Art Beat: Holiday-themed performances will fill the coming weeks

mdunham@adn.comNovember 23, 2013 

The smell of turkey this week signals the start of a month of holiday cheer coming at us from all directions. There's never a shortage of Christmas-themed art events and the following is a brief scheduling reminder for some of them.

  • "Christmas on the Yukon," a new play by P. Shane Mitchell, is already up and running at Anchorage Community Theatre, 1133 E. 70th Ave. The action takes place in a Klondike trading post where snowbound travelers take shelter in a blizzard. Showtimes are 3 p.m. Sundays and 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday through Dec. 22. Tickets are available by calling 868-4913 or online at
  • "The Nutcracker" Ballet, presented by the Anchorage Concert Association, sees the return of a lively production from Cincinnati Ballet, with professional dancers joined by local dancers. Performances will take place at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1, in Atwood Concert Hall. Tickets are available at
  • "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus," Valley Performing Arts' holiday offering, expands on the evergreen letter written by a little girl to the editor of her local newspaper more than 100 years ago in which she asked, "Is there a Santa Claus?" Get the answer -- in case the title of the play hasn't already given it away -- at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays from Nov. 29 to Dec. 22 at the Machetanz Theatre in Wasilla. Tickets are available at
  • Anchorage Museum Holiday Concert, an annual celebration featuring music by the Anchorage Concert Chorus, Anchorage Youth Choir, Cantora Arctica and Alaska Native Cultural Charter School. Performances, 1-4 p.m. Dec. 8, are free thanks to Wells Fargo, which is covering everyone's admission to the museum on that day.
  • "A Winter Rose," featuring the Alaska Chamber Singers, will be presented three times; 8 p.m. Dec. 7 at St. Patrick's Parish in Muldoon, 8 p.m. Dec. 13 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on Wisconsin, and 4 p.m. Dec. 15 at St. Andrew Church in Eagle River. Familiar carols will share the bill with virtuoso contemporary choral material like Morten Lauridsen's gorgeous "Mid-Winter Songs" and variations on "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" by Hugo Distler. Tickets are available at
  • "Family Holiday Pops Concert," the Anchorage Concert Chorus' ever-popular yuletide salute, will be presented at 4 p.m. on Dec. 22 in Atwood Concert Hall. Expect your favorite carols and some fun surprises. Tickets are available at

More information about upcoming events -- Christmasy or otherwise -- can always be found at

Jazz lovers prove generous

The Jazz Fighting Hunger event on Nov. 3 was a big success, says organizer Ray Booker. The concert raised $13,000 for the Food Bank of Alaska. "That's a lot of food that is going to hit the tables of those who need it," Booker said. The efforts of Booker and friends have contributed around $85,000 over the years. That's more than 300,000 meals.

For readers in a charitable frame of mind, there'll be another musical fundraiser at 7 p.m. today, when the UAA music department and the Anchorage Opera Chorus perform in the UAA Fine Arts Recital Hall. Admission is by donation and all proceeds go to benefit victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Meg and friends at B&N

Cast members of Cyrano's production of "A Wrinkle in Time" will be at Barnes & Noble bookstore in costume for Madeleine L'Engle's birthday bash, noon-2 p.m. on Friday. Fans of the tale can have their photos taken with the characters. L'Engle, who died in 2007, would have been 95 on Nov. 29. If you make a purchase at the store on that day and mention Cyrano's, the playhouse will get a portion of the sale.

Cyrano's "Wrinkle" will also open at 7 p.m. on that day, a benefit for the Girl Scouts of Alaska. We understand that Girl Scouts showing up in uniform to attend the show will earn a theater badge.

Though primarily known for writing books, L'Engle had a deep involvement with stage acting. She was a member of the Theatre Guild Acting Troupe. In 1945, she performed in Broadway and touring productions of "The Cherry Orchard." She was married to Hugh Franklin, a star of the soap opera series "All My Children."

Despite its enduring popularity, "Wrinkle" never made the jump to film the way "Harry Potter" did. There's only a single made-for-television film version -- not very good if the Independent Movie Database ratings are anything to go by. Composer Libby Larson wrote a one-act opera based on the 1962 book; it debuted with Opera Delaware in 1991-2 and will be presented in a three-act version by Fort Worth Opera next year.

Book fair at the museum

Speaking of authors, several Alaska writers and illustrators will take part in the annual ReadAlaska Book Fair at the Anchorage Museum, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. this coming Friday and Saturday and noon-5 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 1. This is a great opportunity to browse over what's available from local talent. It coincides with the museum's Crafts Weekend bazaar of handmade jewelry, woodwork, pottery, scarves and other giftables. Admission to the events is free and museum members get a 10 percent discount on purchases.

Music winners announced

The Music Teachers National Association competition recently took place. Winning the senior piano division was Alexandra Flint, a student of Rumi Smith. Yu-Jin Choi, a student of Alla Artemyeva, won the junior piano honors. In the senior woodwind category, clarinetist Allison Stapleford, a student of Crystal Hanson, took the top honors.

Reach Mike Dunham at or 257-4332.

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