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What a weekend for live theater! Between this weekend and the one previous, I had the immense pleasure of seeing Upstage Napa Valley’s “The Happy Ones” at Grace Episcopal Church (awfully sad but still funny), Napa Valley College’s “The Belle of Amherst” (a one-woman tour-de-force by Jennifer King), and St. Helena Drama’s “The Laramie Project” (so sharp and devastating I could hardly believe it was produced by such a small school – director Sofia Osborne and assistant director Joe Brawdy did a wonderful job). And I even made time to see pianist Larry Vuckovich, alto saxophonist Andrew Speight, and the rest of their quintet pay tribute to the bebop masters of yore at the Tucker Farm Center. We’re so lucky to have that level of world-class entertainment within a half-hour’s drive.

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That access doesn’t come for free, of course. We need to support the local theater arts. Craig Bond’s St. Helena Choral Society just sent out a fundraising appeal to support the St. Helena Chamber Singers, St. Helena Children’s Chorus, St. Helena Teen Choir, Jazz@7 Vocal Ensemble, and annual A Cappella Festival. You can donate at sthelenachoralsociety.com or – as I’m planning to do – get tickets for the A Cappella Festival at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, at the St. Helena Performing Arts Center. It’s headlined by The House Jacks, a professional a cappella group, with support from the St. Helena High School Chamber Choir, St. Helena Teen Choir and Vocal Color. Tickets are $25 for adults, $10 for students, and available at brownpapertickets.com or at the door.

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Fresh off the success of “The Happy Ones,” Upstage Napa Valley is holding auditions for “Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World,” by Egyptian playwright Yussef El Guindi, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at the St. Helena Public Library. Director Sharie Renault is trying to cast three roles: Sheri (late 30s), Tayyib (late 30s) and Abdullah (50). Rehearsals will begin Jan. 6, with performances Feb. 21 through March 8.

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As mentioned last week, the St. Helena Public Library is offering an evening of authentic live flamenco with Sol Flamenco at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24. You can’t beat the price of admission, which is nada.

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Jay Greene’s historical lectures continue with the “The Adventurous Life of Francis Drake” at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29, at the St. Helena Public Library. The English called him a hero, the Spanish called him a pirate – you decide.

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It’s getting to be that time of year — you know the one. On Tuesday morning I noticed city crews stringing white lights in the trees downtown. I’m sure it’s all part of Jingle All the Way, the city-Chamber collaboration that will include a tented skating rink at Lyman Park.

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File under “Exemplary Customer Service”: A friend of mine went to the St. Helena Post Office to mail an envelope, and Francisco Ortiz told him it was a tad too heavy for the standard stamp he’d attached. My friend didn’t have the necessary 15 cents on him, and he didn’t want to use his debit card for such a small transaction, so Francisco said he’d go ahead and mail it as long as my friend came back with 15 cents – which he did. Francisco’s the best! (He’s also a former Employee of the Year, and we now know why ...)

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A reader contacted the Star with an intriguing request: The date of the first police log ever published by the Star. That sent the staff on an entertaining journey through the Star’s archives. The first police log was published on April 6, 1989. A PDF of the first log is attached to the online version of my column. It started out pretty bare-bones, with entries like “1900 block Vineyard, vandalism.” It got more florid and funny in the 1990s, probably under the influence of then-Police Chief Bert Johansson, who always enjoyed a good joke. After complaints that it was getting a bit too flippant, in the late ‘90s it reverted to a more serious style – or at least as serious as one can be when writing about loose chickens, barking dogs and such.

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