Chanukah Concert at JCC, Gingerbread Day at Noah Webster, Diana Ross Coming to Hartford

Enrich your life, Dec. 2 - Dec. 8, 2010

Hip Jewish Kiddie Rock at JCC

West Hartford's  celebrates Chanukah 2010 with a rock concert for children and Shalom Sesame's new film Chanukah: The Missing Menorah. The event is Dec. 5, and all members of the community are welcome. At 1 p.m., ShirLaLa, aka Shira Kline, brings her "hip Jewish kiddie rock" band to the Herbert Gilman Theater. A New York-based performer and music educator, ShirLaLa has sold over 20,000 albums. She travels the country performing for kids and families. Included with the concert event is the national premiere of The Missing Menorah, a new production by the creators of Sesame Street that stars Grover and his furry friends with guests Anneliese van der Pol and Debi Mazar.

Seating is limited, and advance purchase of tickets is recommended. Advance tickets cost $12, $10 for JCC members. At the door, they are $15, and $12 members. The Mandell Jewish Community Center is at 335 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford. For reservations and more information, visit www.mandelljcc.org or call 860-236-4571.

Art League Holiday Soiree at Blue Back

As part of West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square's annual Holiday Stroll, the  hosts its annual holiday reception. Come enjoy Scrooge-drivers and live music for $5 per person. Small works created by league members are on sale for $50 apiece.

The West Hartford Art League's Gallery at Blue Back Square is at 69 Raymond Road (opposite the REI store), West Hartford. For more information, visit www.westhartfordart.org or phone 860-231-8019.

Gingerbread Day at Noah Webster

West Hartford's  presents its 5th Annual Gingerbread Day. The family-friendly event allows kids and adults to construct a homemade creation from fresh gingerbread, icing, and candies. The tradition begins Dec. 3 with a special evening session and continues on Dec. 4 with three more sessions. Local baker Christine Brooks, owner of Sweet Domestics and creator of the Spicebrook Forest Gingerbread House Kit, leads the workshops. She offers tips and advice on building a gingerbread house and demonstrates decorating ideas.

Tickets cost $12 members, $15 non-members. Pre-registration is required. The Noah Webster House is at 227 South Main St., West Hartford. For more information, visit www.noahwebsterhouse.org or call 860-521-5362.

Game Dinner to Benefit Elizabeth Park

The  present the 11th Annual Game Dinner, an epicurean feast featuring family-style servings of grilled antelope, wild pheasant and venison osso buco. The Dec. 5 event is held at the  at 6 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Friends of Elizabeth Park and their ongoing efforts to preserve and restore the historic Rose Garden.

Tickets cost $65 general, $100 sponsor. For reservations and more information, visit www.elizabethpark.org. Elizabeth Park is on Prospect Street on the line between Hartford and West Hartford. Use the park's Asylum Street entrance for easiest access to the Pond House.

Stanley-Whitman Christmas Shop, Candlelight Tours

Farmington's Stanley-Whitman Museum opens its Christmas shop Dec. 4 from noon to 4 p.m. Browse while enjoying holiday refreshments. Tour the historic house free of charge to view period decorations in room settings.

Members only are invited to visit the shop one hour earlier from 11 a.m. to noon for a sneak peek and first chance to view and purchase items.

The shop remains open through Dec. 23 during regular museum hours, Wednesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

Also starting soon at the Stanley-Whitman are the annual candlelight tours that sell out each year. Register by Dec. 4 to see the soft glow of candlelight shining from the museum windows. Enter to experience the sounds of laughter and good cheer, the smell of cinnamon and a roaring fire from the hearth. Join the festivities as you tour the 1720 house decorated for the holidays. Included in the merriment are period dramas by costumed interpreters, light refreshments in the tavern room, and a bus ride to view one of Farmington's historic neighborhoods dressed in winter finery. Snow date is Dec. 18. Admission costs $8 adult members, $10 adult non-members; $6 children members, $8 child non-members.

The Stanley-Whitman House is at 37 High St., Farmington. For more information, visit www.stanleywhitman.org or call 860-677-9222.

Hill-Stead Holiday Boutique, 'Meet the Family' Events

Farmington's Hill-Stead Museum hosts its annual holiday boutique, a two-day event to be held Dec. 4 and 5. More than 25 vendors offer unique gifts including botanicals, designer clothing, fine art and antiques, home accessories, bath products, one-of-a-kind jewelry, and sweet and savory treats. 

Hours are Dec. 4 and 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Dec. 5 at 1 p.m., TV personality Diane Smith greets guests and signs copies of her latest publications,Seasons of Connecticut and A Connecticut Christmas, both of which feature the Hill-Stead. 

