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Amber Adrian

Lemony Snicket’s The Composer is Dead

Suspects in the murder of one decomposing composer are the clarinet (“everyone knows reed instruments are sneaky”), the bass (“tired of playing the boring parts”), and the flute (“angry about having to act like birds.”) Responsible for seeing justice done is one hook-nosed inspector with a notebook and an unfortunate proclivity for accidentally snapping off the corpse’s left hand.


Better known as Lemony Snicket, Daniel Handler is an irreverent Bay Area celebrity whose delightfully wrong sense of humor makes him entirely capable of writing a children’s story about a dead body. The dead body in question is the titular composer, a master of classical music now good only for rat food.

Revolutionary Nutcracker Sweetie

If the standard Nutcracker spectacle strikes you as insipid or expensive or just too darn reminiscent of enforced family outings, try Dance Brigade’s Revolutionary Nutcracker Sweetie. Krissy Keefer’s refreshing version of the nut-cracking holiday confection turns Clara into an undocumented worker for a wealthy family and Drosselmeyer into the pink Mohawked gay son, who presents Clara with a freedom-fighting South African nutcracker.

Neil Gaiman's Coraline at SF Playhouse

Heedless of admonishments from elderly neighbors Miss Spink and Miss Forcible - not to mention warnings from the mice trained by Crazy Old Man Upstairs - Coraline steps through the bricked-up drawing room door into Other World, a seemingly idyllic version of her real home where toys fly through the air, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible perform a never-ending cabaret, and her absentee parents are attentive and loving. But Other World's sinister underbelly soon reveals itself, forcing Coraline into a battle to save her real parents and the ghost children who fell prey generations earlier.

 

December Classical Roundup: Choral Holiday Music

No disrespect meant to Pandora's fine Christmas stations, as they're one of the many reasons we dearly love the internet, but there’s just something about the rush of human voices filling a cathedral that makes you think of pine trees and candy canes and those hotly-debated red cups. So here’s a roundup of seasonal choral performances in case you need some extra holiday spirit or Pandora goes down.

 

Booze, Boys, and Brownies: A Musical Journey

Somehow women became hopelessly entrenched in the idea that success requires us to make ourselves miserable - whether because current denim sizing declares wordlessly yet emphatically that brownies are a bad idea or because we think mentally pummeling ourselves will keep us on the right track. (Why?) (Dear god, why?)

 

Liss Fain Dance at Theater Artaud

Random architectural spaces are the new stage - especially when it comes to modern dance. Inspired by the gallery where her company performed in Germany, Liss Fain choreographed a work where dancers stayed in the microcosm of their prescribed room, each of which had its own complete performance - so no one in the audience saw everything and no one saw the same show. It’s the dance world’s version of choose-your-own-adventure, and you decide what you see based on where your feet take you.

Robin Williams and W. Kamau Bell at Glide’s Annual Holiday Festival

If you want to support San Francisco's disenfranchised in this season o’ charitable giving, but need more compelling incentive than a dude with a red bucket and bell - incentive like, say, Robin Williams and fried chicken - mark Thursday for Glide’s annual fundraiser. You'll get world-class comedy and the smug satisfaction of supporting Glide's grand tradition of helping Tenderloin residents find their feet and their spirit. 

Encounters: New Moon Silk Road

Inspired by the fabled Silk Road (the western world’s first connection with east, now symbolizing cross-fertilization of everything from music to spice racks), Ballet Afsaneh spent the past year orchestrating a collaboration with acclaimed local artists from the Central and South Asian diaspora. This impressive year-long exercise culminates in a performance blending dance, music, and text from the historic trade routes of Eurasia.

Horses Take the Stage in Cavalia

The glorious culmination of every 12-year-old girl's equestrian fantasy (absent only the unicorns), Cavalia is your chance to watch 52 horses trot and gallop and high-step around a paddock the size of a football field. Developed by the same brain behind Cirque du Soleil, Cavalia is a soft-focused multimedia tribute to horses - and the aerialists, acrobats, and dancers who perform with them.

The Success of Failure

Sporting a pig snout and coke bottle Dr. Magoo glasses, theater artist Cynthia Hopkins plays the accordion and sings poignantly about loss and mortality on micro- and macrocosmic levels. An intergalactic space epic marked by immersive videoscapes, song, and text, The Success of Failure blends silver spacesuit-clad sci-fi and the random happenstance of the universe (if the dinosaurs hadn't been wiped out, we would be breathing through gills right now) with the deeply personal - addiction, the loss of her mother, and her dying father.

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