Virtual holiday offerings for theater lovers

Virtual holiday offerings for theater lovers

Virtual holiday offerings for theater lovers
Kim Donovan and Keith Jefferds in a scene from the 2019 production of “It’s a Wonderful Life” at Contra Costa Civic Theatre. They reprise their roles in a newly filmed version of the radio play. (Ben Krantz photo)

Columns Sally Hogarty Stage StruckCONTRA COSTA COUNTY—Ghostlight Theatre Ensemble, which just finished presenting a “Vintage Murder,” an interactive murder mystery event, hopes to produce “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged,” “Festival 10: a treasury of 10-minute plays, “The Wind in the Willows” and “The Pajama Game” for its 2020-21 season. For more information and when these shows will be offered, go to

Even COVID-19 can’t stop the advance of the holiday season. Thanksgiving is almost upon us and Christmas will soon follow. Of course, that means local theater companies will be performing holiday entertainment; although, it may look at bit different this year with masks, physical distancing and live theater still impossible.

Taking to the challenge is Contra Costa Civic Theatre (CCCT) who will present a film version of “It’s a Wonderful Life” Nov. 27 – Dec. 20 via Zoom. Adapted from Frank Capra’s 1946 film by Joe Landry, the live radio play features a five-person cast playing more than 50 characters.

According to Artistic Director Marilyn Langbehn, the show was filmed in HD at CCCT’s theater and professionally recorded and mixed, utilizing green screens to project various locales.

Remember when?

I was fortunate to see CCCT’s 2019 stage version of the show. You remember those? You enter a theater with hundreds of other people and settle into your seats to enjoy live entertainment. In this case, I found myself transported to the 1940s, complete with commercials touting the products of the day.

Directed by David Bogdonoff, the cast for the current show includes most of those from the stage production: Keith Jefferds as Clarence; Kim Donovan as Zuzu; Merrill Grant as Mary and Kendall Tieck as Mr. Potter. Stepping into the role of Bailey is Fred Pitts.

In case you’re not familiar with this beloved piece of holiday fare, it takes place in the idyllic small town of Bedford Falls, where a young George Bailey dreams of moving to the big city and becoming a world-renowned architect. His dreams, however, never come to pass as life intervenes. When the show opens, Bailey has reached bottom, thanks to the conniving of the very rich and very evil Mr. Potter, and contemplates suicide. Before he can carry out his intensions, Clarence, a rather inept guardian angel shows up. Clarence, ala “Christmas Carol’s” Ghost of Christmas Past/Future, shows George the good things he’s done with his life and what would become of Bedford Falls had he never been born.

For tickets and more information, go to

Smuin Ballet

Virtual holiday offerings for theater lovers
Terez Dean Orr and John Speed Orr in Smuin’s Virtual Fall Dance Series. (Maggie Carey photo)

Smuin has always been fortunate to have couples and roommates among its dancers. While adding a further layer to the various works performed, these groups have taken on additional significance during the pandemic. Returning to the studio earlier this fall, these small “pods” were able to work on duets where physical contact was restricted to dancers within the same household. Other Smuin dancers have been preparing solos. Together these new works, along with Smuin classics, make up the company’s Virtual Fall Dance Series.

The series, which began Nov. 4 and continues through Dec. 2, was filmed outdoors at unique settings around the Bay Area, from oceanside at Fort Funston to the Point Reyes Shipwreck. Each week’s program includes new works as well as classics from the “Smuin Songbook,” which features favorite dances set to music from Sinatra to Willie Nelson to Elvis Presley and the Beatles. For a complete listing of new works and the dancers performing, go to

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