Deck the Hall Ball, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” and all sorts of holiday shows are only a few of the most buzzworthy arts and entertainment events happening next month. Our Seattle Times arts writers dish on what you should put on your calendars.
TOP 5 EVENTS IN DECEMBER
Deck the Hall Ball
For any music fan, seeing many of your favorite artists at once is a thrilling experience. For lovers of indie rock in the Seattle area, that happens at least once a year at 107.7 The End’s Deck the Hall Ball. Not only are Seattle-based acts Chong the Nomad and The Head and the Heart taking the stage, but beloved English rockers The 1975 are headlining this festive shindig. Of Monsters and Men, Catfish and the Bottlemen and The Regrettes are also set to join in on the fun.
5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10; WaMu Theater, 800 Occidental Ave. S., Seattle; $65-$300; 800-653-8000, ticketmaster.com
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”
Perhaps you’ve heard about this one. J.J. Abrams directs the final chapter in the Skywalker saga, with a cast featuring Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver.
Opens Dec. 19; fandango.com
“The Nutcracker” (and its variants)
Gird your tutus, people: It’s Nutcracker season this month, with options all over town. Pacific Northwest Ballet has the biggest and sparkliest one, complete with George Balanchine’s choreography and a 40-foot-tall tree — but for those outside Seattle, Nutcracker sweetness can be found in Bellevue (International Ballet Theatre), Auburn/Renton (Evergreen City Ballet), Bothell (Emerald Ballet Theatre), Edmonds/Everett (Olympic Ballet Theatre) and Tacoma (Tacoma City Ballet). If your “Nut” tastes run a little less traditional, consider “The Hard Nut,” Mark Morris’ gender-bent love letter to “The Nutcracker” (complete with live orchestra!) at the Paramount, or the for-adults-only “Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker” at the Triple Door, which features jazz arrangements of the Tchaikovsky score. Sugarplums to all!
All month; various prices; all over town
“The Dina Martina Christmas Show”
This show, a longtime tradition with raucous crowds at Re-bar, moved to ACT last year and felt just as at-home-on-another-planet. Part of Dina’s enduring attraction is her ability to stagger between wholesome, lewd and simply surreal, hoofing across boundaries of propriety with the warm, protective cover of seeming too naive to do otherwise. She talks about “stories passed down through gonorrhations” and declares “when Mr. Jeffries (her accompanist) and I first performed this song eight or nine years ago, we had no idea it would become a perineum favorite.” Somehow, the hallowed halls of ACT feel just right for jokes once written to land in a queer-bar-theater crowd. Dina seemed happier than ever.
Dec. 5-24; ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., Seattle; $27-$47; 206-292-7687, acttheatre.org
Seattle Symphony presents Handel’s “Messiah”
One of the greatest of the holiday musical landmarks, this familiar oratorio combines virtuoso solo pieces, spectacular choruses (including, of course, the “Hallelujah”) and evocative scoring — this time under the baton of British conductor Matthew Halls. The soloists include Nola Richardson, Meg Bragle, Thomas Cooley and William Berger.
8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20; 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22; Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; tickets from $26; 206-215-4747, seattlesymphony.org
Ricco Siasoco and Angela Garbes
This evening, titled “Filipinx Live,” unites two writers of Filipino descent for readings and conversation: the Los Angeles-based Siasoco, whose debut short-story collection is called “The Foley Artist,” and local journalist/author Garbes, who last year published “Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy.”
7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3; Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave., Seattle; free; 206-322-7030, hugohouse.org
Northwest author Guterson, best known for his debut novel “Snow Falling on Cedars,” will read from and speak about his latest book: “Turn Around Time: A Walking Poem for the Pacific Northwest,” a narrative poem exploring the idea — in hiking, and in life — of knowing when it’s time to recognize one’s limits.
