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Entertainment & Arts

Theater in L.A. this week: ‘Frozen,’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ and more

Caroline Bowman in Disney’s “Frozen”
Caroline Bowman portrays Elsa in the national tour of Disney’s “Frozen,” coming to the Hollywood Pantages this week.
(Matthew Murphy / MurphyMade)

Here is a list of theater openings, Critics’ Choices, etc., for Dec. 1-8. Capsule reviews are by Charles McNulty (C.M.), Philip Brandes (P.B.), F. Kathleen Foley (F.K.F.), Margaret Gray (M.G.) and Daryl H. Miller (D.H.M.).

Openings

Church Discipline: Christmas It’s Santa vs. Krampus in a holiday edition of this comedy show; for ages 16 and up. Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group. 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Sun., next Sun., 8:30 p.m. $16. (818) 202-4120. ZombieJoes.com

Julius Caesar Warriors for Peace Theatre stages Shakespeare’s tragedy about the ill-fated Roman ruler. Hudson Backstage Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Sun., next Sun., 2 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; ends Dec. 22. $15, $25. warriorsforpeacetheatre.com

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas The musical group’s annual holiday celebration returns. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Segerstrom Hall, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Sun., 7 p.m. $59 and up. (714) 556-2787. scfta.org

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella Classic musical based on the beloved fairy tale. Rose Center Theater, 14140 All American Way, Westminster. Sun., next Sun., 2 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; ends Dec. 15. $20-$27. (714) 793-1150. rosecentertheater.com

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Safe Harbor Three woman caught up in the shadowy world of sex trafficking strive to make better futures for themselves in Tira Palmquist’s new drama. Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Ave., L.A. Sun., next Sun., 3 and 7 p.m.; Mon., Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Dec. 15. $20, $29. (951) 566-6413. eventbrite.com

An Unforgettable Nat King Cole Christmas Evan Tyrone Martin pays tribute to the legendary entertainer. La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada. Sun., 3 p.m. $15-$47. (562) 944-9801. lamiradatheatre.com

The Living Room Series Staged reading of Chelsea Dutton’s “Falling Sad Slanted & Crazy.” The Blank’s 2nd Stage Theatre, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Mon., 8 p.m. $15 suggested donation. (323) 661-9827. theblank.com

Turning Limitations into Opportunities: An Evening with Ali Stroker The Tony winner (“Oklahoma”) and wheelchair user shares her story. USC’s Bovard Auditorium, 3551 Trousdale Parkway, L.A. Mon., 7 p.m. Free; reservations required. visionsandvoices.usc.edu

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From Gershwin to Gaga — A Holiday Special: Celebrating the Legendary Tony Bennett Chris Mann salutes the beloved crooner in this cabaret show. Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. Tue., 8:30 p.m. $25-$60; food and drink minimums apply. (866) 466-2210. catalinajazzclub.com

Independent Writers Lab Readings of four new plays. Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave., L.A. Tue., 7 p.m.; Wed., 7 and 9 p.m.; Thu., 7 p.m.; Free. Reservations at independentwriterslab@gmail.com

A Christmas Carol David Mynne plays all the roles in this solo adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic tale. Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Lovelace Studio Theater, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills. Wed.-Fri., 7 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 and 7 p.m.; next Sun., 2:30 p.m. $25. (310) 746-4000. TheWallis.org

Dark Dark Ride Ride: Holiday Edition All-new holiday horror attraction; for ages 18 and up. Zombie Zoe’s Underground Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Wed.-Sat., 8 to 11:45 p.m., with entry every 15 minutes; ends Dec. 21. $35 (up to two people per ticket). (818) 202-4120. ZombieJoes.com

Dixie’s Tupperware Party Southern belle turned saleswoman Dixie Longate returns in Kris Andersson’s interactive solo comedy. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Samueli Theater, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Wed.-Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat. 2 and 7:30 p.m.; next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m. $39 and up. (714) 556-2787. scfta.org

It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play Enceladus Theatre Company presents this adaptation of Frank Capra’s 1946 holiday fable starring James Stewart. Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts, 6760 Painter Ave., Whittier. Wed., 7:30 p.m. $15, $20. (562) 907-4203. shannoncenter.org

The K-Tel All-Stars: Super Hits of the 70s Musical revue celebrates classic AM radio tunes. Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, 3050 Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley. Wed., 7:30 p.m. $22-$27. (805) 583-7900. simi-arts.org

Little Black Dress: The Musical BFFs share life’s ups and downs in this mix of comedy, drama, music and improv; contains strong language and adult themes. Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City. Wed.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 1 and 6:30 p.m.; ends Dec. 15. $25 and up. (213) 628-2772. LittleBlackDressTheMusical.com

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Risk! Live Storytelling series returns with a holiday edition and a new location; David Crabb hosts. The Virgil, 4519 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A. Wed., 8 p.m. $12, $15. (323) 660-4540. nightout.com

A Christmas Carol With Charles Dickens Independent Shakespeare Co.’s David Melville re-creates a performance of the holiday favorite by the author himself; for ages 8 and up. Independent Studio, 3191 Casitas Ave., #130, Atwater Village. Thu.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Dec. 22. $25-$45. (818) 710-6306. www.iscla.org

Peter Pan and Tinkerbell: A Pirates’ Christmas Family-friendly musical comedy/adventure tale based on characters created by J.M. Barrie and performed in the style of a traditional British holiday panto; with John O’Hurley. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. Thu.-Fri., 7 p.m.; Sat.-next Sun., noon and 4 p.m.; ends Dec. 29. $41-$76. (949) 497-2787. lagunaplayhouse.com

Sugar Plum Fairy Writer-performer Sandra Tsing Loh returns in her autobiographical holiday comedy about a young girl who dreams of dancing a lead role in “The Nutcracker”; Bart De Lorenzo directs. East West Players, David Henry Hwang Theater, 120 Judge John Aiso St., L.A. Thu.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Dec. 22. $25-$50; opening night only, $80-$90. (213) 625-7000. eastwestplayers.org

Crimson Cabaret The Unmarked Door presents this immersive, interactive mystery drama/variety show. Secret location, address provided to ticket holders, Glendale. Thu.-next Sun., 7:30 p.m.; ends Dec. 29. $95-$145. theunmarkeddoor.com

A Christmas Carol: The One-Man Play Gus Krieger plays multiple roles in his stage adaptation of Dickens’ fable; presented by the Porters of Hellsgate Theatre Company. The Whitmore-Lindley Theatre Center,11006 W. Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. Fri., 8 p.m.; ends Dec. 15. $15-$30. (818) 325-2055. portersofhellsgate.com

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some!) A company of actors tries to pull together the mother of all holiday shows in this family-friendly comedy. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2:30 p.m.; ends Dec. 29. $25-$45. (626) 355-4318. sierramadreplayhouse.org

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Frozen A young woman and her companions go on a quest to break the wintry spell of her big sister, the Snow Queen, in this stage adaptation of Disney’s hit 2013 animated musical featuring music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. Hollywood Pantages, 6233 Hollywood Blvd. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 1 and 6:30 p.m.; ends Feb. 2. $39 and up. (800) 982-2787. .hollywoodpantages.com

The Fruit Cake Follies 2019 This send-up of 1970s-era holiday TV specials returns. Cavern Club Theater, 1920 Hyperion Ave., L.A. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat.-next Sun., 1, 4 and 8 p.m.; ends Dec. 22. $35, $40. (800) 838-3006. brownpapertickets.com

Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn Musical Theatre West stages this tune-filled Broadway show based on the 1942 Bing Crosby-Fred Astaire movie. Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts, 6200 E. Atherton St., Long Beach. Fri., 7 p.m.; Sat., 1 and 7 p.m.; next Sun., 1 and 6 p.m.; ends Dec. 15. $20 and up. (562) 856-1999. musical.org

La Virgen De Guadalupe, Dios Inantzin The Latino Theater Company presents this annual site-specific reenactment of the Virgin Mary’s visitations with peasant Juan Diego in 16th-century Mexico; in Spanish with English supertitles. Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, 555 W. Temple St., L.A. Fri.-Sat., 7:30 p.m. Free; reserved seating, $45. (866) 811-4111. thelatc.org

The Man Who Came to Dinner An injury forces a radio host to overstay his welcome at a local factory-owner’s home in Moss Hart- George S. Kaufman’s classic farce; for ages 7 and up. The Group Rep, Lonny Chapman Theatre, Main Stage, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Jan. 12. $20, $25. (818) 763-5990. thegrouprep.com

Miracle on Anaheim Street Held2gether performs improv, sketches and musical numbers in this annual benefit. Long Beach Playhouse, Studio Theatre, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach. Fri., 8 p.m. $20. (562) 494-1014. lbplayhouse.org

Miracle on 34th Street Radio-style presentation of the classic tale of a department-store Santa just might be the real deal. Conejo Players Theatre, 351 S. Moorpark Rd., Thousand Oaks. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Dec. 15. $15. (805) 495-3715. conejoplayers.org

