The Bay Area is a hub of artistic expression, attracting artists, writers and musicians from around the globe to live, work and create. We highlight some of the offerings here.

• Alan Cumming: The Broadway and TV star really, really, really wants to get you blubbering with his unabashedly emotional “Sappy Songs” cabaret act, full of silly love tunes and heartbreak ballads. What’s wrong with that, we’d like to know. The show comes to Oshman Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto at 7:30 p.m. April 14. Tickets are $150-$250; contact 650-223-8700 or visit

• Rosie Kay Dance Company: To research her dance work “5 Soldiers: The Body is the Frontline,” acclaimed choreographer Rosie Kay immersed herself in British army war exercises. The award-winning, evening-length performance will be presented by San Francisco Performances at 7:30 p.m. April 11 through April 14 at the War Memorial Building. Tickets are $65 at

“Matilda”: Roald Dahl’s children’s book about a bright, mischievous girl dealing with her disdainful parents and a cruel school headmistress is now a hit musical opening this weekend at Contra Costa Musical Theatre. The show runs April 12 through May 12 at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. Tickets are $44-$59 at 925-943-7469 or visit

• There is a major talent in the rarefied world of the operatic countertenors right under our noses, and the Philharmonia Baroque has him on display this weekend in their season-closing production of Handel’s oratorio “Saul.” Hear San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen sing the role of the young David, the future king of Israel, the heroic character who inflames the jealousy of the titular king in this 1738 work. We hear the other stars of the piece also pull their weight convincingly. Details: 7 p.m. April 12 at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco; 7:30 p.m. April 13 at First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto; $32-$120; 415-392-4400.

• The hottest novel of the spring publishing season may well turn out to be San Francisco author Namwali Serpell’s “The Old Drift” (Hogarth, $28, 576 pages), a sprawling tale that starts in a post-Colonial settlement in Zambia and stretches across continents and centuries. Hear Serpell, a faculty member of UC Berkeley’s English department, read from or speak about it in two venues this weekend. Details: 7:30 p.m. April 12, Mrs. Dalloway’s, Berkeley, 510-704-8222; 4 p.m. April 13, Litquake panel discussion ($20), Z Below, San Francisco, 415-626-0453.