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Entertainment & Arts

Theater in L.A. this week: ‘The Latina Christmas Special’ and more

“The Latina Christmas Special”
Diana Yanez, left, Maria Russell and Sandra Valls star in “The Latina Christmas Special.”
(Los Angeles Theatre Center)

Here is a list of theater openings, Critics’ Choices, etc., for Dec. 8-15. 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

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. Sun., 11 a.m. Free. (310) 746-4000. TheWallis.org

The Living Room Series Staged reading of Dianne Nora’s “Monica: This Is Not a Play About Monica Lewinsky.” The Blank’s 2nd Stage Theatre, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Mon., 8 p.m. $15 suggested donation. (323) 661-9827. theblank.com

Rose and Walsh Staged reading of Neil Simon’s romantic drama about two famous literary figures. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre. Mon., 7 p.m. $5 suggested donation. (626) 355-4318. sierramadreplayhouse.org

A Broadway Holiday! Musical theater veteran David Burnham shares songs and stories. 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

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Center Theatre Group Library Play Reading Series “La Navidad del Mojado” by Rubén Amavizca-Murúa; performed in Spanish. Benjamin Franklin Library, 2200 E. 1st St., L.A.Tue., 6 p.m. Also at Malabar Library, 2801 Wabash Ave., L.A. Wed., 6 p.m.; and Robert Louis Stevenson Library, 803 Spence St., L.A. Thu., 6 p.m. Free. CenterTheatreGroup.org

Otto Frank Theater artist Roger Guenveur Smith performs in this solo show inspired by the father of Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who kept a diary of her experiences while she and her family hid from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic. Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A. Tue.-Wed., 7:30 p.m. $20. bootlegtheater.org

Veterans Speak Up Armed services members share their stories in this event co-presented by Chance Theater; for ages 13 and up. Richard Nixon Presidential Library, Theater 37, 18001 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda. Tue., 7:30 p.m. Free. chancetheater.com

Christmas With a Z! Dana Gould, in the guise of Dr. Zaius from the film “Planet of the Apes,” hosts this fundraiser/variety show featuring comedian Natasha Leggero, 7-foot clown Puddles Pity Party, et al.; for ages 21 and up only. The Satellite, 1717 Silver Lake Blvd., Silver Lake. Wed., 8 p.m. $50 and up. www.TheSatelliteLA.com

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Tis the Season: Amanda McBroom in Concert with Michele Brourman and Friends The songwriter (“The Rose”) and guests perform holiday favorites and more. Feinstein’s at Vitello’s, 4349 Tujunga Ave., Studio City. Wed., 8 p.m. $40-$50; food and drink minimums apply. (818) 769-0905. eventbrite.com

A Charlie Brown Christmas Stage adaptation of the beloved animated TV special featuring the Peanuts characters created by Charles M. Schulz. Chance Theater, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim. Thu.-Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat.-next Sun., 1, 2:30, 6 and 7:30 p.m.; ends Dec. 29. $21-$35; discounts available. (888) 455-4212. ChanceTheater.com

Quick Creation Festival New short plays in two distinct programs. Son of Semele Theater, 3301 Beverly Blvd., L.A. Thu.-next Sun., 5 and 8 p.m. $15. (213) 351-3507. sonofsemele.org

Broadway Lights the Holidays 3-D Theatricals presents this stage show featuring special guests, seasonal favorites, a reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and more. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 18000 Park Plaza Drive, Cerritos. Fri., 8 p.m. $25-$150. (562) 916-8500. cerritoscenter.com

A Christmas Carol Thousand Oaks Repertory stages Dickens’ tale. Scherr Forum Theatre, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 7:30 p.m.; next Sun., 7:30 p.m. $30. (800) 745-3000. ticketmaster.com

A Christmas Carole King Troubadour Theater Company’s latest comedic mashup blends the singer-songwriter’s hits with Dickens’ holiday fable. El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 4 p.m.; ends Dec. 22. $50-$75. (866) 811-4111. elportaltheatre.com

The Christmas Present A divorced businessman and a prostitute spend the holiday in a posh London hotel room in Guy Picot’s dark comedy. The Broadwater Black Box, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8p.m.; next Sun., 4 and 8 p.m.; ends Dec. 22. $18. (800) 838-3006. brownpapertickets.com

Cirque Dreams Holidaze Acrobats, aerialists and others perform in this family-friendly show. Dolby Theatre, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 3 and 7:30 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m. $34-$130. (800) 745-3000. Ticketmaster.com

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It’s a Wonderful Christmas Carol Bravo Company spoofs classic holiday stories, movies, cartoons, variety shows, etc. Long Beach Playhouse, Studio Theatre, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. $20. (562) 494-1014. lbplayhouse.org

Ledisi: The Legend of Little Girl Blue The singer explores the influence of jazz great Nina Simone on her own artistry. Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Lovelace Studio Theater, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2:30 and 7:30 p.m.; ends Dec. 29. $30-$75. (310) 746-4000. thewallis.org

Marvels of Magic Workshop production of Andrew Simmons’ new drama about up-and-coming illusionists. Hudson Mainstage Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 3 p.m. $35, $50. marvelsofmagicshow.com

A Snow White Christmas The classic fairy tale gets a silly makeover in this family-friendly song- and dance-filled show in the style of a British holiday panto; with Michelle Williams, and a pre-recorded performance by Neil Patrick Harris as the magic mirror. Pasadena Civic Auditorium, 300 E. Green St., Pasadena. Fri., 7 p.m.; Sat.-next Sun., 1 and 5 p.m.; ends Dec. 22. $28 and up. (626) 449-7360. thepasadenacivic.com