7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5; Third Place Books at Lake Forest Park, 17171 Bothell Way N.E., Lake Forest Park; free; 206-366-3333, thirdplacebooks.com
The Seattle-native dancemaker, whose Mark Morris Dance Group is in town with its production of “The Hard Nut,” has a memoir out (written with Wesley Stace), “Out Loud.” In it, Morris tells of growing up in South Seattle and of finding his voice as a dancer and choreographer — and shares some thoughts about artistic creation (and a little gossip) along the way.
7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9; Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., Seattle; $36 (admits one, includes book)-$42 (admits two; includes book); 206-624-6600, elliottbaybook.com
Terry Tempest Williams
A naturalist, activist and writer (“The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks” and “Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place,” among others), Williams will speak about her latest collection, “Erosion: Essays of Undoing.”
7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10; Seattle Public Library’s Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Seattle; free; 206-386-4636, spl.org
Writers Under the Influence
The legacy of the great James Baldwin, author of “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” “Notes of a Native Son,” “If Beale Street Could Talk” and numerous other works, will be the subject of this tribute evening, featuring readings and remembrances from Anastacia-Renée, Ebo Barton, LaNesha DeBardelaben and Seattle Civic Poet Jourdan Imani Keith.
7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11; Northwest African American Museum, 2300 S. Massachusetts St., Seattle; free; 206-322-7030, hugohouse.org
Marlantes, the Seattle-based author of the international bestseller “Matterhorn,” visits Elliott Bay with his latest novel, “Deep River,” set in Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon in the late 19th century. Mary Ann Gwinn, writing in The Seattle Times, called it “a classic immigrant story” that shares several elements with “Matterhorn”: “memorable characters, dark humor, painstaking attention to detail and breathtaking action scenes.”
7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11; Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., Seattle; free; 206-624-6600, elliottbay.com
A Pulitzer Prize winner (for “The Hours”) and author of five novels and a short-story collection, Cunningham is in town as part of Hugo House’s “Word Works: Writers on Writing” series. He’ll give a talk titled “The Problem Is Never the Plot,” about how writers can discover and get to know their characters, and will be interviewed onstage by Portland author Cari Luna.
7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12; Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave., Seattle; $15-$30 (higher price includes a meet-and-greet reception); 206-322-7030, hugohouse.org
For those in need of holiday spirit with a literary flavor, here’s an event for you: University Book Store bookseller Craft’s annual reading-aloud of Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory,” complete with hot cocoa and festive cheer.
6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17; University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E., Seattle; free; 800-335-7323, ubookstore.com
Seattle Men’s Chorus presents “‘Tis the Season”
The annual holiday show of this large and exuberant chorus always achieves an enviable mix of the sublime and the irreverent, the naughty and the nice (predominantly nice, of course). This year the program, always complete with tuxes and costumes and production numbers, will include “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Good King Wenceslas” and “Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney.”
7:30 p.m. Nov. 30, 2 p.m. Dec. 1, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 and 17, 8 p.m. Dec. 22 at Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle. 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at Rialto Theater, 310 S. Ninth St., Tacoma. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at Everett Civic Auditorium, 2415 Colby Ave., Everett. Tickets start at $25; seattlechoruses.org
President’s Piano Series presents Jonathan Biss
The eminent pianist and thinker Biss presents “Celebrating Beethoven, Part 2,” in which he plays five of the landmark sonatas — including the celestial “Moonlight” Sonata.
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11; Gerlich Theater at Meany Hall, University of Washington, 4040 George Washington Lane N.E., Seattle; $41-$49; 206-543-4880, meanycenter.org
Seattle Symphony Presents Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”
The perennially popular “Four Seasons” is a welcome musical reminder that winter does not last forever. Guest maestro Lee Mills and SSO violinist/soloist Elisa Barston are featured in five performances that also include the much jazzier “Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” by noted Brazilian composer Astor Piazzolla.
