First Night Boston 2010 announces event highlights

First Night Boston is the country's oldest and largest New Year's arts celebration. On Dec. 31, 2009 from 1 p.m. to midnight, First Night presents a day-long festival of art, music, dance, ice sculpture, fireworks and more. First Night is an alcohol-free event that welcomes revelers of all ages to celebrate community and unity through the arts. First Night 2010 will feature over 1000 artists in 200 exhibitions and performances in over 35 locations in Boston. Listed below are some of the highlights of this year's festival. A complete schedule, including times and exact locations can be found at www.firstnight.org.

Kaiju Big Battel - Hynes Convention Center
The world's only live monster wrestling spectacle performs parodies of both professional wrestling and Japanese monster movies, with a dash of Mexican wrestling thrown in. "Battels" are presented in the style of pro wrestling matches, with costumed performers playing giant monsters like Godzilla and Gamera.

Anat Cohen - Berklee Performance Center
First Night partners with Berklee College of Music and WGBH 89.7 FM to present a special show with Berklee alumni Anat Cohen, to be broadcast live in Boston on 89.7 and across the country as part of NPR's annual New Year's Eve broadcast "Toast of the Nation." Idiomatically conversant with modern and traditional jazz, classical music, Brazilian choro, Argentine tango, and an expansive timeline of Afro-Cuban styles, Tel Aviv-born Cohen has established herself as one of the primary voices of her generation on both the tenor saxophone and clarinet.

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company - St. Paul's Cathedral
From the people who bring Free Shakespeare to Boston Common: A Shakespearean Cabaret! Shakespeare has inspired countless composers - Verdi, Rossini, Benjamin Britten, Cole Porter, Rogers and Hart, and Bernstein, to name a few. In collaboration with New England Conservatory, CSC will present a collection of funny, beautiful, touching modern and classic songs from and inspired by Shakespeare.

Boston bands - various locations
First Night has an amazing array of bands from and with ties to the legendary rock scene in Boston, representing a span of about 30 years! The Neats reunite in support of the recent reissue of almost their early recordings on Neats 1981-84, and play at the Orpheum along with Buffalo Tom and The Lyres (sponsored by The River). The Parkman Bandstand features Jordan Valentine and the Sunday Saints, with The Fatal Flaw. Jenny Dee and the Deelinquents bring their girl group sound to The Park Plaza. The Painted Lights, Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys and Cirkestra play at the Hynes, and Emmanuel Church features a triple bill of Drew O'Doherty, Kristin Hersh and Chris Brokaw and Geoff Farina performing pre-WWII country blues.

Andre Ward - Hynes Convention Center
Take a seasoned musician who can play the soprano, alto and tenor saxophone with skilled ease and passion and mix in varied elements of gospel, jazz, R & B and you have Boston's own Chicago-born, Berklee trained Andre Ward. An accomplished purveyor of smooth jazz, Ward was the musical director for Freddie Jackson and has toured with Teena Marie, Will Downing, The Bobby Jones Gospel Group, The Four Tops, The O'Jays and Dizzy Gillespie.

Fernando Otero - First Church in Boston
Argentine composer and pianist Fernando Otero found his voice as writer, musician and bandleader when he began to incorporate the indigenous sounds of his nativ