Amidst the manic “holiday hustle” there are always numerous Christmas-themed productions running.
I caught two of them on the weekend. Both delightful!
My Three Angels
A highly entertaining comedy, with plenty of laughs, a lot of heart, and some wonderful performances, this one is a must see! In 1955, the play, written by Sam and Bella Spewack, was adapted to film, under the title of We’re No Angels, starring Humphrey Bogart (in a rare comedic role) and again in 1989, starring Robert De Niro. The insanity takes place in Cayenne, French Guyana, in 1910. Directed skillfully, with fun-loving and heart-touching fury by Larry Eisenberg … there’s never a dull moment! We are in the home of the mild-mannered, inept shopkeeper Felix Ducatel (Doug Haverty), his wife Emilie (an impressive Julia Silverman), and their lovestruck, overly exuberant daughter, Marie Louise (Kelsi Zahl). It is Christmastime and three convicts on a work-release program have been employed here as roofers. This colorful trio of prisoners steps into the Ducatel’s home and personal lives, to help their kindly employer out of a dire predicament. The result for all involved spurs a Christmas not soon to be forgotten! Felix nervously awaits the arrival from France of his uppity cousin Henri to audit his business books … which are a total mess! As the snooty and mean-spirited Henri, Chris Winfield is delightfully despicable! As Henri arrives with his nephew, the handsome object of Marie Louise’s affection (Daniel Sykes), our shrewd convicts are spurred to action. The trio of prisoners nearly steals the show, with riotously brilliant performances! There’s Jules, prisoner #6817, who murdered his wife (Robert Gallo); Joseph, #3011, a clever conman embezzler (Lloyd Pederson); and Alfred, #4707, who abruptly ended his stepfather’s life with a poker (Garrett Marshall)…. Yikes! With kindly hearts, a devious plan, and a little help from their pet snake … they save the Ducatel family from disaster! In smaller roles, Hersha Parady is hysterical as Madame Parole, a snooty lady with a taste for cognac … and Max Bungell is dashingly cocky as the Lieutenant (this role is alternated by three young actors). A light-hearted lark, with romance and redemption at its core … I loved every whacky moment! The flawless set design (Chris Winfield), gorgeous period costumes (Angela Eads), lighting (Jazmin Lopez), and sound (Steve Shaw) … perfectly set the tone! Do venture out and catch this one! Running through Jan. 15 at Lonny Chapman Theatre located at 10900 Burbank Blvd. in North Hollywood. For seats, call (818) 763-5990. Note: Co-Artistic Director Larry Eisenberg announced their upcoming season of six plays … and it looks pretty exciting! Ask about their “full season pass,” available for the cost of $75. That’s a lot of entertainment for well under a hundred bucks … and would make a fab Christmas gift to someone you love!
Bob Cratchit & Mr. Tightwad – A New Twist on an Old Tale
Each holiday season, a variety of “visions” of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol pop up around LA, and I try to catch one of them each year. This one, offered by “Put the Kettle On” Productions, is a musical version, charmingly adapted with new music and lyrics by Katrina Wood. Masterfully directed by Trace Oakley, a talented and focused cast takes us once again into the magical transformation of the miserly and heartless Ebenezer Scrooge. The mood is haunting, and the songs range from fun loving to inspiring … as “good wins over evil,” and Scrooge sees the error of his ways. The lively choreography (Colette Brandenburg), lovely period costuming (Taylor Moten), hair/wigs (Raymond Klarich), and seamlessly changing set design by art director (Aaron Glazer) depicted the Victorian vibe beautifully. A duo of excellent lead performances were mastered by Foster Walker as the kind and mistreated Bob Cratchit, and Chas Mitchell who was colorfully captivating as the stingy and heartless Scrooge. Jim Cox was deliciously creepy as Marley’s Ghost, and young Zachary Rice was adorable as Tiny Tim. Touching portrayals by Claudia Wit as Mrs. Cratchit and Robert Keasler as Norman the Ragpicker. As the infamous “ghosts”… Billy Giampaolo was quirky fun wearing a red fez (Past), Athena Rose was feisty as a rock ‘n’ roll goth chick (Present), and Jennifer Potell in a wordless role, was silently animated in a harlequin-esque costume (Future). Rounding out the cast as Scrooge’s long lost love, Nell … Emily Bridges (Beau’s daughter) was heart touching. The vocal performances throughout were chilling, and the production overall was simplistically sensational! Suitable for the entire family … Why not put this one on your “To Do” list this holiday season? Running through Dec. 29 at the Secret Rose Theatre located at 11246 Magnolia Blvd. in NoHo. For seats, call (800) 838-3006.
That’s my story for this time … More to come next week! Get in the spirit … catch a holiday show this season as a gift to yourself. You don’t even have to wrap it!