8 p.m. Dec. 28, 2 p.m. Dec. 29, 8 p.m. Jan. 3 and 4, and 2 p.m. Jan. 5; Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; tickets from $26; 206-215-4747, seattlesymphony.org
Byron Schenkman & Friends, “Corelli and the Splendor of the Baroque”
A festive program of miniature baroque masterpieces, with some of the Northwest’s finest early-music specialists: harpsichordist Schenkman, violinists Ingrid Matthews and Rachell Ellen Wong, cellist Nathan Whittaker and trumpeter Kris Kwapis. They’ll play works of Arcangelo Corelli, Heinrich Biber, Isabella Leonarda and others.
7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 29; Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; $10-$48; 206-215-4747, seattlesymphony.org
Donald Byrd’s “The Harlem Nutcracker”
Twenty-three years ago, New York-based choreographer Byrd made an ambitious, Harlem-inflected “Nutcracker” whose Clara was an older widow taking a journey back through her life (and black American history), accompanied by compositions from Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. The show toured around the country to enthusiastic reception but, for a variety of reasons, couldn’t afford to survive. Byrd, now a longtime Seattle-based artist, is slowly reviving “The Harlem Nutcracker” in workshop form. This year brings Act One: “Party Scene” and “Club Sweets” (Byrd’s Cotton Club-ish adaptation of the Land of the Sweets).
Dec. 12-15; On the Boards, 100 W. Roy St., Seattle; free-$50 (sliding scale); 206-217-9888, spectrum dance.org
Next Fest 2019: “Ritual and Rebellion”
A sampler platter of five new dance works from emerging choreographers: Lucie Baker (something inspired by her Croatian heritage and folk figures said to be the restless spirits of women who’ve died untimely deaths), Shane Donohue (“dance meets NASCAR” with lots of advertisements), Vladimir Kremenović (examining the Brutalist architecture in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he lived as a child) and others.
Dec. 12-15; Velocity Dance Center, 1261 12th Ave., Seattle; $15-$50 (sliding scale); 206-325-8773, velocitydancecenter.org
Tickets are already on sale for the following movies:
Greta Gerwig’s breathlessly awaited adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott classic has a delicious all-star lineup: Saoirse Ronan (as Jo), Emma Watson (Meg), Laura Dern (Marmee), Timothée Chalamet (Laurie) and Meryl Streep (Aunt March), along with newcomers Florence Pugh (Amy) and Eliza Scanlen (Beth). And (whispering, because I saw it at a very early screening) it’s really good. Winona who?
Opens Dec. 25; fandango.com
“Fiddler on the Roof” Sing-Along
A jolly SIFF holiday tradition: Spend Dec. 25 watching the Norman Jewison movie musical and chiming in with “Tradition,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and the rest of the eminently singable score. Also part of the fun: a Chinese takeout feast (certified kosher!) and live klezmer music before the show by Orkestyr Farfeleh.
Noon Wednesday, Dec. 25; SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle; $25; 206-324-9996, siff.net
Yes, you read that right. This pop-rock band of brothers are on tour and bringing ’90s nostalgia to fans everywhere. The tour, appropriately titled “Wintry Mix,” is slated to feature a mix of holiday classics, fan favorites and previews of new music. The band is set to release their seventh studio album in 2020.
7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1; Neptune Theatre, 1303 N.E. 45th St., Seattle; sold out; 800-653-8000; ticketmaster.com
California rapper ScHoolboy Q is coming to Seattle for his “CrasH Tour.” The rapper, born Quincy Matthew Hanley, is part of the Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) label along with rap superstar and past collaborator Kendrick Lamar. Q has released five studio albums with 2019’s “CrasH Talk” being his latest.
8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1; WaMu Theater, 800 Occidental Ave. S., Seattle; $34-$172; 800-653-8000, ticketmaster.com
The perfect New Year’s Eve celebration for fans of electronic music, Resolution is an indoor festival that celebrates the new year. This show is sure to provide lots of color, lasers, lights and dancing. With more than 20 artists including four headliners, this show won’t be short of performances.
