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Archives: 2011


Good Germanic cheer and plenty of laughs at this year’s Christmas Revels in the Rialto Theater, Tacoma

If you’re looking for merry this Christmas, look no further than the Christmas Revels. The annual show which opened at Tacoma’s Rialto Theater this afternoon was the usual melting pot of folk song, carol, music, dance and foolery, but this year’s production was spiced up by some hilarious German-themed comedy and exquisite polyphonic singing to boot.

Set in 19th-century Bavaria this year, the show was a balanced combination of esoteric folk traditions and comforting familiar customs. Ranging from bizarre masks and thigh-slapping Schuhplattler dancing to tunes like “Silent Night” and “O Tannenbaum,” this year’s Revels also made good use of the German version of Santa, Sankt Nikolaus, to add a little more plot than usually happens at Revels shows.

White-haired and calm, Sankt Nik (a rather tongue-in-cheek Clark Maffitt) hooked the show around his search for a missing Christmas tree, a tradition started in Germany. Accompanied by his grimacing, grunting sidekick Ruprecht (a very funny Tony Curry, channeling a Cirque du Soleil clown) Sankt Nik also raised some laughs with the audience participation gags, looking as resplendent as a bishop-saint should. Read more »


Critic’s Picks: Flamenco at New Frontier, the Tacoma Symphony Chorus’ “Messiah,” Click Flick at the Grand Cinema and three “Nutcrackers”

Tacoma Symphony Chorus sings “Messiah”

Hear the arias and choruses of Handel’s famous oratorio, sung by the Tacoma Symphony Chorus with Tacoma Symphony accompanying, and with soloists Denise Lees, Melissa Plagemann, James Brown and Benjamin Harris. 7:30 p.m. tonight. $25. St. Charles Borromeo Church, 7112 S. 12th St., Tacoma. 253-272-7264, www.tacomasymphony.org

Flamenco at New Frontier

The 3 Glorias: Flamenco en Vivo performs at the New Frontier tonight, featuring sultry Seattle dancer Savannah Fuentes, singer Jesus Montoya and Pedro Cortez on guitar. 9 p.m. tonight. 21 and over. $20. New Frontier Lounge,

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Magical Strings’ annual Celtic Yuletide Concerts this weekend at Urban Grace Church, Tacoma

How long can one family play music together? At least 33 years, as proven by the locally-based Magical Strings Celtic ensemble, made up of three generations of the Boulding family. The ensemble performs up and down the West coast, and their annual Celtic Yuletide Concerts are in their 33rd year, with a Tacoma show this weekend.

Combining the mellow, lush sounds of Celtic harps, hammered dulcimers, violins, cellos, whistles, concertina and more with dancing, storytelling, juggling and carol singing, the concerts this year will feature the Raney Irish Dancers and the Tara Academy of Irish Dance, vocalist Colleen Raney

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Toy Boat Theatre winds up at their Spaceworks venue on Tacoma’s Hilltop with a solstice celebration

Actors and musicians in "That Delicate Light" at Toy Boat Theatre: from the left: Olivia Seward, Marilyn Bennett, Peter Pendras (guitar), Meleesa Wyatt, Matt Shimkus, Trevor Pendras (guitar, organ), Aaron Jacobs. Courtesy photo.

Spaceworks, that City of Tacoma project that fills empty commercial spaces downtown with art, music, dance and theater, has had some really good results – Toy Boat Theatre being one of them. This UPS-based, professional-level company has been able to offer Tacoma the kind of theater you’d never see in a community or professional space, thanks to the no-rent Spaceworks arrangment. Plays by Erin Cressida Wilson and Edward Albee, improv and workshops, and this weekend an original production combining poetry, music and theater focused on the winter solstice.

Well, it’s not actually on the solstice itself, which is next Tuesday, on Dec. 22. But Tuesday’s not a good theater night, so you can get a jump on the solstice and still leave the actual night free for whatever other rituals you want to indulge in by checking out Toy Boat Theatre. Directed by Suzy Willhoft, with local actors Aaron Jacobs, Matt Shimkus, Olivia Seward, Meleesa Wyatt and Toy Boat artistic director Marilyn Bennett herself, “That Delicate Light” is a staged reading reflecting on the long night and short day of this season through poems and stories ranging from Billy Collins to Suzan Lori-Parks and Dylan Thomas to Sesame Street, says Bennett, plus music from Frank Loesser to Crowded House. Read more »


Baroque Christmas from the Northwest Repertory Singers at Mason United Methodist, Tacoma

Choirs doing holiday concerts is nothing new, but this year the Northwest Repertory Singers will add to their Baroque Christmas concert this weekend at Tacoma’s Mason United Methodist Church with a pre-concert lecture by director Paul Schultz, as well as supporting the spirit of Christmas with food bank donations.

This year’s Christmas concert features favorites from the Baroque period such as J.S. Bach’s cantata “Wachet auf” (“Sleepers Wake”) and selections from Handel’s “Messiah,” accompanied by members of the Northwest Sinfonietta.

Director Paul Schulz will give a pre-concert lecture about the program, a tradition the choir intends to add to

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Critic’s Picks: Tacoma City Ballet’s “Nutcracker,” Christmas jazz from Rich Wetzel, HART glass sale and brass quintet Christmas in Gig Harbor

Tacoma City Ballet’s “Nutcracker”

Tacoma City Ballet performs its annual “Nutcracker” with Pantages sets, the Northwest Sinfonietta orchestra and original Russian choreography. 3 p.m. Dec. 10, 11, 17, 18; 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Dec. 21. $19-$60. Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway, Tacoma. 253-591-5894, www.broadwaycenter.org

Rich Wetzel’s big band holiday jazz

Get your holiday groove on with big band Christmas jazz played by Rich Wetzel’s Groovin’ Higher Orchestra this weekend – all the favorites, with a swing. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10. Tacoma Community College building 2, 6501 S. 19th St., Tacoma. 800-838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com

Hilltop Artists’ in Residence holiday glass

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Little Bill plays at Immanuel Presbyterian’s Christmas Blues Vespers this Sunday in Tacoma

This Sunday’s Blues Vespers at Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Tacoma, features local blues legend Little Bill and the Blue Notes. Usually a trio, the band will expand to include Brian Kent and Scotty Harris on saxophone, Tony Grasso on trumpet and Buck England on B-3 organ to do big band arrangements of Christmas carols.

Blues Vespers combines music, a brief talk and prayer. This Sunday audience members are also encouraged to bring a new unwrapped toy for charity.

5 p.m. Dec. 11. Free, donation suggested. Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 909 N. J St., Tacoma. 253-627-8371, www.ipctacoma.org


Gig Harbor painter Sanne Beavin depicts the mystery of Advent and Christmas with artwork and stories at Harbor Covenant Church

Sanne Beavin, "Mary and Elizabeth." Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti

Inspired by the Christmas story, Gig Harbor artist Sanne Beavin has painted a series of light-filled works depicting the different people and moments in the narrative as part of the Advent and Christmas worship of Harbor Covenant Church, Gig Harbor.

Beavin, a parishioner and local painter who also created a series of works for the church during Lent, focuses each of the six paintings in “The Master Painter” series on different people in the Biblical story, with a human understanding of their role combined with an ethereal brushwork in the gold-red light that suffuses every work, symbolizing the divine. The paintings are hung around the sanctuary of the large Protestant church, with each one arranged each week as a kind of still life amid brushes and a stool on the floor of the stage; a kind of meditation tool. Read more »