ESCONDIDO — If Target is anything to go by, it’s never too early to celebrate the upcoming holidays. Succeeding their “Sense and Sensibility” show, Patio Playhouse’s next production is “Miracles of the Season,” a pair of one-act musicals written by local playwright Shari Lyon and Deborah Somuano. These pieces tell stories from the perspectives of people celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas.
“This whole production is about holiday time and family,” said producer Deborah Zimmer. “And inclusion and enjoying the traditions of the holidays.” Watching the cast of seven adults and seven youths of mixed backgrounds become a family, she says, gives her the chills.
Bubbe and the Mensch on a Quest tells the story of a mensch (someone who embodies admirable traits) who tries to find their family’s lost menorah. While the mensch is on their quest, Bubbe tells the story of the origin of why Hanukkah lasts eight nights. This production will be the story’s inaugural one and will feature music such as the dreidel song and “Ocho Kandelikas,” a piece of Ladino music.
In Las Posadas (making its San Diego premiere), a choir director falls ill just when their merry bunch of carolers are about to head out and sing. After a caroler volunteers to lead in the director’s stead, they encounter a family decorating their house for Christmas, and learn about the Latinx tradition of Las Posadas. This part of the play will feature original music.
Las Posadas (roughly translating to “the lodging”) is a nine-day celebration that starts on Dec. 16 and ends on Christmas Eve. Often, celebrations include re-enactments of the Joseph and Mary’s search for shelter in Bethlehem, Christmas carols are sung, piñatas are burst asunder, and merriment is had by all.
“We like doing original shows,” said Zimmer. “In the spring, our youth production is going to be two original one-act plays, one by Shari Lyon and one by her husband.”
As the producer, Zimmer frequently collaborates with director Victoria Silva-Davis and other members of the production staff to make sure everything is on track for premiere day. She says she also gets chills from seeing the progress in production.
“You know, you start out OK, ‘Here’s your script, here’s your music, here’s your song, and we’ll get with the musical director and she’ll start to teach (the cast) the songs,” she said. “And then they practice and practice and then maybe a couple weeks down the road, we have a rehearsal and we hear it, and you hear the harmonies, and you just watch it get better and better over time. Opening night is magical, always.”
Like previous Patio Playhouse shows, the house will ask attendees to donate to an associated charity upon the show’s conclusion: in this case, More Than Apples, Inc. The organization is an Escondido nonprofit that provides food to people in need. It’s a good fit, Zimmer says, since the holidays are “all about food.”
The show will run from Dec. 6 to Dec. 22 at Patio Playhouse’s black box community theater on Kalmia Street in Escondido. Ticket prices range from $12 to $40.
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.