The theater scene this season offers a variety of wonderful Christmas shows that are merry and bright.
Review: Irving Berlin’s WHITE CHRISTMAS, at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood now through December 4, 2016, is the perfect way to launch the holidays. Based on the classic film “White Christmas,” this stage adaptation is a new production that is a musical extravaganza. It tells the story of a song-and-dance duo (the lovable high-energy team of Sean Montgomery and Jeremy Benton) putting on a show at a Vermont Inn and falling for a stunning sister act (ultra-talented dreamgirls Kerry Conte and Kelly Sheehan). Full of dancing, laughter and some of the greatest songs ever written by Irvin Berlin, the show also has a feel-good patriotic theme as the ex-soldiers/entertainers help their former general (Conrad John Schuck) by putting on a benefit show to save their crusty commander’s Inn. They get help from the innkeeper’s helper (played with gusto by Lorna Luft). Directed and brilliantly choreographed by Randy Skinner, among the show’s many highlights are the “I Love A Piano” number with the incredible dancing ensemble, and the lavish “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” finale with “snow” falling on the stage—and then on the audience, delighting everyone with a surprise “White Christmas” present. Go to www.hollywoodpantages.com.
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s THE KING AND I is another classic coming to the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, December 13, 2016 through January 21, 2017. One of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s finest works, The King and I boasts a score which features the beloved classics “Getting To Know You,” “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Hello Young Lovers,” “Shall We Dance” and “Something Wonderful.” Set in 1860’s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna, a British schoolteacher whom the King brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children about the modern world. Go to www.hollywoodpantages.com.
Preview: A CINDERELLA CHRISTMAS is a wild holiday musical at The Pasadena Playhouse, Dec. 8 through Jan. 8. The show is presented by Lythgoe Family Panto which embraces the wacky British Panto theatre style, offering popular songs, dancing, outrageous comedy and even magic in a show that puts a fun-loving twist on a classic fairytale. The show stars Morgan Fairchild (Falcon Crest) as The Wicked Stepmother, Kenton Duty (Shake It Up, Lost) as The Prince, and lovely Lauren Taylor (Disney Channel’s Best Friends Whenever) as Cinderella. Also part of the fabulous cast is Glee’s Alex Newell as The Fairy Godperson, Broadway’s Matthew Patrick Davis as Buttons, returning favorites Josh Adamson (First Landing) and Ben Giroux (Hart of Dixie) as The Ugly Stepsisters, Davi Santos (Power Rangers Dino Charge) as Dandini, and Valerie Rockey and Paul Karmiryan, two of the top contestants on So You Think You Can Dance.
Producer-writer Kris Lythgoe said, “Cinderella is the most popular fairytale of them all. But along with the great “rags-to-riches story” we added songs that were big hits for a variety of artists like Bruno Mars. We open with Cinderella scrubbing away to Dolly Parton’s ‘9 to 5,’ and Lauren Taylor’s Disney Channel fans will be amazed at her powerful voice.” The entire cast will join in singing pop hits such as Meghan Trainor’s “Me Too” and “No,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway,” Michael Buble’s “Just Haven’t Met You Yet,” and Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.”
Lythgoe said Morgan Fairchild adds so much to her wicked character, “Because she’s so glamorous and beautiful. And Alex Newell is magical providing some show-stopping moments singing Whitney Houston songs. Spontaneous audience interaction adds to the fun and is always encouraged with kids and grownups cheering for Cinderella and booing the Stepsisters. That’s what makes the Pantos so much fun.”
There’s a lot of comedy with twists and turns in the show written by Kris Lythgoe, and directed with a high-energy style by Bonnie Lythgoe (So You Think You Can Dance). Credit goes to Becky Lythgoe for the ensemble’s perfect casting. The Lythgoes are dedicated to bringing affordable theatre to families and this is their fifth anniversary production at The Pasadena Playhouse. Go to www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org.
Preview: SNOWED INN is an outrageous holiday comedy that makes its world premiere in North Hollywood’s NoHo Arts District at the historic El Portal Theatre, from Dec. 9 through Dec. 18. Snowed Inn, presented by Maelstrom Productions, is written and directed by David Ewing, who calls the show “a modern day farce that can take its place among the classics.” The show is set in the snowy mountains of Colorado as innkeepers prepare and guests arrive during a winter storm. What could have been a normal weekend for everyone quickly descends into hysterical chaos. The real world, sealed away behind deep drifts of snow, is forgotten. Trapped inside, cabin fever soon takes hold and the regularity of a normal, relaxing vacation is tossed aside for nonsensical buffoonery and outlandishly foolish situations.
Ewing said, “Snowed Inn is the journey of eight people finding ways to ignite or rekindle passion in their lives and the inn’s lobby plays home to all their misguided, wild antics and shenanigans. From curtains up to curtains down it is a hilarious feel-good show.”
The cast features eight talented local Los Angeles actors: Courtney Dietler as Bianca, Bryan Forrest as Will, Matthew Horn as George, Jackson Kendall as Jake, Raleigh Lench as Sarah, Deborah Moran as Rose, Michael Murphy as Mike and Kelsey Walmer as Chantal. The Production Team includes Lennon Hobson (Producer) and Kim Iosue (Stage Manager). Join them at the El Portal Theatre this holiday season for a night of thrills, spills and lots of love and laughter…not to mention a cup of hot cocoa in the lobby after all the hijinks. Go to www.ElPortalTheatre.com.