inadequate Opera Novice review goes here: “The singers are amazing and beautiful!! The orchestra was perfection!!”  I wish I had a better vocabulary for the perfection of our local opera company, but that is the best I can do.

The entertainment (and only small downside):  Acts I and II were slow for me. With no witch in sight yet, it focuses on Hansel & Gretel who, let’s face it, are the worst.  Instead of doing their chores they fool around dancing and singing about delicious desserts.  When they’re sent into the woods to gather berries they end up eating them all before finally getting lost.  NICE GOING, KIDS.  As a very happy empty-nester, I was annoyed with the characters.  Sara Gartland and Kindra Scharich (Gretel and Hansel) were amazing in their roles however, and did an fantastic job playing the young brother and sister.

Things turned around for me at the end of Act II when they are put to sleep by the Sandman, and dream of 14 angels.  Hansel & Gretel are then transformed into dream ballet dancers surrounded by the sparkling, beautiful angels (played by young children) holding globes of light.  This musical interlude was truly magical and I really enjoyed it.

Intermission: I absolutely love seeing kids attend the opera, and I’m always thrilled to see them enjoying themselves.  This show was filled with well-behaved and impeccably dressed children, and they were all excitedly discussing the story outside in the lobby.  Of course it is a great show to introduce your child to the opera.  Is it a great show for adults?  AHA! Enter Act III and the witch…

Cast A: Mezzo-soprano Lisa Chavez as Hansel, soprano Cecilia Violetta López as Gretel and soprano Christine Capsuto as the Dew Fairy. Photo by Pat Kirk.

Act III and the entrance of the Dew Fairy (Christine Capsuto) were what made me sit up straight and start paying attention.  The Dew Fairy is not only gorgeous and funny for the kids, she brings some adult humor that will go over the children’s heads but will have the adults shaking with laughter.  Regrettably she is only on stage for a few minutes, but that is okay because after she wakes Hansel & Gretel they finally discover the gingerbread house and…

Good gosh almighty, the witch is straight out of Priscilla Queen of the Desert (if Priscilla were a Segway instead of a bus).  In Cast A, Marc Schreiner plays the witch and I am confident he is great. I saw Cast 1 which stars tenor James Callon and I could not take my eyes off him whenever he was on stage.  He easily switches back and forth from evil witch to wheedling “nice” witch.  There are costume changes, each design more fabulous than the previous.  The witch is scary but not terrifying, yet hilarious and awesome at the same time.

The stage was an incredible never-ending forest that was painted so beautifully I kept expecting the actors to run further into the woods than the backdrop allowed.  There is a whimsical gingerbread house and a candy cane cage, but the star of the stage was the giant oven with ginormous teeth. As a child this oven would have scared me to death, but I heard no cries in the audience, only whoops of enjoyment.

So, the verdict? If you want to introduce children to the opera, take them to see this and no one will be disappointed. If you love opera for opera’s sake, you know Opera SJ will deliver with the quality you expect.  If you’re a newbie or opera novice, well… I guess my final say is that while the production is outstanding, Act I and II were a bit slow, but then Act III makes everything worth it.  Really, REALLY worth it.  Great holiday show!!  And a great early holiday gift for the family!

Hansel & Gretel
Opera San Jose
Through December 1

And if you think Hansel & Gretel aren’t your thing, get ready for Madame Butterfly on February 15! Tickets available now, so get your holiday shopping done with a really original and special gift!

4th of July Fireworks & Festivities 2012

America’s birthday, time to celebrate with parades, barbecues, picnics, festivals, and fireworks!

Events are free; however, at some locations there will be food for purchase, some activities may have a fee, and there may be parking fees. Events with an admission fee are not listed here. Events, locations, schedules are subject to change.

Here are some places to view fireworks and/or enjoy a day of celebrations:

San Jose

The Rose, White and Blue Parade and Festival. An old-fashioned family-style parade winds through the Rose Garden neighborhood ending on The Alameda. The parade features live bands, dance groups, homemade floats, and kids on bikes, antique cars, and more. Following the parade attendees will enjoy an Arts & Music Festival with live music, classic car show, arts and crafts, and more.. Following the parade attendees will enjoy the picnic on The Alameda featuring food and drink from local restaurants for purchase.

