By Steve ZALL and Sid FISH
With Christmas nearly here, everyone is getting busy with holiday season events – but don’t forget to include a night at the theatre, taking in a holiday production such as:
“Bob’s Holiday Office Party” Every year, insurance agent Bob Finhead’s whacked out friends and clients stop by his small-town Iowa office for their annual holiday bash. The town mayor, the sheriff, the twin farmer sisters, the stoner, the town floozy and the pastor’s wife have already RSVP’d for this year’s event. However, Bob has dreams of a bigger life and wants to escape their narrow-minded thinking. Will he be able to fulfill his dream of becoming a professional inventor and move to the big city, or will he come to realize how much he is the heart and soul of the town? Will any of this matter once the party starts, the bickering and fighting begins, and the drinks hit the floor?
The play is set in the office of insurance salesman Bob Finhead in Neuterburg, Iowa (population 382). Bob is carrying on a flirtation with the mayor’s wife while the mayor himself is busy accommodating a male houseguest. Joe, the alcoholic town sheriff, is attracted to Brandy, the town party girl who is the twin sister of Carol, the minister’s emotionally disturbed wife. There’s one other set of twins in town, La Donna and La Voris Johnson, wealthy farmers who are proud members of the Neuterburg Tea Party.
Written by Joe Keyes and Rob Elk and directed by Matt Roth, it runs through Dec. 18 at the Atwater Village Theatre in Atwater Village. For tickets, call (800) 838-3006 or visit www.bobsofficeparty.com.
“A Christmas Carol” No one changes more than Scrooge. What does it take? How much must he be shaken to his core before he sees the light? This production embraces the dark qualities of Dickens’ work which actually is what makes it so much fun … those bone-chilling ghost encounters and the disorienting quality of Scrooge’s experience – really, just how often do you get to visit your own grave? These elements are heightened by the use of shadows in the production.
“A Christmas Carol” is a classic because it speaks to how hard it is to make a real transformation in your life. Scrooge is a man who used to be good but slowly turned to greed. It takes an intervention from spirits and humans alike to bring him back to goodness. That transformation, at the hands of a community, is the heart of this story, and what has made this story among the most popular for all ages for centuries.
Written by Charles Dickens and directed by Jen Bloom, it runs through Dec. 18 at the Miles Playhouse in Santa Monica. For tickets, visit www.santamonicarep.org.
“Devil’s Salt” is set in the 17th century in the King James Colony of Plymouth Bay in New England where Hannah Mulwray, a young woman who acts as a mid-wife, is brought to trial for witchcraft. Her accuser, Hooker Wainwright, is the governor of the colony and a man driven by religious zealotry and sexual obsession.
Written by Jovanka Bach and directed by John Stark, it runs through Dec. 17 at the Odyssey Theatre in West Los Angeles. For tickets, call (310) 477-2055 or visit www.web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/34367/1480568400000.
“A Christmas Carol” Ebenezer Scrooge’s rebirth from miserly curmudgeon to the epitome of love and generosity affirms our faith in the potent goodness of humanity during this beloved time of year.
Written by Charles Dickens and directed by Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, it runs through Dec. 23 at the A Noise Within in Pasadena. For tickets, call (626) 356-3100 Ext. 1 or visit www.anoisewithin.org.
“The SantaLand Diaries” Patrick Censoplano dons the candy-cane tights for a Santa Monica Playhouse holiday celebration in this outrageously funny one-man play from NPR’s well-loved humorist David Sedaris about the author’s experiences as an unemployed writer taking a job as an elf at Macy’s department store in New York City, taking a wry look at how the holiday season brings out the best – and the worst – in us all.
Written by David Sedaris, adapted by Joe Mantello and directed by Chris DeCarlo, it runs through Dec. 18 at the Santa Monica Playhouse the Other Space in Santa Monica. For tickets, call (310) 394-9779 Ext. 1 or visit www.SantaMonicaPlayhouse.com.
“Santasia” This Off-Broadway hit and Critic’s Pick laugh out loud annual holiday romp is the perfect blend of yuletide snark and sentiment, and has been compared to “The Carol Burnett Show,” “The Kids in the Hall,” “In Living Color,” “Saturday Night Live” and vaudeville. This multi-media holiday special has it all including classic Rankin and Bass claymation inspired movies, musical parodies and heartfelt holiday moments.
Written by Shaun and Brandon Loeser and directed by Shaun Loeser, it runs through Dec. 25 at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks. For tickets, call (818) 990-2324 or visit www.santasia.com.
