Streaming through the snow

Packing a theater is still out of the question, but local performing artists are still serving up holiday music and theater

With a special mask designed for singers, Joshua Gillette will perform in the Nevada Gay Men’s Chorus 10th annual holiday concert Dec. 18, streamed from Reno’s First Congregational Church.

Remember when we used to dress up, leave our houses, and go see holiday shows? Good times.

Those days will return again. But in the meantime, all is not lost this holiday season. Count on the creative minds in our performing arts community to find safe ways for us all to enjoy our beloved holiday traditions.

Following is our roundup of holiday happenings for you and your family to enjoy this month. It doesn’t matter whether you’re decked out in holiday finery, sporting an ugly Christmas sweater or fully committed to pajama-only December—it’s all good. Just pop some corn, cook up some cocoa and get your spirit on!

A.V.A. Ballet: “Land of Sweets” and “The Nutcracker”

This Reno ballet company typically sells about 6,200 tickets to its annual production of “The Nutcracker” at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts. It earns its nut with “The Nutcracker,” which A.V.A. board Vice President Steve Trounday says is the highest performing-arts-revenue offering in Reno. Plus, we really could use it this holiday season.

In normal times, proceeds from “The Nutcracker” make up most of A.V.A. Ballet Theatre’s annual nut. In 2020, viewers can stream an excerpted version and a high quality video of the 2019 show. Photo – courtesy A.V.A. Ballet Theatre

Attempts to perform excerpts from the show outdoors were fraught with challenges. In the end, the company arrived at a plan to stage “Land of Sweets,” a compilation of excerpts from the full show, before a maximum of 50 guests at the Pioneer Center. The Reno Philharmonic’s “baby orchestra”—a small segment of the full orchestra—will provide the score for several individual dances that include the Arabian, the Russians, the Waltz of the Flowers and the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Those tickets are sold out, but live streaming of “Land of Sweets” is free via A.V.A.’s social media platforms. 

Meanwhile, you can see 2019’s full performance (which was filmed and is of good quality for home viewing) and provide much-needed support to the company by purchasing a download for $24.95, which gets you access all this month (watch as many times as you like). Purchase your download access here

Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival: “The Snow Must Go On”

Oh, what fun “yule” have watching this LTSF’s virtual holiday cabaret fundraiser, featuring a merry ensemble of artists who will warm your heart with songs and stories delivered right to your home this holiday season. Produced in partnership with Great Lakes Theater and Idaho Shakespeare Festival, the show will stream live on Sun., Dec. 20 at 4:30 p.m. Upgrade your experience by purchasing a VIP PASS package, which includes access to an exclusive after-party hosted by Producing Artistic Director Charles Fee that features engaging conversation and surprises from the cabaret performers. Purchase cabaret and VIP PASS tickets here to receive your private link to watch the show.

Nevada Gay Men’s Chorus: Holiday E-Xtravaganza

The Nevada Gay Men’s Chorus is taking its 10th annual holiday concert online Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. The company will perform holiday classics such as “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” “I Saw Three Ships,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “The Little Drummer Boy” and “The Christmas Song,” among others. The performance will take place at Reno’s First Congregational Church, where singers will wear special performers’ masks that contain droplets and allow space for singers’ mouths to move comfortably. Audience members will watch the show from the comfort of their homes. Admission is free, though donations are welcome to help support this non-profit organization. Visit www.nevadagmc.org for details.

Note-Able Music Therapy Services: “Jingle Jangle Jolly Joy Jam” 

This Reno-based music nonprofit offering adaptive music therapy for people of all abilities presents this virtual holiday concert and singalong on Dec. 19 at 3:30 p.m. The broadcast is free of charge, but donations are encouraged to help the organization continue offering its services next year.

Reno’s Grace Hayes is one of several local musicians who will perform in the Note-Able Music Therapy Services’ virtual concert and singalong Dec. 19.