Aleichem Sholom! The Wit and Wisdom of Sholom Aleichem Musical inspired by the life and times of the Yiddish humorist. The Other Space at Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th St., Santa Monica. Sat., 3 p.m. $35. (310) 394-9779. santamonicaplayhouse.com

Colors of Christmas Holiday show with veteran entertainers Peabo Bryson, Ben Vereen, Oleta Adams, and Jody Watley. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 18000 Park Plaza Drive, Cerritos. Sat., 8 p.m. $55-$100. (562) 916-8500. cerritoscenter.com

Dickens Holiday Celebration Includes actors portraying characters from various Dickens novels, plus three performances of “A Christmas Carol” (reservations required). The International Printing Museum, 315 W. Torrance Blvd., Carson. Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $25. printmuseum.org

Disposable Necessities World premiere of Neil McGowan’s dark comedy set in a future where those with the financial means to escape aging and death download their souls into new bodies; Guillermo Cienfuegos directs. Rogue Machine Theatre, Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 3 p.m; ends Feb. 3. $25, $40. (855) 585-5185. roguemachinetheatre.com

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Elf — The Musical Stage adaptation of the hit 2003 Will Ferrell holiday comedy. Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, 3050 Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley. Sat., 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Dec. 29. $20-$28. (805) 583-7900. simi-arts.org

Plaid Tidings A dearly departed vocal group from the 1950s-60s returns to perform a holiday concert in this spin-off of the show “Forever Plaid.” Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura. Sat., 7 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Dec. 29. $39-$74; opening night only, $150. (804) 667-2900. rubicontheatre.org

Three Jews and a Blonde Walk into the Braid Comedy show with Cathy Ladman, Monica Piper, Sue Kolinsky, Debbie Kasper. The Braid, 2912 Colorado Ave., #102, Santa Monica. Sat., 5:30 and 8 p.m. $35. jewishwomenstheatre.org

A Twisted Christmas Carol Phil Olson’s new Texas-style send-up of Dickens’ classic tale. Upstairs at the Group Rep (not handicapped accessible), Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood. Sat., 4 p.m.; next Sun., 7 p.m.; ends Jan. 12. $17, $20. (818) 763-5990. thegrouprep.com

Catskills Comedy in Calabasas With veteran comics Hank Garrett, Mike Preminger and others. Valley Outreach Synagogue Center for Jewish Life, 26670 Agoura Road, Calabasas. Next Sun., 5 p.m. $20, $25. (818) 882-4867. vosla.org

Charles Phoenix: Retro Holiday Jubilee! The humorist and pop-culture historian celebrates the season. Lewis Family Playhouse, 12505 Cultural Center Drive, Rancho Cucamonga. Next Sun., 2 p.m. $28-$36. (909) 477-2752. lewisfamilyplayhouse.com

Elvis: Blue Christmas Tribute artist Raymond Michael salutes the King of Rock and Roll. Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, 3050 Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley. Next Sun., 7:30 p.m. $22-$29. (805) 583-7900. simi-arts.org

The Merry Little Christmas Show Scott Dreier (“Doris and Me”) celebrates classic holiday specials in this cabaret show. The Colony Theatre, 555 N. 3rd St., Burbank. Next Sun., 3 and 6 p.m. $35. (866) 811-4111. colonytheatre.org

Pamela Shaw Is Naughty ... with a Band The actress-singer shares songs and stories. Feinstein’s at Vitello’s, 4349 Tujunga Ave., Studio City. Next Sun., 1:30 p.m. $25, $35; food and beverage minimums apply. (818) 769-0905. feinsteinsatvitellos.com

A Very Goyisha Hanukkah Anna Abbott explores her spirituality and sexuality in this comical cabaret show. The Braid, 2912 Colorado Ave., #102, Santa Monica. Next Sun., 2 p.m.; also Tue., Dec. 17, 8 p.m. $35. jewishwomenstheatre.org

Wicked Lit Unbound Productions presents staged readings of the chilling tales “From Beyond,” “The Unholy Sisters” and “The Grove of Rashomon.” A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena. Next Sun., 6:30 p.m. $10-$50. (626) 356-3100. anoisewithin.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. Sun., next Sun., 3 p.m.; Sat., 8 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. Sun., next Sun., 7:30 p.m.; Mon., Thu.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 8:30 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. Sun., next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; Thu., 7:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 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. Ends Sun., 3 p.m. $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. Sun., next Sun., 2 p.m.; Mon., Fri.-Sat., 8 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. 22. $28-$40. (818) 841-5421. thevictorytheatrecenter.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., next Sun., 1 and 6:30 p.m.; Tue.-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., 2 and 7 p.m.; Tue.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 p.m.; next Sun., 2 p.m.; ends Dec. 15. $30-$145. (310) 208-5454. geffenplayhouse.org

The Latina Christmas Special Under the direction of Geoffrey Rivas, the massively talented trio of Maria Russell, Diana Yanez and Sandra Valls, who all play themselves, hilariously and heart-wrenchingly recapitulate memories of Christmases past in this very special “Special” — which is most distinctively and most memorably a loving tribute to their feisty, funny Latina mothers. (F.K.F.) A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena. Mon., 7:30 p.m. $10-$50. (626) 356-3100. anoisewithin.org


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