Center Stage with Pat Launer on KSDS JAZZ88
AIRDATE: DECEMBER 24, 2010
It’s Christmastime in Coronado, one of the most festive and celebrational local communities. And Lamb’s Players Theatre is one of the city’s main attractions this time of year. The ensemble-based company has a long-standing tradition of presenting two holiday shows. And if you’re tired of carols and seasonal fare, they’ve got yet another theatrical offering on tap.
Here are the pertinent numbers: This is the 33rd year of Lambs’ “Festival of Christmas,” the 14th year of “An American Christmas” and the fourth month and third extension of “ MiXtape .” So if you like music – of the historical, holiday or 1980s variety — Lamb’s has a show for you.
This year’s Festival production, written, as they all are, by Lamb’s resident playwright Kerry Meads, is called “It’s Christmas… and it’s Live!” On Christmas Eve, 1952, in a New York television studio, pandemonium reigns in preparation for a holiday broadcast.
But a blizzard has hit the city, and most of the acts and station employees are unable to get through. One group does manage to arrive — the supremely geeky Harmonaires , plaid-clad rubes from Dubuque , Iowa – who are forced to stand in for everyone else – until the lights go out. Then, the producer becomes apoplectic and the disparate, stranded folks have nothing to do but sing – and we get treated to some marvelous harmonies and wonderful arrangements of Christmas songs both familiar and surprising.
It’s nostalgic and sentimental, a tad predictable, but very well presented. The set and costumes are imaginative, the direction and choreography are lively and the cast is both talented and amusing.
Speaking of nostalgia, “An American Christmas” takes us way back, 100 years. Every holiday season, the Lamb’s Players invite us to spend an evening at the Hotel Del Coronado, visiting with the Marshall family. Each year, the songs, costumes and news-of-the-day are revamped for the prior century time-travel. So now, it’s 1910, the year of Halley’s comet , the beginning of the Boy Scouts, and the first time “ America the Beautiful” is set to music. In downtown San Diego , the U.S. Grant Hotel was constructed; the Hotel Del had already been going strong for two decades.
A gourmet five-course dinner is served up by the cast of 28, as they sing, dance, tell stories and introduce the extended family, including an Italian immigrant and an Irishman who tells corny jokes. The musical entertainment features songs of the era, interspersed with period Christmas carols. You’ll really be transported back in time.
But if 1910 is ancient history for you, you can take a trip back to the songs and stresses of the 1980s, brought vibrantly alive in “ MiXtape .”
As I said, something for everyone… The Lamb’s Players are determined to add a little musical spice to your holiday seasoning.
“An American Christmas” runs through December 26 at the Hotel Del Coronado.
‘”Festival of Christmas” continues through December 29.
“ Mixtape ,” now in its fourth month, has just been extended again, through February 27.
©2010 PAT LAUNER