This production is an interactive opportunity featuring a variety of holiday performances and caroling singalongs. Musicians include Grace Hayes, Jenes Carter, Susan Mazer, the Peanuts Trio, Eric Anderson, NMTS staff and class participants as well as The Note-Ables band and other local musicians. Though it’s free, registration is encouraged, as it will enter you into a raffle and allow you to download lyric sheets and other interactive assets. You may also purchase a Family Fun Pack, which includes gourmet hot chocolate from Sweets Chocolate Company, party snacks from The Urban Market for four and kettle corn from Jack’s Popcorn Company; the Hot Butter Basket also includes a signature cocktail recipe and ingredients. Reserve baskets by Dec. 11 to ensure availability and delivery before the event. To register for the show and purchase boxes here.

Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts: “Jagged Live in NYC”

For the first time in nearly 10 months, the Broadway cast of the 15-time Tony Award-nominated musical “Jagged Little Pill” is reuniting on stage for one night only—in a special performance live from New York City. On Sun., Dec. 13 at 5 p.m. PST, enjoy this Broadway performance brought to you via Stellar, the new premium streaming platform designed specifically for live performances.

Several theaters across the country—including Reno Little Theater—will co-present a streamed version of Broadway’s “Jagged Little Pill.” Photo by Matthew Murphy, courtesy of Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts

Theater fans in Reno have the opportunity to enjoy this live, onstage concert streamed from The Big Apple and directly support the Pioneer, which is experiencing catastrophic revenue loss during the pandemic. As a partner performing arts center, the Pioneer Center will receive a portion of proceeds from sales to support its future programming. All tickets include access to the livestream premiere on Dec. 13 as well as on-demand access through Tues., Dec. 15. Special add-on packages are also available as supplies last, including an audiobook of the show and interviews with the cast and crew; a mug and coaster set; a behind-the-scenes show companion book; and limited-edition Jagged Little Pill wine. To purchase the download, visit Pioneercenter.com

Reno Jazz Orchestra: Holiday Variety Shows

The Reno Jazz Orchestra is helping keep the spirit of the season alive with its virtual production of two free holiday variety shows on Dec. 19 and 20. Each 90-minute show is unique and features prestigious members of the Reno Jazz Orchestra, so you might want to catch them both. Donations are encouraged to help keep productions and educational programs going in 2021. Access both performances online at RenoJazzOrchestra.org.

Reno Little Theater: “Santa’s Workshop’s Got Talent” and Broadway’s “A Christmas Carol”

RLT offers two opportunities to see live performance. First, the students enrolled in the winter semester of RLT’s Broadway Our Way education program will present a virtual production of “Santa’s Workshop’s Got Talent!” on Dec. 18 and 19 at 7 p.m. In this reality TV spoof, it’s just days before Christmas at Santa’s Workshop and a big blizzard has snowed everybody in, but there’s still work to be done — like getting the elves and reindeer in the proper holiday spirit with song and dance. Purchase a download at $10 per household.

Reno Little Theater is one of several theater companies co-presenting a filmed-on-Broadway production of “A Christmas Carol” as a fundraising event.

RLT also recently announced that it will be a co-presenting organization for the Broadway production of “A Christmas Carol.” A portion of every ticket sold will support RLT during the shutdown. The show, available now through Jan. 3, tells the timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, who rediscovers the magic of Christmas thanks to visits from three ghosts. Staged exclusively for this production and captured live with impressive clarity, this streaming event, filmed at New York’s United Palace, offers a glimpse of a Broadway show like you’ve never seen before. Tickets for both shows are now available to purchase at www.RenoLittleTheater.org

Reno Wind Symphony: “A Holiday Celebration”

This community-based, professional-level wind ensemble presents “A Holiday Celebration” on Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m., accessible through YouTube. The show will feature a number of traditional as well as lesser-known holiday classics, including “Ukranian Bell Carol,” “Midnight in Bethlehem,” and “Sleigh Ride,” as well as a Danny Elfman-style arrangement of Franz Gruber’s classic melody, “Silent Night in Gotham City.”