“Charles Dickens’ a Christmas Carol” This timeless tale of redemption and hope follows the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge (Peter Van Norden) who is visited by the ghost of his former partner Jacob Marley (Joe Spano) and three spirits who show him the error of his ways. Burns’ adaptation provides particular insight into the circumstances of the lost and lonely boy who became a bitter and hardened miser, an echo of Dickens’ own experience. Drawing from rich language of Dickens’ novel, the characters not only speak the dialogue but also narrate their thoughts and actions. The lack of a fourth wall allows the audience to be a part of Scrooge’s inner journey as he discovers the joy and meaning in Christmas.
Written by Charles Dickens, adapted by Karyl Lynn Burns and directed by Brian McDonald, it runs through Dec. 24 at the Rubicon Theatre Company in Ventura. For tickets, call (805) 667-2900 or visit www.rubicontheatre.org.
“A Christmas Carol with Charles Dickens” In his lifetime, Charles Dickens was recognized not only as a great writer but as an actor. His greatest successes on the stages of Britain and the United States were his solo performances of his own work. One of the first pieces he presented to great acclaim was “A Christmas Carol.” The performance of “A Christmas Carol with Charles Dickens” is full of the acting pyrotechnics Dickens was famous for as the two actors conjure a magical evening full of wry humor, ghosts, romance and redemption.
Written by Charles Dickens and directed by Melissa Chalsma, it runs Dec. 8 through Dec. 18 at the Atwater Crossing Arts + Innovation Complex in Atwater Village. For tickets, call (818) 710-6306 or visit www.iscla.org.
“A Cinderella Christmas” Panto at The Playhouse has become a holiday tradition for families and what a joy for Lythgoe Family Panto to bring “A Cinderella Christmas” to Pasadena for our fifth season at the historical State Theatre of California. This cast brings together some Panto at The Playhouse alumni favorites along with some new stellar stars from stage and screen that will take you on a magical journey! You will have a ball at Cinderella this year!
Written by Kris Lythgoe and directed by Bonnie Lythgoe, it runs Dec. 8 through Jan. 8 at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena. For tickets, call (626) 356-7529 or visit www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org.
“Sleeping Beauty and her Winter Knight” Broadway and TV stars perform in this interactive musical fairy tale with comedy, magic and pop music sure to delight children of all ages! The story is based on the European fairytale where a princess named Aurora has a curse put on her by an evil fairy Carabosse. By her 18th birthday, Aurora will prick her finger on a spindle and fall asleep for 100 years. The royal family live under the protection of Silly Billy and Nanny Tickle but Aurora does prick her finger and falls asleep for 100 years. A handsome prince saves the day by defeating the wicked fairy and giving Aurora a true love kiss.
Lythgoe Family Panto produces fun, musical theatre the whole family can enjoy. Known for their creativity and involvement in television hits “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” the Lythgoes are dedicated to bringing affordable theatre to families across America. Based on the Grimm fairytales and others, each story has been modernized with topical scripts for parents and well known pop songs for kids. The Lythgoes pride themselves on creating a memorable experience a family can share together.
Written by Kris Lythgoe and directed by Linda Goodrich, it runs Dec. 9 through Dec. 30 at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach. For tickets, call (949) 497-2787or visit www.lagunaplayhouse.com.
“Snowed Inn” Enjoy this modern day farce that takes place in the snowy mountains of Colorado. A winter storm hits as guests arrive and what could have been a relaxing holiday weekend very quickly descends into chaos. “Snowed Inn” is the journey of eight characters finding ways to ignite or rekindle passion in their lives. The lobby plays home to all their misguided, albeit hilarious, antics and shenanigans. The real world, sealed away behind deep drifts of snow, is forgotten. The insane becomes probable and the farcical becomes commonplace. As beloved as the holiday classics of our age are, audiences yearn for a new world with its own treasured characters to fall in love with, while still enjoying the spirit of the holidays. “Snowed Inn” represents everything we cherish during the season, with characters that will melt your heart and comedy that will warm the soul. It’s the kiss under the mistletoe and Mom’s famous chocolate chip cookies. It’s what makes the pressure of finding a perfect present or preparing a flawless meal a gift and not a burden. It’s the reason we connect with each other. It’s what the entire season is all about. We hope you’ll join us this holiday season for a night of thrills, spills and passions igniting across the generations. Not to mention a cup of hot cocoa in the lobby after the curtains fall.
