By Sarah A. Spitz

Stay local for your holiday entertainment. Enjoy “A Christmas Carol” at Miles Memorial Playhouse, Impro Theater at The Broad Stage, and at Bergamot Art Station view works by three Edelsteins at Ruth Bachofner Gallery.

Santa Monica Rep brings Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” to Miles Memorial Playhouse, Dec. 1 through Dec. 18, with opening night on Dec. 2. Bonus points: you can drink eggnog and carol with the cast after each performance.

We all know this classic story. But SM Rep is adding shadows and shadow puppetry, creating an unusual look and an enhanced sense of a Greek chorus for this production.

Jen Bloom, director and co-founder of Santa Monica Rep says, “‘A Christmas Carol’ is a classic because it speaks to how hard it is to make a real transformation in your life. Scrooge is a man who used to be good but slowly turned to greed. It takes an intervention from spirits and humans alike to bring him back to goodness. That transformation, at the hands of a community, is at the heart of this story.” A lesson for these times, perhaps?

And the massive wooden beams, plasterwork, gleaming hardwood floors, ironwork details, and grand fireplace make The Miles an enchanted setting for this play.

Tickets are available at santamonicarep.org or in-person at the box office 90 minutes before show time. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to local charities supporting the homeless. Miles Playhouse is located at 1130 Lincoln Blvd. in Christine Emerson Reed Park, Santa Monica CA 90403.

 

IMPRO HOLIDAY ROMP

I had the chance to see Impro Theater a few years ago, when they presented their Twilight Zone Unscripted and Chekhov Unscripted shows at The Odyssey.

Now they’re right in our backyard at The Broad Stage celebrating their 10th anniversary with three performances only of their world premiere “1966 Holiday Variety Extravaganza.”

What’s their schtick? Impro Theatre creates completely improvised, full-length plays in the styles of the world’s great playwrights, authors and composers. Without pre-planning or prepared scenarios, audience suggestions are welcomed by the performers, who combine verbal dexterity and robust physicality to bring character and plot to life in an instant, making each Impro Theatre show unique and unlike any other theatrical experience.

And for this new wild and crazy holiday show, they’re reviving those TV holiday specials so many of us of a certain age remember growing up with.

“What makes this style so perfect for Impro Theater,” says Dan O’Connor, the company’s Producing Artistic Director, “is the spirit of spontaneity that these holiday specials had. Bing Crosby’s doorbell rings and in walks David Bowie, wrapped in a scarf. Andy Williams emerges onscreen with a group of figure skaters on an elaborate winter wonderland set, complete with an ice rink. There is a wonderful chaos to these holiday variety specials. We’ve all felt a bit taxed by the events of the fall. Now more than ever, we think it’s important to unite and laugh together during the holidays.”

Tickets are available at www.thebroadstage.com or 310.434.3200; also at the Box Office three hours prior to performances. December 15—17 only, at 7:30 p.m.

 

TRIO OF EDELSTEINS

Jean Edelstein is a pillar of the Venice arts community, and her studio is always open during The Venice Art Walk, Art Block and on other occasions. I love her work; especially her most recent series of accordion style fold out books of plants and trees that she has encountered in her travels throughout the world.

I did not know, however, that other members of her family are also artists. Now, at Ruth Bachofner Gallery at Bergamot Art Station, we can discover this talented family in one place as Ruth presents her holiday “Small Works” group show.

Son Bruce and daughter Barbara Edelstein each have their own art practices. If line, energy and flow describe Jean’s work, Barbara’s work is more defined around the edges and Bruce’s has more of a constructed feel.

Jean’s books are beautiful and so is her remarkable series of Buddhist dance works, just the tip of the iceberg of her lifetime achievements. Take the Huntington Desert Gardens series for example (view her work at www.jeanedelstein.com), which you can, if you like, equate to a panoramic photo on your iPhone, only it’s far more artistic and poetic in the rendering.

Barbara creates both sculptures and mixed media works combining photography and Chinese ink drawings on watercolor paper that demonstrate a reverence for nature. For her sculptures, she uses copper and wood, silicone rubber and stainless steel, and all of her work is tinged with realism and abstraction. She is inspired by nature, leaves, trees and the spirit of “Gaia.” Her work is much in demand in China and has been exhibited widely throughout the world.

Bruce is more of a “constructivist,” if I can use that term in this context. His drawings reflect layerings of forms and voids found in urban building sites and they appear as minimalistic, abstracted works on paper. He also creates fully realized human and built forms sculpted in clay, influenced by the ancient structures that he encountered while living in Mexico.

These are just three of the 37 artists that the Ruth Bachofner Gallery will showcase, including Ann Thornycroft, Robert Kingston, Jane Park Wells and others, beginning with the opening reception on Sat., Dec. 3 from 4 to 6 p.m. and running through Jan. 14, Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

 

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.

 

CAPTION Performance: Impro Theater “1966 Holiday Variety Extravaganza” at the Broad Stage Dec. 15 – 17

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