Also on Dec. 5, the Hill-Stead invites visitors to Meet the Family. From noon to 4 p.m., museum visitors have an opportunity to chat with costumed museum interpreters as they re-enact the Pope-Riddle family's preparations for the holiday season of 1921. Admission to the boutique and book signing are free. The Meet the Family event is complimentary with museum admission.

The Hill-Stead is at 35 Mountain Road, Farmington. For more information, visit www.hillstead.org or call 860-677-4787.

Next Generation Guthrie at Roaring Brook

Sarah Guthrie, the granddaughter of Woody Guthrie, daughter of Arlo Guthrie, and an acclaimed singer/songwriter in her own right, returns to Canton's Roaring Brook Nature Center on Dec. 4 with her husband, singer/songwriter/guitarist Johnny Irion. The duo blends roots references with contemporary instrumentation and stunning harmonies to create a unique folk-rock sound.

Show time is 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $18 in advance, $20 at the door. Roaring Brook Nature Center is at 70 Gracey Road, Canton. Visit www.roaringbrookconcerts.org.

Concora's Scandinavian Christmas

Warm your heart as Concora, Connecticut's professional choir, presents A Scandinavian Christmas, a program of folk music, carols, and modern Christmas classics from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland are performed at Concora's Scandinavian Christmas concert Dec. 5. Artistic director Richard Coffey presides over the concert with accompaniment by pianist and organist Jason Charneski. Highlights of the program include Greig's Ave Maris Stella, music by Gade, Christiansen, Sigurbjornsson, and Orhwall, and  an audience sing-along of Scandinavian carols. The audience is invited to a reception following the concert.

Concert time is 4 p.m. Tickets cost $25 general admission, $45 preferred seating, and $10 students. It is at the First Lutheran Church of the Reformation, Franklin Square, New Britain. For more information, visit www.concora.org or call 860-293-0567.

Harvey Reid Performs at Audubon Society

Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Harvey Reid plays the Connecticut Audubon Society on Dec. 3. A 35-year veteran of the club, festival and cafe circuit, Reid performs a holiday themed concert.

Show time is 7:30 p.m. Admission costs $15 Audubon Society members; $17 non-members.The Connecticut Audubon Society is at 1361 Main St., Glastonbury. For more information, visit www.ctaudubon.org or call 860-633-8402.

Christmas Has Been Cancelled at Cheney Hall

Christmas Has Been Cancelled, an original holiday play starring Santa, Mrs. Claus, elves, trolls and an evil Ice Queen, plays Manchester's Cheney Hall .

Tickets cost $10 for ages 12 aned up, and $5 for 11 and younger. Tickets are available through the Cheney Hall box office.

Performance dates are Dec. 3 and 4. For tickets, show times, and more information, visit www.cheneyhall.org or call 860-647-9824. Cheney Hall is at 177 Hartford Road, Manchester.

Charlie Brown Jazz Christmas at Cheney Hall 

The Eric Mintel Quartet presents Charlie Brown Jazz featuring the music of Vince Guaraldi from A Charlie Brown Christmas. Led by pianist and Yamaha performing artist Mintel, the Dec. 4 concert includes the tunes Christmas Time Is Here, Skating, Christmas Is Coming and more. Also on the playlist are holiday chestnuts The Christmas Song, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and Little Drummer Boy. Rounding out the quartet are Nelson Hill on saxes and flutem Dave Antonow on bass, and Dave Mohn on drums.

Tickets cost $15, $20 for VIPs. For tickets, show time, and more information, visit www.cheneyhall.org or call 860-647-9824. Cheney Hall is at 177 Hartford Road, Manchester.

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem

Bethlehem, Connecticut, that is. The state's very own "Christmas Town" hosts its annual festival on Dec. 3 and 4. The much-anticipated seasonal event begins at 6 p.m. on Friday evening with an Opening Ceremony and Procession. Mary and Joseph walk to the town green, which is lit with luminaria. After a brief prayer, Santa lights the town tree. At 6:30 p.m., the Waterbury-Derby Chordsmen give a concert. At 7 p.m., there is a vespers service at First Church. Saturday's special events include a bell choir concert at First Church at noon. Throughout the festival, visitors can expect vendors selling handmade crafts including jewelry, candles, wood objects, paintings, Christmas crafts, and more in five buildings; an activities center for children with free crafts and letters to Santa; regular visits from Mr. Claus himself; and the Bethlehem Post Office, which is extending its hours to offer celebrants the chance to mail out Christmas cards and greetings with the "Bethlehem" stamp. Food vendors sell a variety of items from burgers to sandwiches and chicken nuggets, and hot and cold drinks. Restaurants in town are also open for business. 

