Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Margulies weaves together nostalgia, music and merriment in the world premiere commission of a new seasonal classic opening at the Geffen Playhouse. Presented by OneWest Bank, Coney Island Christmas, a "Jewish Christmas show" for people of all ages and all faiths, introduces us to Shirley Abramowitz (played by Isabella Acres) a young Jewish girl who, much to her immigrant parents' exasperation, is cast as Jesus in the school's Christmas pageant.
Mr. and Mrs. Abramowitz, portrayed by acclaimed stage and screen actors Arye Gross (Broadway's Brooklyn Boy, television's Castle) and Annabelle Gurwitch (Murray Mednick's Joe and Betty, television's Dinner and a Movie) with the help of a much-older Shirley, brought to life by Angela Paton (Broadway's Harvey) capture a timeless and universal tale of what it means to be an American during the holidays. The cast also includes Elitia Daniels, Maya Erskine, Julian Evens, Joe Gillette, Rachel Hirshee, Lily Holleman, Gracie Kaufman, John Sloan, Kira Sternbach and Andrew Walke, who play a host of colorful characters ranging from neighborhood mothers to Shirley's classmates and teachers. Coney Island Christmas starts in previews tonight, November 20, 2012 and officially opens November 28, 2012 in the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse.
Coney Island Christmas, which is based on the Grace Paley short story The Loudest Voice, is helmed by Bart DeLorenzo, the founding artistic director of L.A.'s Evidence Room theater company. Both Margulies and DeLorenzo are frequent figures in the Geffen family, with this production marking Margulies' fifth and DeLorenzo's fourth project with the theater. The two artists previously collaborated on Shipwrecked!, which shares similar fantastical elements with Coney Island Christmas. The idea for a family holiday show, that would potentially be an annual event at the Geffen Playhouse, began as a conversation between Margulies and Geffen Playhouse founder Gil Cates. The conversation turned into a commission, and now, Margulies is dedicating this world premiere production to the memory of Cates, who passed away on October 31 of last year.
To further extend holiday memories and spirits, the Geffen Playhouse will once again be partnering with the Keyes for Kids Toy Drive to help bring gifts into the lives of children in need, primarily through the Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission and Normandie Recreation Center. The Geffen is encouraging all patrons who attend the show to bring a new unwrapped toy.
Special events during the run of Coney Island Christmas include the theater's Signature Series performances for no additional cost. These evenings include an intellectual, thought-provoking post show Q&A at Talk Back Tuesdays; a scintillating, one-of-a kind after-party at Girls Night Out; a cultural happy hour with Lounge Fridays and complimentary wine tastings during Wine Down Sundays. For more information, view geffenplayhouse.com/ConeyEvents.
CONEY ISLAND CHRISTMAS
Written by Donald Margulies
Based on the short story The Loudest Voice by Grace Paley
Directed by Bart DeLorenzo
Preview Performances: TONIGHT, November 20 – Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Opening Night: Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Closing Night: Sunday, December 30, 2012
Isabella Acres Young Shirley
Elitia Daniels Ensemble
Maya Erskine Anna Ling/Ensemble
Julian Evens Henry Brown/Ensemble
Joe Gillette Ira Pushkov/Ensemble
Arye Gross Mr. Abramowitz
Annabelle Gurwitch Mrs. Abramowitz
Rachel Hirshee Ensemble
Lily Holleman Miss Glacé
Gracie Kaufman Clara
Angela Paton Shirley Abramowitz
John Sloan MR. Hilton
Kira Sternbach Evie Slotnick/Ensemble
Andrew Walke Jackie Sauerfeld/Ensemble