By Sarah A. Spitz

For the fifth time in just over a century, Christmas and Chanukah (my preferred spelling; start the debate now!) fall on the same day this year. So let’s light the menorah, hang the brightest star atop the tree and remember to celebrate!

Sorry to say that I missed telling you about the annual Messiah Singalong last Sunday at the Music Center but all is not lost!

Now in its 9th year, with many of the seats already spoken for, Laemmle Theatres are offering their annual Fiddler on the Roof Sing-A-Long at many of their SoCal venues, each with a unique host. This is a phenomenon on par with the Sound of Music singalongs at the Hollywood Bowl, not quite achieving the cult status of the Nuart’s midnight screenings of Rocky Horror Picture Show (going strong on Saturday nights since 1988!) but still one-of-a-kind for L.A.

Always held on Christmas Eve, this year’s singalong also ushers in the first night of Chanukah (Jewish holidays always begin at sunset). So there’ll be Menorah lighting, costumes, trivia contests and more.

The Ahrya Fine Arts in Beverly Hills (which still has seats) will be hosted by Cantor Phil Baron of Temple Valley Beth Shalom, in partnership with the Jewish Historical Society. At the NoHo7 in North Hollywood, it’s Broadway star Susan Edwards Martin.

If like me, you’d prefer to leaven the movie’s more tear-inducing moments with some laughter, the sing-a-long at Laemmle’s Royal in West L.A. will be headed up by Eli Batalion, star of the Web comedy, Yidlife Crisis. Yes, it’s a modern day internet comedy series performed in Yiddish. Go figure.

Get all the details you need and grab a seat here: www.Laemmle.com/Fiddler. Then tune up your vocal cords!

LICHTENSTEIN IN L.A.

I finally got to the Skirball Cultural Center to see the wonderful “Pop for the People” exhibition featuring the work of Roy Lichtenstein, which focuses heavily on images created in Los Angeles at the legendary printing studio Gemini GEL.

Jackson Pollock had his drip paintings, and Andy Warhol his Campbell Soup Cans but Lichtenstein painted and printed in dots (okay, he also used lines). His cartoon-inspired paintings helped launch the Pop Art movement, and you can always recognize a Lichtenstein by his use of Ben-Day dots.

These yellow, red, blue and black dots can be spaced widely, closely or overlapping to create a range of dark, light and mixed colors. This technique was used in commercial advertising and especially in pulp comic books, and is perhaps the pop art equivalent of pointillism (think Seurat, Sondheim and Sunday in the Park with George).

As an artist influenced by mass culture, Lichtenstein used Ben-Day dots extensively for his comic book style paintings and prints, and created multiples of the same image in lithographs with the master printers at Gemini GEL.

In addition to the 70 artworks created over four decades, this show has two unique features. It shares some of the original comic book art that inspired Lichtenstein, and there’s a full room-sized model of Van Gogh’s “The Bedroom,” created in Lichtenstein’s signature style by Skirball artisans. Step in, sit on the furniture and have your photo taken. (Side note: Van Gogh’s The Bedroom is on loan now from the Chicago Art Institute through March 6 at Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum.)

This is a very cool show that’s both informative, fun and celebrates one of L.A.’s major contributions to the art world. So go already! Skirball Cultural Center’s Pop for the People: Roy Lichtenstein is on view through March 12. More at http://www.skirball.org.

Also of note: LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) is offering extended hours from Monday, December 26 to Sunday, January 8, 10 am to 8 pm every day, including Wednesdays. Picasso and Rivera: Conversations Across Time and John McLaughlin Paintings: Total are just two of the striking exhibitions up through the holidays and beyond. Take some time out for art.

NIGHTCLUB WITHOUT THE SMOKE

Over at the Wallis (aka The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Arts) in Beverly Hills, The Sorting Room is a nightclub concept, transforming the venue’s Lovelace Studio Theatre into a 150-seat nightclub. There are cabaret, comedy, live music and dance performances scheduled through January 14. It’s called The Sorting Room because that was the original function of this room when the building was the Beverly Hills Post Office.

Just a few: On Jan. 3, “Dante,” a contemporary hip hop musical inspired by Dante’s Inferno, mixes classic poetry, spoken word, music and choreography, performed by a troupe of young poets called Get Lit’s Literati Fellows, a multicultural group of youthful ambassadors for education.

On Jan. 4, Ron McCurdy Quartet’s The Langston Hughes Project presents a multimedia performance of Hughes’s kaleidoscopic jazz poem “Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz.” This 12-part epic poem scored by Hughes with musical cues including blues, Dixieland, boogie-woogie, bebop, progressive jazz, Latin cha-cha, Afro-Cuban mambo, German lieder, Jewish liturgy, West Indian calypso and African drumming, had not been performed during his lifetime.

On January 6, noted actress Christine Lahti presents an evening of storytelling based on her personal and professional experiences.

And on January 13, meet Homer Simpson—well not really Homer but at least his voice.  Dan Castellaneta presents Improv Coop: Immediate Theatre, a night of live, on the spot wit and artistry from a company of seasoned improvisers.

Sarah A. Spitz is an award-winning public radio producer, now retired from KCRW, where she also produced arts stories for NPR. She writes features and reviews for various print and online publications. Contact her at culturewatch@smdp.com.

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