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Traditions: Holidays mean special shows

Seasonal celebrations continue onstage around the Valley

"Mary Poppins Jr." is coming to the stage this Friday through Dec. 23 at the Amador Theater in Pleasanton. (Contributed photo)

Music! Movies! Celebrate the season with holiday offerings right here in the Tri-Valley.

* The Amador Theater is playing host to the city's Civic Arts Stage Company youth production of "Mary Poppins Jr." from Friday through Dec. 23. The young actors will bring to the stage the Disney/Cameron Mackintosh play with its magical mixture of irresistible story, unforgettable songs and breathtaking dance numbers.

Shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; matinees Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. For tickets and other information, visit www.firehouse.org or call 931-4848.

* The Pleasanton Public Library, 400 Old Bernal Ave., invites everyone to enjoy a free afternoon of "contra" dance instruction and fun. Contra dancing is similar to square dancing and Scottish country dancing, done by long lines of couples with a live caller. The event is from 2-4 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 16), appropriate for adults and children 10 and older. No dance experience or partner is necessary.

* Branden & James will be at the Firehouse Arts Center presenting "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!" at 2 p.m. this Sunday. The show will include their popular songs, ranging from "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" to "Silent Night," plus classical covers including the Beatles and "Phantom of the Opera."

In addition to their main roles as vocalist (Branden) and cellist (James), both men are fine pianists and move flawlessly around the musical stage in this holiday production. Also, Branden will share stories from family members who worked on "America's Got Talent" and toured with Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.

Tickets are $18-$28. Go to www.firehousearts.org, call 931-4848, or purchase at the Firehouse Theater box office, 4444 Railroad Ave.

* At the Bankhead Theater in Livermore, "The Doo Wop Project Christmas" is onstage at 7:30 p.m. next Thursday (Dec. 20), featuring stars of Broadway's smash hits "Jersey Boys" and "Motown: The Musical."

Tickets are $40-$60; go to lvpac.org, call 373-6800, or visit the Bankhead box office at 2400 First St. in Livermore.

* The next night, the Bankhead is presenting an "Irish Christmas in America" at 8 p.m. next Friday (Dec. 21), with music, song, dance and stories. The traveling show, noted for its humor and energy, is in its 14th year, produced by Irish fiddler Oisin Mac Diarmada. Tickets are $30-$50.

* Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center is screening two favorite holiday films at the Bankhead next Saturday (Dec. 22). At 3 p.m., bring the kids to see "The Muppets' Christmas Carol." Then return at 7 p.m. to see Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson and others in "Love Actually," which intertwines nine stories showing the complexity of one emotion: love.

"The Muppets" is free but tickets are required, with a limit of four per family. Tickets for "Love Actually" are $5. Visit lvpac.org or call 373-6800.

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