The ‘Big Show’ stars ‘reliable’ actor Steve Gunderson
It may sound incongruous to re-set Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” in San Diego in the early 20th century, but incongruity is all part of the freewheeling fun of the Old Globe’s “Ebenezer Scrooge’s Big San Diego Christmas Show.” While the kiddies are next door in the Globe’s main theater this holiday season enjoying “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!,” grown-ups have the alternative of Gordon Greenberg and Steve Rosen’s spoof inside the smaller Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre.
Rife with anachronisms, inside jokes and clever San Diego-centric references, the one-act “Ebenezer” more or less follows the narrative of the well-trod Dickens story while departing from it in consistently entertaining ways. The joking-and-singing cast of five directed by Greenberg is terrific: Dan Rosales, Cathryn Wake, Orville Mendoza, Jacque Wilke and Robert Joy, who plays Scrooge. All the others occupy multiple roles during the show as well as manipulate the production’s many props and stage effects.
The Globe may be hoping that “Ebenezer Scrooge’s Big San Diego Christmas Show” becomes another holiday tradition, like “The Grinch.” You know what? It should.
“A Christmas Story”
The tale’s narrated onstage by a grownup—reliable local actor Steve Gunderson—but make no mistake: San Diego Musical Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Story” is kid-centric and kid-dominated. Chief among them is young John Perry (JP) Wishchuck, who stars as the bespectacled boy Ralphie, whose Christmas dream is to receive a Red Ryder BB Gun. If all this sounds familiar, it’s because “A Christmas Story” is an adaptation of the cult favorite 1983 film, the one TBS marathons every year.
This 2012 musical, with a book by John Robinette and music/lyrics by the team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“Dear Evan Hansen”), is utterly warm-hearted and very faithful to the original film. SDMT’s production features lots of laughs (many from Jake Millgard as Ralphie’s beleaguered dad) and even more dancing, niftily choreographed by Jill Gorrie.
“Ebenezer Scrooge’s Big San Diego Christmas Show” runs through December 29 at the Old Globe’s Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, Balboa Park. $30 and up; theoldglobe.org
“A Christmas Story” runs through December 29 at the Horton Grand Theatre, downtown. $30-$70; sdmt.org