The best way to describe “Miracles of the Season” is earnest children’s fare. Earnest, sweet, adorable community theater. It’s a cute diversion, about an hour and a half long, that will put you in good holiday cheer.
“Miracles of the Season” is really two plays, loosely tied together via a frame story of two women sitting at a bus stop, talking about their respective holiday traditions while music croons in the background. The two stories, “Bubbe and the Mensch on a Quest” and “Las Posadas” respectively deal with Hanukkah and Christmas traditions. Each story shares the same cast, which is mostly comprised of children.
Patio Playhouse uses the limited space its black box theater affords it to create a cozy, homey atmosphere. For the Hanukkah story, there’s a couch with a knitted quilt spread over it depicting a menorah, a set of cabinets and a dinner table. When it comes time to tell the story of “Las Posadas,” the Hanukkah decorations are replaced with a faux-fireplace and a gaping window through which to watch carolers walking by.
The story concerns the titular Bubbe, played by longtime Patio Playhouse actress Peggy Schneider, who discovers that she has accidentally tossed her family’s menorah in the garbage. It’s at this point that the audience gets involved; the lights come on and Schneider steps off the stage and into the audience, imploring everyone to sing along to Bubbe’s Quest Song from the night’s program.
This half of the show featured four songs other than the quest song. The play isn’t exactly a musical per se, as each musical number is its own, detached scene, but they’re still fun fare. There’s a heartfelt song about menorah candles, the Ladino song “Ocho Kandelikas,” a song about making latkes and the classic “I Have a Little Dreidel,” featuring several members of the cast dressed as blue dreidels.
Part 2 of the show, “Las Posadas,” casts a spotlight on a Latin American tradition. When a choir goes out caroling, they end up taking some time off in a random family’s house (and the daughter thinks the choir might be dangerous, for some reason). Then the household’s father, played by the booming Matt Sayre, describes the tradition of Las Posadas.
If you have children who have never heard of this tradition (this reviewer certainly hadn’t), then this is the perfect way to educate them about a new culture. A central part of Las Posadas is re-enacting Joseph and Mary’s search for somewhere to stay prior to Jesus’s birth, here retold in song. Though I would caution the playhouse to turn down the background music so that some of the quieter children can be heard singing.
“Miracles of the Season” is a nice piece of light theater, with light stakes, good singing and an appreciation for two different cultures. Its best-suited audience would probably be small children, so if you have kids, this could be a nice time for them.
“Miracles of the Season” plays until Dec. 22 at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets can be bought at patioplayhouse.com.
Alex Wehrung covers Rancho Santa Fe and theatre-related news in North County. He previously reported for The Daily Nexus in Santa Barbara, CA and the Escondido Times-Advocate in Escondido, CA.