December 18, 2016

Worcester Weekly: Toys 4 Tacoma, ‘Christmas Carol’ + more to do, Dec. 18-24

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Courtesy Orlando Baxter

Orlando Baxter, who grew up in Great Brook Valley and graduated from South High, is intent on giving back to his community.

Sunday, Dec. 18 — Worcester Youth Orchestras Holiday Concert, 2:30 p.m., Mechanics Hall, 321 Main St.  OK, sure: a holiday concert sounds great. But “youth” — does it really have to be youth?! Don’t we have any adults around here who can blow a horn or carry a tune? This is the natural, instinctual reaction — but then, you check out the resume behind these cats and quickly realize this ain’t your average high school concert band. With nearly 70 years of tradition in the rear-view, WYO’s holiday extravaganza features four of its ensembles plus guests like a group from the Neighborhood Strings program.

Of course, all of this is no secret to many a discerning Worcesterite. Which is why as we were busily and fastidiously molding another finely crafted Sunday edition of the Worcester Sun for you, the concert pretty much sold out. But we still wanted to tell you how great WYO is, and we needed to brag a little about our free-to-read Sun Shine feature on Neighborhood Strings, which connects underprivileged city kids to musical instruments, lessons and much more than a new hobby. … So, y’know, mission accomplished.

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But since we let you down on the WYO’s Holiday Concert, here’s an extra yuletide entry, and who else but Hanover Theatre has all our downtown Christmas entertainment needs covered:


Sunday, Dec. 18 — “A Christmas Carol,” 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, 2 Southbridge St. Note: the 11 a.m. show is the theater’s annual “sensory friendly” performance tailored to individuals and families dealing with autism (and families with young children). The 4 p.m. showing features a sign-language interpreter and enhanced audio descriptive services.

Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts

Wikimedia Commons

Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts

Tickets are $14-26, 11 a.m.; $28-52, 4 p.m. Shows also at 7 p.m., Wednesday through Friday. On Wednesday, Dec. 21, “$5 from every full price adult ticket will go to support the Worcester Community Action Council. Use promo code WCAC to purchase $75 VIP tickets, which include the best seats as well as admission to a special pre-performance reception.”

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Road trip!

Wednesday, Dec. 21 — Winter Reimagined, 4-9 p.m., Tower Hill Botanic Garden, 11 French Drive, Boylston  It’s not exactly going to require packing lunch in a cooler or even a full tank of gas, but you start out from Camp Street or St. John’s Road and tell me getting to Boylston doesn’t feel like a road trip! Anyway, if you’re into winter wonderlands and majestic imagery and all that holiday spirit nonsense, then it’ll be well worth the trek — however long it is. The evening hours require advanced tickets purchased online ($17 adults, $12 seniors, $7 kids 6-18, children 5 and under free). Walkup admission ($12, $9, $7) is available 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Wednesdays and Thursdays. The exhibit runs through Jan. 8.

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Orlando Baxter is back home for another toy drive.

Courtesy Orlando Baxter

Orlando Baxter is back home for another toy drive.

Thursday, Dec. 22 — Toys 4 Tacoma Street, 8 to 11 p.m., Ralph’s Rock Diner, 148 Grove St.  As if there hasn’t been enough comedy for one Worcester Weekly already, we’ve got a whole trolley car full of wicked hilarious Wissstah kids — and more house jokes, of course; we can’t let nationally touring comedian Orlando Baxter upstage us anymore than he already has with his seventh annual toy drive.

[We profiled Orlando and his efforts last year.]

This year, again, while there is no cover charge, organizers will be accepting cash and/or toy donations that will go to a child in need in the Great Brook Valley neighborhood. Baxter, who grew up in GBV, performs across New England and the East Coast and was recently featured on “Conan,” James Dorsey and Nick Chamberswho we also featured; man, we’re good — Corey Rodrigues, Doug Guertin, Bryan O’Donnell, Tyrell Williams, Tom Dwyer, Anne Diaz and Shaun Connolly are among the other local comedians joining him.

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Friday, Dec. 23 — At Home for the Holidays Candlelight Tours, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Salisbury Mansion, 40 Highland St.  Fun fact: The Worcester Salisburys unfortunately did not have anything to do with inventing Salisbury steak. Guess we can’t have everything. What the Salisburys did do for the city is leave a legacy of cultural and community involvement and philanthropy. They left their mansion, too, which the Worcester Historical Society appreciates very much. Admission to self-guided tours of the mansion, built in 1772, is $10 ($5 for kids and museum members).

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Friday, Dec. 23 — Murph’s Comedy Joint with Anthony Amorello and Brendan Sargent, 8 p.m., Fiddler’s Green, 19 Temple St.  ’Tis the season for the city’s funnymen (and women) to flock home … maybe to bring good tidings to their families and friends, but something’s telling me most of them have a little laundry for mom and a few late bills to talk about with pops. So, maybe you can help out a couple of homeboys (and girls) while tickling your funny bone — with the clock ticking down on the craziness of the holiday season, you know you’ll be in need of a good laugh by Friday night. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door.

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