Event info (PDF)

San Jose Giants Fireworks Extravaganza at Municipal Stadium. The Giants hosts the Modesto Nuts at 6:30pm (with tickets as low as $10) but more importantly from anywhere near the stadium you can watch the post-game fireworks show for free. Fireworks at approx. 9:30 pm.

Event info

Santa Clara

Picnic and Fireworks Extravaganza

Central Park, 909 Kiely Boulevard

Pancake Breakfast (8:00 am -10:00 am $6.00), followed by games and entertainment throughout the day at the Pavilion along with (for a fee) a carnival area, face painting, and swimming at the International Swim Center. Bring a picnic lunch or purchase foods at the event ($1.00 to $6.00).

Flag Dedication Ceremony at noon, followed by live music until 5:00 pm.

Great America (entrance fee) hosts fireworks shows every Saturday night in July and August. No fireworks July 4th.

Event info

Los Gatos

4th of July Celebration

Civic Center, 110 E. Main Street

Los Gatos Celebrates July 4 for the entire family, all day 11:00 am – 4:30 pm. Beginning in the morning games and activities at the Civic Center. BBQ, picnic lunches and cold drinks available for purchase at the food court.

Event info (PDF)

Cupertino

Children’s Parade and Patriotic Community Sing-Along

Daytime Program at Quinlan Community Center and Memorial Park

7:00 am – 11:00 am: De Anza Optimist Pancake Breakfast (Quinlan Community Center’s Cupertino Room) – for purchase

9:30 am: Flag Raising (at the Veteran’s Memorial)

10:00 – 10:30 am: Children’s Parade starting at the Memorial Park ball field and proceeding to the Memorial Park Amphitheater

10:30 am – 12:00 pm: Concert in the Park

Families and kids are invited to Blackberry Farm (21979 San Fernando Avenue) for a free day of swimming live music and free BBQ.

10:00 am – 4:00 pm: Free Swimming

Noon -2:00 pm: BBQ Lunch ($5)

Noon – 3:00 pm: Live music by The Dave Crimmen Band Classic 50’s Rock & Roll

5:00 pm: Park Closes

Free Fireworks Show – 6:45 pm to 10:00 pm

The fireworks show with music and games at three different viewing locations —

* Creekside Park – Miller Ave. and Calle De Barcelona (handicap parking available)
* Hyde Middle School – 19325 Bollinger Road (bwtn Hyde and Miller)
* Sedgwick Elementary School- 19200 Phil Lane at Tantau Ave.

6:45 – 9:15 pm: Music and games at all three locations. 9:30 pm: Fireworks.

Fireworks set off at Cupertino High School (no viewing area at the high school).

Saratoga

Costumed Old-Fashioned 4th of July from 9:30 am (to 11:00 am) at Kevin Moran Park (12415 Scully Ave)

Activties:

Color Guard presenting the flag

McCartysville Volunteer Band playing patriotic tunes, including Sousa marches

Actors in costume as American historical characters

Youth chorus and sing-alongs of patriotic tunes

Children’s/Family parade

Free popsicles for all and flags for children

Santa Cruz

“Independence Day 1912 Celebration” at Wilder Ranch State Park (1401 Coast Road)

Travel back in time a hundred years at Wilder Ranch State Park in Santa Cruz County on July 4, 2012 to experience an old-fashioned Independence Day Celebration 1912 style with a family parade at noon, flag raising ceremony, draft horse rides, living history demonstrations and more.

Wilder Ranch State Park is located 2 miles north of Santa Cruz on Highway 1. The event is free; the day use parking fee applies per car.

Morgan Hill

Parade & Fireworks

Morgan Hill Community Park, 100 Edes Steet

The Morgan Hill July 4th Parade downtown preceded by the Liberty Car Cruise. Decorated vintage and collector cars. At 10:00 am the Parade begins including marching bands and floats

9:00 am: Pre-parade Entertainment

9:30 am: Liberty Parade Cruise

10:00 am: Parade (Downtown streets including Monterey Street & Peak Avenue)

11:30 am: Vintage Farm Engines & Liberty Car Show

In the evening at the Morgan Hill Community Park from 6:00 pm is pre-fireworks entertainment with the fireworks scheduled for approximately 9:30 pm.