Anne of Green Gables Musical based on Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic children’s novel about a red-haired orphan living on Prince Edward Island. Chance Theater, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 3 p.m.; ends Dec. 29. $25-$49; discounts available. (888) 455-4212. ChanceTheater.com

A Christmas Carol Dickens’ classic holiday fable about a miser shown the error of his ways. Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach. Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Dec. 22. $14-$27. (562) 494-1014. lbplayhouse.org

A Christmas Carol Hal Landon Jr. takes his 40th and final turn as Ebenezer Scrooge when South Coast Rep’s annual presentation of the Dickens classic returns; children under 6 not admitted. South Coast Repertory, Segerstrom Stage, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Sat., 2:30 and 7:30 p.m.; next Sun., noon and 4 p.m.; ends Dec. 24. $38 and up. (714) 708-5555. scr.org

It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play Ensemble Theatre Company presents this adaptation of Frank Capra’s 1946 holiday fable starring James Stewart. The New Vic, 33 W. Victoria St., Santa Barbara. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; ends Dec. 27. $25-$77. (805) 965-5400. etcsb.org

Levi Kreis: Home for the Holidays The Tony winner (“Million Dollar Quartet”) performs seasonal favorites in this cabaret show. L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Renberg Theatre, 1125 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood. Sat., 8 p.m. $35, $40. (323) 860-7300. lalgbtcenter.org

The Magic of Christmas starring the Young Americans The multimedia-enhanced, family-friendly musical revue returns. La Mirada Theatre, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada. Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 and 7:30 p.m.; ends Dec. 15. $23, $65. (562) 944-9801. lamiradatheatre.com

North Pole Now Online Pasadena Civic Ballet’s Showtime Theater Ensemble presents this family-friendly holiday tale. AGBU Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Performing Arts Center, 2495 E. Mountain St., Pasadena. Sat., 7:30 p.m.; next Sun., 4:30 p.m. $15, $25. agbupac.org

Room by the Sea Coin & Ghost Theatre Company presents a staged reading of John Guerra’s drama inspired by the myth of Icarus and Daedalus. A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena. Sat., 7:30 p.m. $10-$20. (626) 356-3121. anoisewithin.org

Santasia — A Holiday Comedy This variety show featuring musical parodies, stop-motion animated movies and more is back for a 20th year. Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Fri.-next Sun., 8 p.m.; ends Dec. 28. $30, $40. santasia.com

Scissorhands: A Musical Inspired by the Film Reimagining of Tim Burton’s 1990 fable starring Johnny Depp. Rockwell Table & Stage, 1714 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz. Sat., 7:30 p.m.; next Sun., 12:30 p.m. $25-$45. (323) 669-1550. rockwell-la.com

The Tony Martini Variety Hour The Vegas-style music-and-comedy show returns. Three Clubs Cocktail Lounge, 1123 Vine St., Hollywood. Sat., 8 p.m. $20. (323) 866-9994. tonymartinihour.com

Story Pirates Musical sketch comedy show for ages 5 and up. Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Promenade Terrace, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills. Next Sun., 11 a.m. Free. (310) 746-4000. TheWallis.org

Critics’ Choices

Andy Warhol’s Tomato In this deftly staged debut, Vince Melocchi’s two-hander imagines an encounter in 1946 Pittsburgh between 18-year old Warhol (only an aspiring commercial artist at that point) and a blue-collar barkeep harboring secret dreams of becoming a writer. Carefully researched factual accuracy notwithstanding, the play isn’t so much a biographical portrait as a touching exploration of cultural division bridged by a fundamental human need to create. (P.B.) Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 3 p.m.; ends Dec. 15. $25-$34. (310) 822-8392. pacificresidenttheatre.com

Bob’s Holiday Office Party This long-running yuletide parody of small town eccentricity thrives on the qualities that has made it a staple of the L.A. theater scene for over two decades — it’s irreverent, crude, and devastatingly funny. (P.B.) Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., L.A. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 7 p.m.; ends Dec. 22. $25, $35. (800) 838-3006. bobsofficeparty.com

A Christmas Carol Amid many worthy area stagings of Charles Dickens’ immortal classic, this deftly performed, meta-theatrical edition stands out for fidelity to text, witty stagecraft and heartfelt embrace of message. There are fleeting oddities, but only a die-hard humbug could remain unmoved by so charming a Yuletide treat. God bless us everyone. (David C. Nichols). A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; ends Dec. 23. $25 and up; student rush, $20. (626) 356-3100. anoisewithin.org