Admission is free. Free parking is available at the Bethlehem Fair Grounds. Free shuttles transport visitors to the festival site in town. Hours are Dec. 3 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Dec. 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For directions and more information, visit www.christmastownfestival.com or call 203-266-5557.

Twain House Tours, Birthday Bash

It is a busy week at Hartford's Mark Twain House where Dec. 3 brings the 175th celebration of the author's birth, and Dec. 5 starts the annual series of Holiday House Tours.

December 3 marks what would have been Twain's 175th birthday, and it's the occasion for a Party on the Mississippi. The Museum Center will be decked out for the Mardi Gras-style event. River Slim & the Zydeco Hogs dish up a musical gumbo, Sea Tea Improv transforms audience suggestions into comic jambalaya, and Hartford's Rajun Cajun caters.

Time is 7 p.m. Tickets cost $30; $25 members. Cash bar. For tickets and more information, call 860-280-3130.

On Dec. 5, the Twain House welcomes visitors for the 30th annual Holiday House Tour. The event features Twain's 25-room home along with five elegant private homes in West Hartford and Hartford. Each home is decorated for the holidays, with live music and floral arrangements to complete the festivities.

Tour time is 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Advance tickets are $30 each, and $35 on the day of the event. For tickets and more information, visit www.twainhouse.org or call 860-280-3130. The Mark Twain House & Museum is at 351 Farmington Ave., Hartford.

Bushnell's Breakfast With Santa

On Dec. 4, Hartford's Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts welcomes families for a Breakfast With Santa. Storytelling, carolers, crafts, a Christmas breakfast and photos and visits with Santa and his elves await guests. Seatings are at 8:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Cost is $19 children, $22 adults.

For reservations, phone the Bushnell box office at 860-987-5900. For more information, visit www.bushnell.org. The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts is at 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford. For tickets and more information, visit www.bushnell.org or call the box office at 860-987-5900. 

Three Cups of Tea at Bushnell

The theatrical adaptation of the best-selling book Three Cups of Tea comes to Hartford's Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts on Dec. 6. Part of the American Place Theatre's Literature to Life Program, the program spotlights the talent of a single actor and uses a minimal set. Tea recounts the story of an American climber who, following a failed attempt to summit K2, is found wandering emaciated and lost in Pakistan's Karakoram Himalaya. After being rescued and nursed back to health by locals, he promises to return one day and build them a school.

Performance time is 7 p.m. Tickets cost $33. The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts is at 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford. For tickets and more information, visit www.bushnell.org or call the box office at 860-987-5900.

Guest Conductor Presents Tchaikovsky's Passionate 

The last of seven candidates for the job of music director for the Hartford Symphony Orchestra conducts the band in a program featuring music by Tchaikovsky and Mozart. From Dec. 2 through 5, Carolyn Kuan leads the orchestra in Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G minor, music from Samuel Barber'sMedea, and Tchaikovsky's passionate Piano Concerto No. 1. Performing the latter is 15-year-old Fairfield, Connecticut, high school student and piano prodigy Alex Beyer. Kuan is recognized as one of the most innovative and exciting conductors of her generation. She has served as assistant conductor for the Seattle and Baltimore symphony orchestras, and as artist-in-residence at the New York City Ballet. Beyer is the winner of the HSO's 2009 Young Artist Competition.

The concerts take place at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford. Tickets range in price from $30 to $70, with student tickets at $10. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.hartfordsymphony.org or call 860-244-2999.

Judith Ivey Stars in Long Wharf's Shirley Valentine

Tony Award-winner Judith Ivey returns to New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre to play the lead character in Willy Russell's hit comedy Shirley Valentine. The theater's artistic director, Gordon Edelstein, who previously directed Ivey inThe Glass Menagerie, stages the show. Russell's Valentine follows the adventures of an English housewife who wonders what happened to the joy in her life. When she is offered a chance to travel to Greece, she is introduced to the adventure, hope ad love she had been missing.

Performance dates are Dec. 2, 2010 through Jan. 2, 2011. Tickets range from $45 to $65. Long Wharf Theatre is at 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven. For tickets or more information, visit www.longwharf.org or call 203-787-4282.

Stop in the Name of a Legendary Entertainer

Diana Ross comes to Hartford March 16 for a one-night-only performance in support of her new tour More Today Than Yesterday – The Greatest Hits Tour. Tickets for the show go on sale Dec. 3 starting at 10 a.m. An American icon, Ross fronted the Supremes, recorded as solo artist, and performed on film (Lady Sings the Blues) and on stage (The Wiz). Musically, she's done it all – from Motown to disco, jazz to Broadway.

Ticket prices start at $48. Visit www.bushnell.org or call 860-987-5900. The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts is at 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford. For tickets and more information, visit www.bushnell.org or call the box office at 860-987-5900. 


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