By Steve ZALL and Sid FISH
The holiday season is in full swing now and local theaters are joining in with a bevy of new offerings. It’s time to treat yourself to the magic of live theater by going to a local production!
COVID protocols continue to be dictated by each individual venue so bring a facemask to wear during the show in case the venue requires it. It’s a good idea to check with the theater before attending a show to find out what is its current policy.
The information presented in this column is the latest available at the time of printing; however, it should be verified with the theater before making definite plans.
Here are the shows that have announced opening dates for this month or are already running:
“The Climb” Led by two blind actors who lost their vision in their 20s, “The Climb” tells the true story of their journey using original rap, poetry, spoken word and classic songs to take the audience along as they share their most vulnerable moments. The show answers questions that most people might be curious about, but never ask directly. These brave performers share their stories of their blindness and their journey to find a greater sense of self.
Written by Ronnie Chism and Maliaka Mitchell, and directed by Greg Shane, it runs through Dec. 9 at the Blue Door Theater in Culver City. For tickets, visit www.bluedoorculver.com.
“It’s a Wonderful Life – On Air” It is Christmas Eve 1947 in the studio of radio studio WNBC in New York City and a major snowstorm has hit the Big Apple. None of the Broadway stars who were scheduled to perform WNBC’s annual live radio broadcast of “It’s A Wonderful Life” were able to get through the storm so the station’s general manager has to scramble to gather a cast of anyone still left in the building – the copy boy, secretaries – even a nun soliciting donations for homeless orphans! During the broadcast, everything that could go wrong does! But in the end, this merry band of misfits delivers one of the funniest and most heartwarming renditions of the holiday classic ever to go out over the airwaves. Performed as a “live” radio broadcast complete with live foley sound effects, “It’s A Wonderful Life – On Air” is a hilariously fun way to celebrate the holidays with the entire family.
Written and directed by Fred Helsel, it runs through Dec. 23 at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center in Simi Valley. For tickets, call 805-583-7900 or visit www.simi-arts.org.
“Madame Scrooge: A Christmas Carol Musical” This unique holiday adaptation will be performed in one of the oldest theaters-in-the-round in the country and features a Broadway-style musical score written by the award-winning Hollywood composer Chris Thomas. The show will be packed full of unique choreography, over the top costumes, high-end creature suits, and vocals from our leading lady Madame Scrooge that will knock the audience out of their seats. Additionally, Meyer2Meyer Entertainment will include some of its typical immersive elements into the show; you might be involved in a snowball (soft plush) fight! Fun for the entire family!
Written and directed by Justin Patrick Meyer with music by Chris Thomas, it runs through Dec. 23 at The Nocturne Theatre in Glendale. For tickets, visit www.TheNocturneTheatre.com.
“Mary Poppins” The story follows the Banks family as it receives a visit from the magical nanny Mary Poppins who takes them on a series of unforgettable adventures. Along the way, they learn the importance of family and the power of imagination. As audiences join the Banks family on its adventure, they’ll be swept away by classic songs such as “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Chim Chim Cher-ee.”
Written by Julian Fellowes with music by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, additional music and lyrics by Anthony Drewe and George Stiles, and directed by Tim Nelson, it runs through Dec. 17 at the Rose Center Theater in Westminster. For tickets, call (714) 793-1150 Ext. 1 or visit www.RoseCenterTheater.com/Disneys-MaryPoppins.
“SANTASIA – A Holiday Comedy” The critically acclaimed musical sketch comedy show features Broadway musical parodies, heartfelt sentiment and classic Rankin and Bass inspired Claymation movies. The popular and celebrated live stage show has played to sold out crowds in Los Angeles for the past 24 years.
Written and directed by Brandon Loeser and Shaun Loeser, it runs through Dec. 23 at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks. For tickets, visit www.santasia.com.
“So Many Stars” It’s the waning weeks of the year, evenings come sooner, there’s a nip of coolness in the air, the sky gets darker faster, you look up and there are … so many stars. It makes you feel that you’re part of this immense universe. The new show “So Many Stars” is about so much more than just the season. With music and songs, it celebrates the joy of life itself. Winter is on its way, and some of the songs are seasonally appropriate. There are a few Christmas songs, and one Chanukah song, but the songs selected are here because they’re timeless.
Written and directed by Victoria Lavan, it runs through Dec. 10 at the Theatre West in Studio City. For tickets, call (323) 851-7977 or visit www.theatrewest.org.
“Spirits Of the Season: Vintage Cocktails & Holiday Jazz” Taste the spirits of the season inside a vintage holiday cabaret. Located upstairs, The Nocturne Theatre hides five festive secret rooms to explore. Relax and enjoy seasonal songs performed by our holiday jazz crooner inside our speakeasy cabaret. Holiday twists on your favorite vintage cocktails will be offered, crafted with fresh-pressed ingredients.
Directed by Justin Patrick Meyer, it runs through Dec. 23 at the Nocturne Theatre in Glendale. For tickets, visit www.TheNocturneTheatre.com.
“A Christmas Carol” This delightfully festive, musically merry stage adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” has become a Los Angeles tradition with its innovative staging, whimsical costumes, original music and boundless good cheer. Audiences are invited to arrive early to enjoy special snacks, crafts and photo opportunities in the decorated lobby, and to stay after the performance to take pictures with the cast.
Written by Charles Dickens, adapted by Geoff Elliott, with music by Robert Oriol, and directed by Julia Rodriguez-Elliott and Geoff Elliott, it runs through Dec. 24 at A Noise Within in Pasadena. For tickets, call (626) 356-3100 or visit www.anoisewithin.org.
“A Christmas Story – The Musical” Set in 1940s Indiana, a young and bespectacled Ralphie Parker schemes his way toward the holiday gift of his dreams, an official Red Ryder® Carbine-action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle. An infamous leg lamp, outrageous pink bunny pajamas, a maniacal department store Santa and a triple-dog-dare to lick a freezing flagpole are just a few of the distractions that stand between Ralphie and his Christmas wish.
Written by Joseph Robinette, with music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and directed by Matt Lenz, it runs through Dec. 31 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets, visit www.centertheatregroup.org.
“A Cinderella Christmas” This holiday season put on your glass slippers and join us for our annual Lythgoe Family Panto, “A Cinderella Christmas!” Based on the traditional British Panto, where the audiences’ participation is part of the show, expect a hilarious, heartwarming evening full of song, dance and holiday merriment! In “A Cinderella Christmas,” the timeless rags to riches story of a young girl meeting her prince gets an exciting holiday makeover. A wild, wacky and interactive holiday event, “A Cinderella Christmas” sets the age-old fairytale of Cinderella to modern music with a comical twist and incredible magic! Featuring songs like “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton and “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston, this year’s Panto promises to be the very best! Make it your holiday tradition!
Written by Kris Lythgoe, with music by Andy Street, and directed by Bonnie Lythgoe, it runs Dec. 7 through Dec. 29 at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach. For tickets, call (949) 497-2787 Ext. 1 or visit www.lagunaplayhouse.com.
“The Cher Show” “The Cher Show” is 35 smash hits, six decades of stardom, two rock-star husbands, a Grammy, an Oscar, an Emmy and enough Tony Award-winning Bob Mackie gowns to cause a sequin shortage in New York City – all in one unabashedly fabulous new musical that will have audiences dancing in the aisles!
Superstars come and go. Cher is forever. For six straight decades, only one unstoppable force has flat-out dominated popular culture – breaking down barriers, pushing boundaries and letting nothing and no one stand in her way. “The Cher Show” is the Tony Award-winning musical of her story, and it’s packed with so much Cher that it takes three women to play her: the kid starting out, the glam pop star and the icon.
Written by Cher, with music by Cher, and directed by Casey Hushion, it runs Dec. 8 through Dec. 10 at the Bank of America Performing Arts Center in Thousand Oaks. For tickets, visit www.BroadwayInThousandOaks.com.
“Hanyak” The title “Hanyak” alludes to the Czech family roots of the story’s protagonist, a young woman from the Midwest who comes to Hollywood, like many others before her, in pursuit of a dream. She becomes involved creatively and romantically with a famous and accomplished older man. They make well-received art house films together. It’s a vibrant, glamorous life until the day she must come to grips with the fact that there is a price to pay for the fulfillment of Hollywood dreams.
Written by Tanna Frederick and directed by Jenny Sullivan, it runs Dec. 8 through Dec. 10 at the Two Roads Theatre in Studio City. For tickets, visit www.hanyak.ticketleap.com/onewomanshow.
“The World Goes ’Round” Winner of threer Drama Desk Awards, “The World Goes ’Round” is filled with humor, romance, drama and nonstop melody. The musical revue features story songs about charming misfits whose unconventional truths are celebrated in brassy up-tempo belt numbers and tender ballads that could have only come from the pens of John Kander and Fred Ebb, the geniuses behind shows from “Cabaret” to “Chicago.” This nonstop hit parade features unforgettable gems like “Mr. Cellophane,” “Maybe This Time,” “Cabaret” and “New York, New York.”
