will be sold out by Christmas, I thought I’d better talk about them now, while you still have a chance to snap up a ticket. But first, let me offer a little perspective on the whole theme of New Year’s Eve traditions.

Different people celebrate the turning of the year in different ways.

In Canada, on New Year’s Eve, cities offer free public transportation.
Not sexy, perhaps, as traditions go, but it’s certainly practical.

In certain parts of Mexico, as the midnight bells strike twelve times, partiers eat twelve grapes—hopefully without choking—because they make a wish with each swallowed grape.

In Albania, at precisely midnight on New Year’s, they make perfectly timed phone calls to wish each other a prosperous new year. Also not sexy, or particularly festive, but definitely warm and fuzzy and nice.

It’s midnight. Let’s call Dad.

I like it.

Meanwhile in the San Francisco North Bay area . . . well, we do all kinds of things. Amongst them, it has become a certified tradition for theater companies to wrap a big happy New Years Eve party around a brand new theatrical production, often kicking off the next full run of their new show by debuting it on the 31st of December, followed by a champagne toast, confetti, cheers and a kiss or two.

I like that too.

Case in point: this New Year’s Eve, Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater (www.cinnabartheatre.org)—one of the first theater companies in the area to adopt the New Year’s Eve debut tradition—will be staging the first performance of their new show, Mahalia Jackson: Just as I Am. Written and performed by Sharon E. Scott, the show tells the story of America’s iconic blues and gospel singer, punctuating the tale with scorching renditions of Jackson’s best known songs. Cinnabar’s New Year’s Gala, running from $55-$66, begins at 9:00 p.m., and includes fancy pre-show desserts and champagne at midnight.

Mahalia Jackson: Just as I Am, continues it’s run at Cinnabar through January 24.
Over at Main Stage West in Sebastopol (www.mainstagewest.com), a bit of macabre mayhem will be added to the merriment on New Year’s Eve, as the esteemed theater launches Serial Murderess: A Love Story in Three Ax, Amanda Moody’s one-woman-show about a trio of famous female killers.
Talk about drinking a cup of kindness … just make sure it’s not poisoned.
Main Stage West’s first annual New Year’s Bash—cost $50, with the show beginning at 8:00 p.m.—includes food, drinks, a bit of murderous revelry, and the show itself.

I suggest you dress to kill for this one.

And finally, over at 6th Street Playhouse (www.6thstreetplayhouse.com), the New Year will kick in with a cabaret-style party and musical show—cost: $25-$40—featuring the return of Sandy and Richard Riccardi, the daft and daring duo whose charmingly satirical, tastefully raunchy songs have taken them to New York and back, and won them international acclaim on YouTube. There will be two shows, at 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.
Food and drink will be available for purchase.

These shows are actually much more than just a great way to kick off the New Year.
Such special events are vital fundraisers; so even if you can’t make it out to your favorite theater, consider dropping off a tax-deductible donation as your way of saying Auld Lange Syne to support live theater in Sonoma County.

Happy New Year, a little early, and here’s to a theatrically satisfying 2016.

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