6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31; WaMu Theater, 800 Occidental Ave. S., Seattle; $189; 800-653-8000, ticketmaster.com
Sugar Plum Gary
For some, Christmas brings up existential questions: What does this holiday mean? What do I mean in relation to this holiday? If I do not feel moved toward holiday cheer, does it negate my fullness as a human being? For Sugar Plum Gary, the lanky-haired, long-bearded, gravel-voiced, red-onesie-wearing alter-ego of comedian Emmett Montgomery, Christmas seems to bring up a more directly existential question: How am I still alive? You see, Gary was raised in an orphanage where Santa came to visit — and he was the only survivor. An hour with Sugar Plum Gary addresses both kinds of existentialism in a phantasmagoric dive — with Q&A! — through his richly frightening cosmos where Santa is something like a malevolent demiurge.
Dec. 14-22; 18th & Union, 1406 18th Ave., Seattle; $12-$22; 206-937-6499, 18thandunion.org
“Head Over Heels”
If you’re looking for something truly aChristmasy — not pro-Christmas, not some weird subversion of Christmas — “Head Over Heels” might be your escape hatch. Its very existence sounds like the setup to a joke: written by Jeff Whitney (“Avenue Q”), based on the 16th-century narrative poem “The Arcadia” (which involves politics, sex, mobs, drugs and drag), set to songs by the 1980s gem of a band The Go-Go’s. Kerry Reid at The Chicago Tribune calls it “an odd but beguiling confection” that “feels like what might happen if a road company of ‘Kiss Me, Kate’ decided to moonlight at ’80s Night in a queer dance club.” There’s a troubled kingdom, a shepherd, some failed suitors of a princess, a “nonbinary oracle,” etc. Whatever it is, it ain’t Christmas. Directed by ArtsWest artistic director Matthew Wright.
Through Dec. 29; ArtsWest, 4711 California Ave. S.W., Seattle; $20-$42; 206-938-0963, artswest.org
Fay Jones: “Las Golondrinas”
“Las Golondrinas” is Spanish for “the swallows,” and this collection of paintings — dedicated to her late husband, Robert C. Jones, who passed away last December — is based on the view outside Fay Jones’ bedroom window. There are birds, but also phantoms of the mind in her skies: an old dress, a painter’s palette, a face with a cigarette sharing a cloud with a cherub. “Las Golondrinas” is an honest, sometimes strange, but never mawkish rumination on grief, fond memories and the passage of time.
Through Jan. 25, 2020; James Harris Gallery, 604 Second Ave., Seattle; free; 206-903-6220, jamesharrisgallery.com
Stonington Celebrates 40: 40th Anniversary Group Exhibition
For the past four decades, Stonington Gallery has been showing work by hundreds of First Nations/Native artists of the Northwest Coast and Alaska, from the traditional basketry of Kandi McGilton (Metlakatla Indian Community) to the avant-garde glass work of Preston Singletary (Tlingit). This show is a survey course in that nearly half-century history.
Dec. 5-Jan. 31, 2020; Stonington Gallery, 125 S. Jackson St., Seattle; free; 206-405-4040, stoningtongallery.com
“In Plain Sight”
A group show about “narratives, communities, and histories that are typically hidden or invisible in our public space (both conceptually and literally defined).” The work, spread throughout the museum, involves activism, codes, secrecy and “the illumination of invisible or covert systems of labor, exploitation, and capitalist control.” Artists include Oscar Tuazon (born in Seattle, based in L.A.), Beatriz Cortez (El Salvador), Ebony G. Patterson (Jamaica), william cordova (Peru) and several others.
Through April 26, 2020; Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, 15th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 41st Street, Seattle; free; 206-543-2280, henryart.org
Freelance writer Melinda Bargreen (firstname.lastname@example.org) contributed to this report.