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Christmas Gifts

As a charter member of Procrastinators Anonymous, I feel qualified to offer advice to others who too have just noticed that Christmas is less than a week away.

My suggestion is to give the gift of entertainment. And in this area one thing we have plenty of is entertainment. I’m sure almost every local theater company has a limited subscription offer which is good for several shows and obtainable on line.

However, it’s probably more practical to pick up tickets for a show playing soon. It’s nice to have a pleasant event for which to look forward to attending after the holidays.

Let me give you a couple of recommendations. “Come From Away” is at Proctors January 25-30. I cannot think of a better show to gift. It is guaranteed to have you leaving the theater feeling better than when you walked in. Because the musical is based-on a true story about the kindness of strangers to other strangers on 9/11 and the days following, it will give you hope for the human race. I’ve seen it twice and can’t wait to see it again.

Another choice is “Bright Star” at Cohoes Music Hall on January 27-February 13. Produced by Playhouse Stage, the people who offer great summer entertainment as Park Playhouse in Albany’s Washington Park, “Bright Star” had an undeservedly short run on Broadway.

Written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell it has a bluegrass musical feel as it tells a country legend about an unintentionally discarded baby finding his roots later in life. It’s a broad but sweet, gentle tale supported by some very nice music. Adding to the potential is ideal casting with Molly Rose McGrath playing one of the leads.

There are also some serious plays available in January. Curtain Call Theatre in Latham offers “Fireflies” January 6-February 6. It’s a two-hander about a thinly disguised couple who are stand-ins for Martin Luther King and Coretta King. What brings a unique flavor to this work is that Coretta King is the more dominant character and the person who gains our admiration.

Later in January, Capital Rep presents “Fly,” a World War II drama about the first African-American Army Air Corp fighters.

They became known as the Tuskegee Airmen and “Fly” tells the heartwarming tale how four black servicemen bonded to achieve what was, at the time, thought socially impossible. It’s a tale about fighting prejudice in order to show bravery and loyalty to one’s country. It plays January 28-February 27.

It’s not only theater that is available early next year. When those credit card bills arrive in January you might be looking for some laughter to ease the pain.

At The Egg in Albany Colin Quinn performs January 24, with Wanda Sykes appearing January 23. Paula Poundstone is at the Troy Music Hall on February 3.

If you can’t find something to laugh about within that trio, you have a really bad case of the winter blues.

As for classical music, the Albany Symphony Orchestra is at Proctors in Schenectady performing “Scheherazade” on January 8. Guest conductor Erina Yashima conducts the Rimsky-Korsakov’s work inspired by the timeless legend “A Thousand and One Nights”.

Clearly, attending a performance is the most important contribution you can make to a performing arts institution. But most organizations also have gift merchandise you can find on their websites. They too make great gifts.

In fact, one of the greatest sources for last minute presents are the gift shops of local museums. Whether it be an illustrated art book, a door magnet of a famous work or a piece of clothing, there are many unique ideas available. There’s nothing wrong about giving a young person the gift of creativity.

And as it is often said, Christmas is more about giving than it is about getting. Perhaps a simple donation to your favorite not-for-profit in the name of a loved one might be as appropriate a gift as any.

Remember what Dickens said about Scrooge at the end of “A Christmas Carol.” He described him as “Bringing a little of the Christmas Spirit into every day.”

So if you miss the December 25 deadline, contributions and patron support will be appreciated throughout the entire year.

Bob Goepfert is theater reviewer for the Troy Record.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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