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Stage Raw

Stage Raw: A Rubicon Family Christmas

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Mon, Dec 21, 2009 at 12:57 PM

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COMPREHENSIVE THEATER LISTINGS
NEW THEATER REVIEWS
THIS WEEK'S STAGE FEATURE on Palestine, New Mexico

NEW REVIEW GO A RUBICON FAMILY CHRISTMAS
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Though Andy Williams and his fancy sweaters are nowhere to be seen, the Rubicon company misses little else in this corny Christmas delight. Not a word of spoken dialogue or patter interrupts the flow of holiday music beautifully sung by seasoned professionals Joan Almedilla, Dina Bennett, Teri Bibb, Trey Ellet, Anthony Manough and Brian Sutherland, joined by a chorus a talented children. The first half is pure secular Americana, from a Drifters version of "White Christmas" to a Judy Garland-worthy "Have Yourself a Merry Little..." to a goofy medley of Santa, Frosty and Rudolph. Act 2 moves into some sacred and some emotional numbers, most beautiful being Ellet's rendition of Joni Mitchell's "River" and Bibb's astounding soprano voicing of "Oh, Holy Night!" Musical Director Gerald Sternbach and his small combo never miss a beat or note, bringing musical bliss. Brian McDonald's Currier and Ives-inspired set, perfectly illuminated by Jeremy Pivnick's lighting, arouse joy to this world of Yuletide fantasy. Rubicon Theater, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; Wed.-Fri., 7 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; thru Dec. 27. (805) 667-2900. (Tom Provenzano)

For the latest  NEW THEATER REVIEWS, press the Continue Reading tab directly below.

NEW THEATER REVIEWS (Scheduled for publication Dec. 24)

NEW REVIEW
GO A RUBICON FAMILY CHRISTMAS Though Andy Williams and his fancy

sweaters are nowhere to be seen, the Rubicon company misses little else

in this corny Christmas delight. Not a word of spoken dialogue or patter

interrupts the flow of holiday music beautifully sung by seasoned

professionals Joan Almedilla, Dina Bennett, Teri Bibb, Trey Ellet,

Anthony Manough and Brian Sutherland, joined by a chorus a talented

children. The first half is pure secular Americana, from a Drifters

version of "White Christmas" to a Judy Garland-worthy "Have Yourself a

Merry Little..." to a goofy medley of Santa, Frosty and Rudolph. Act 2

moves into some sacred and some emotional numbers, most beautiful being

Ellet's rendition of Joni Mitchell's "River" and Bibb's astounding

soprano voicing of "Oh, Holy Night!" Musical Director Gerald Sternbach

and his small combo never miss a beat or note, bringing musical bliss.

Brian McDonald's Currier and Ives-inspired set, perfectly illuminated

by Jeremy Pivnick's lighting, arouse joy to this world of Yuletide

fantasy. Rubicon Theater, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura; Sun., 2 & 7

p.m.; Wed.-Fri., 7 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; thru Dec. 27. (805)

667-2900. (Tom Provenzano)


NEW REVIEW 

GO THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG Geared to the 7-and-under set, this

good-natured interactive musical  exudes appeal beyond its demographic.

Inspired by a German folktale, writers Lloyd Schwartz and Hope Juber's

adaptation features a good fairy named Hyacinth (Mary Garripoli) as the

prime mover of events. After she welcomes the audience with a song

about the importance of "doin' good," along comes a prince (understudy

Iain Gray) who sings about "lookin' good."  His attitude so annoys

Hyacinth that she turns him into a frog, stipulating that he can only

return to his natural form if kissed by a princess. The rest of the

story proceeds along more or less traditional lines: The frog recovers

the lost ball of a querulous princess (Jenn Wiles) who is reluctant to

keep her promise to kiss him until pressured by her father, the king

(Anthony Gruppuso). Much of the piece's charm stems from the delight -

and the unintended comedic faux pas - displayed by the youngsters

called up on the stage to participate.  The non-patronizing performers

seem to be enjoying themselves as well. A song "Croak Croak, Ribbit,

Ribbit" involving a couple of frog puppets is contagiously

entertaining, whatever one's age. The uncredited costumes are fun too. 

Barbara Mallory Schwartz directs, with songs by Hope Jube and musical

director Laurence Juber. Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, L.A.;

Sat., 1 p.m.; thru Feb. 27. (323) 851-7977. A Storybook Theatre

production. (Deborah Klugman)

NEW REVIEW GO A VEGAS HOLIDAY! SONGS FROM LIVE AT THE SAHARA When Jake

Broder and Vanessa Claire Smith first assumed the roles of Louis Prima

and Keely Smith in a recreation of their Las Vegas lounge act from the

1950s, it was a modest production at the Sacred Fools Company in

Hollywood, but it won critical kudos and moved on for successful runs

at the Matrix Theatre and the Geffen Playhouse. Now, they've ditched

the script, keeping only the songs -- a garland of show-stoppers, played

by a terrific 7-piece band, each of whom gets his moment to shine. And

Frank Sinatra (Luca Ellis) turns up to contribute suave song-stylings.

But Broder and Smith are the real raison d'etre. Totally secure in

their roles, they no longer need a script to play out the volatile,

super-charged, love-hate relationship between Keely and Louis. He's

manic, stomping and careening around the stage like a demented jumping

jack, subversive, hyper-competitive and glittering with resentment.

She's cucumber-cool and restrained, but quietly dangerous. And her

coolness makes it more electrifying when she cuts loose with a brassy

rendition of "That Old Black Magic." This is a perfect holiday show,

slick, scintillating, and just snarky enough to provide an antidote to

icky-sticky Christmas shows on TV. El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim

Boulevard, North Hollywood; variable schedule, through January 3. Call

theatre for information. (818) 508-4200 or  http://www.elportaltheatre.com (Neal Weaver)


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