Scrooge, the elves and a campy Cinderella on stage this month

Scrooge, the elves and a campy Cinderella on stage this month
Terrance Smith, left, Heather Kellogg Baum, Michael Ray Wisely, Elizabeth Jones and Jeff Draper appear in Center Rep’s “A Christmas Carol” through Dec. 22 at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts. (Photo by Kevin Berne)

Columns Sally Hogarty Stage StruckCONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Dec. 8, 2022) — Everyone’s favorite curmudgeon returns to the Lesher Center with Center Rep’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol,” featuring Michael Ray Wisely as Scrooge.

This show has become a holiday tradition for many of the performers who have returned year after year, including Jeff Draper (Marley), Jeanine Perasso (Mrs. Fezziwig) and Kerri Shawn (Ghost of Christmas Past).

“Center Rep’s annual production has some really cool tricks up its sleeve and is sure to warm your heart for the holidays,” said actor Michael Austin. “I get to play Scrooge’s kindhearted nephew Fred – Donald Duck in the Disney cartoon version.”

Scott Denison directs the beloved holiday classic, with Kelly Tighe’s fanciful scenic design, lots of special effects and surprises and brimming with music and dance.

Running through Dec. 22, the show includes an ASL interpreted performance at 7 p.m. Dec. 18.

Holiday shows for all ages

Several other holiday events taking place at the Lesher are certain to entertain family members of all ages. The younger set may want to join Santa and Mrs. Claus for an immersive theater experience. Groups of up to six will enjoy a private meeting and photo opportunity in this exclusive visit with the pair in their kitchen and workshop. You can schedule appointments for an approximately 10-minute visit Dec. 10-22.

And, Tucker the Elf has been at it again – trying to save Christmas and all the children’s letters that never made it to Santa. Presented by Fantasy Forum Actors Ensemble, “The Biggest Gift” will once again warm your hearts Dec. 16-18.

For tickets to any of the shows at the Lesher, call 925-943-SHOW or go to

Pittsburg Community Theatre also offers a story about an elf. The lively “Elf Jr., the Musical,” by the Showstoppers Youth Workshop, runs 2 p.m. Dec. 10-11 at the California Theatre, 351 Railroad Ave., Pittsburg.

Go to for more information.


Sally Cookson’s and Adam Peck’s “Cinderella: A Fairytale” brings holiday magic to Lafayette’s Town Hall Theatre through Dec. 18.

Following the death of her mother, Ella is raised by her loving father until he remarries – and her peaceful life turns upside down. Her only allies seem to be the beautiful birds she loves. But these are no ordinary birds.

“I love this script because it challenges our perceptions of these characters whose stories have been told so many times,” said director Sequoia Schirmer. “In our production, we are telling this story through a queer lens to bring representation to those of us who did not see ourselves in fairytales growing up.”

Schirmer notes the show is “bold and fun and campy” while also telling of Cinderella’s resilience and courage.

“Ella’s journey, at its core, is one for dreamers of all ages. It’s a story of growing up, moving on, belonging and finding one’s place in the world, while also learning to appreciate the world around you and finding the ways to make it your own,” added Daniel J. Eslick, curator of artistic programming.

The cast includes Evelyn McCollum, Alicia Rydman, Ash M.B., Vanessa Dalpiaz and Scout Del Real. For tickets, call 925-283-1557 or go to


The jazzy Concord High Choral brings its unique interpretations to holiday classics Dec. 15-16 at Diablo Valley College’s Performing Arts Center. (Photo courtesy of Concord High School)

If you’re in the mood for holiday music, here are a few to consider:

Diablo Women’s Chorale performs a holiday concert at its new venue, Walnut Creek United Methodist Church, 1543 Sunnyvale Ave. Concerts take place 3 p.m. Dec. 10-11. Go to for more information.

Diablo Symphony Orchestra joins with the Blackhawk Chorus for a holiday concert at Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church, 1801 Lacassie Ave., on Dec. 10. For a jazzy good time, try Concord High School’s “Jolly, Jazzy Christmas” at Diablo Valley College’s Performing Arts Center Dec. 15-16. Both have tickets available through the Lesher Center Box Office at 925-943-SHOW or

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Sally Hogarty
Sally Hogarty

Sally Hogarty is well known around the Bay Area as a newspaper columnist, theatre critic and working actress. She is the editor of the Orinda News. Send comments to