Theater Reviews by Morna

Morna Martell

Tis the season for Holiday shows and favorite memories from movies past…

LOVE ACTUALLY – LIVE (Beverly Hills)

If you saw the 2003 British-themed movie, and loved it, here is a chance to see it in a 3-dimensional world, with live actors and singers, and a 15-piece orchestra, all in sync with your favorite scenes. This series of short stories, showing different aspects of love in the weeks leading up to Christmas, are now blended into a living theatre experience with stars from Broadway returning from its last season’s world premiere at the Wallis. I hear that more than 12,000 people flocked to the show, and reports are that people were leaving the theatre after each performance crying, laughing, hugging, humming the soundtrack, and embracing the holiday spirit. So, what more can I say! Songs include “Trouble With Love” and “Both Sides Now.” At Wallis Annenberg Center, 9390 N Santa Monica Blvd, BH. Tkts: (310)746-4000 or


In this 1947 Christmas classic, an old man going by the name of Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) fills in for an intoxicated Santa in Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade. Kringle proves to be such a hit that he is soon appearing regularly at the chain’s main store in midtown Manhattan. When Kringle surprises customers and employees alike by claiming that he really is Santa Claus, it leads to a court case to determine his mental health and, more importantly, his authenticity. Well, its been adapted into musicals on Broadway and TV, and was even broadcast on radio with the original cast. Now you can see a new adaptation at Actors Co-op, on the campus of First Presbyterian Church at 1760 N Gower St, Hwd. Tkts: (323) 462-8460 ext.300 or


So, if you are fed up with that annual Charles Dickens’ moody “Christmas Carol” so are the performers in this outrageous holiday romp. It’s a madcap musical where a group of actors decide they will perform holiday traditions from around the world, from ancient times to now. They also intend to try and include every carol ever sung! “It’s incredible and difficult to describe, so get your tickets to experience it for yourself” says Broadway World. Gary Lamb directs, and music director Sean Paxton performs the music live. At Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd. TKTS: (626) 355-4318 or

And last but not least…


Here is the absolute favorite Christmas story that informs us that “every time a bell rings” an angel gets its wings! Set in sunny Santa Barbara, in 1947, the show features mock radio commercials for local businesses from that time. The story of idealistic George Bailey, who gives up his dreams to help others, and whose life’s decisions on Christmas Eve bring about the intervention of his Guardian Angel, comes to life with five talented actors performing dozens of characters and with live Foley sound effects right before your eyes. Jonathan Fox, artistic director for Ensemble Theatre Company, promises: “We ring in the holiday season with one of the most iconic films of all time… brought to life by our own Brian McDonald… from the film everyone knows and loves.” It’s the perfect holiday show for the entire family. At the New Vic, 33 W Victoria St. Santa Barbara. Tkts: (805) 965-5400 ext.115 or

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