Tuesday, November 27, 2012


'Tis the single ticket season

The willful suspensions of both our beliefs and our budgeting concerns are what make the holidays a time of wonder – and mystery!

Theaters from Burbank to Balboa Park are doing their part to add magic to the season with special single-ticket productions. Actors and playwrights are telling stories about the transformative powers of love, forgiveness, and, in more than one case, a well-stocked liquor trolley.

Dominating the landscape are adaptations of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, from the faithfully followed to the irreverent and fun-filled. They range from a Second City world premiere to a modern-day update starring Fred Willard to one that turns L.A's first Water Czar William Mulholland into Scrooge!
But there are lots of laughs for the whole family. Our daft Troubies are back with a rock-infused retelling of Rudolph's tale, helpless "Bob" has scheduled another hapless Holiday Office Party, the Pasadena Playhouse mounts a glittering Snow White adaptation, Capra's Wonderful Life gives Clarence his angel wings, and two of our favorite grounded angels – Crissy Guerrero and Claudia Dolph – pour their saucy cabaret at Hollywood Studio Bar and Grill.

Here's a quick overview complete with links, dates, and addresses. Got a review, endorsement, or addition – email us and Theatertimes will post.

A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens!

Kirk Douglas Theatre
9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City

Culver City's Cultural Citadel is world preeming Second City's take on A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens! The famed improv-comedy troupe collaborates with CTG to ratchet up the traditional tale. A "host of anachronistic characters and hilarious improvs" will strip the script from Scrooge, kick the Cratchit crutch, and blow the dust off those spirits of present, past, and future. And if that weren't enough to start you slouching toward bedlam, the regular cast (including voice-of-Homer Dan Castellaneta) will be joined by an ever-changing stable of starry, drop-in special guests." Holy shit! You'll have to go every day! Guided by past and present spirits of "The Colbert Report" writing team, Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort, irrespectively.

Run: 11/29-12/30 (Previews begin 11/24)

Tickets and information: 213-628-2772 or online.

A Mulholland Christmas Carol

Theatre of NOTE
1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood
Best known for inspiring Chinatown's Hollis Mulwray – and least known as the namesake of my middling Middle School – L.A.'s powerful first Water & Power chief William H. Mulholland rises from the run-off channels and storm drains that are his legacy for A Mulholland Christmas Carol. Now in its 10th year, the Bill Robens script turns WHM into a Scrooge for a water-hungry basin at war with Owens Valley and adds harmonies, history, humor, and "an acoustical, bluegrass take on the music."
Run: 11/30-12/23 (Previews begin 11/27) Thurs-Sat 8 p.m., Sun 7 p.m.; 12/24 2 p.m.
Tickets $30 (Students, seniors $25)
Tickets and information: 323-856-8611 or online.

Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol

SIX01 Studio
601 S. Anderson Street, Downtown Los Angeles
Tom Mula's four-actor version of Dickens' classic takes Marley's point-of-view. Scrooge's business partner, whose death is confirmed in the book's opening line, must take an active role in seeing that his friend redeems his soul, or he will be damned to the hellish eternity where he has been cast –made worse by an officious hell-sprite "who thoroughly enjoys his work,"
Run: 12/14-29 (Previews begin 11/30Thu, Fri & Sat at 8 p.m.; Sun at 3 p.m.)
Tickets: $34 ($20 previews)
Tickets and information: 800-838-3006 or online.

A Really, Really Good Time, Holly Jolly Christmas Carol

Grove Theatre (Upland)
276 E. 9th Street Upland
A new, modern-day version of Dickens' tale casts the lovable Fred Willard as the director of the United States Superstar Show. And, with days to its Christmas Eve opening, it needs a miracle. Naturally, all the blame goes to the cast and crew, especially right hand man Bobby Cratchit. Scrooge's rants end when the ghost of Johnny Carson arrives to launch him on a holiday journey that will make him a better man.
Tickets and information: 909-920-4343 or online

A Christmas Carol

Grove Theater Center
1111-b West Olive Ave., Burbank
David Allen Jones, Frank Simons, and Kate Danley guide audiences through the story - sometimes as narrators, sometimes as storytellers, and sometimes as characters – in the Grove Theater Center's original adaptation.
Run: 11/30-12/16 (Previews begin 11/28 Thu, Fri & Sat at 8 p.m.; Sun at 3 p.m.)
Tickets: $15 - $30 (Previews $10)
Tickets and information: 818-528-6622 or online

