With Thanksgiving gatherings a recent past loving memory, it is now December 2nd as this issue hits the stands.

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Let the holiday madness begin!

“A Christmas Carol”

(L-R): Klair Bybee and Chris Winfield in “A Christmas Carol.”

(L-R): Klair Bybee and Chris Winfield in “A Christmas Carol.”

It is Christmastime yet again as the yearly yuletide traditions and chores consume our lives. Holiday parties, shopping, wrapping, cooking, etc. take over our daily routines every year… and “surprises” are aplenty! One of my holiday “musts” each year is to catch a production of this Charles Dickens classic story… and every offering features its own adapted version. GRT’s current telling is no exception; under the ambitious direction of Ernest A. Figueroa (also the theatre’s enthusiastic new Artistic Director). Spellbindingly written by Richard Hellesen, with powerful music and lyrics penned by David De Berry and a cast of 27 actors, this is an excitingly eerie, melodically magic joy for the whole family. From the glorious opening number, “Advent Carol: First Refrain,” sung by 25 voices onstage, I was enthralled! Creatively utilizing the art of masks and puppetry (Liz Nankin and Trefoni Michael Rizzi)… who also designed the impressive set and lighting… we are mesmerized by the three infamous ghosts. Diana Martin and puppet as “Christmas Past,” a superb Lareen Faye as “Christmas Present” and company puppeteers as “Christmas Yet To Come.” Klair Bybee is dauntingly dark as the towering ghost of Jacob Marley, Doug Haverty is heartouching as Bob Cratchit and Malcolm Devine is playful as Old Fezziwig… just to mention a few. So many in cast and production accomplishments, it’s impossible to credit each one. Chris Winfield (one of my favorite L.A. theatre actors) was simply wonderful as the coldhearted and disgruntled Ebenezer Scrooge! Gradually making the transition from the despicable miserly “Scrooge” to an enlightened soul who sees the error of his ways… this was a finely-tuned performance! Ten of the roles are played by precociously adorable kids, and though “opening night jitters” resulted in numerous “dropped lines” throughout the cast… I’m confident the wrinkles will be ironed out by the time you read this. The dozen or so songs (mostly original) are beautiful… and when performed by the entire cast… they are spine tingling! “Home at Christmastide” was my favorite! Special kudos to Liz Nankin and Maro K. Parian for dozens of stunning period costumes, Michele Bernath for lively choreography, Alma Reyes-Thomas for sound and Irene Chapman and Wayland Pickard for musical direction. This is a huge production for an equity waiver theatre to present (99 seats), blending the visionary efforts of so many people… Congrats to all involved! A perfectly charming option for getting yourself and family into the “magic” of Christmastime… Do try and catch this one!

Running through December 20th (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) at Lonny Chapman’s Group Rep Theatre (10900 Burbank Blvd. in North Hollywood). Call (818) 700-4878. Ask about their specials and group rates. BE AWARE… The evening shows start earlier than usual… at 7:30 pm.

Mark your Calendars: Saturday, December 12

Sandra Horse.

Sandra Horse.

The friendly, chirpy voice of Sandra, that takes your calls at our paper daily, does so to support her passionate talent! A visionary artist of paintings and unique American Indian jewelry pieces, Sandra Horse “finds beauty and inspiration everywhere, and in everyone, and if not… she makes it up!” She says, “We are all artists and can interpret our daily lives into magnificent works of art.” Her gorgeous creations are often purchased by “sho-biz” industry people. Her most cherished accomplishment has been a request for her jewelry by Nelson Mandela for his daughter and Parliament members. Her work will be displayed at The Southwest Museum for a full month with the opening night festivities taking place on December 12th, as part of NELA’s Second Saturday Gallery Night… Under the title of “A New Earth—Shiny Pretty Things…” Join us opening night for an evening of Sandra’s (and others) artwork, music and Christmas shopping! Light refreshments will be served and Don Teschner (who played with Rod Stewart for years) will be “rockin’ the event” with a live musical performance! An eclectic and lively holiday “free-bee…” Do come by from 7 til 10 pm on December 12!

234 Museum Dr. in L.A. For a sneak peek… go to www.Myspace.com/sandrahorse.

Need Some Extra Cash for the Holidays?
Here’s an idea! Go thru’ your closets and pull out any vintage clothing (1930s through ‘60s) accessories and sparkly costume jewelry you’ve acquired and don’t want anymore. If they’re in good condition and reasonably enough priced for me to re-sell in my vintage shop… I’ll take a look at them! Just give me a call at Hubba Hubba! and “let’s talk!” I purchase both guys n’ dolls attire daily… (818) 845-0636.

Back next week with a review of “That Perfect Moment,” opening at Burbank’s Victory Theater Center.

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