Looking for a quick way to get into the Christmas spirit? Three theater groups in Costa Mesa will be mounting holiday-flavored shows this weekend and next.
The main event, of course, is South Coast Repertory's 32nd annual production of "A Christmas Carol," which opens Saturday and runs through Christmas Eve. This stage version of the classic Charles Dickens story has become a local holiday tradition.
Since its inception in 1980, SCR's yuletide celebration has featured Hal Landon Jr. as Ebenezer Scrooge under the direction of John-David Keller, who also plays Mr. Fezziwig.
Returning to their familiar roles will be Daniel Blinkoff, Karen Hensel, Timothy Landfield, William Francis McGuire, Gregg Daniel and Christian Barillas, joined this year by Erika Whalen as Belle.
The cast includes 16 local youngsters, most of whom will be making their first appearances in the holiday production. Back in 1984, this group included my 11-year-old son as the "turkey boy."
Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturday nights (except Nov. 29 and Dec. 7 and 24), with matinees at 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays and 12 and 4 p.m. on Sundays. On Dec. 23, there will be a matinee at 2:30 p.m. and on Saturday, Dec. 24, there will be matinees at 12 and 4 p.m.
Tickets may be ordered by phone at (714) 708-5555, or online at http://www.scr.org or at the SCR box office, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa.
Nearly as traditional as SCR's "Christmas Carol" is Orange Coast College's annual "Old-Fashioned Christmas Melodrama and Ice Cream Social," ticketed from Dec. 2 till Dec. 11 in the college's Drama Lab Theater.
This year, the program will feature an original melodrama, "Return of the Peppermint Prince" by OCC theater instructor David Scaglione and directed by theater arts professor Rick Golson. Also on tap will be music, vaudeville acts, a holiday singalong and a visit from Santa Claus. Each playgoer will receive a free ice cream treat.
The show will be staged at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, with 2:30 p.m. matinees each Saturday and Sunday. Tickets may be ordered at (714) 438-4880 or online at http://www.occtickets.com.
Costa Mesa's Vanguard University will be getting into the holiday act this year with Dylan Thomas' "A Child's Christmas in Wales," also playing for the first two weekends in December, under the direction of Susan K. Berkompas.
The play covers Christmas Day in the author's hometown of Swansea from, in its director's words, "its quiet magical beginning, full of thrilling expectations, to the peacefully contented end when children creep up to bed, replete with the joy of having experiences a perfect Christmas."
Two Vanguard departments, theater and cinema arts, are joining forces for this production to create an impressionistic fantasy-like environment. Traditional Welsh carols are performed with piano and violin accompaniment.
Performances will be given in the university's Lyceum Theater at 2 and 8 p.m. on Dec. 3 and 4 and 10 and 11, and at 8 p.m. on Dec. 8 and 9. Call the box office at (714) 668- 6145, or go online at http://www.vanguardtickets.com to secure reservations.
TOM TITUS covers the local theater scene for the Pilot.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun