Southern California offers dozens of diversions on any/every given day. PBS SoCal is here to help you plan ahead—and survive the “cold” winter months in the area. We’ve picked some of the arts events we’re most looking forward to, and added a few under-the-radar options as well!
So, get your datebooks and calendars ready:
Come from Away – Nov. 28-Jan. 6, 2019
The Ahmanson Theatre welcomes the Broadway hit Come From Away, with book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein. The musical recounts the true story of 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them in the aftermath of 9/11. Cultures clashed, but hope, gratitude and friendship prevailed. Tickets start at $30.
The SantaLand Diaries – Nov. 30-Dec. 16
David Sedaris’ The SantaLand Diaries first debuted on NPR’s This American Life, detailing his job as a Christmas elf at Macy’s in New York City. Now actor Patrick Censoplano takes on Sedaris’ one-man play about the best and worst of humanity during a run at the Santa Monica Playhouse. Tickets: $29.50.
Love Actually Live – Dec. 4-31
The For the Record Series returns to the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills with a multimedia concert celebration of the Love Actually soundtrack. Performed by an all-star cast and a 15-piece orchestra, the stage show takes on the 2003 film, that’s become a favorite holiday movie. Now’s your chance to watch and listen to songs from the film, including Christmas Is All Around, The Trouble with Love Is, and All I Want for Christmas Is You.
Kinky Boots – Feb. 19-24, 2019
With songs by pop songstress Cyndi Lauper and a book by Harvey Fierstein, the Tony-winning musical comes to the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. Based on real events, Kinky Boots follows Charlie Price who inherits a shoe factory from his father, and in order to save the business, partners with a cabaret performer and drag queen to produce a line of high-heeled boots. Tickets are currently available to 2018-19 season ticket holders exclusively.
Comedians Cinema Club Presents: Nightmare Before Christmas – Saturday Nov. 10
The Comedians Cinema Club takes on the Tim Burton classic, Nightmare Before Christmas live on stage at Dynasty Typewriter on Nov. 10 at 10:00 p.m. During the show, the troupe of comedians attempts to recreate the movie—possibly with the help of holiday cheer. Tickets: $16-$20.
Shirkers – Tuesday, Nov. 27
LACMA hosts a screening and Q&A with Sandi Tan, director of Shirkers on Nov. 27 at 7:30 p.m. The film has a fascinating backstory: Made by ‘zine-making Singapore teens Tan, Jasmine Ng and Sophie Siddique in 1992, the 16mm footage was stolen by their American collaborator Georges Cardona, who disappeared. From LACMA: “More than two decades later, Tan, now a novelist in LA, returns to the country of her youth and to the memories of a man who both enabled and thwarted her dreams. Magically, too, she returns to the film itself, revived in a way she never could have imagined.” Tickets: Free.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space, 30th Anniversary – Friday, Nov. 30
Stephen Chiodo’s horror classic involves alien invaders from outer space that no one takes seriously because they look like circus clowns. A few young people see the danger and use an ice cream truck to rescue their friends. The film screens at the Los Feliz 3 on Nov. 30 at 11:30 p.m., with the film’s composer John Massari doing a special presentation. Costumes encouraged. Tickets: $12.50 + fees.
White Christmas Sing-Along – Sunday, Dec. 23
There’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit than a sing-along of the 1954 classic film starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. The LA Phil screens White Christmas twice on Dec. 23: at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Tickets: $34-$69.
It’s a Wonderful Life – Monday, Dec. 24
Catch the 1946 Frank Capra classic in 35mm at the Vista Theatre to start your holiday week off on the right foot. With James Stewart playing everyman George Bailey, his guardian angel Clarence shows him how spectacular his life really is. The special Christmas Eve show begins at 10:00 a.m. Tickets start at $11.
Honorable mentions: Caught, and a conversation with Karina Longworth & Edgar Wright, Gremlins
Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings – Nov. 16-Feb. 10, 2019
The Getty Center presents the first international overview exhibition for photographer Sally Mann. Her work has focused on her native land—the American South and its complex history. Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, the Getty is the only West Coast venue for this tour, which brings together 110 photographs, many exhibited for the first time. Tickets: Free.
Designer-Con – Nov. 16-18
The art, toy and collectible show DesignerCon (DCon) has outgrown its Pasadena home and will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center for the first time, tripling in size to 350,000 square feet. The convention showcases the work of more than 800 artists and vendors. The metal cover band Chevy Metal (featuring Taylor Hawkins, Wiley Hodgden and occasionally Dave Grohl—from The Foo Fighters) headlines the Saturday night after party. Tickets: $20-$60.
Post-It Show – Saturday, Dec. 1
Giant Robot’s annual Post-It Show is always a crazy, but fun event. The curated show features more than 300 artists who create works on more than 2,000 Post-It notes. Each work is the same price (last year $25 each), and you must be at the show to purchase the notes. Past artists have included: Gary Baseman, Esther Pearl Watson and Luke Chueh. People stand in line hours, sometimes days in front of the Sawtelle exhibition space before the show opens, just to have first dibs on the artworks. Tickets: Free.