Department of Dreams Preeminent Kosovar playwright Jeton Neziraj’s dystopian fable concerns a repressive system in which citizens are forced to “deposit” their dreams at a monolithic government agency in an ongoing campaign of intimidation and terror. The fact that the play is a world premiere represents a real coup for director Frédérique Michel and designer Charles A. Duncombe, the movers and shakers behind City Garage for almost 35 years now. They do full service to Neziraj’s surreal vision, an Orwellian portrait of a mad world in which all individuality is suppressed by a totalitarian state. Sometimes abstruse to the point of the incomprehensible, this is not an easy play. But is in an important play by a world-class playwright who challenges our complacency at every twist and turn. (F.K.F.) City Garage, Bergamot Station, building T1, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica. Sun., next Sun., 3 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Dec. 8. $20, $25; Sundays: pay what you want, at the door only. (310) 453-9939. citygarage.org

Eight Nights Sharply written, expertly performed and staged with breathtaking emotional impact, Jennifer Maisel’s new play explores the refugee experience and its repercussions through the deeply personal story of a concentration camp survivor and her descendants. (P.B.) Antaeus Theatre Company, Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center, 110 E. Broadway, Glendale. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Dec. 16. $35. (818) 506-1983. Antaeus.org

Elijah Set in a Texas TGI Fridays during raging hurricane Elijah, Judith Leora’s play commences on a deceptively polemical note, as the pro-and-anti death penalty activists who had gathered at a nearby prison for the execution of a notorious serial slayer are forced to shelter in place for the duration. In this case, patience is a virtue. Leora’s initial didacticism deepens into a beautifully realized, classically structured drama that subtly illustrates what can occur when individuals are forced out of their ideologically ossified “tribes” to seek a common humanity. Never striking a false note, director Maria Gobetti takes us on a journey that accelerates to a shattering emotional whirlwind. Among the superlative performers, Molly Gray particularly stands out in her raw portrayal of a woman coping with a sad and shocking legacy that will forever define her. (F.K.F.) The Big Victory Theatre, 3326 W. Victory Blvd., Burbank. Sun., next Sun., 4 p.m.; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; ends Dec. 15. $28-$40. (818) 841-5421. thevictorytheatrecenter.org

The Great Leap BD Wong, who starred in two previous productions of Lauren Yee’s exhilarating, witty, heartbreaking play about Chinese-American relations seen through the lens of basketball, directs its L.A. premiere at the Pasadena Playhouse. Unbeknownst to many Americans, basketball is huge in China, and Yee uses this shared affinity between our otherwise clashing cultures as a mutual way in. This lavish coproduction with East West Players features four dazzling performers, including James Eckhouse (of “Beverly Hills 90210”) as you’ve never seen him before. (M.G.) Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena. Ends Sun., 2 and 7 p.m. $25 and up. (626) 356-7529. PasadenaPlayhouse.org

Jitney Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s Tony-winning revival of August Wilson’s “Jitney,” a triumphant melding of acting and drama, puts the audience in the unique position of eavesdroppers on the colloquial music of life. This early Wilson play, the first to be written in his 10-play cycle exploring the 20th century African American experience, takes place in the 1970s at a gypsy cab station threatened by the city’s urban renewal program. Wilson takes us inside the drivers’ lives to reveal the way history has challenged and changed their destinies. What was once dismissed as a minor Wilson drama is now considered major. And it’s not because our standards have plummeted. Rather, it’s that the play, when fully realized by a company of actors working in communal concord, satisfies our growing hunger for complex and compassionate character truth. (C.M.) Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown L.A. Sun., 1 and 6:30 p.m.; Thu.-Fri., 8 p.m., Sat., 2:30 and 8 p.m.; ends Dec. 29. $25-$110. (213) 628-2772. centertheatregroup.org

Key Largo A stage version of John Huston’s 1948 classic film noir starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and Edward G. Robinson, is asking for trouble. To begin with, who can compete with the soul-weary charisma of Bogie and Bacall? But this world premiere adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher and actor Andy Garcia, sensationally directed by Doug Hughes, takes a different route to success. Garcia’s high-voltage portrayal of mobster Johnny Rocco infuses the play with crackling vitality. Taking on the role that Robinson played with his imitable tough-guy swagger, Garcia paints a gangster portrait more along the lines of those created over the years by Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Garcia’s performance, a strong supporting cast and a topnotch design team allow “Key Largo” to live anew. (C.M.) Geffen Playhouse, Gil Cates Theater, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood. Sun., next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; Tue.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 and 8 p.m.; ends Dec. 10. $30-$145. (310) 208-5454. geffenplayhouse.org


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