Remember those intriguing advent calendars, with little paper doors opening on each day of December to reveal a perfect hidden chocolate square or a shiny holiday trinket?
That’s kind of like what’s going to be happening on Vashon stages and art spaces during the month, with winter treats unfolding throughout the month. Offerings include an all-star fundraising concert for local nonprofits, the Vashon Island Chorale’s annual concert of holiday music and a heartwarming new Drama Dock show. And of course, it wouldn’t be December without The Nutcracker, presented by the venerable Vashon Center for Dance.
But wait, there’s so much more. Take your pick of the following performances, but save time to shop for gifts at local art spots as well — special exhibits and holiday sales will focus on original arts and crafts suitable for every budget.
The gift of performance
Friday, Dec. 6
The seventh annual Will Sing for Vashon, a showcase of island music acts performing classic holiday songs that doubles as a fundraiser for island nonprofits, will take place at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, at Open Space for Arts & Community.
Produced by Vashon Events, the evening has a freewheeling format, allowing attendees to make donations when the spirit and music move them throughout the evening. It is also a chance to find out more about the work of nonprofits island-wide, as representatives of many organizations will be in attendance. Last year, the concert raised $4,800 for local organizations, with The Dove Project receiving the most audience donations, at $700. The concert has a cover charge of $10.50 for advance tickets and $15 at the door, with free admission to for youth ages 18 and younger. More information and tickets are available at vashonevents.org.
Vashon Center for the Arts and Broadway Nation Live will present “White Christmas – The Story Behind America’s Most Popular Song,” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, at VCA.
David Armstrong, Artistic Director Emeritus of The 5th Avenue Theatre, will take audiences inside the creation of the bestselling and most recorded song of all time as he tells the story of how a destitute immigrant named Irving Berlin became America’s Composer Laureate and invented an entirely new category of song. The evening will also feature special guest Albert Evans, and musical performances by 5th Avenue Theatre stars Cayman Ilika (“Kiss Me Kate,” “Jaques Brel”) and Eric Ankrim (“How To Succeed, First Date), singing holiday hits from the Great American Songbook. Tickets to the show are $35 to $20; buy them in advance at vashoncenterforthearts.org.
Saturday, Dec. 7, and Sunday, Dec. 8, “Ballroom Burlesque: A Close Embrace of Dance Hall Decadence” — a performance that looks to be both naughty and nice — will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at Open Space for Arts & Community. Performers will include Jacqueline Hyde, Audra Grace, Vixy Post and Cherry Manhattan performing waltz, tango, foxtrot, mambo, cha-cha, rumba, lindy hop and quickstep dances along with songs, comedy, striptease and some live trumpet.
Tickets, $25 to $48, are on sale now at ballroomburlesquevashon.bpt.me.
The 90 members of Vashon Island Chorale will raise their voices to welcome in the holiday season with “Shepherds and Stars,” a concert scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, at Vashon Center for the Arts. Tickets to the concert range from $5 to $20, and can be purchased at vashoncenterforthearts.org.
The program will include a seasonal array of well-known carols as well as some new favorites as well, including John Rutter’s “Caribbean Jesus Child” and the Nigerian song “Betelehemu.” Works by four Seattle-area composers — Greg Bartholomew, Joy DeCoursey-Porter, Andrew Jacobson, and the late Bern Herbolsheimer — are on the setlist as well. The Chorale will also be joined by the next generation of island singers when the Vashon Youth Chorus takes the stage under the direction of Erynne Smith.
Accompanying musicians will include pianist Linda Lee, violinist Dan Brandt, oboist Çravixtha Acheson, and African percussionist Gordy Ryan. The evening will be conducted by Gary D. Canon, who the chorale’s longtime artistic director.
Martin Koenig will present his new book, “Sound Portraits From Bulgaria: A Journey Into a Vanished World 1966-1979,” published by Smithsonian Folkways, at a launch party at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, at Open Space & Community. The afternoon will include a presentation of films and photographs that are featured in the book by Koenig.
Thursday, Dec. 12
Riffing off its popular free summer concerts in the park series, Vashon Park District will launch a winter version called “Concerts in the Dark,” with a performance by The Paperboys at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, at Vashon Theatre. The Canadian band plays a freewheeling, danceable blend of Celtic, bluegrass, Mexican, and other world music. All tickets are free. Vashon Events is curating the series.
Friday and Saturday, Dec. 13 and 14
Tchaikovsky’s time-honored ballet, “The Nutcracker,” will be danced by students of Vashon Center for Dance, at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 13 and 14, and 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 14 and 15, at Vashon Center for the Arts. The cast, comprised of students and professional classical dancers and performers, will bring to life the classic tale of swirling snowflakes, dancing flowers, and sensational characters from a kingdom of sweets. Tickets, $13 to $20, can be purchased in advance at vashoncenterforthearts.org.