32nd Annual Drawing Show – Dec. 7-30
La Luz de Jesus’ invitational exhibition focuses on lowbrow California art from the gallery’s artists over its three-decade existence. The drawing show emphasizes works on graphite, charcoal, colored pencil, ink or ballpoint pen, watercolor and/or gouache on paper. The opening reception is on Dec. 7 from 8:00-11:00 p.m.
The Hip Hop Nutcracker – Nov. 8, Nov. 11
The Hip Hop Nutcracker reimagines Tchaikovsky’s score through hip hop choreography, a dozen dancers, an onstage DJ and an electric violinist. Set in modern-day New York City, the show celebrates the holidays, love and community. The show comes to the FOX Performing Arts Center in Riverside on Nov. 8 (with Kurtis Blow emceeing) and the Terrace Theatre in Long Beach on Nov. 11. Tickets: Start at $33.
The Great Russian Nutcracker – Dec. 14-15 and Dec. 19
For a more traditional Nutcracker, the Great Russian Nutcracker for three performances Dec. 14-15 at the Wiltern, and Dec. 19 at The Soraya (The Valley’s Center for the Performing Arts) at CSUN. The company is on tour throughout the U.S. bringing larger-than-life puppets, nesting dolls and hand-crafted costumes promoting the holiday spirit and bringing a message of peace and harmony to its audiences. Tickets start at $30.
Gala – Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019
CAP UCLA and the Ford Theatres present the West Coast premiere of French choreographer Jérôme Bel’s Gala on Saturday, Feb. 2 at The Theatre at Ace Hotel. The production provides a different approach to dance as Bel brings together dancers of different abilities, from professionals to amateurs, and representing a variety of backgrounds. Rather than dance routines or perfection of moves, the show focuses on pure, unadulterated joy. Tickets: $29-$59.
Honorable mentions: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet – Work by Ekman, Melo, and Arias
Depeche Mode Convention – Sunday, Nov. 18
The all-ages 2018 Depeche Mode Convention takes place at Avalon on Nov. 18 from 6:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Hosted by DJ Richard Blade, the day features live music tributes to the band, collectibles, videos, contests, DM karaoke and dancing all night long. Tickets: $25-$30.
Merry-Achi Christmas – Dec. 1-2
A Merry-Achi Christmas returns to the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts on Dec. 1 and 2 for a Mexican holiday celebration filled with traditional seasonal songs and dances. Headlining the shows is Sol de México de José Hernández Mariachi, joined by America’s first all-female Mariachi – Reyna de Los Angeles – and DanzArts Sabor México Dance Company. Tickets: $35-$86.
Elvis Costello – Thursday, Nov. 29
The legendary rocker Costello brings his Look Now And Then… It’s Elvis Costello & The Imposters tour to The Wiltern on Nov. 29. He’s touring in support of his new album Look Now (Concord Records), which marks his first album with The Imposters – Steve Nieve (keyboards), Davey Faragher (bass) and Pete Thomas (drums) – in a decade. Tickets start at $119.
‘80s Weekend #7 – Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019
Relive the ‘80s and bring your kids along to the all ages show taking place at the Microsoft Theatre in Downtown LA. The bill includes OMD, The Bangles, Bananarama, Jody Watley, When in Rome, Rob Base and others. Tickets: $49-$180.
The Los Angeles Coffee Festival – Nov. 9-11
This festival is tailored for coffee aficionados and java-holics, bringing coffee tastings, demos and workshops to Magic Box at The Reef in Downtown Los Angeles. From latte art to coffee mixologists and a coffee music project, the festival celebrates all aspects of the coffee scene. Tickets: $27-$125.
Michelle Obama – Thursday, Nov. 15
Michelle Obama is on a U.S. book tour in support of her upcoming memoir, Becoming. The Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama tour comes to the (not-so-intimate) Forum in Inglewood on Nov. 15 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets start at $129.
Vulture Festival – Nov. 17-18
Vulture magazine holds its second annual festival on Nov. 17 and 18, primarily at the Hollywood Roosevelt, bringing a weekend of high-profile pop-culture events to LA. The lineup includes actors in conversation (including Jim Carrey, Rachel Bloom, Constance Wu), exclusive screenings (SYFY’s Deadly Class), cast reunions (Scrubs), live podcasts, a comedy show, table reads (Big Mouth), a private tour of The Broad and more. Tickets start at $30.
Retro City Festival 2019 – Jan. 5-6, 2019
Old-school arcade gamers need to head to the Fairplex in Pomona on Jan. 5 and 6 for the Retro City Festival. Admission includes freeplay for arcade games and pinball machines all weekend long, including favs like Asteroids, BurgerTime, Joust, Mortal Kombat, Ms. Pacman, Q-Bert, Tron and many others. Advance tickets: $20-$35.
Bricks LA 2019 – Jan. 5-6, 2019
This family-friendly Lego convention takes place at the Pasadena Convention Center on Jan. 5-6. The 13,000-square foot show includes fan-built models, vendors with sets and unique gifts for sale and demos. If you are an adult fan and/or builder and would like to explore additional aspects of the convention, please check out the registered attendee details. Tickets: $5-$65.
Christine N. Ziemba is a Los Angeles-based arts and culture writer who loves to tell people what to do (and where to go). Check out her events columns and other musings on PopRadarLA.com, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.