Enjoy an early Christmas present with Laurie Roldan’s “Laurie Sings a Song for You Christmas” at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts. Last year’s concert featured lots of beautiful music — including “Sleigh Ride,” “Merry Christmas Darling” and “Winter Wonderland” — as well as humorous stories and fun choreography for a nostalgic evening perfect for the impending holidays.
In this year’s cabaret concert, Roldan brings timeless Carpenter Christmas tunes together plus much more. Joining her is special guest star Johnny Orenberg with Julia Ludwic, Jordan Smith, Katherine Stein and Ali Xavior Travis.
Known for his cheeky humor and smooth vocals, Orenberg will sing Andy Williams favorites. You might have caught him at the Lesher Center last March when Franc D’Ambrosio of “Phantom” fame was his guest star. The two put on quite an evening of vocal brilliance.
Adding to the fun will be Dan Levitan on harp and Joyce Lee on violin. Evan Crone is the music director with choreography by Ashley Cowl.
“Laurie Sings a Song for You Christmas” only plays for three shows — Nov. 30 at 7:15 p.m. and Dec. 1 at 2:15 and 7:15 p.m. — so get your tickets early. Call 925-943-7469 or go to lesherartscenter.org.
Also in Walnut Creek: Watch the “king” turn into an even more electrifying “Queen” in Center Rep’s exhilarating production of “The Legend of Georgia McBride” playing through Nov. 26 at the Lesher Center.
Full of witty dialogue by Tony and Olivier award winner Matthew Lopez, “The Legend of Georgia McBride” is a life affirming and joyous look at one man’s journey to find himself.
In the story, Casey makes a meager living as an Elvis impersonator. When he is replaced by a drag queen show, he agrees to become a bartender so he can take care of his growing family. When one of the drag queens gets so drunk she can’t perform, Casey is forced to put on a dress and go out on stage. To his surprise, he enjoys the experience and the audience loves him. As he becomes a regular drag queen and develops his drag persona, Casey discovers more about himself than he ever thought possible.
Director Elizabeth Carter has put together a superb cast who capture the vulnerability and toughness of their colorful characters, with three of them doing it in very high heels!
It is delightful to watch Joe Ayers (Casey) as his character evolves from a slightly air-headed young man into a responsible husband, father and self-confident performer. He is aided greatly on this journey by the uber-talented J.A. Valentine (Miss Tracy Mills), playing the consummate drag queen who takes Casey under his wing, and the athletic Jed Pasario (Rexy/Jason), showing his versatility as a fiery, sharp-tongued drag queen and as Casey’s longtime friend and father of three.
Sundiata Ayinde (Jo) rounds out the cast as Casey’s very grounded pregnant wife with the always funny Alan Coyne (Eddie) as the owner of Cleo’s bar.
Kudos to set designer Kelly Tighe and costumer Becky Bodurtha, who’s responsible for the colorful wardrobe. In one musical number alone, Casey and Miss Tracy have at least six costume changes a piece with the crew showing their dexterity for facilitating quick changes right in front of the appreciative audience.
Under Carter’s direction, the cast gives a high-energy performance that brings understanding to the joys and hardships of the drag lifestyle. Alternately funny and tender, this show will have you singing along to the familiar songs and thinking about the rich characters long after the final bow.
For tickets, call 925-943-7469 or go to lesherartscenter.org.
Berkeley: Emmy and Tony award winner Billy Crudup stars in David Cale’s “Harry Clarke” at Berkeley Repertory Wednesday-Dec. 23.
A solo performance, Crudup follows the exploits of Philip, an awkward Midwestern man leading an outrageous double life as the cocky Londoner Harry Clarke. Posing as the seductive Harry, he moves to New York City and charms his way into a wealthy family.
For tickets, call 510-647-2949 or visit berkeleyrep.org.
Also in Berkeley: Central Works’ “The Engine of Our Disruption” has been extended through Sunday. The new comedy about artificial intelligence plays at Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave., Berkeley. Call 510-558-1381 or go to centralworks.org.
More in Berkeley: George Orwell’s “1984,” newly adapted by Michael Gene Sullivan continues at the Aurora Theatre through Dec. 10. In this provocative retelling of the iconic novel, Big Brother’s surveillance seeks to control not just everyone’s bodies but their minds as well as it reaches into every corner of their lives.
For more information, go to auroratheatre.org.
Orinda: Film buffs can still catch the California Independent Film Festival running through Thursday at the Orinda Theatre. The festival, which began Nov. 9, includes 28 films from 14 countries.
For more information, go to caiff.org.