Saturday, Dec. 14 and 15
A staged reading of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” will take place at 7:30 Saturday, Dec. 14 and 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15, at Open Space for Arts & Community. An ensemble including Russell Baker, Chris Boscia, Alex Drissell, Mick Etchoe, Steve Jones, Mik Kuhlman, Bonny Moss, Orion Moss, Cate O’Cane, Juniper Rogneby and Jon Whalen will present the story that has inspired countless adaptations in theater, television, and film. Tickets are $16 for advanced purchase online or $20 at the door. Youth 18 and younger are free (these tickets must be reserved online in advance and are limited in number). Purchase at www.openspacevashon.com.
Opening Friday, Dec. 20, playing through Sunday, Dec. 29
Drama Dock, Vashon’s venerable community theater group, will present “1940’s Radio Christmas Carol,” on Dec. 20, 21, 22, 28 and 29 at Vashon Center for the Arts.
The show takes place on Christmas Eve, 1943, and follows a radio theater presentation of the Feddington Players as they broadcast their contemporary take on Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
An excursion in the mayhem and madness of a live radio show, the show includes four period songs and swing arrangements of many Christmas standards. The cast, a who’s who of local island theater talent, is directed by Marita and Elise Ericksen. Visit vashoncenterforthearts.org for showtimes and ticket information.
Saturday, Dec. 21
Welcome in the winter solstice — marking the longest night of the year — with a free show by the Vashon band Saint Ophelia and special guests at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, at Snapdragon’s Black Cat Cabaret. Saint Ophelia is a five-piece ensemble fronted by vocalist/guitarist Rebekah Kuzma, singer-songwriter-guitarist/pianist Joseph Panzetta, and pedal steel magician Dan Tyack. With a rhythm section made up of Wesley Peterson on drums and Chuck Keller on bass, their original songs run the gamut from groovy to rockin’ to spacious, and seem to move through them rather than from them.
Sunday, Dec. 22
Northwest Sinfonietta, the region’s premier professional chamber orchestra, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22, at Vashon Center for the Art. The group will perform Baroque-inspired program in honor of the season, including works by Baroque masters Handel, Purcell and Torelli as well as Respighi’s beloved Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite No. 3 and Holst’s St. Paul’s Suite. Guest Artist Judson Scott, an active performer and educator around the Puget Sound area, will join the group on piccolo trumpet.
The Sinfonietta is in its 29th season, and this will be the ensemble’s first concert on the Island.
Island violinist Karin Choo has performed with Northwest Sinfonietta since 2012 and became executive director of the group this past summer.
“I cannot wait to introduce Northwest Sinfonietta to the Vashon community, and to perform this beautiful program at the beautiful Kay White Hall,” Choo said.
The gift of art
Friday, Dec. 6
Vashon’s First Friday Gallery Cruise will include dozens of stops and chances to buy local arts. Be sure to hit the following stops:
Vashon Center for the Arts will be the site of two special sales — a holiday jewelry show is set to take over VCA’s gift shop in November and December, and its 13th annual miniature exhibit — filed with stocking-stuffer-sized work by well-known local artists, will fill the arts center’s Koch Gallery in December.
VALISE Gallery, a local cooperative art space for local artists, will fill its small exhibit space in the center of town more than 200 works of art by its members — all priced at $75. Each work in the gallery’s 6th annual 5 x 5 Show will be created on small wood panels provided by the gallery. The show runs throughout November and December.
While you’re in town, be sure to check local outlets including Starving Artists’ Work (SAW) and Gather Vashon, which both feature a wide selection of arts and crafts by local makers.
The photo club of the Vashon Senior Center will have a holiday sale, Friday, Dec. 6, from 6 to 9 p.m. All proceeds will benefit the Senior Center.
Opening Friday, Dec. 6, running through Sunday, Dec. 15
Vashon Island Visual Arts (VIVA) will hold their annual holiday studio tour, with dozens of island artists participating at studios located all over the island, on Saturdays and Sundays, December 7 and 8 and 14 and 15. The studio tour includes paintings, photography, ceramics, jewelry, textiles, mosaic, glass, mixed media and more created by some of Vashon’s most accomplished artists, and will kick off with a preview party at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, at Waterworks Studio, 7012 S.W. 240th Street.
The party will feature of who’s who of island artists in attendance, as well as a chance to gather around a large Christmas tree filled with one-of-a-kind ornaments made by local artists. Brochures with maps and studio descriptions are available at most Vashon Island businesses well in advance of the tour. For more information, visit vivaartists.com.