Elena Butcher gets ready for the Reno Wind Symphony’s Dec. 12 YouTube concert.

RSW has partnered with Our Virtual Ensemble, a platform for performing arts educators that enables groups of musicians to virtually play together and share performances with audiences. The performance is free, though donations are encouraged to help support the technology costs associated with creating this virtual concert. For details, visit www.renowindsymphony.com.

Sierra Nevada Ballet: “Peanutcracker”

SNB is partnering with the Pioneer Center to present a virtual holiday version of its annual “Peanutcracker: The Story in a Nutshell” show for schoolchildren, which typically is attended by about 4,000 area kids each year. In this two-segment virtual presentation, students will not only see the show itself (filmed in 2019), but narrator Rosine Bena, SNB’s artistic director, will offer behind-the-scenes information about the art of ballet and what goes into producing such a show, from training and rehearsals to backstage preparation. Students will get to meet some of the cast and crew of the production and hear personally from some of the dancers about their experience. The presentation will be offered (with an education packet) to schools throughout Northern Nevada. No kids? No problem. PBS Reno will broadcast the show on Christmas Day at 1 p.m. as well.

“Peanutcracker,” Sierra Nevada Ballet’s version of the Nutcracker for elementary school kids, will be broadcast this year on Christmas Day on PBS Reno.

Sierra School of Performing Arts: “Guys and Dolls”

SSPA will stream a video recording of its stunning 2019 production of “Guys and Dolls,” recorded at Robert Z. Hawkins Amphitheater. Dates for streaming have not yet been announced; follow www.sierraschoolofperformingarts.org for information about dates and purchasing download access.

Sierra School of Performing Arts’ holiday fare is a streamed version of its 2019 production of Guys + Dolls.

TheatreWorks of Northern Nevada: “Little Scrooge” Family Fundraiser Gala

Each year, TWNN, a nonprofit dedicated to theater education and access for all, hosts its own fundraiser — a family-friendly gala. This year it will be done virtually on Sat., Dec. 12 from 2-6 p.m., complete with catered meal, pictures with Santa and a performance from its young company members. Not willing to let a little pandemic stop them, the folks at TWNN thought outside the box and let students produce a film of Paul Escobedo’s “Little Scrooge,” about a humbugging teen who cares more about his technology than he does his family and friends. But through a life-changing, one-night experience and visits from three ghosts, he learns the true meaning of Christmas. Students handled everything from performance to costuming, set design and film editing. Songs were recorded in person, employing social distancing measures and masks. 

Audience members who purchase tickets to the fundraiser not only receive download access to the show, but they also enjoy virtual pre-show entertainment by Julia Curtis and Jenny’s Studio of Dance; a dinner prepared by Reno’s The Depot Craft Brewery Distillery; an innovative hot cocoa bomb dessert (choose from nearly 20 different flavors) by Mama’s Cookery; and a virtual silent auction. Enjoy safe photos with Santa and crafts at pickup. To purchase tickets, visit www.twnn.org


GIFTS THAT GIVE BACK

Local theaters and performers around the country have suffered a devastating loss of roughly 80 percent of their revenues this year due to the pandemic shutdowns. Here are some opportunities to lend a little help.

  • The “I Saved Theatre!” campaign is currently selling specially labeled masks online, with proceeds benefitting Brüka Theatre, Goodluck Macbeth Theatre and Reno Little Theater. 
  • Pioneer Center for Performing Arts’ Holiday Gift Bag is great for theater lovers. These bags of Pioneer Center merchandise (a tote bag, coffee mug and two Broadway Comes to Reno tumblers) also include chocolate bark from Cherry Bomb Catering and special offers from neighboring businesses. Bags are delivered anywhere within a 35-mile radius of Reno on Dec. 17 and 18.

This article was funded by a City of Reno CARES Act grant and produced by Double Scoop and the Sierra Nevada Ally. Together, these news outlets are working to increase the amount of quality local arts and culture journalism.