Event info

Gilroy

Annual 4th of July Fireworks Display at Gilroy High School on Tenth Street beginning around 9:15 pm.

Event info: (408) 846-0460

Fremont

4th of July Parade – Centerville District

The Fremont 4th of July parade rotates between six of the districts of Fremont each year. This year, 2012 parade route: Centerville District – The parade route starts at State Street and Capitol Avenue (10:00 am), then on to Paseo Padre Parkway, Walnut Avenue, Liberty Street, and ends on Beacon Avenue at the corner of State Street

Flag Day June 14th 1917


Is your flag up to commemorate the birth of the Stars and Stripes?

Mine is!

Here’s to the Red, White, and Blue.

 

Valentine’s Day reminder

San Jose’s local chocolatier, Schurra’s Fine Confections, is 100 years old this year. Also, there are only two days left until Saint Valentine’s Day. You make the connection.

From Schurra’s web page:

Schurra’s, creating a tradition of Fine Confections since 1912. Albert and Justin Schurra started their confectionery business with retail stores in Stockton and Modesto California. They soon expanded their candy business to include wholesale accounts throught Northern California. In the early 1930’s they closed their stores in Stockton and Modesto and moved to The Alameda in San Jose. The Alameda, also known as the beautiful way, was San Jose’s premier neighborhood. The mansions of successful doctors, lawyers and architects lined the street as they do today… A street car system ran down the center of the street carrying passengers from Alum Rock Park through downtown and out towards the town of Santa Clara. The Alameda was and is also known as Hwy 82. It was the most modern route to San Francisco at the time. In the mid 1930’s Albert Schurra purchased the building at 848 The Alameda. He designed a “Sunshine Candy Kitchen” where customers could watch candy being made through the windows. Skilled women would sit in the front windows that faced The Alameda and artistically dip chocolates by hand. Many of the chocolate dippers worked for Schurra’s well into their 90’s and two, Gladys Neisonger and Myrtle Bay, lived to be over 100 years old. While we have since located next door to the old Sunshine Candy Kitchen, we proudly carry on Albert and Justin’s time-honored traditions and adhere to their standards of quality by making everything from scratch everyday.

  • What: Schurra’s Chocolates
  • When: 10 am – 6:30 pm, Mon – Fri
    10 am – 5:30 Sat
    Special holiday hours today
  • Where: 840 The Alameda, San Jose

Free Rides New Year’s Eve

Free transit service on New Year’s Eve 2011:

VTA will be offering free service on all light rail and bus lines from 7:00 pm Saturday, December 31, 2011 until 3:59 am Sunday, January 1, 2012.

Light Rail:

Last trip leaving Santa Teresa at 1:54 am
Last trip leaving Alum Rock at 1:37 am
Last trip leaving Winchester at 1:10 am
Last trip leaving Mountain View at 10:50 pm
Last trip leaving Baypointe at 1:27 am

Express Line 180/181 (to the Fremont BART Station):

Last Northbound bus leaving Diridon Station at 2:06 am arriving at Fremont BART at 2:47 am
Last Southbound bus leaving Fremont BART at 3:05 am arriving at 2nd & Santa Clara at 3:41 am (Does not go to the Diridon Station)

 

Caltrain offers free train service starting at 11:00 pm on Dec. 31, 2011. In addition, Caltrain will add four extra post-midnight, southbound trains to its regular Sunday schedule, Jan. 1, 2012. Trains will depart the San Francisco station at 12:45 am, 1:15 am, 1:45 am and 2:15 am, making all local weekend stops (including Diridon Station).

SF Muni has free rides on all Muni lines & routes (including cable cars) from 8:00 pm New Year’s Eve until 6:00 am New Years Day. Additional Metro service from 8:00 pm to 2:15 am from West Portal to Caltrain and until 4 am from Embarcadero to West Portal Station.

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