A Christmas Carol

A Noise Within
3352 East Foothill Blvd, Pasadena
A Noise Within has flirted with Dickens' holy-holiday grail for several years, producing an excellent Oliver Twist and then Great Expectations. Now they go whole gosling with their own adaptation of the grand Christmas prize. Adapted and directed by co-founders Geoff and Julia Rodriguez Elliott, it stars Geoff as Eb, Robertson Dean as the narrator, and Stephen Rockwell, Jill Hill, Mitchell Edmonds, Deborah Strang, and Alan Blumenfeld in key roles. A "Fezziwig's Festive Holiday Tea" fundraiser will be held December 16 at noon, turtle-dovetailing into admission to the matinee performance.
Run: 12/8-23 (Previews begin 12/1)
Tickets: $40 - $52 (Discounts for groups and students)
Tickets and information: 626-356-3100 or online

A Christmas Carol

South Coast Repertory
655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
The granddaddy of regional Christmas Carols is this Orange County mainstay, now plowing into its fourth decade. In fact, it's tireless Scrooge, Hal Landon Jr. began his run in 1981 childless and is now himself a granddaddy! It's a sumptuous feast of period costumes, whirling set changes, and a finale of redemption sure to replace a miser's last lump of coal with a lump in his throat.
Run: 11/30-12/24, previews begin 11/24
Ticket prices $20-63, with discounts for children and groups
Tickets and information: 714-708-5555 or online.

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

The Old Globe
1363 Old Globe Way, in San Diego’s Balboa Park
The Old Globe has its own tradition based on the classic by the late, but longtime La Jolla resident, Theodore (Dr. Seuss) Geisel. This is the 15th Annual How the Grinch Stole Christmas for the Balboa Parkers, who again transform their mainstage into the snow-covered Whoville – right down to the last can of Who-hash. Familiar songs include "Santa for a Day," "You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," and "Welcome, Christmas (Fah Who Doraze), " from the popular animated version.
Run: 11/23-12/30 (Previews begin 11/17)
Ticket prices start at $37 for adults and $24 for children (17 years and under).
Tickets and information: 619-23-GLOBE or online.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Rein-DOORS

Troubadour Theater Company
Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Dr., in Burbank
Plenty of rockers have created great theater – from Little Richard to Peter Gabriel to the Great Lizardo himself, Jim Morrison. But few theaters have returned the favor the way the Troubies do. Their musical chops are surpassed only by their acting skills and disdain for fourth walls. Of their several seasonal stagings, they have chosen to remount Rudolph The Red-nosed Rein-DOORS, in which the bands catalogue creates strange days indeed for Santa. Sure to sell out, so get stirring!
Run: 12/7-1/6/13, Previews 11/28 (Wed-Sat at 8 p.m., Sun at 4 p.m.)
Tickets $34.50-42; Previews $29.50-$32; Opening night $52-57 (Student, group discounts)
Tickets and information: 818-955-8101 or online.

Footprints in the Snow / Dark Carols

Bootleg Theater
2220 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles
A couple of presents: Dark Carols, A song cycle from Philip Litell and Peter Golub and Footprints In The Snow from Golub and the Amphigorey of Edward Gorey. Two from the darker side of the season start spreading the cheer November 28 through December 8 only – Black Thursdays through Black Saturdays.
Run: 11/29-12/8 (Thurs–Sat 7:30 p.m.)
Ticket prices $15 for adults and $24 for children (17 years and under).
Tickets and information: 213-389-3856 or online.

Bob's Holiday Office Party

The Pico Playhouse Theater
10508 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles
Co-writers Joe Keyes and Rob Elk provide a peek at insurance agent Bob Finhead and his whacked-out friends and clients as they stop by his small-town Iowa office for their annual holiday – and head– bashing. 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. But 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?
Run:12/6-22 (Thurs-Sat 8 p.m.; Sun 7 p.m.)
Tickets $20-25
Tickets and information: 800-838-3006 or online.

