Friday, December 16, 2016

Musical treats shower San Diego, ushering in a six pack of yule cheer

Horton Grand Theatre is a perfect venue for the delightfully rendered radio play version of "Miracle on 34th Street."
Jennifer Grimm, Colleen Raye, Sophie Grimm spin smooth
 three-part harmonies for yule entertainment at Northcoast Rep.

Girl Singers, 'Snow White,' 'Miracle' 'Dybbuk,' 'Snow White,' 'Radio Hour' deck the halls with holiday spirit in top-notch presentations

PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER and courtesy theater marketers

IT'S BEGINNING TO sound a lot like Christmas here in San Diego. It's worth a plane ticket here to catch top productions for your holiday fix:
Northcoast Repertory Theatre, through Dec. 24: "The Girl Singers, Holiday Show of the Hit Parade." Three fabulous female voices serve up yuletide cheer, backed by a crack instrumental trio. If this show doesn't imbue you with holiday cheer, you are a true Grinch. Tight harmonies and solid voices deliver holiday songs of the 50’s including Eartha Kitt's “Santa Baby,” “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" made famous by Judy Garland, and classics “Winter Wonderland” and “Silver Bells.” A Wisconsin born show biz veteran and two talented daughters put their own stamp on songs made popular by sister acts -- the Andrews, McGuire and Lennon Sisters. There's a nod to Hanukkah with Tom Lehrer's comical "Hanukkah in Santa Monica," a lovely "Frozen" segment, sing-a-long medley and parody of "Twelve Days of Christmas." We tapped our toes through two happy hours of nostalgia at this delightful family show featuring Jennifer Grimm, Colleen Raye and Sophie Grimm.
Erin and Gary Lewis take their love
of the Broadway musical seriously 
at San Diego Musical Theatre.

San Diego Musical Theatre, through Dec. 23: "Miracle on 34th Street: a Live Musical Radio Play." SDMT is the dreamchild of Erin and Gary Lewis, who promote a successful "Broadway Series" at Spreckels Theatre. This production,at the lovely Horton Grand Theatre, a perfect space, is imaginatively rendered, true to the heartwarming 1947 film.  A department store Santa claims he’s the real Kris Kringle, prompting exploration of the meaning of the holiday and a Supreme Court decision. "Belief" makes all the difference in this iconic story, beautifully acted and directed with engaging live effects and original carols. Even the most cynical Scrooge will be touched.
Actor Ron Campbell gives a masterful performance,
portraying 18 characters in "The Dybbuk....."at the Rep.
Here, he portrays "Crazy Uncle Jerry" giving a toast. 
San Diego Repertory Theatre, through Dec. 18: (At the Lyceum, Horton Plaza.) "The Dybbuk for Hannah and Sam’s Wedding." The brilliant actor Ron Campbell teams with gifted violinist and composer Yale Strom for a story retold by the imaginative Todd Salovey. Campbell, a remarkable actor, portrays 18 characters during a theatrical Jewish wedding. The story -- based on an ancient tale -- revolves around a young couple on their marriage day. Mysticism, family loyalty and religion all play into the story. Campbell's artful presence and ability to transform himself with only small props insure an captivating theatrical experience. If you saw him in the Rep's beautifully done “R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe" you will enjoy watching a master in top form.

Snow White and the seven dwarfs perform in a song-and-dance holiday take
on the story, with Madonna and Lady Gaga songs and veteran actors.
San Diego Rep, Lythgoe Family Panto and San Diego Theatres, through Dec. 24 (Also downtown San Diego, at the Lyceum):  "A Snow White Christmas." Wonderful acting, enchanting dwarfs, winsome dancing, a thoroughly wicked queen, pop tunes and an acrobatic court jester collaborate in a yuletide take on the familiar Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Director Chris Baldock maneuvers a seasoned, crack cast through the moves, with Neil Patrick Harris as the “Magic Mirror.” Jonathan Meza as the enchanting clown, Muddles, bends like a willow, and the oversized dwarf costumes are charming. Not a weak link -- from dimwitted but irresistible prince to the queen's suave and clever huntsman. We recommend it for families and children of all ages.

The beloved Dickens' tale of hope and redemption
is reimagined in an upbeat, affectionate Cygnet production. 
Cygnet Theatre: Through Dec. 24: "A Christmas Carol" features the always original writing skills of Sean Murray paired with Billy Thompson's upbeat score.
The beloved Dickens tale of hope and redemption is "re-imagined" as Cygnet offers new music, live sound effects, puppetry and grand costumes, all marked by Cygnet's and Murray's original stamp. Impeccable stage craft, amusing physical bits, winsome sound effects and likeable actors enhance the story while remaining true to its spirit of love, redemption, generosity and forgiveness.
New Village Arts has a lively WWII
musical radio show on tap.

New Village Arts, Carlsbad: Through Dec. 31. "The 1940's Radio Hour" blends the nostalgia of WWII with holiday favorites.  The era of "Strike Up the Band” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” are topping the charts as New York’s radio station WOV, prepares its final broadcast of the holiday-themed Mutual Manhattan Variety Cavalcade. Nominated for five Drama Desk Awards when it premiered on Broadway in 1980, the show features regional favorite singers, including pianist-singer Tony Houck as musical director and performer Zoot.
Cookie and Keller take a turn with Lawrence, as Bobby and Cissy did in the
1960s.  Cissy King and her dance partner Bobby Burgess were regulars.
UP NEXT: Continuing the spirit of all things theatrical, enter Lawrence Welk Resort. If you grew up in the 1950s or '60s, you may remember listening to the Welk show. "Plaid Tidings" is the latest hit production, a holiday take on "Forever Plaid." Book a seat and you'll see the polka maestro's legacy lives on. Welk Resort north of San Diego is a 450-acre complex among the boulder-strewn hills of the city's "North County." The popular destination offers a theater, restaurants, gardens, parks, and many types of housing. We were drawn to the theater and its lovely little museum, which pays homage to Welk and his dynasty. Millions of viewers tuned in to Welk's show both live in the 1950s and 1960s and on reruns since it became a PBS standard on Saturday evenings. Remember to explore, learn and live, and catch us weekends for lively arts-travel insights and features.

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