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Los Angeles Spotlight: December 2009

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Jai Rodriguez
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
Emmy-winning actor-singer Jai Rodriguez plays the ill-fated drag queen Angel in the first L.A.-produced rendition of Jonathan Larson's counter-culture rock musical Rent (Musical Theatre West at Carpenter Performing Arts Center, December 11-20). Another Emmy winner, Russell Hornsby, joins NAACP honoree Charlayne Woodard for Lynn Nottage's Crumbs From the Table of Joy (Skirball Cultural Center, December 9-13), to be offered in staged readings, which will be taped for radio broadcast via L.A. Theatre Works' The Play's the Thing series.

Also of high interest is the world premiere play Palestine, New Mexico, (Mark Taper Forum, December 3-January 24), by the prolific and popular Culture Clash, a trio of Latino performer-writers. Set on an Indian reservation in the Southwest, it follows the fate of an Army captain who has returned from Iraq with a secret that she just can't keep about a "friendly fire" incident. Lisa Peterson directs. Making a return engagement to the Southland after its Tony-winning Broadway run is Jay Johnson: The Two and Only! (Colony Theatre, December 3-13). This acclaimed solo vehicle intertwines the dark history of ventriloquism with the story of a shy boy from Texas who finds his passion. Emmy winning funny man Leslie Jordan -- of Will & Grace, Sordid Lives, and Southern Baptist Sissies fame -- offers his latest solo tell-all, Full of Gin and Regret...An Evening with Leslie Jordan (Renberg Theatre, December 10-20).

Plenty of seasonal fare is on hand this month. The Troubadour Theater Company brings us its latest musical parody, Frosty the Snow Manilow (December 2-January 17), melding the TV and song classic "Frosty the Snowman" with the easy-listening sounds of Barry Manilow, directed by Matt Walker. Keeping with the spirit, Cabrillo Music Theatre offers Irving Berlin's White Christmas (Fred Kavli Theatre in Thousand Oaks, Dec. 26-29), the nostalgic stage adaptation of the beloved Bing Crosby-Danny Kaye film classic. David Sedaris' sardonic solo comedy, The Santaland Diaries (Blank Theatre Company at 2nd Stage, through December 20), stars TV favorite Nicolas Brendon, best known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Criminal Minds. South Coast Repertory stages its 20th annual production of Dickens' A Christmas Carol (through December 26), starring Hal Landon, Jr., who SCR claims is "the longest running Scrooge in the West."

Also amid the holiday parade of attractions is a radio-play version of the Frank Capra film classic It's a Wonderful Life (December 5-20, Attic Theatre & Film Center) and Octavio Solis' musical play La Posada Magica (Odyssey Theatre, December 1-24), blending Mexican street theater and Latin jazz in the story of a young girl who joins her neighborhood posada on Christmas Eve. Meanwhile, the Lynn Aherns-Stephen Flaherty Broadway tuner Seussical The Musical is presented by Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, December 2-20.

Bootleg Theatre presents the seventh installment of the annual 99-Cent Only Store extravaganzas, Ken Roht's 99-Cent Only All-Star Telethon Caper (December 4-20), described as a music and dance adventure dressed in plastic finery made strictly from 99-Cent Only Store items. Heating up the holiday season is Moist!, described as "a sexistential comedy celebrating the seasoned woman" (Hayworth Theatre, December 6-February 28), directed by Penny Johnson Jared and starring Mariann Aalda and Iona Morris.

Geffen Playhouse is offering two productions with special appeal for very young audiences. Shushybye Dream Band (December 5) is described as sleep-themed entertainment for toddlers and preschoolers, including a rock score. Story Pirates (December 12 and May 22) consists of adaptations of stories written by kids.

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