Written by Scott Ellis, Susan Stroman and David Thompson, with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, it runs Dec. 9 through Dec. 23 at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura. For tickets, call (805) 667-2900 or visit www.rubicontheatre.org.
“A Very Die Hard Christmas” A real Christmas crowd-pleaser with lots of laughs and nostalgia, this fun musical parodies the hit film “Die Hard” on the 35th anniversary of that action classic’s release. New York cop John McClane flies to Los Angeles to visit his estranged wife Holly for Christmas. But soon after he shows up at Nakatomi Plaza for her office work party, terrorists take over the building and it’s up to John to save the day.
Written by Jeff Schell and The Habit, additional dialogue by Sandro Monetti, and directed by Sandro Monetti, it runs Dec. 10 through Dec. 20 at the Theatre Forty in the Mary Levin Cutler Theatre in Beverly Hills. For tickets, call (310) 364-3606 or visit www.theatre40.org.
“OY! To The World – Christmas with a Twist!” “OY! To The World” is a delightful walk down memory lane, celebrating the Jewish songwriter’s contribution to the canon of Christmas music we all know and love. Each iconic tune captures the spirit of the yuletide season. It features well-known hits that have become beloved Christmas standards like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “White Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Santa Baby,” “The Christmas Song” and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and many more. “Oy! To the World ~ Christmas with a Twist!” is a 90-minute new musical comedy that the whole family will enjoy with great Catskills humor and all the wonderful holiday music we know and love. It’s an all-inclusive holiday celebration!
Written by Gregory Thirloway & Maurice Godin, and directed by Maurice Godin, it runs Dec. 14 through Dec. 23 at the El Portal Theatre Monroe Forum in North Hollywood. For tickets, call (818) 508-4200 or visit www.elportaltheatre.com.
“Long Beach Nutcracker” This production boasts a full symphony orchestra, a flying sleigh, a real live horse, on-stage pyrotechnics and a cast of over 250. Former Disney designers Elliot Hessayon and Scott Schaffer created the enchanting scenery, Australian artist Adrian Clark designed the detailed costumes and renowned magician Franz Harary created the special effects. This year’s production will feature Megan Wilcox, formerly with the world-renowned Dresden Ballet, as the Sugarplum Fairy, and the return of Melissa & Ade, celebrity winners from “So You Think You Can Dance.” Melissa Sandvig will once again perform her standout role as the Dewdrop Fairy and Ade Obayomi will be featured in the “Arabian Dance.”
Written and directed by David Wilcox, it runs Dec. 16 through Dec. 23 at the Terrace Theater at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center in Long Beach. For tickets, visit www.LongBeachNutcracker.com.
“The Gift of the Magi” Enjoy this modernized spin on the classic Christmas tale of “The Gift of the Magi.” When a wife and husband give each other handpicked Christmas gifts, they realize that each person personally sacrificed their own happiness to obtain each gift proving love is more powerful than gift giving.
Written by O. Henry, adapted by Helen Borgers and Lauren Velasco, it runs through Dec. 10 at the Helen Borgers Theater in Long Beach. For tickets, visit www.LBShakespeare.org.
“70, Girls, 70” This long-buried gem will sparkle with its glorious, catchy music and wittily hysterical lyrics. A charming group of clever, enterprising senior citizens take matters into their own hands when their residence hotel is about to be sold. They band together and take life by the bootstraps and go to extraordinary creative measures to save their home. Along the way they discover the value of saying “Yes!” when life invites us.
Written by David Thompson and Norman L. Martin, with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and directed by Bruce Kimmel, it runs through Dec. 17 at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood. For tickets, call (818) 763-5990 or visit www.thegrouprep.com.
“Love Actually Live!” transports friends and families into a three-dimensional world where the film and live action seamlessly blend, immersing audiences in the heartwarming London setting. Iconic scenes from the movie are displayed on screens that move throughout the set, complemented by an all-star cast of singers and a live orchestra delivering a reimagined soundtrack featuring beloved songs such as “Christmas is All Around,” “Trouble with Love” and Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.”
Written by Richard Curtis, adapted by Anderson Davis, with music by Jesse Vargas, and directed by Anderson Davis, it runs through Dec. 30 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. For tickets, call (310) 746-4000 or visit www.TheWallis.org/LAL.
Steve Zall, Publisher
Sid Fish, Co-Publisher and Editor
Scene in LA