Cy and David's Picks: The Last Great Shows of 2015, and a Taste of 2016

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Sarah Bethe Nelson (Photo: Colette Levesque)

Cy and David's Picks: The Last Great Shows of 2015, and a Taste of 2016

Cy and David's Picks: The Last Great Shows of 2015, and a Taste of 2016

Now through Jan. 2nd: Jane Austen's 1815 novel Emma inspired the hit teen movie Clueless, so a musical adaptation for the stage is hardly radical. Paul Gordon wrote the music and book, and it became the biggest hit ever for Theatreworks in Palo Alto in 2007. This remounting features the original leads, Lianne Marie Dobbs as the pushy matchmaker, Emma, and Timothy Gulan as Mr. Knightly, but adaptor Gordon has added some new material, and it's as charming as the first time. Details here.

Emma Woodhouse (Lianne Marie Dobbs) with family and friends in TheatreWorks production of 'Jane Austen’s Emma'
Emma Woodhouse (Lianne Marie Dobbs) is surrounded by family and friends in TheatreWorks production of 'Jane Austen’s Emma' (Photo: Kevin Berne)

Dec. 19 & 20: Two musical organizations, both celebrating big anniversaries, are teaming up for this holiday gift to the South Bay. The forty voice Choral Project has been together 20 years, and the San José Chamber Orchestra is celebrating 25 years. They're teaming up for their 12th annual Winter’s Gifts concert. They’re doing a world premiere commission by Richard Burchard, something new from Choral Project director Daniel Hughes, and music by Ennio Moricone of spaghetti western fame. The concerts are Dec. 19th at First Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto, and Dec. 20th at Mission Santa Clara de Asis.  Details here.

The Choral Project
The Choral Project (Photo Courtesy of The Choral Project)

Dec. 18 & 22:  I'm not so in love with the lo-fi aesthetics, but San Francisco's Sarah Bethe Nelson writes killer songs. "Paying," off her album Fast Moving Clouds (Burger Records), is one of American Songwriter’s Top 50 Songs of 2015. It's about shutting down an ex-boyfriend who once got free drinks when she was bartending, and Nelson's flat delivery is devastating. She plays The Hemlock Tavern Dec. 18, and Amnesia Dec. 22nd.

Far Out!

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We're inaugurating a new feature this week. With Far Out!, we're looking ahead a few weeks or months to events so big, so cool they could sell out before you even hear about them. We're starting with the fifteenth annual Sketchfest, running Jan. 7th-24. Lots of good choices this year, including the host of Drunk History, and a tribute to Christopher Guest's Waiting for Guffman, and we'll talk more about Sketchfest in January, but note that shows featuring Jon Hamm are (no surprise) selling out.

New Year's Eve:

There's so much pressure to have the best time of your life on New Year's Eve, maybe it's better to stay home with your cat or dog. But if you're venturing out, we have a few ideas:

Dec. 31: Michael Feinstein knows the American songbook like few others, and he's flying in from New York for 2 shows  at his own club, Feinstein’s at the Nikko. He told us he has a good antidote to the "best time ever" pressure, "it’s all about celebrating and the more casual it is, the more fun it is. The key is just really connecting into the vibe and going with it."

Dec. 31: We love eclectic, and so we love The Decemberists, who range-from folk-pop to rock opera. Their new album is What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World. Plus local Thao & the Get Down Stay Down open the show. at The Masonic. Sounds like the "best time ever."

Dec. 30 & 31: Get your disco on at Yoshi's with Jody Watley (singer, songwriter, producer) and her old band, renamed Shalamar "Reloaded."  Don't forget your platform shoes.

Dec. 30 & 31: Con Brio, our absolutely favorite local, live, R&B group, is doing two nights at The Chapel. Lead singer Ziek McCarter twists and shouts, and the band is as tight as they come.

Dec. 31: Laughing the year away might be the best therapy for a lot of us.  The ribald Marga Gomez hosts a comedy show at the Brava Theater with an all Latino lineup. The Republican Presidential field can expect no mercy.

Dec. 31-Jan. 3: We finish with a saxophonist who is the essence of funk. Maceo Parker does a New Year's Eve show at SFJAZZ, but if you're home with your dog or cat, you can enjoy this former James Brown sideman on one of three more nights.