Written and directed by David Ewing, it runs Dec. 9 through Dec. 18 at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. For tickets, call (818) 508-4200 or visit www.snowedinntheatre.com.
“Impro Theatre’s 1966 Holiday Variety Extravaganza” is a completely improvised TV holiday show spectacular of yore complete with a five piece swinging ’60s jazz band. This brand-spanking new, completely improvised spectacular is a tinsel-covered take on the Andy Williams-y, Perry Como-like, and Bob Hope-esque shows of the past.
Directed by Dan O’Connor, it runs Dec. 15 through Dec. 17 at the Eli & Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica. For tickets, call (310) 434-3200 or visit www.thebroadstage.com.
“John Denver’s Rocky Mountain Christmas” The well-loved Jim Curry returns to the Mainstage with a heartwarming and fun concert of John Denver songs and Christmas favorites. Join acclaimed performer Jim Curry for this tribute to the music of one of the most beloved singer/songwriters ever to grace the stage. Jim’s uncanny ability to mirror John’s voice and clean-cut look takes you back to the time and his popular music had the heartfelt message of caring for the earth and caring for each other.
Written and directed by Jim Curry, it runs only Dec. 18 at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. For tickets, call (818) 508-4200 or visit www.elportaltheatre.com.
“The Annual All-New One-Time-Only New Year’s Eve Musical Revue” the annual New Year’s Eve Santa Monica Playhouse celebration, ushering in 2017 with an all-new evening of audience favorite songs, dances, comedy and other delights culled from five decades of beloved critically-acclaimed Santa Monica Playhouse productions. From finger-snapping ’40s jazz to foot-stompin’ country rock, Jewish patter songs to romantic ballads, complete with complimentary buffet supper, champagne, sparkling cider, hats, noisemakers, favors, special prizes and surprises all included in the price of admission, it is arguably the best New Year’s celebration in town. The late show at 9:30 p.m. gives audiences the chance to celebrate the changeover to the New Year in the theatre with the members of the Santa Monica Playhouse Actors’ Repertory Theatre. The early-bird 6 p.m. celebration offers everything that the later show does and is a great way to celebrate New Year’s Eve with the entire family, letting the kids have a real New Year’s Eve treat, and get home at a reasonable hour, or for the adults to kick off an evening of after-theatre dining and celebrating.
Written by Evelyn Rudie, Matthew Wrather and Emery Bernauer, with music by Evelyn Rudie, Matthew Wrather and Emery Bernauer, and directed by Chris DeCarlo, it runs only Dec. 31 at the Santa Monica Playhouse Main Stage in Santa Monica. For tickets, call (310) 394-9779 Ext. 1 or visit www.SantaMonicaPlayhouse.com.
“The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” tells the story of a Manhattan doctor’s wife, Marjorie Taub, beset by a midlife crisis, much to the bewilderment of her loving but self-involved husband Ira, her acerbic, eternally constipated Jewish mother Frieda, and Mohammed, the building doorman and Marjorie’s only friend who loves to discuss art and literature, especially the novel “Siddhartha” by German author Herman Hesse. Suddenly their lives are upended by the arrival of mysterious, worldly and seductive Lee Green, claiming to be Marjorie’s long lost childhood friend – or is she?
Written by Charles Busch and directed by Ria Parody Erlich, it runs through Dec. 11 at the Pierson Playhouse in Pacific Palisades. For tickets, call (310) 454-1970 or visit www.theatrepalisades.com.
“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” In this hilarious comedy, Vanya and his adopted sister, Sonia, live a quiet life in the Pennsylvania farmhouse where they grew up, while their sister Masha travels the world as a movie star. Just as their cleaning woman issues a warning about terrible events in their future, Masha returns for an unannounced visit with her 20-something boy toy Spike in tow. And so begins this unforgettable family reunion filled with rivalry, regret, and racket. All allusions to Chekhov are purely intentional. Written by Christopher Durang, and directed by Barbara Tarbuck, it runs through Dec. 11 at the Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica. For tickets, call 310-392-7327 or visit www.edgemar.org.