The Eight: Reindeer Monologues

Chance Theatre
5552 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim Hills
Get "backstage" at Santa's famous toy-making facility, where it's not all tinsel and cookies. The reindeer are revolting, and shedding angst along with their antlers as they set the record straight about Santa. "When a doe says 'No,' she means 'No Way, Sucka!'"
Run: 11/26–12/22 (Mon-Wed 8 p.m. Fri-Sat 11 p.m.)
Tickets $22-35 (Student, Senior and group discounts
Tickets and information: 714-777-3033 or online.

Santaland Diaries

Blank Theatre
Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd.
Blank Theatre brings back David Sedaris' The Santaland Diaries for its 4th year, starring Paolo Andino under Michael Matthews' direction. NPR’s humorist wrote the one-man show about his experiences as an unemployed writer who takes a job as a Christmas elf at Macy’s in New York City. At first, the job is simply humiliating, but once thousands of visitors start pouring through Santa's workshop, David (or, as his alter ego is known, Crumpet the Elf) becomes battle weary and bitter, occasionally taking out his frustrations on the parents and children alike.
Run: Now running. (Thurs-Sat 8 p.m.; Sun 2 p.m.)
Tickets $30
Tickets and information: 323-661-9827 or online.

A Snow White Christmas

Pasadena Playhouse
39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena
Ariana Grande from Nickelodeon’s "Victorious" stars as Snow White, with an on-screen appearance by Neil Patrick Harris as The Magic Mirror and "Dallas'" Charlene Tilton as The Wicked Queen. Bonnie Lythgoe of "So You Think You Can Dance" directs, with choreography by Spencer Liff of the same show. A Snow White Christmas features family-friendly magic, with a comedic twist, dancing, a live miniature pony, and contemporary pop music. Families can come early for a Winter Wonderland in the courtyard that includes holiday music, crafts, activities, games and photo opportunities.
Run: 12/13-30, Previews 12/12 (Tues-Fri 7 p.m.; Sat 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m.; and Sun at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.)
Ticket prices $32–$100 with discounts for children and groups
Tickets and information: 626-356-7529 or online.

C & C's Christmas
With a Twist

Crissy Guerrero/Claudia Dolph
Hollywood Studio Bar and Grill, 6122 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood
Long a bright fixture of La Posada Magica journey, singer/performer Crissy Guerrero un-dons her posadera togs and takes the well-trodden path to this popular Hollywood watering hole. No vela-lighting required when Guerrero and fellow "Elvette" Claudia Dolph light the stage with C & C's Christmas With a Twist, their twisted take on Christmas cheer. It's the humorous side of the holidays with song, dance, puppets, theremin, and even a little magic! Their helpers include pianist Ron Snyder, Jack McGee as Santa, Alina Foley, and The Hot Toddy Tipsies Dancers! Says CG, "We did our best to find songs that aren't heard very often -- or, at all, ranging from Tom Waits to John Denver. And, those that are more traditional, we are fucking...er...messing with in some way." Plenty of free parking. Parental guidance recommended.
Run: One performance only – December 2 at 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6:45
Tickets $18 ($10 in advance; 2 item [food or drink] min/person)
Tickets and information: online.

Plaid Tidings

Laguna Playhouse
606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach
The spirits of Past, Present and Future team as the late doo-wop group from 1964 back together again – with no idea why they're in Laguna Beach for the holidays! Christmas classics include "It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas," "Let It Snow," and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. " Audiences are encouraged to help the Plaids find their way once again to the spirit of joy and community that sustains them and all of us during the holiday season.
Run: 12/1-23 Previews 11/27-30 (Tues-Sat 8 p.m., Sat-Sun 2 p.m.)
Ticket prices $40 - $70
Tickets and information: 949-497-2787 or online.

It's a Wonderful Life

Theatre Unleashed
The Missing Piece Theatre, 2811 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank
Theatre Unleashed brings back its staged radio play version of Frank Capra’s It's A Wonderful Life. The play within a 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 the touching masterpiece in what might sadly be the station’s last live show. But it is the holidays, a time when miracles can happen….
Run: 11/30-12/15 (Fri/Sat, 8 p.m.; Sun, 2 p.m.)
Tickets $25
Tickets and information: 818-849-4039 or online.

And, everytime Clarence gets his wings, or Scrooge has his change of heart, an angel in the wings breathes a sigh of relief, because the holidays are the single-ticket season when theaters can fill their seats and reduce the amount they need to raise from donors.
Happy Holidays indeed!