Arts & Culture

Holiday fun for everyone

December is here, which means the holiday season is in full swing.

Whether you’re looking for a family activity, a romantic outing or a fun way to entertain out-of-town visitors, here are 10 ways to celebrate the season.

"The Holiday Extravaganza" — Great American Melodrama, tonight through Dec. 31 ($18 to $22)

Celebrate the season with the Great American Melodrama’s holiday show, a Central Coast tradition for more than 30 years.

Billy Breed stars as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Melodrama’s one-act version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” followed by the fractured fairytale opera “The Three Little Pigs.” Then there’s the “Holiday Vaudeville Revue,” featuring such highlights as the Waterglass Orchestra and the Reindeer Rap.

"It’s a Wonderful Life" — San Luis Obispo Little Theatre, Friday through Dec. 23 ($15 to $25)

Cambria Center for the Arts, Dec. 14, 15 and 16 (free)

When financial and legal troubles drive George Bailey to contemplate suicide, it’s up to his guardian angel, Clarence, to show him what life in Bedford Falls would have been like if he’d never been born.

This holiday season, fans of “It’s a Wonderful Life” have two chances to relive the magic.

San Luis Obispo Little Theatre re-imagines Frank Capra’s movie as a play, while Cambria Center for the Arts presents the story as a vintage radio broadcast.

"The Snow Queen" — Cultural and Performing Arts Center, Cuesta College, Friday, Saturday and Sunday ($10 to $15)

Cuesta College uses a combination of technology and stagecraft to bring Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved fairytale to life in this innovative production.

Directed by Philip Vale, “The Snow Queen” follows young Greta (Cassidy Sargeant) as she journeys to the realm of the Snow Queen (Clara Fulks) to rescue her best friend, Kai (Molly Smith). Along the way she encounters a witch, a robber girl, enchanted animals and Viking newscasters.

"The Nutcracker" — Templeton Performing Arts Center, Friday, Saturday and Sunday ($19 to $24); Cohan Center, Cal Poly, Saturday and Sunday ($18 to $52)

It’s the most magical night of the year — Christmas Eve — and young Clara is about to experience the adventure of a lifetime.

The North County Dance and Performing Arts Foundation presents the classic ballet “The Nutcracker,” in association with Class Act Dance of Paso Robles. Taylor Hargrave stars as Clara, with Brianna Long as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Bryan Ketron as the Cavalier.

Civic Ballet of San Luis Obispo’s version of “The Nutcracker” stars Jane Selna as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Ryan Lawrence as her Cavalier. Virginia Harding and Lexi Smith share the role of Clara.

This year, the company has teamed up with the Opera San Luis Obispo orchestra to bring Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s memorable music to life.

"The Wizard of Oz" — Marian Theatre, PCPA Theaterfest, Friday through Dec. 26 ($20 to $32.50)

They’re off to see the Wizard!

Dorothy (Britney Simpson) and her friends — the Cowardly Lion (Erik Stein), Scarecrow (Quinn Mattfeld) and Tin Woodman (Andrew Philpot) — travel down the Yellow Brick Road in PCPA Theaterfest’s magical, musical production of “The Wizard of Oz,” inspired by L. Frank Baum’s beloved book and the 1939 MGM movie.

Holiday audiences will discover that there’s “no place like home.”

"The Elves & the Shoemaker" — Clark Center for the Performing Arts, Dec. 13 ($8.75)

Two elves arrive at a small village in the Black Forest to discover a poor shoemaker in desperate need of assistance in “The Elves & the Shoemaker,” presented by the California Theatre Center.

This kid-friendly play, which teaches audiences about kindness, resourcefulness and holiday cheer, is recommended for preschool through fifth grade.

Paula Poundstone — Spanos Theatre, Cal Poly, Dec. 14 ($41)

You’ve seen her on television, heard her on the radio and spotted her books at Barnes & Noble. Now comedian Paula Poundstone is bringing her uproariously funny standup act to San Luis Obispo.

Known for her quick-witted quips, Poundstone is a regular panelist on NPR’s “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me.”

Her latest accomplishments include a memoir, “There’s Nothing In This Book That I Meant To Say,” and a CD, “I Heart Jokes: Paula Tells Them in Maine.”

"The Velveteen Rabbit" — Spanos Theatre, Cal Poly, Dec. 15 and 16 ($15 to $35)

Have you ever had an imaginary friend?

Based on Margery Williams’ classic children’s book, Ballet Theatre San Luis Obispo’s “The Velveteen Rabbit” examines the bond between a boy (Asael Picasso) and his favorite toy (Melissa Rasmussen).

Also on the program is “Degas & Marie (His Little Dancer),” about French Impressionist artist Edgar Degas (Blair London) and his most famous subject, Marie Van Goethem (Shae London).

"A Winter-Warming Evening of Holiday Story and Song" — Alegria Wine and Ware, Dec. 19 through 21 (free)

Need a break from the holiday hustle and bustle? Espressivo! Chamber Theatre offers a free seasonal celebration featuring familiar tales and tunes.

In addition to holiday songs such as “Silver Bells,” “Winter Wonderland” and “White Christmas,” the evening includes two heartwarming stories — O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” and Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory” — performed by Devin Wallace and Christine and David Hance as readers’ theater.

• Moscow Ballet’s "Swan Lake" — Chumash Casino Resort, Dec. 20 ($35 to $75)

Russia’s acclaimed Moscow Ballet brings a timeless tale of love and betrayal to the Central Coast. In Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet, the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart turns beautiful Odette into the Swan Queen — sentencing her and her fellow swan maidens to be birds by day and humans by night. Only true love can break the spell.


Alegria Wine and Ware, 942 Chorro St., San Luis Obispo; 596-0200,

Cambria Center for the Arts, 1350 Main St., Cambria; 927-8190, www.artists

Chumash Casino Resort, 3400 East Highway 246, Santa Ynez;  800-248-6274,

Clark Center for the Performing Arts, 487 Fair Oaks Ave., Arroyo Grande; 489-9444, www.clark

Cohan Center and Spanos Theatre, Cal Poly; 756-4849,

Cultural and Performing Arts Center, Cuesta College, Highway 1, San Luis Obispo; 546-3198,

Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville, 1863 Front St., Highway 1, Oceano; 489-2499, www.american

Marian Theatre, PCPA Theaterfest, 800 S. College Drive, Santa Maria; 922-8313 or

Templeton Performing Arts Center, 1200 S. Main St., Templeton; 550-5965, www.northcounty

San Luis Obispo Little Theatre, 888 Morro St., San Luis Obispo; 786-2440, www.slolittle