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On San Diego Stages This Holiday Season

Above: Trina Kaplan and Jeffrey Jones in ion theatre's "The Little Flower of East Orange."

Aired 11/30/12 on KPBS News.

It’s that time of year when an Ebenezer Scrooge is likely to be found on a stage somewhere near you. But it’s not just old standbys like "A Christmas Carol." In a diverse theater community like San Diego’s, you can also see fresh new plays by up-and-coming playwrights.

ilith Freund as Cindy-Lou Who and Steve Blanchard as The Grinch in Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! at The Old Globe.

The mean green Grinch who stole Christmas from all the boys and girls in Whoville celebrates his 15th year on the stage at The Old Globe theater.

Steve Blanchard is back as the Grinch. Apparently, he likes to perform in lots of fur and makeup. For eight years, he wore a 30-pound costume as the Beast in "Disney’s Beauty and the Beast" on Broadway. All that green makeup for the Grinch must be a breeze by comparison.

Speaking of classics, "A Christmas Carol" is at Cygnet Theatre in Old Town. It comes wrapped in nostalgia as a 1940s radio play. It should be fun to watch the foley artist to see how the sounds of Victorian-era England and its ghosts come to life.

The cast of Cygnet Theatre's "A Christmas Carol," performed as a 1940s-era radio play.

If you’re a bit of a Scrooge yourself or want a brief respite from all the holiday music and twinkling lights, check out ion theater’s “The Little Flower of East Orange.” It’s the emotionally charged story of a dying woman, her junkie son, and tightly-wound daughter. It’s masterfully acted by the 10-member ensemble.

For more small theater, non-holiday fare, check out Moxie Theatre’s "Hickorydickory." The premise is pure fantasy: we all have clocks embedded in our bodies that time our mortality. Rumor has it the play has plenty of laughs and, believe it or not, multiple surgeries on stage.

This is the last weekend to see the UCSD theater department’s production of "In the Red and Brown Water." Set in a Louisiana housing project, a young girl gives up a track scholarship to care for her sick mother. This is the first in a trilogy of plays by the widely praised African-American playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney. The second in the trilogy will be staged in January at the Old Globe.

Over at Diversionary Theatre in Hillcrest, a play called “when last we flew” runs for a few more weeks. It’s a coming-of-age drama about a young black man in Kansas who is obsessed with Tony Kushner’s modern classic “Angels in America.”

Once it closes, Diversionary does a complete 180, and whips up some campy holiday fun with “Scrooge in Rouge.” It’s set in a Victorian music hall where a production of "A Christmas Carol" is in jeopardy when a bad case of food poisoning hits. Only three actors are left to put on the show, wearing all the wigs and costumes available. Not sure you’ll find a more risqué version of the Dickens classic.

If manic slapstick is your thing, you actually have another option. After a seven year hiatus, San Diego REP brings back a Christmas show. In fact, it’s called "The Ultimate Christmas Show." From the same comedic minds behind the Reduced Shakespeare Company, it promises an elf ballet AND disco dancing. In other words, there’s a little something for everyone.

A few other options to consider:

North Coast Rep offers two holiday plays: an "unscripted" version of "A Christmas Carol" and "Sister's Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi's Gold."

New Village Arts in Carlsbad has "Plaid Tidings," which features a singing group sent to earth by Rosemary Clooney to put some harmony in the world.

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