Aurora Theatre Presents Craig Jessup in SWELL NOEL, Now thru 12/22

Aurora Theatre Presents Craig Jessup in SWELL NOEL, Now thru 12/22

Aurora Theatre Company presents Bay Area cabaret star Craig Jessup in concert with A SWELL NOËL. This special holiday engagement plays for six performances only, today, December 17-22, at Aurora Theatre Company's intimate Second Stage cabaret performance space, Harry's UpStage, located in the Nell and Jules Dashow Wing at the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley. Tickets ($23-32) may be purchased directly from the Aurora Theatre Company box office by calling (510) 843-4822 or online at auroratheatre.org.

Celebrating the season with masterful music-making, blithe spirit, and hilarious wit, Craig Jessup (last seen at the Aurora in Mae West's SEX) performs favorites from his wide-ranging career in cabaret and musical theater, along with classic holiday tunes, and original songs. A SWELL NOËL features selections by some of the world's greatest composers, including Noël Coward, Jacques Brel, Stephen Sondheim, the Gershwins, and Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. From romance to comedy, Jessup and pianist/music director Ken Muir make the season a little merrier with songs including "If Love Were All," "Our Love Is Here to Stay," "This Can't Be Love" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." A SWELL NOËL brightens the holidays with a memorable musical showcase that is sure to delight cabaret fans old and new.

Craig Jessup has been interested in the life and music of Sir Noël Coward for over a decade, performing The Master's life in music to critical acclaim. Most notably, he performed Coward's work in a three month sold-out run at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco, and in concert at 142 Throckmorton, the Exit Theatre, and the Eureka Theatre; in 2003, he released Craig Jessup Sings Noel Coward, the soundtrack to his hit one-man show, An Evening With Noel Coward.

Jessup has played theaters, cabarets, and concert halls throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe for more than 30 years. He teamed with Ruth Hastings and Barry Lloyd in 1977 to form Ruth Hastings & Co. The trio played nearly every cabaret in San Francisco, including Le Domino, Chez Jacques, Gordon's, Fanny's, Trinity Place, and the Plush Room, culminating in a sold-out concert at the Geary Theater, which was recorded live. A highly successful run of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris at Chez Jacques resulted in an invitation to perform the musical review in Brussels, Belgium at the Belgian National Opera Company just after Brel's death. As a solo artist, Jessup has appeared in numerous musical revues, and in productions with Aurora Theatre Company, 42nd Street Moon, Artstreet Theatre, Pacific ALLIANCE THEATRE Company, Broadway by the Bay, California Conservatory Theatre, and Alter Theater Ensemble, among others. In addition to his work on stage, Jessup recently released an album of original songs entitled "Vantage Point."

Ken Muir is a San Francisco-based pianist/arranger/composer/lyricist who has worked in the Bay Area for more than 30 years, performing regularly in New York and Europe. He played and arranged for each of vocalist Paula West's three albums, and has accompanied West, and many other vocalists, on recordings and at the Plush Room in SF.

Located in the Dashow Wing at Aurora Theatre Company, Harry's UpStage is the company's Second Stage performance space. Longtime Aurora subscriber and supporter Harry Weininger passed away in May 2010; his family, who knew of his dedication to Aurora, wanted to honor him and made a generous donation to Aurora to outfit the Dashow with a new lighting package, curtains, a stage, and furniture. Harry's UpStage is used for live cabaret and Second Stage events at Aurora.

Following A SWELL NOËL, Jon Tracy returns to Aurora to direct the Bay Area Premiere of Johnna Adams' provocative GIDION'S KNOT in January, followed by the Bay Area Premiere of WITTENBERG by David Davalos, directed by Josh Costello in April. The season concludes in June with David Mamet's searing drama AMERICAN BUFFALO, directed by Barbara Damashek. As a special addition to the season, Aurora Theatre Company presents its first fully-staged production in the company's new Second Stage performance space, Harry's UpStage; award-winning Bay Area auteur Mark Jackson directs this sixth addition to the season in April, John W. Lowell's taut two-person drama THE LETTERS.

Voted Best Theater Company in 2012 by SF Weekly, Aurora Theatre Company continues to offer challenging, literate, intelligent stage works to the Bay Area, each year increasing its reputation for top-notch theater. Located in the heart of the Downtown Berkeley Arts District, Aurora Theatre Company, declared "one of the best regional theaters around" by 7x7 magazine, has been called "one of the most important regional theaters in the area" and "a must-see midsize company" by the San Francisco Chronicle, while The Wall Street Journal has "nothing but praise for the Aurora." The Contra Costa Times stated "perfection is probably an unattainable ideal in a medium as fluid as live performance, but the Aurora Theatre comes luminously close," while the San Jose Mercury News affirmed Aurora Theatre Company is "arguably the finest small theater in the Bay Area," and the Oakland Tribune stated "it's all about choices, and if you value good theater, choose the Aurora."

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