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Pleasanton Weekly

News - November 30, 2012

Special events add zest to the season

From tree lighting to 'Messiah' to local productions, it's great to be out and about

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

The best thing about the holidays is that its traditions are rich and varied, from visiting with family and friends, to decorating, to enjoying a pumpkin latte, to gift-giving, to special events of the season.

Pleasanton's Hometown Holiday Celebration kicks off the season tomorrow with its parade and tree-lighting. The parade down Main Street, led by the Amador Valley High Marching Band, begins at 5 p.m. Also this weekend are "Holiday Songs of Joy" by the Valley Concert Chorale and the Cantabella Children's Chorus, and a Holiday Teddy Bear Tea.

The Valley Concert Chorale once again will host its annual "Sing-it-Yourself Messiah" where the community is invited to sing Handel's choral masterpiece, beginning at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 14, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1225 Hopyard Road, Pleasanton.

This Tri-Valley holiday tradition is open to all singers in the community who will join in singing Part I of Handel's great choral masterpiece, also known as the Christmas portion of "Messiah" It will conclude with a powerful rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus."

"This is our seventh year of hosting the event for the community," said Valley Concert Chorale President Dave Brunswick. "Each year the number of singers increases with well over 100 singers from around the Tri-Valley and beyond.

"It's great being able to offer this musical experience to the area, complete with professional soloists and accompaniment by our internationally known concert pianist Daniel Glover."

Singers are encouraged to bring their own copy of "Messiah," though extra copies will be available to borrow. The event is also open to those who just wish to listen to the performance. Tickets are $10; call 866-4003 or visit www.valleyconcertchorale.org.

Pleasanton's own Civic Arts Stage Company is presenting its popular annual Holiday Panto for two weekends, Dec. 7-16, at the Amador Theater, 1155 Santa Rita Road. This year's fractured fairy-tale musical-comedy production is "Puss in Boots."

Based on the beloved French fairytale by Charles Perrault, the musical by local playwright Kate Hawley features a sassy cat who promises to solve the problems of a poor miller's son. Dressed in her trademark red leather boots, Puss charms the Queen, befuddles the Prime Minister, defeats the powerful wizard Kazaam, and helps her shy master and Princess Sweetiepie fall madly in love.

"I am so excited to see another fun classic brought to life at the Amador Theater this season," says Mark Duncanson, Civic Arts Stage Company coordinator with the city of Pleasanton. "I get energized when I see and hear the rehearsal process; new songs being sung, new dance routines being worked out, and an enthusiastic production staff that loves what they do."

Panto, short for "pantomime" is not to be confused with the silent "mime" performance genre. Rather Panto is a lively irreverent musical-comedy production beloved for centuries in Great Britain, and most often performed during the Christmas and New Year season. "Puss in Boots" follows the panto tradition of being based on traditional children's stories. In this version, the role of the Queen was written especially for returning guest actor Paula Wujek. Guest artist David Moore has dual roles as the snooty Prime Minister Pratt and the evil wizard Kazaam, which makes him a villain doubly worth booing.

"It's exciting to work with a cast of over 70 local actors, mostly kids aged 6 and up," said Director Rebecca Ennals. "We're always thrilled to see our young actors grow into really seasoned performers."

Tickets are $10, $15, $18 general; child or senior: $6, $9, $12. Call 931-4848, visit www.firehousearts.org, or go to the box office at the Firehouse Arts Center Box Office, 4444 Railroad Ave., Pleasanton.

A listing of Pleasanton holiday events is on the following pages -- add to this the tradition of driving around to enjoy the bright lights and other decorations and you have an exciting season of Holiday Happenings.

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