Taking a break from my own holiday preparations …

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I caught two delightful large stage musical productions. Both are “must see” events! The first, an enlightening, interactive extravaganza for the kiddies … the second, a nostalgic and non-stop delight for the adults.

A Snow White Christmas

Photo by Jim Cox

Ariana Grande and Curt Hansen in “A Snow White Christmas.”

Presented in the style of a traditional British Panto, and offered by the noted Lythgoe family … this one is a fast moving and hilarious interactive holiday treat for the entire family! Directed playfully by Bonnie Lythgoe, “kids of all ages” will boo the bad guys … cheer the good guys, and loudly warn Snow White and other beloved characters, whenever they’re in danger. Such fun! Through touchingly riotous dialogue, and over a dozen great songs (many past hits), the captivated audience (ranging from 2 to 102) were totally involved in the shenanigans. A magical panto version of the classic tale of Snow White unfolds. With plenty of twists, the wicked Queen, the handsome Prince, the lovable dwarfs, and all others, offer plenty of surprises … there’s even a live miniature pony onstage. Cleverly written by Kris Lythgoe … equally enticing kids and adults, there is never a dull moment! There are endless notable “show biz” references which kept the adults in stitches, and a lively mix of villains and heroes to bring cheers and jeers from the kids (A wonderful show to expose wee ones to the magic of live theater). Neil Patrick Harris appears repeatedly as sort of a narrator, in a Magic Mirror. Too many in the lively cast to name all, but each were fresh and fabulous, including dancers from TV’s Lythgoe show, So You Think You Can Dance. Ariana Grande is angelic perfection as Snow White, and Charlene Tilton is loveably despicable as the Wicked Queen. Curt Hansen is gorgeously gallant as the handsome Prince, and Jonathan Meza is joyously jovial as Muddles, who is hopelessly in love with Snow White. His constant personal and spontaneous interaction with the audience was a highlight of the show for me! The infamous dwarfs were adorable, and the entire ensemble was great fun! Rounding out the featured characters perfectly were: David Figlioli, Jonathan Meza, and Little Man. From the skills of Musical Director Michael Orland, to the choreography, set design, costumes, lighting, and sound … this “family friendly” extravaganza is a hands down winner! A perfect show to expose your kiddies to the excitement of live theater!

Note:

Be sure to come at seven! Before each performance families are invited to enjoy outside activities in the courtyard. Holiday music, crafts, games, and photo-ops. Running Tuesdays thru Sundays until Dec. 30 at The Pasadena Playhouse located at 39 S. El Molino in Pasadena. For tickets and information visit pasadenaplayhouse.org or call (626) 356-7529.

“A Sinatra Holiday Bash” … Christmas My Way

Photo by Ed Krieger

From l, Jason Graae, Beth Malone, Luca Ellis, and Heather Lee in
“Christmas My Way.”

This playfully fun-loving and classy musical “peek” into the life and music of “old blue eyes,” is a swingin’ and sassy treat from start to finish! Starring four attractive, talented, and notable musical theater stars, who are revered from Broadway to L.A. – we are privy to over 40 of Sinatra’s favorite songs. Some he recorded, and some he just personally favored. From ballads to swingin’ hits, to holiday songs … with true to life personal “kooky” Frankie stories weaved in … this show is a lot of fun! Let’s talk a bit about this “fab” cast, whose list of theatrical credits is extensive. Luca Ellis – A dreamboat of a “looker,” who has the song stylings of Sinatra down pat … he is known as a master of “Sinatra suave.” His hit show last year, Hoboken to Hollywood, playing a young Sinatra, ran for ages, thrilling adoring audiences. Jason Graae – This major talent has starred in countless Broadway musicals, and on major stages countrywide. In L.A. he originated the role of Houdini in Ragtime, at the Shubert Theatre, and is always excellent! Heather Lee – Having created the Broadway role of Tessie Tura in Gypsy, starring Bernadette Peters, this perky blonde has graced stages coast to coast in hit musical shows, including playing Babette in the first national production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Beth Malone – She created the Broadway role of June Carter Cash in Ring of Fire, and was in the original off-Broadway production of The Marvelous Wonderettes. My point is this … What we have here is a seasoned cast of constantly working pros, who have joined forces and talents in this infectiously lovable holiday salute to Frank Sinatra. Entertainingly created by David Grapes (who also directs the show) and Todd Olson … there are many laughs here to be shared, and memories to be treasured. Onstage Musical Director, Vince di Mura and his tasty trio, beautifully back up the vocalists throughout! Kudos to the behind-the-scenes artists are in order here too. Gorgeous holiday set design by Bruce Goodrich, snappy costumes by Gene Barnhart, crisp sound by Dan Barsky, and effective lighting by Jeremy Pivnick, collectively set the mood. Do put this fun lovin’ holiday show on your “to do list”! You’ll laugh, relate, reminisce, sing along, and learn a lot about the heart and soul of histories most famous crooner. Why not purchase tickets for friends and family members as Christmas gifts? They will love you for it! The El Portal is located at 5269 Lankershim in NoHo. Running Thursday thru’ Sundays through December, including two special New Year’s Eve performances. For tickets and more info, call (818) 508-4200 or 866-4111 … or visit elportaltheatre.com.

That’s my story for this time … Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

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