Fasten your seat belts and break out your calendars, the holiday season is upon us. We really do live in a wonderful community. There will be a lot going on during the next month and with a little planning you will be able to do just about everything.

StageCenter gets activities underway Thursday when it opens a three-week run of The Game’s Afoot, or Holmes for the Holidays.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 16. StageCenter is located at 201-B W. 26th St. in Downtown Bryan, above Mr. G’s Pizza.

Tickets for Thursday night performances are $10. For Fridays and Saturdays, tickets are $12 to $15. They are available at www.stagecenter.net.

Ken Ludwig has written more than 20 plays, including Lend Me a Tenor, Moon Over Buffalo, Leading Ladies and Crazy for You. He has received two Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards, two Helen Hayes Awards and the Edgar.

Ludwig’s delightful The Game’s Afoot opened on Nov. 14, 2012, and won the Edgar Award for Best Play of 2012.

In the play, the detective William Gillette invites friends to his home for a Christmas Eve party in 1936. Being a classic “whodunit,” a murder takes place and it is up to Gillette to solve it. The Game’s Afoot is full of suspense, laughter and an unexpected twist. Even if you think you have figured out the identity of the murderer, you most likely will be surprised.

William Gillette was a real-life actor-playwright, born in 1853 in Hartford, Connecticut. He wrote 13 plays and adapted seven others, but is best remembered for portraying fictional detective Sherlock Holmes on stage and in a 1916 silent film that was rediscovered in 2014. The realism he injected into the role set the stage for the portrayal of modern detectives on stage. He introduced the famous curved briar pipe, magnifying glass and deerstalker cap that became the enduring symbols of Sherlock Holmes.

In 1914, Gillette began work on his “castle,” an imposing structure on a hill in Hadlyme, Connecticut. It was completed five years later at a cost of $1.1 million and now is a state park. The castle is the setting for The Game’s Afoot.

The cast for StageCenter’s production includes: Bryan Pope as William Gillette, Steve Watkins as Felix Geisel, Daniel Pall as Simon Bright, Kelly Maedo as Madge Geisel, Chandler Cartwright as Aggie Wheeler, Kamie Lloyd as Daria Chase, Jennifer Reiley as Inspector Goring, and Renee Sadler as Martha Gillette.

Mandy Mershon directs.

The Game’s Afoot, or Holmes for the Holidays is underwritten by Jack C. Marino Sr. in honor of his parents, Jack and Kathryn Marino.

She Loves Me

In 1940, audiences fell in love with the movie The Shop Around the Corner, starring James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan and Frank Morgan, fresh off his role as the Wizard of Oz, directed by Ernest Lubitsch. The film was based on Parfumerie, a 1937 play by Hungarian playwright Miklós László.

The movie tells of two workers in a leathergoods shop in Budapest who barely tolerate each other. But they strike up a correspondence, not knowing who the other person is, and they fall in love. In 1963, the movie was turned into the musical She Loves Me with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and book by Joe Masteroff. The musical starred the legendary Barbara Cook and Daniel Massey.

In 1998, Nora Ephron turned the musical based on the movie into the film You’ve Got Mail, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

Now, area audiences will get to enjoy the stage musical when The Theatre Company opens She Loves Me Friday night for a three-weekend run. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Dec. 17.

Tickets are $7 to $20, available online at www.theatrecompany.com or at the box office one hour prior to each performance.

Members of the cast are Andrew Armstrong as Arpad Maszlo, Corey Barron as Ladislav Sipos, Adrienne Dobson as Ilona Ritter, Benjamin Ikwuagwu as Steven Kodaly, James Cho as Georg Nowack, Daniel Hill as Mr. Maraczek, Christina Freeman as Amazia Balash, David Manuel as Keller, Cody Arn as Busboy, Luis Codiz as Waiter, and Camilla Busselberg, Armineh Davis, Paul Early, Kelsie Kullman, Rachel Lacy, John McMullen, Rebecca Roberts and William Shirley in the

ensemble.

Popular local actor Chaz Pitman, who only recently returned to this area, is directing She Loves Me, with Jennifer Hargis as assistant director. Cynthia Bradford is music director.

Others on the crew include John Greene, producer; Beth Akin, stage manager, assisted by Kathryn Morgan and Anna Hale; Adrienne Dobson, choreographer; Luis Codiz and Brittney Green, costumers; Wood Lee, light design; Cody Arn, set design; Skye Finley, assistant set designer; Brenda Ballesteros, hair and makeup; and Taylor Christenson, props.

Pitman says the musical is appropriate for ages 10 and older due to some mild language and off-stage adult themes.

Show underwriters are Briaud Financial; Lynn Holleran and Charles Bowman, orchestra underwriters; Charles and Kerry Gray, costume underwriters; Jim and Lois Simpson, set underwriters; and R. Michael Prince and Joanna Mullins, marketing underwriters.

Best ever

Every Christmas, I look forward to a production of Barbara Robinson hilarious comedy, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

Maybe it takes me back to my days in youth fellowship at First Presbyterian Church in Bryan, but I love the story of the unruly Herdman children, who may well be the worst kids ever. When the Sunday school class is putting on its annual Christmas pageant, the six Herdman hellions somehow get cast in lead roles. Mayhem ensues, but, in the end the true spirit of Christmas settles on everyone and the pageant miraculously takes place.

