By Charles Lam
By Joel Beers
By LP Hastings
By Dave Barton
By LP Hastings
By Joel Beers
By LP Hastings
In the latest sign that Jewry is indeed taking over the civilized world, the first day of the eight-day Jewish holiday Hanukkah this year falls on Nov. 28, which just "happens" to be Thanksgiving. It's not enough that the shrewd characters punked Christmas Day with an eight-day bonanza of gift-giving (okay, Hanukkah predates the birth of Jesus by some 200 years, but we don't have time to get technical), which usually falls in December, but now their sights are set on America's great secular holiday? What's next—a Jewish Holiday that falls around the same time as Easter?
So, in honor of our Jewish brothers and sisters' Festival of Lights, OC Weekly is proud to unveil its trademarked and copyrighted Holiday Theater Kosher-O-Meter rating index. We've rounded up the holiday plays on local stages in the month of December and, based on the cut of their theatrical jib, assigned them a KOM index ranging from 1 to 10, with 1 being as unclean as bacon-wrapped head cheese and 10 bringing a tear to the eye of the Uncle Sam Hebrew National hot dog guy. (Wait a minute! They tried it on the Fourth of July, too?)
* * *
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. There are at least three productions of Charles Dickens' timeless take on Ebenezer Scrooge rediscovering his humanity. The Long Beach Playhouse's production runs Dec. 12-22, UC Irvine's runs through Dec. 1, and South Coast Repertory wheels out OC's living legend Hal Landon for the 34th straight year from Nov. 29 to Dec. 26. While the list of Jewish philanthropists, large and small, is vast (who is that anonymous dude, anyway?), we can't overlook Rabbi Shecky Green's parable from the year 5722: "Jewish kid walks up to his dad and asks him for $5. 'Four dollars? I don't have $3! Why do you want a dollar?'" KOM METER: 4. Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 494-1014; www.lbph.com. UC Irvine, 4000 Mesa Rd., Irvine, (949) 824-2787; www.arts.uci.edu. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 708-5555; www.scr.org.
A CHRISTMAS MEMORY. This is based on brilliant (and openly gay) writer Truman Capote's short story set during Christmas in the American South during the Great Depression. Was Capote a Jew? No. Runs Dec. 3-29. KOM METER: 1. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach, (949) 497-ARTS; www.lagunaplayhouse.com.
A TUNA CHRISTMAS. Two actors play more than 20 characters in the second part of the comedic saga of the eccentric inhabitants of Tuna, Texas. "These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat." Runs Nov. 30-Dec. 21. KOM METER: 10. Stage Door Repertory, 1045 N. Armando, Ste. A, Anaheim, (714) 630-7378; www.stagedoorrep.org.
AN O'HENRY CHRISTMAS. This is an adaptation of several short stories penned by O. Henry, spun by a stranger trying to give comfort to some poor homeless souls in New York City, circa 1893. Jews love stories. Just read the Old Testament. The one about Onan is my favorite. Runs Dec. 13-22. KOM METER: 8. Alchemy Theatre, 300 W. Second St., Santa Ana; www.facebook.com/alchemytheatrecompany.
THE EIGHT: REINDEER MONOLOGUES. This is the 10th and (boo!) last year for this always-entertaining and sexually charged series of monologues from the beasts who toil for that fat guy in the red suit. And while they're probably quite gamey, they're kosher: "Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat." Dec. 3-22. KOM METER: 10. Chance Theater, 5552 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, (714) 777-3033; www.chancetheater.com.
HOLIDAY VOICES. Seven new holiday-themed one-act plays by local playwrights from New Voices Playwrights Theatre get the spotlight. Samuel probably didn't write plays, but I bet he'd support new ones. Dec. 7-8, 14 & 21. KOM METER: 8. Stage Door Repertory Theatre, 1045 N. Armando, Ste. A, Anaheim,(714) 630-7378; www.stagedoorrep.org.
INSPECTING CAROL. A man auditioning for a role in a community-theater production of A Christmas Carol is mistaken for an NEA informer and is offered a role. The play is a send-up of Russian writer Nikolai Gogol's play The Inspector General, and while Gogol, as with contemporaries Turgenev and Dostoevsky, peddled plenty of Jewish stereotypes in his writing, he also satirized the excesses of Imperial Russia in the 19th Century. And those pogroms sucked. Through Dec. 15. KOM METER: 7. Cal State Fullerton, 800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 278-3371; www.fullerton.edu/arts/theatredance.
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. This is a live radio play, but it conveys the same story and heart of the classic film directed by one of Hollywood's favorites, Frank Capra. Did someone say Hollywood? Onstage Nov. 29-Dec. 29. KOM METER: 10. Stages Theatre, 400 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 525-44874; www.stagesoc.org.
LAST CHRISTMAS, I GAVE YOU MY HEART . . . Theatre Out, Orange County's lone LGBT company, presents its truly alternative take to the holiday season, which is subtitled The Very Next Day, You Said You Were Gay. It's a homegrown musical, and while we all know that nasty Leviticus admonition of alternative lifestyles, there's no shortage of song and dance (and quite gay) people in the Jewish canon. Onstage Dec. 6-21. KOM METER: 8. Theatre Out, 402 W. Fourth St., Santa Ana, (714) 220-7069; www.theatreout.com.
LONG BEACH IS SINKING. The Garage Theatre executes a holiday melodrama every December, and while we know nothing more about it, we can tell you its alternative title is Easier Than a Life of Injustice. And if there's anything the Jewish people know (before, like, they owned and ran everything), it's injustice. Runs Dec. 6-21. KOM METER: 7. The Garage Theatre, 251 E. Seventh St., Long Beach, (562) 433-8337; www.thegaragetheatre.org.
MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET. You know the movie: Girl doubts Santa Claus exists. The Santa Claus at Macy's Department Store proves to be the real deal. Macy's was founded by a Quaker. Do Jews like Quakers? I don't know, but my mom traced her side of the family back to Quakers who freed their slaves in the 18th century, so they're okay in my book. Runs Nov. 29-Dec. 22. KOM METER: 9. Camino Real Playhouse, 31776 El Camino Real, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 489-8082; www.caminorealplayhouse.org.
SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS. From Jericho to the West Bank, as a state, Jews are no strangers to conquering. Then again, no one this side of Laplanders has been as persecuted for so long and so adversely, so the warmongering might be offset by a minority group, Martians, being dominated by a North Pole imperialist. Runs Dec. 6-23. KOM METER: 5. Maverick Theater, 110 E. Walnut Ave., Fullerton, (714) 526-7070; www.mavericktheater.com.