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Amy’s picks: Western concerts, The Snow Queen, a birthday bash and fearless films

A curated selection of happenings in Whatcom and Skagit counties

From Dec. 1 to Jan. 7
From Dec. 1 to Jan. 7
By Amy Kepferle Staff Reporter


Student Concerts
Nov. 27–Dec. 11, Performing Arts Center Concert Hall, WWU
It’s not exactly a secret, but many people aren’t aware that the majority of concerts performed by students involved in Western Washington University’s various music programs are free, and open to the public. They typically begin at 7:30 p.m. and last for a couple of hours. 

Take note of upcoming concerts taking place until shortly before the “kids” depart for Christmas break. These include the WWU String Sinfonia (Nov. 27); NowHearThis! Rzewski, Monk, and Shaw (Nov. 29); Jazz Combo Night (Nov. 30); Western Voices: Love in Many Languages (Dec. 3); Student Chamber Music I: Wind/Brass (Dec. 5); WWU Symphonic Band (Dec. 6); Student Chamber Music II: Strings (Dec. 7); Jazz Ensembles (Dec. 8); Opera Workshop Showcase (Dec. 9); and the North Sound Youth Symphony (Dec. 11). 

Many of these students have been performing for years, so see them now before they hit the national scene. Info:

‘Seussical the Musical’
Dec. 1–16, Lincoln Theatre, Mount Vernon
The Grinch, Max the Dog and Cindy Lou-Who are in the cast of this Dr. Seuss-inspired musical comedy, but their tale about the green guy attempting to hijack Christmas isn’t the main plot line here. Audiences will also be introduced to the Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, various other animal characters (birds, fish, turtles and kangaroos), and citizens of Who-ville (among others). 

Presented by NITE Theater, the play is described as a “whimsical romp through some of the classic Dr. Seuss stories from our youth.” Rehearsals began Sept. 11 and will be continuing until the day before the first show, so you can rest assured that by the time the cast and crew head onstage on opening night, they’ll be in command of the Seussical subject matter. Tickets are $16–$34. Info:

‘The Snow Queen’
Dec. 1–Jan. 7, BAAY Theatre, 1059 N. State St.
I’m not quite sure how they’ll pull it off, but over the course of four weeks, Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth will feature four different casts of students ages 9–12 performing this “playful remix” of the classic fairy tale by Danish author Hans Christian Anderson. 

In the 1884 novel, Anderson centered on the struggle between good and evil by having friends Kai and Gerda go through many travails before regaining their memories and love for each other. BAAY’s version is similar, and includes talking reindeer, flying sleighs, goblins in space and the Northern Lights. 

I was heartened to hear the production includes original music by Steve Barnes, a former musical director at BAAY. Barnes also used to improvise on the piano when I was a performer at The Upfront Theatre, and the caliber of his playing was second-to-none — especially since he was doing it on the fly. Audiences should be excited to see what he’s come up with for “The Snow Queen.” Tickets are $12. Info:

‘Pet Store Santa’ reading
2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, Village Books, 1200 11th St.
Children’s book author and Blaine resident Jo Hudson will present her third book at a free event in the bookstore’s Reading Gallery. Hudson will read the tome; talk about writing, illustrating and pets (naturally); and engage children in a game of Pet Store Santa Bingo.

The book, Hudson said, was inspired by a real pet store Santa, and focuses on how Mr. Claus deals with a variety of neighborhood pets on picture day at a pet store. 

“I have always wanted to be one of those writers who makes kids smile and helps them enjoy reading,” Hudson said. “‘Pet Store Santa’ made me laugh out loud as I wrote and illustrated it, which is a must for me with anything I write for kids. I like stories that teach a little something, but there’s no reason that can’t come wrapped in happy.” Info:

photo  Kim Obbink’s colored pencil piece, “Hawk,” will be part of the “Year in Review” exhibition showing through Dec. 23 at Smith & Vallee Gallery in Edison. An opening reception for the curated selection of artworks is on Dec. 2. (Image courtesy of Smith & Vallee Gallery)  

‘Year in Review’ opening reception
3–5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, Smith & Vallee Gallery, Edison
If you’ve never been to this gallery off the main drag of this small Skagit Valley town, you’re missing out. The restored historic schoolhouse has been exhibiting some of the best local and regional art around since 2006, and its many windows bring natural light into the high-ceilinged, open format space. 