“Gardel’s Tango” tells the story of the short life of composer, singer, musical innovator and international film star Carlos Gardel (1890-1935). Gardel is best remembered as the man who embraced the traditional Argentine musical form, the tango, and modernized and popularized it, making worldwide phenomena of the dance, the music and himself. Gardel was born out of wedlock in France, but brought to Argentina as an infant and raised in Buenos Aires, achieving full Argentine citizenship in 1923. Gardel’s Tango depicts Gardel’s invention of the modern tango, and features the real people who most impacted his life: his lyricist Alfredo Le Pera, revealed here to be a closeted gay man; his early musical partner Jose Razzano, a.k.a. The Maestro, a mentor to Gardel who is later overshadowed by his protégé; his mother Berthe; and his long-lasting romantic partner Isabel del Valle, with whom he maintained a relationship despite his devoted womanizing. Over 80 years after his demise, he is loved and appreciated by fans the world over. A bronze statue of him stands in his old Buenos Aires neighborhood. A. U.S. postage stamp with his likeness was issued in 2011. Written and directed by John R. Lacey, it runs through Dec. 18 at the Zephyr Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets, call 626-381-9767 or visit www.artful.ly/store/events/10033.
“It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play” takes place at KAWL, a struggling 1940s radio station that good-hearted owner Michael Anderson is barely keeping alive. He calls on some old friends (with big personalities) and some less-than-professional station employees to offer up a live radio version of Frank Capra’s touching masterpiece It’s a Wonderful Life in what might sadly be the station’s last live show. But it’s the holidays, a time when miracles can happen…. Written by Jim Martyka, and directed by Jenn Scuderi Crafts, it runs through Dec. 18 at the Belfry Stage, Upstairs at the Crown in North Hollywood. For tickets, call 818-849-4039 or visit www.theatreunleashed.org.
“Merrily We Roll Along” tells the powerful and moving story of a composer’s idealism and friendships, corrupted by success, in an emotionally charged journey through the lives of three friends. Told backwards, this rarely staged musical begins with the disillusioned present, travelling in time throughout seven different periods, and ending with the friends’ optimistic early years. Based on the Kaufman and Hart play, Merrily We Roll Along features some of Sondheim’s most beautiful and at times haunting songs including, “Good Thing Going,” “Our Time,” “Old Friends” and “Not a Day Goes By.” Initially presented on Broadway in 1981, it ran for 52 previews and only 16 performances before quickly closing. Written by George Furth, with music by Stephen Sondheim, and directed by Michael Arden, it runs through Dec. 18 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. For tickets, call 310-746-4000 or visit www.TheWallis.org.
“A Very Die Hard Christmas” a team of terrorists has seized a building, taken hostages, and declared war. One man has managed to escape. An off-duty cop hiding somewhere inside. He’s alone, tired…and he doesn’t like Christmas. This is much more than a stage version of the holiday classic Die Hard, its parody at its best with Christmas miracles and familiar holiday friends galore. Yippee Ki-Yay, Father Christmas! Written by Josh Carson, and directed by Gregory Crafts, it runs through Dec. 18 at the Belfry Stage, Upstairs at the Crown in North Hollywood. For tickets, call 818-849-4039 or visit www.theatreunleashed.org.
“A Christmas Carol” Hal Landon Jr. is Ebenezer Scrooge, the Bah! Humbug! Miser who has a yuletide change of heart. This play is a celebration of family, peace and unity. It’s not just a British play, nor is it limited in scope to the 19th century. Scrooge’s story embodies the very tenets of American culture—you can change yourself, you can succeed beyond your means and, after undergoing metaphorical death, you can come back and live a better life. In other words, it’s never too late. The annual production holds a special place for Orange County residents. It’s an important part of family holiday traditions. This production has been the first place where many audience members experienced theatre and we want to make sure that everyone continues to have the best time. Written by Charles Dickens, adapted by Jerry Patch, and directed by John-David Keller, it runs through Dec. 24 at the South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa. For tickets, call 714-708-5555 or visit www.scr.org.
“A Christmas Carol” Come experience the magic with us for our 51st ANNIVERSARY! Bah, humbug! In our annual retelling of the classic Charles Dickens tale, visits from three ghosts help Scrooge to see the light and change his ways. This wonderful, optimistic Christmas message shows us that, the human spirit is capable of renewal and its hopeful message has earned a place of honor in the hearts of generations. Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, and the lively carolers will put you in the perfect holiday mood! Glendale Centre Theatre’s traditional dramatization of Ebenezer Scrooge’s life-changing Christmas Eve is entertaining, captivating, and touching. Bring your family and enjoy the spirit of the holidays in our retelling of this classic story. Written by Charles Dickens, and directed by Tim Dietlein, it runs through Dec. 24 at the Glendale Centre Theatre in Glendale. For tickets, call 818-244-8481 or visit www.glendalecentretheatre.com.
Have a happy holiday season, and a beautiful New Year!