BWW Preview: Christmas with San Francisco Symphony and More

Without a doubt, "Carol of the Bells" is one of the defining Christmas favorites, and like most holiday songs, new versions come out every year. Alan Silvestri's score for the 2009 Disney version of "A Christmas Carol" makes a perfect example of blended new and old. My iPod has a playlist just for holiday film scores. But where Christmas movies and scores are concerned, John Williams and Chris Columbus take the cake.

At Saturday night's San Francisco Symphony performance of "Home Alone," director Chris Columbus introduced his film with its year-round, late-night, day-time, any-time appeal. The fresh young faces full of energy and laughter testified to the fact at Saturday evening's performance. John Williams' score has that same instantly recognizable appeal, and his version of "Carol of the Bells" fosters goose bumps-inducing excitement.

Last weekend's performance featured the Ragazzi Boys and the San Francisco Girls and Boys Choruses, which ended the evening with a breathtaking and colorful finale. "Home Alone" has completed its short run with the Symphony, but you can catch the next in the Symphony's film series in January with "The Godfather" (the Symphony perfectly balances the film's sound with the Symphony for full enjoyment). In the meantime, the Symphony offers a number of holiday shows. BroadwayWorld will return later this month for "A Charlie Brown Christmas Live!" at the Symphony. The part family concert, part live play will show December 19 through December 24. The Symphony's annual "Colors of Christmas" show starring Taylor Dayne, Jennifer Holliday and Ruben Studdard will go from December 15 to December 17, and the Symphony will also have its usual performance of Handel's "Messiah" on December 18, 19 and 20.

BWW Preview: Christmas with San Francisco Symphony and MoreRight across the street from Davies, San Francisco Ballet has its annual, magical "Nutcracker." The production includes a romantic, blue pastel-colored version of its title character, and it sets the action in its own hometown. Full of charm and radiating professional quality, San Francisco's "Nutcracker" should be a part of every child's holiday tradition. I can still recall my first Nutcracker experience and the times I spent dancing about my living room to Tchaikovsky's famous score.

San Jose, Oakland and others all offer their own Nutcrackers, but if you're in the mood for something different, or if you're Jewish, check out The MesgugaNutcracker, which turns Tchaikovsky's music into a fully-staged musical written for the Jewish holidays. Still looking for more Nutcracker goodness? Well, son of a Nutcracker, "Elf the Musical" just opened at SHN Broadway in San Francisco's Curran Theatre. We were there for opening night, and this hilarious, fun musical is true to the spirit and charisma of the Will Farrell film. The show plays through December 28.

Over in Foster City, "White Christmas" continues at Hillbarn Theatre through December 21 and features two fantastic leading men. "With our beautifully unique space, audiences will be transported to the quintessential Christmas setting of the 1950's," Dan Demer said. "They will be enchanted with some of the most memorable music from the era like "Sisters," "White Christmas," and "Snow." With a live 14 piece big band orchestra and 20 amazingly talented cast members, families are sure to ring in the Holiday's right, complete with snow right here in the Bay Area."

San Francisco Playhouse offers Burt Bacharach's "Promises, Promises" through January 10. And if you're in the mood for a true classic, check out either American Conservatory Theatre's or Center Repertory Theatre's "A Christmas Carol."

With an overwhelming number of productions and events on the horizon, I find it difficult as a critic to decide what shows to cover ("criticism" is not the most appropriate quality of the holiday; therefore I aim to stay positive in this article). Fortunately, we can share Christmas without sharing the same theatrical experiences. So, take a moment to tell BroadwayWorld San Francisco what holiday shows and experiences you will visit this winter in the comment section below!

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Follow Harmony Wheeler's theatre and opera adventures on Instagram and Twitter @HarmonyWheeler.

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