Decking the halls at the Sebastiani
SUSAN BELLACH is the creative vision behind the expansive holiday displays at the Sebastiani Theatre.
When she hit 1,200 twinkle lights on the Christmas tree in the foyer, Susan Bellach stopped counting. She has no idea how many sparkling lights are wrapped in the yards of garland, sprinkled across the animatronic Christmas village or fashioned to the snack bar and stage at the Sebastiani Theatre.
But looking at the magical Christmas display festooning the historic theater, the total number of twinkle lights has to be in the five-digit range. It is the 14th year Bellach has lent her time, talents and copious design supplies to making the theater brighter during the holiday season.
“This is old fashioned, this is traditional Christmas,” Bellach said, adding that she spends nearly 40 hours decorating the theater because the Sebastiani is “the heart of the community.”
Bellach had a long career as a decorator and designer, and worked for years creating fanciful displays at private homes, businesses and theme parties. Even after she retired, she continued to maintain around 3,000 square feet of holiday décor in her Kenwood home. When her now 17-year-old grandson was about 3, she brought him to the Sebastiani to participate in summer camps, and fell in love with the theater and its operators, Roger and Diana Rhoten.
“Roger and Diana, they just do so much for this community,” Bellach said. “I realized they needed help, big time, because they’re so busy helping everyone else.”
Since then, she has kept the theater in tinsel, ornaments and plenty of festive furnishings for Christmas, while at Halloween she brings the spook with skeletons, ghosts and ghouls.
“It really does bring people into the theater, they just love it,” Diana Rhoten said.
The Rhotens are hoping the holiday displays will help pack the house for the seventh annual Holiday Extravaganza: Music, Magic and More. Taking place Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 15 and 16, at 1 p.m., the Christmas showcase includes a full afternoon of performers such as Roger “the Magic Man” Rhoten, Jeff “the Last Crooner” Gilbert, Tobias the Mystic, Sean Carscadden and Sarah Summers and a “Nutcracker” ballet number from the Sonoma Conservatory of Dance.
General tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for children 12 and under or seniors age 62 and up. Reserve a ticket by calling 996-9756. The box office will open at 12:30 p.m. before the show, but tickets are selling quickly and reservations are recommended.
The theater is located at 476 First St. E.