Through Dec. 23, the “Year in Review” exhibition will feature a curated selection of artworks that have been displayed in the gallery on a month-to-month basis throughout 2023. From paintings to sculptures and multi-media works, attendees will find a diverse range that draws the eye.

As a way to show their gratitude for people who have visited the space or purchased artworks, co-owners Andrew Vallee and Wes Smith are selling the pieces in the exhibit for 20% off their featured price (get a coupon code online). Go and see what moves you. Info:

photo  A new Documenting Grace Film Series kicks off with a showing of “Moving Stories” Sunday, Dec. 3 at the FireHouse Arts and Events Center. The monthly series by Kuntz and Company shares the dedication of dance artists who go beyond the stage. (Photo courtesy of Battery Dance)  

Documenting Grace Film Series
3 p.m. Sunday Dec. 3, FireHouse Arts and Events Center
Watching the trailer for the documentary “Moving Stories” made my eyes well up with tears. 

The film — the first in a four-part dance film series by Kuntz and Company which shares the dedication of dance artists who go beyond the stage — focuses on the Battery Dance Company. Its members travel the world, working with youth who’ve experienced everything from war to poverty, sexual violence and trauma as refugees.

“I see more potential in them than they can see in themselves,” one instructor says as the company rehearses toward a public performance meant to help the students tell their stories through dance. “Creativity is pounded out of these children at an early age.” 

Besides this moving documentary, the series includes “Calendar Girls” (Jan. 7), “The Dancing Man: Peg Leg Bates” (Feb. 11), and An Evening of Shorts, including “Adam,” “Dance for Change,” and “Why I Dance” (March 3). Tickets are $6–$12. Info:

First Anniversary Birthday Bash
5:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, New Prospect Theatre, 207 Prospect St.
Last November, when I interviewed the seasoned arts professionals who were aiming to start the New Prospect Theatre in the former Sylvia Center for the Arts space in Bellingham’s Arts District, they were firm in their mission to fulfill the goal of the Sylvia — which was to provide an affordable space for a variety of artists to perform. 

With their first anniversary approaching, they’re celebrating a number of successes over the past year. Building-wise, they’ve installed a sprung dance floor, improved the sound and light systems, added a small stage in the lobby for musicians to perform, and upgraded their concessions (among other things). 

Performers have run the gamut from actors to contortionists, musicians, puppeteers, filmmakers, comedians, visual artists, storytellers, dancers, improvisers and many more. Tonight’s event will feature performances by Andy Bunn and Friends, The Hot Tomatoes, puppeteers and others. Tickets are $25 (free for members, and $10 for performers). Info:

photo  “The Game’s Afoot” opens Nov. 24 at the Bellingham Theatre Guild. This Ken Ludwig production — also referred to as “Holmes for the Holidays” — rotates around an actor who must take on the role of a lifetime to solve a murder. Additional performances happen through Dec. 10. (Photo courtesy of David S. Cohn)  


Friday, Nov. 24 

‘The Game’s Afoot’
7:30 p.m., Bellingham Theatre Guild, 1600 H St.
This Ken Ludwig production — also referred to as “Holmes for the Holidays” — is set in 1936, when a Broadway star named William Gillette who is renowned for his leading role in the play “Sherlock Holmes” invites his cast members to his Connecticut castle for a holiday shindig. Murder ensues, and “Sherlock” must figure out whodunnit. Showings continue through Dec. 10. Tickets are $8–$18. Info:

Turkey Bowl
7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., The Upfront Theatre, 203 Prospect St.
Catch this Black Friday improv comedy competition for one night only. Performers will be competing for the coveted Turkey Bowl. Many will enter the stage, but only one can be the winner. Witness the glory to find out who it will be. Tickets are $10–$16. Info:

Creedence Revelation featuring Randy Linder
7:30 p.m., Lincoln Theatre, Mount Vernon
Hear Credence Clearwater Revival songs such as “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Proud Mary,” and “Born on the Bayou” when Linder and his talented band present the classics. Linder has channeled original lead singer John Fogerty and the band since 2000, and also plays a mean blues harp. The Danny Godinez Project opens the show. Tickets are $40 general, $75 for VIP. Info:

Afterglow Comedy Hour
9 p.m., Stemma Brewing Co., 2039 Moore St.
The 30th iteration of this monthly stand-up comedy show will feature five comedians, including Ann Elise, Tara Weidner, Allison Fine and featured performer Gabey Lucas. Nikki Kilpatrick of Venus Comedy Production hosts. Tickets are $10; advance purchase is recommended. Info:

Saturday, Nov. 25

Bellingham Farmers Market
10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Ave.
Approximately 90 vendors from Whatcom and Skagit counties are on site at this weekly market, which continues every Saturday through Dec. 16. Info:

Mini Market and Tasting Event
Noon to 3 p.m., Hela Provisions, 2000 Franklin St.
Celebrate Small Business Saturday with Hela Provisions, Pumped Bellingham, Sea Jewel Canvas Co., It’s the Sweet Things and cellist Coral Marchant and students. Mix and match products from different businesses to create personalized gift bags. Entry is free; wine, cheese and olive oil tasting is $5. Info:

Bellingham Old Town Art Stroll
Noon to 5 p.m., historic Old Town
This monthly event takes place on the fourth Saturday of every month, and features galleries, studios, pop-ups and other creatives opening for public perusal. If you’d like to share your own talents, entry is free to sign up to be part of the artistic action. Info:

Fairhaven Art Walk
4–7 p.m., throughout historic Fairhaven
More than 16 locales will open their doors for this revived art event, which will take place four times a year. Artists will be on-site at each locale, and much of the art will be for sale. Info:

Days of Our Nights, Story Story Die
7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., The Upfront Theatre, 208 Prospect St.
Watch Days of Our Nights, a hilarious improvised soap opera, at 7:30 p.m. At 9:30 p.m., Story Story Die will feature improvisers pitching a story. Each round will see scenes from every story, with the audience “killing” stories they no longer want to see. Tickets are $10–$16. Info:

Seattle International Comedy Competition
8 p.m., Lincoln Theatre, Mount Vernon
Attend a finals round of this multi-venue, multi-county competition, which will feature five comics taking the mic for 15-minute sets. In addition to entertainment-industry and guest judges, audience reaction will help choose who will move on to the next round. Tickets are $30–$40. Info:

Good Comedy
8 p.m., The Blue Room, 202 E. Holly St.
Seattle-based stand-up comedian Bo Johnson will return to Bellingham, joined by other comedians from Netflix is a Joke Radio, Comedy Central, and Don’t Tell Comedy Secret Sets. Tickets to the all-ages show are $15–$25. Info:

Sunday, Nov. 26

Low Sensory Sundays
10–11:30 a.m., Whatcom Museum’s Family Interactive Gallery, 250 Flora St.
Families with children ages 12 and younger with autism spectrum and/or other sensory-processing needs are welcome to come to this monthly event. The building is closed to the public during this time — offering a quieter, personalized experience. Trained staff will be on hand. Entry is free; RSVP is requested, but not required. Info:

Monday, Nov. 27

8:30 p.m., Boots Bar and Lounge, 1263 Barkley Blvd.
This weekly stand-up comedy show has returned from the ashes, and can be attended every Monday. Each show will feature a host, and people can show up early to sign up for a slot on the roster. Info:

Tuesday, Nov. 28

Bellingham Story Hour
7 p.m., New Prospect Theatre, 207 Prospect St.
Head downtown for a night of true stories told live at this monthly event. The stories can be entertaining, heartwarming, educational, cringe-inducing, shame-releasing, weird, vulnerable, but always are about people’s own experiences. Put your name in the hat to tell your own 5- to 10-minute story onstage, or just show up to listen. Entry is $5–$10, and signature monthly cocktails can be purchased for $6. Info:

Thursday, Nov. 30

‘Advice for Girls’
7 p.m., Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St.
“Advice for Girls: An All-Women Ski Film,” with an intersectional cast and crew composed of women, offers advice from three generations of women who have been involved in the ski industry — and why they continue to be important to the sport. Tickets are $20. Info:

The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly
7:30 p.m., The Upfront Theatre, 203 Prospect St.
Bellingham’s longest-running improv show takes place every Thursday, featuring a rotating performance format as well as special guest players. Tickets are $10–$14. Info:

photo  Jennifer Bowman’s “Colorful Herons” can be seen at an opening reception Friday, Dec. 1 at the Scott Milo Gallery in Anacortes. Visitors can also see photo encaustics on panel by Kathy Hastings, oils by Lorna Libert, watercolors by Eric Wiegardt, and ceramic mosai pieces by Michael Laboon. (Image courtesy of Jennifer Bowman)  

Friday, Dec. 1

Jennifer Bowman Reception
6–9 p.m., Scott Milo Gallery, 420 Commercial Ave., Anacortes
See new acrylics by Bowman; photo encaustics on panel by Kathy Hastings; oils, large and small, by Lorna Libert; impressionistic watercolors by Eric Wiegardt; and ceramic mosaic wall pieces by Michael Laboon. The works will be on display and for sale through Jan. 27. Info:

First Friday
6–10 p.m., throughout downtown Bellingham
Check out local artists and galleries, places to eat and drink, late-night shopping, event, live music and more. The monthly event hosted by Downtown Bellingham Partnership changes its lineup every month, so check their website near the date to find out where to go and what to see. Info:

Make.Sale Holiday Market
6–10 p.m., Make.Shift Art Space, 306 Flora St.
More than 16 local vendors will be selling their arts and crafts during this annual two-day event, which continues from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. The longtime market is known for its reasonable prices and celebration of creativity. Info:

Puppet Slam
7 p.m., New Prospect Theatre, 207 Prospect St.
Attend an evening of experimental short puppet shows presented by a wide array of local and regional artists including River’s Teeth (Kiah Raymond), West of Roan, Sarah Schermer, Amy Connolly and more. Tickets are $10–$15. Info:  

Saturday, Dec. 2

Dockside Market
10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Squalicum Harbor, Gate 5
Local fishermen will be selling their fresh and frozen wares at this twice-monthly market. Visit the dock early to find the best selection of seafood options. Details and participating vendors and products are posted 24 hours ahead of sale days. Info:

Lend Us Your Ears
2 p.m., Bellingham Theatre Guild, 1600 H St.
This play-reading series continues with David Lindsay-Abaire’s esoteric comedy “Kimberly Akimbo,” which spawned the Tony-winning Broadway musical (but is not a musical). The pay-what-you-will performance, directed by Les Campbell, follows a teen who suffers from a disease that ages her rapidly; her dysfunctional parents who hide their denial in bad choices, self-harm or drinking; her larcenous aunt; and the boy she likes (who likes her back). Info:

MegaZapper Electrical Show
2:30 p.m., Spark Museum of Electrical Invention, 1312 Bay St.
Head to Spark every Saturday and Sunday as they unlock electricity’s greatest secrets by re-creating the greatest demonstrations in the history of science — including the MegaZapper, one of the largest lightning machines in the country, and the Cage of Doom. Entry is $11 for kids 12 and under, and $15 for adults. Info:  

Sunday, Dec. 3 

Depot Comedy Night
8 p.m., Aslan Depot, 1322 N. State St.
Portland-based stand-up comedian Adam Pasi will headline this monthly event featuring top-tier talent from around the region. Tonight’s featured comedian will be Timmy Booth, and show-runner and national headliner Travis Nelson will host. Tickets are $20. Info:

Before heading out to attend in-person happenings, check with individual venues to make sure the event is still taking place as scheduled.

The A-List appears weekly. To submit an event for consideration, email

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