This year’s version of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever will run for five performances only at Unity Theatre in Brenham. Performances are Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 3 at 4 p.m.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students are available at the box office in the theater lobby at 300 Church St. in Brenham. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays and 90 minutes prior to each performance. Tickets also may be purchased with a credit card by calling 979-830-8358 or going online to unitybrenham.org.

Kate Revnell-Smith, the amazing artistic director of Unity Theatre, termed The Best Christmas Pageant Ever “a funny but poignant story about the meaning of Christmas.”

She said, “I wanted a show that was family friendly and celebrated the holidays but also be able to incorporate some of the young people who have been taking classes with us so they can gain some performance experience and this show is a perfect fit for that.”

The cast has 40 people, including Hanna Prince and her father, Michael Prince, of College Station as Beth and Bob Bradley.

Jamie Ward directs the show, with Alan Will as production manager, Janice Cass as costume designer, Ryan Eisworth as sound designer, and Bonnie Covin as musical director.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is sponsored by Nelson and Sara Byman, Donald and Carol Draehn and an anonymous donor.

Imagine

At last, the MSC OPAS presentation of Lennon: Through a Glass Onion arrives on the Rudder Theatre stage. Originally scheduled in October, the Intimate Gathering series production will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Tickets for the original date will be honored. Remaining tickets are $41 to $60, available online at www.MSCOPAS.org. or at the MSC Box Office on the first floor of Rudder Tower on the Texas A&M campus of by phoning 979-845-1234.

The event is inspired by John Lennon’s song Glass Onion, his postscript to The Beatles. The show presents 31 songs with the group and after The Beatles imploded, including All You Need Is Love, Beautiful Boy, Help, Come Together, Imagine, Revolution, Jealous Guy, Woman, A Day in the Life, Strawberry Fields Forever, Revolution, Whatever Gets You Through the Night, and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

Daniel Taylor, star of London’s West End, portrays Lennon, accompanied by Stewart D’Arrietta.

The Liverpool Confidential said, “There were moments when you’d have sworn it was Lennon resurrected, it was that good … .”

“Surprisingly compelling!” said Rolling Stone.

The Intimate Gatherings series is sponsored by Sterling Auto Group and Allstate exclusive agent Jackie Voss.

Overtures

• Tuesday and Wednesday — Christmas Wonderland Holiday Spectacular, MSC OPAS, Rudder Auditorium, $23-$75. (boxoffice.tamu.edu)

• Thursday-Dec. 3 — The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden and The Long Christmas Dinner, two plays by Thornton Wilder, Blinn College Bryan Campus Theatre Arts Program, $5 to $10. (blinn.edu/vpa)

• Friday-Dec. 9 — Chaos at the North Pole, Brazos Valley TROUPE, 29th Street Studio, 3702 E. 29th St. in Bryan’s Town & Country Center. (bvtroupe.com)

• Saturday — Percussion Ensemble recital, Blinn College Brenham, Dr. W.W. O’Donnell Performing Arts Center, 7 p.m., free. (blinn.edu)

• Dec. 3 — Blinn College Band concert, Blinn College Brenham, Dr. W.W. O’Donnell Performing Arts Center, 5 p.m., free. (blinn.edu)

• Dec. 5 — Blinn College Jazz Ensemble concert, Blinn College Brenham, Dr. W.W. O’Donnell Performing Arts Center, 7 p.m., free. (blinn.edu)

• Dec. 7-Dec. 17 — A Tuna Christmas, Navasota Theatre Alliance, 104 W. Washington Ave. in downtown Navasota, $7 to $14. (navasotatheatre.org)

• Dec. 9 — 6th annual The Nutcracker Ballet, Ballet Brazos, Rudder Auditorium, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., $8 to $30. (balletbrazos.org)

• Dec. 9 — Christmas on the Brazos, Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site off Texas 105 between Navasota and Brenham, all day, culminating in Candlelight Christmas event at Barrington Living History Farm. (wheretexasbecametexas.org, 936-878-2214)

• Dec. 10 — BCS to Broadway and Back, documentary short on the life of the late Randy Wilson, longtime artistic director of The Theatre Company at its home behind JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts in Bryan’s Tejas Center, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., suggested donation $15. (theatrecompany.com)

• Dec. 10 — Holiday Pops, Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra and guests, Christ United Methodist Church, 4201 Texas 6 S. in College Station, $10 to $25. (boxoffice.tamu.edu)

• Dec. 11 — Entries for the 20th Annual Brazos Valley Youth Concerto Competition are due at the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra offices at 750 William D. Fitch Parkway, Suite 430-B in College Station. Mail entries to P.O. Box 3524, Bryan, TX 77805.

• Dec. 15 and 16 — Elf jr., Brenham Children’s Chorus, Dr. W.W. O’Donnell Performing Arts Center on the Blinn College Brenham campus. (brenhamchildrenschorus.com)

• Every Sunday — Open mics and poetry slams sponsored by Mic Check Poetry, 8:30 p.m. Revolution Café in Downtown Bryan, (miccheckpoetry.com)

Items for Arts Watch should be emailed to robert.borden@theeagle.com. Deadline is noon Tuesday before the weekend you want it to run.

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