Latino Christmas Plays Proliferating in Southern California

News   Latino Christmas Plays Proliferating in Southern California La Posada Magica, now in its sixth annual Christmas-season production at South Coast Rep, isn't the only Latino holiday show playing in southern California. Joining the growing trend toward mounting Christmas shows aimed at an ever-increasing Latino population, theatres in San Diego and Los Angeles are competing with such standard Anglo fare as A Christmas Carol and A Child's Christmas in Walers by scheduling ethnic shows on mainstage spaces.

La Posada Magica, now in its sixth annual Christmas-season production at South Coast Rep, isn't the only Latino holiday show playing in southern California. Joining the growing trend toward mounting Christmas shows aimed at an ever-increasing Latino population, theatres in San Diego and Los Angeles are competing with such standard Anglo fare as A Christmas Carol and A Child's Christmas in Walers by scheduling ethnic shows on mainstage spaces.

San Diego Repertory, for example, is offering La Pastorela (the shepherd's play), a traditional Christmas show which originated in Europe and migrated to the New World with Spanish missionaries.

Produced by the Latino troupe Teatro Mascara Magica, the play has graduated from local churches to the Old Globe Theatre and is presently in its current home at the San Diego Repertory Theatre through Dec. 23, 1999.

In Los Angeles, Luis Avalos' Paquito's Christmas was recently seen at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. The play dealt with a young boy who discovers that family is the essence of Christmas. The show premiered at the LATC in 1994.

La Posada Magica by Octavio Solis, with songs by Marcos Loya, reenacts the story of Joseph and Mary seeking refuge for the birth of the baby Jesus. It has been mounted on SCR's Second Stage every year since 1993. The show is noteworthy, said Luis Alfaro, co-director of the Mark Taper Forum's Latino Theatre workshop, "because it sprang from a major mainstream regional, rather than an ethnic theatre."Alfaro's own take on the shepherd fable, Los Vencinos: A Play for Neighbors, was produced by L.A.'s Cornerstone Theatre in 1997.

South Coast Repertory Theatre is located at 655 Town Center Drive. For tickets and information call (714) 708-5555.

San Diego Rep is located at 79 Horton Plaza in San Diego. For tickets and information call (619) 544-1000.

-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent