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Final Stages

Local theaters ring in 2016 with New Year's Eve blowouts

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HEAD CASE 'Serial Murderess' wraps up 2015 at Main Stage West in Sebastopol. - JENNIFER DELILAH
  • Jennifer Delilah
  • HEAD CASE 'Serial Murderess' wraps up 2015 at Main Stage West in Sebastopol.

On New Year's Eve in Canada, cities offer free public transportation. It's a tradition. In certain parts of Mexico, when the clock strikes midnight, partiers eat 12 grapes and make a wish with each one. In Albania, at precisely midnight, people make perfectly timed phone calls to wish each other a prosperous new year.

Here in the North Bay . . . well, we do all kinds of things. Among them, it has become a certified tradition in the area for theater companies to wrap a New Year's Eve party around a theatrical production, often kicking off a run of a new show with a debut on Dec. 31.

Case in point: Petaluma's Cinnabar Theater—one of the first theater companies in the area to adopt the tradition—will be staging the first performance of its 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. The New Year's gala ($55–$66) begins at 9pm, and includes fancy pre-show desserts and Champagne at midnight. Mahalia Jackson continues at Cinnabar through Jan. 24.

At Main Stage West in Sebastopol, a bit of macabre mayhem will be added to the merriment on New Year's Eve as the company launches Serial Murderess: A Love Story in Three Axe, Amanda Moody's one-woman show about a trio of infamous female killers. Main Stage West's first annual New Year's bash ($60 for one, $100 for two tickets; show begins at 8pm) includes food, drink, a bit of murderous revelry and the show itself. Dress to kill.

At 6th Street Playhouse, the new year will kick off with a cabaret-style party and show ($25–$40), featuring the return of Sandy and Richard Riccardi, whose charmingly satirical, tastefully raunchy songs have taken them to New York and back. There will be two shows, at 7pm and 10pm, and food and drink available for purchase.

These New Year's shows are much more than just a great way to welcome the New Year. Theater companies are small, nonprofit organizations depending on more than just ticket sales throughout the year. Such special events serve as 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 ringing in the new year.

Here's to a theatrically satisfying 2016.

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