"I do not make merry at Christmas," said grouch Ebenezer Scrooge, "and I can't afford to make others merry, either!"
Obviously, Scrooge didn't live in the North Bay, where during the holidays there are many irresistible opportunities to "make merry," and where the local theater community has earned a reputation for combining holiday stage events with a party atmosphere, presenting seasonal plays, concerts and other happenings with a huge dollop of theatrical flair.
In Sebastopol, Main Stage West has found an appropriate way to hang on to its spectacular Irish Pub set from October's run of The Weir, repurposing the theater as an intimate publike music venue hosting a series of winter concerts and parties—including this weekend's highly anticipated blowout with Push Button Zebco on Friday, Dec. 14 (8pm; sliding scale, $7–$25). North Bay favorites Mary Gannon Graham and Thomas Graham will sing everything from Gypsy folk songs to Christmas classics, and will be joined by local actor-singers Allison Rae Baker, Joan Hawley, Jim Peterson, Tim Sarter and Stuart Rabinowitz.
Meanwhile, in Santa Rosa, the Studio at Sixth Street Playhouse has been transformed into a seasonal cabaret for a series of musical events stretching right up to New Year's Eve. Kicking it off is a brand-new holiday show on Friday (Dec. 14–22; $25), featuring the female foursome from last year's Marvelous Wonderettes dancing and doo-wopping through a peppy repertoire of up-tempo tunes.
On Sunday, Sixth Street Improv unleashes its Naughty or Nice holiday show, with a troupe of unhinged comedians making up skits about whatever holiday likes and dislikes the audience suggests (Dec. 16, 8pm; $14). The holiday series concludes New Year's weekend with the sensational comedy-musical duo of Sandy and Richard Riccardi, satirizing everything they can think of with their patented blend of witty lyrics and smooth lounge-act showmanship (Dec. 29–31, Friday and Saturday at 8pm; $25; two shows New Year's Eve, 7pm and 10pm, $40–$50).
And per tradition, Petaluma's Cinnabar Theater kicks off its new year with a blow-out New Year's Eve party and the opening-night performance of its new musical show A Couple of Blaguards, featuring Tim Kniffin and Steven Abbot as the yarn-spinning Irish brothers Frank and Malachy McCourt. Directed by Sheri Lee Miller, with musical direction by Jim Peterson, the play runs through Jan. 20, but on Dec. 31, revelers at Cinnabar get the first peek. Festivities begin at 9pm ($60–$75) with a full run of the show, followed by Champagne, desserts and New Year's fun right up to midnight.