STATIONS: A Los Angeles Holiday Story

The gifted young artists of Boom Kat Dance Theatre, creators of the Ovation-nominated, multiple Scenie-winning Neverwonderland, are back at Santa Monica’s Miles Memorial Playhouse with the perfect Christmas gift for theatergoers in search of that illusive Holiday Spirit.


Brilliantly directed by Lili Fuller and told entirely in music and dance, STATIONS: A Los Angeles Holiday Story centers on a young married couple who find themselves with child at Christmastime (sound familiar?), though the newlyweds in question here are a pair of contemporary Angelinos who find themselves victims of the ongoing economic crisis. Having been given the pink slip at work, Father (Andrew Dits) and Mother (Juliana Tyson) are soon living on the street alongside assorted street dudes, a homeless woman (Diana Vaden), and Santa himself (Nathan Parsons), or in this case a tipsy young incarnation of Old Saint Nick. (For those who might worry about following this Play Without Words, the program features a helpful scene-by-scene synopsis.)

Like the films Grand Canyon and Crash, STATIONS: A Los Angeles Holiday Story transports us to familiar L.A. locales—The Grove, the Los Feliz district, West Adams, Beverly Hills, the 3rd Street Promenade, Hancock Park, the Miracle Mile, WeHo, and Crenshaw & Wilshire—as the lives of its diverse cast of characters collide and intertwine in this December of 2011.

Ovation Award-nominated choreographers Fuller, Joe Sofranko, Matthew Krumpe, and Tyson are joined here by Adam North (“with help from the cast”) in creating STATIONS: A Los Angeles Holiday Story’s eclectic dance moves, ranging from jazz to ballet to hiphop, performed by an all-around sensational cast, most of whom bring to life a variety of roles both large and small. Mike Garrido, D’Angelo Lacy, and Sofranko (all marvelous) are Lakers fans, movers, sous-chefs, clubgoers, and street dudes. The enchanting Fuller stands out in half a dozen roles, most notably as a pastry chef whose cupcakes provide a contemporary substitute for gold, frankincense, and myrrh. General Hospital heartthrob Parsons proves equally memorable, particularly as that boozy Santa, and the imposing Will Harris moves with grace and agility in a variety of character roles, especially as a Grinchlike executive chef. Dits, Tyson, and Vaden make the strongest and most memorable impressions, bringing equal parts acting chops and dance gifts to their complex roles. Oh, and the entire cast perform barefoot.


Parmer Fuller’s original music score takes as its inspiration a dozen and a half classic Christmas carols whose familiar notes interweave throughout the composer’s own melodies in a soundtrack which has elements of electronica, jazz, calypso, funk, hard rock, and Irish folk, and features instruments as varied as the cello, electric guitar, steel drums, fiddle, and even the human voice. At times magical, evoking childhood memories of Christmases past, at other times darkly dramatic, at still others as whimsical as the accompaniment for a silent comedy short, Fuller’s compositions make for an ideal backdrop for his highly imaginative tale, one which has contemporary Angelinos standing in for leading players in that first Christmas story.  (A Lakers fan and two street dudes bring their own gifts of the magi to Father and Mother’s newborn babe, while the couple’s wealthy Hancock Park friends offer no room at the inn for the homeless family.)

STATIONS: A Los Angeles Holiday Story features, among its many oh-so creative touches, human cars and busses (with flashlights as headlights), a striking pink slip ballet with black-garbed company members as “the Father’s Weights,” and a striking human tableau evoking images of a Statue Of Liberty in crisis.


Staged in the round, STATIONS: A Los Angeles Holiday Story  has been lit with imagination and flair by Mason T. Barker and Will Sammons, a lighting design which finds numerous ingenious uses for flashlights, various shaped and hued glowsticks, and strings of Christmas lights. Sofranko’s sound design, much of it recorded guerilla-style in the streets, malls, and clubs of L.A., is striking and inventive. Music has been produced, arranged, and mixed to perfection by Michael Kramer. The a cappella group Sonos contribute their unique vocals to the production’s prerecorded orchestral score. (A soundtrack CD, available in the lobby, makes for an ideal holiday gift, that is if your giftee doesn’t mind your having listened to it repeatedly before Christmas.) The multitalented Lili Fuller’s credits also include artistic directorship of Boom Kat Dance Theatre and the production’s terrific costumes.

STATIONS: A Los Angeles Holiday Story is produced by Narcissa Vanderlip. Additional production credits are shared by Nicole Jaffe (graphic design), Jessica Dalva (puppet design), Michelle Lukiman and Rachel Saltzman (associate producers). Sara Nishida is stage manager and Stephanie Cheng assistant stage manager.

Major L.A. regional theaters looking to program the ideal holiday show for 2012 are hereby urged to check out STATIONS: A Los Angeles Holiday Story before its final performance on December 30. I can think of no other Christmas production that has so filled me with the joys of the season that this brilliantly conceived and executed, highly original piece of theatrical magic.

Miles Memorial Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica. Through December 30. Remaining performances Wednesday and Thursday December 21 and 22, and Tuesday through Friday December 27-30 at 8:00. Reservations:

–Steven Stanley
December 20, 2011

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