More upcoming performances to warm your soul this winter

More upcoming performances to warm your soul this winter

Deck the Halls and trim the tree, the Journal of the San Juans wanted to remind readers of some more upcoming musical events on San Juan Island.

Island Stage Left performances, through Dec. 24

This year Island Stage Left is hosting not one, but two performances at the San Juan County Fairgrounds Marie Boe building.

“Christmas Memories,” draws from Christmas stories compiled by Dylan Thomas and “Omnium Gatherum” is a collection of music, stories and poems. As the name implies, the event is going to be a hodgepodge of genres; the emotional quality from the performances evoke the Danish concept of hygge — the coziness of the soul.

“I was looking for a program that was malleable, grounded in the holiday tradition of singing, stories and coming together,” Island Stage Left Theatre Director and co-founder Helen Machin-Smith said.

“Omnium Gatherum” features musicians Carol Hopper, Joely Louks and Mark Mazzarella.

Island Stage Left’s other production, “Christmas Memories,” also mixes live music stories and poetry. However, the perspective is from a child’s view and takes attendees to a small town in Wales.

“The writing of Dylan Thomas performed by Daniel Mayes sets the tone,” Machin-Smith shared in a press release, which included this teaser:

“All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea and they stop at the rim of the ice -edged fish-freezing waves and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find.”

Usually Island Stage Left either performs “Christmas Memories” or “Omnium Gatherum,” but since last year’s performance of “Christmas Memories” had to be canceled due to illness, the group wanted to give the community more options this year. The remaining dates for “Christmas Memories” are Dec. 19, 21 and 23. “Omnium Gatherum” runs Dec 18, 20, 22 and 24.

All performances are at 7:30 p.m. except for Sunday shows, which are at 4 p.m.

There will be two performances on Christmas Eve, at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Reservations are required and available for Christmas Eve only. To reserve your seat, email

“A Christmas Carol,” Dec. 19-22

The tale of the miserly Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol” takes the stage at the San Juan Community Theater.

“I fell in love with ‘A Christmas Carol’ working on the Dallas Theatre Center production in 2002,” SJCT Executive Artistic Director Nathan Kessler-Jeffrey said.

This 90-minute rendition adapted and directed by Kessler-Jeffrey opens at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 19, and runs through Sunday, Dec. 22. Saturday and Sunday have an additional matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are $23 for adults, $12 for students and $5 student rush at the door. Thursday is pay what you can at the door.

Reading “A Christmas Carol” has become Kessler-Jeffery’s Christmas tradition, he said, which led him to the realization that few people have the opportunity to hear the Dickens play spoken in its original Victorian-era dialect.

“I wanted to create a production that used the original text exclusively, and that would be available to take to other places,” Kessler-Jeffery explained. A new adventure for the theatre was to take the “Christmas Carol” show both to Orcas and Lopez earlier in the month.

“A Christmas Carol” was written by Charles Dickens in the mid-1800s, and focuses on businessman Ebinezer Scrooge. Through the story, Scrooge is visited by four ghosts. First is his old business partner Jacob Marley, followed by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Christmas Yet to Come showing him the cost of his life choices, of greed and misanthropy.

The Ghost of Christmas Past, Kessler-Jeffrey explained, reminds Scrooge of the joy of his youth, which brings feelings of sadness and loss. Christmas Present shows him how alive the world is around him, Kessler-Jeffery continued, while the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows Scrooge his fate if he continues his present course.

“Each builds on the last until Scrooge’s ways of misanthropy and greed have been broken down,” Kessler-Jeffrey said.

The production has a mere five actors, Brad Fincher as Scrooge; Jim Hooper as Bob Cratchet, Scrooge’s underpaid employee; BooBoo James plays Christmas Present and other characters; young Scrooge and other roles are played by Kate Luebkeman; and Belle and other characters are played by Chelsea Parrott.

“Working with small casts really allows us to get detailed and nuanced in the performances. … It gives the actors a wide range of roles to play, from children to criminals,” Kessler-Jeffrey said of his crew.

For Kessler-Jeffrey, “A Christmas Carol” is a story of redemption and hope, he said, noting that 2011 was a particularly rough year for him; he was bankrupt; effectively homeless and lost his family. Friends took him in, he said. They spent Christmas together and slowly his life changed.

“That was the beginning of the story that led me to this wonderful island,” Kessler-Jeffrey said. “Redemption and the value of the opportunity to change are deeply woven into the fabric of my identity now. ‘A Christmas Carol’ is a story that celebrates the value of a second chance.”

“A European Village Christmas” Dec. 21

For those craving traditional Christmas music, local musicians are performing at the St. David’s Episcopal Church for the third annual concert.

“They are hard-working, enthusiastic volunteers,” performer Richard Lind said, explaining that the performing choir consists of church members from St. David’s; The Lutheran Church in the San Juans; Friday Harbor Presbyterian Church; and the community at large. Additional musicians are Sue Collado on clarinet and Hanneke Klein-Robbenhaar on both the violin and viola, while Lind himself will be playing the piano.

“A European Village Christmas,” is at 3 p.m., Dec. 21, at the church, and features songs originating from France, Scandinavia and Germany.

“A European Village Christmas,” according to Lind, includes French carols “Noel Nouvelet,” “Christ is Born,” and “O Christmas, the Season of Childlike Delight.” The German selection includes “O Christmas Tree,” and the original version of “Silent Night” which will be accompanied by guitar.

In the spirit of giving, attendance is free, however, a donation toward the Friday Harbor Food Bank or Joyce Soble Family Resource Center is encouraged.

“St. Davids has been raising money for those organizations regularly, and during this time of year they are especially in need,” Lind said.

“Seating is limited so come early,” Lind said.

Solstice with the San Juan Island Grange, Dec. 21

In celebration of the shortest day of the year, the public is invited to jam with San Juan Island Grangers for their annual Solstice Celebration.

“This is the first year we have opened [the event] up to all, but we plan on doing it every year hereafter,” Grange Board Secretary Susan Key said. While turkey dressing and gravy will be provided, Key added that the celebration is a potluck and encourages attendees to bring appetizers, beverages, sides and desserts.

The feast begins at 6 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 12 at the San Juan Island Grange. For additional entertainment, Town of Friday Harbor Mayor Farhad Gahtan will be playing the concert grand piano. Attendees are encouraged to bring their musical instruments in order to join along for an informal musical jam session after dinner. There will be a warm fire in the fireplace to keep the grange hall cozy, and lights on the new deck will be lit for those wanting to enjoy a bit of fresh winter air.

The grange is a nonprofit organization with the mission, according to its website, “To support a resilient community of growers, makers, and keepers, to foster social and political engagement, and to maintain our Hall as a home for celebrations and programs.”

Currently, there are approximately 140 grange members who are advocating for local farmers. In honor of the solstice, this group was inspired to celebrate the return of the sun, daylight, and shedding that which is unnecessary, Keys explained.

“[We are offering] gratitude and celebrating our blessings,” Keys said.