What does a ‘nice Jewish girl’ do on the first night of Chanukah? She goes to a Black Family Christmas (Party). Well…?
Dea Hurston, philanthropist extraordinaire has chosen to branch out and pursue her passion for writing. And lucky for us in the theater world she did. Along with her creative team and collaborators Milena (Sellers) Phillips, Frankie Alicea-Ford and Kevin “Blax” Burroughs — her first play, a musical and a winner from the start, “1222 Oceanfront: A Black Family Christmas” is currently in a world premiere production at New Village Arts partially renovated theatre in Carlsbad through De. 26th.
|Kory LaQuess Pullam and Deja Fields|
What makes this different from the many Christmas plays I’ve seen? Well, for one the characters are black save for one adopted son Javier (Frankie Alicea-Ford) who is Latinx and gay... and whose boyfriend Brian (Durwood Murray) is gay, black and Jewish, that’s different. It doesn’t get any more inclusive than that by anyones standards.
|Milena (Sellers) Phillips, Victor Morris, Kory LaQuess Pullam and Deja Fields|
The house is decorated (Savannah Brittian) with symbols that include Kwanza Candle in the kitchen and masks, art work from different black artists. The interior of the house is beautifully crafted, warm and homey looking.
All in all, the family included in Hurston’s play, as mentioned above, is pretty much seen through a black perspective. But the overall message is that family is family and with few exceptions the Black family has it’s up’s and downs, crisis and suspicions, secrets and confessions, love /hate relationships, and its share of misunderstandings.
The Black family has lived on 1222 Oceanfront before the price of houses went skyrocketing and is now worth millions. When Dorothy Milena (Sellers) Phillips and her late husband James bought the house even as it was out of their price limit, they went ahead anyway. As the time moved closer to their moving in, the neighbors were bitching because a black family was going to be in the neighborhood.
The Black's needed a way to come up with enough money for a down payment since the price of interest was also going up. With the help of their extended family the money came through and Dorothy hosted the family Christmas two day gathering for the length of the loan that was thirty years. Over those years traditions were made.
|Portia Gregory, Durwood Murray and Deja Fields|
The traditional foods were Italian because they could only afford pasta and the fixings. Dorothy’s famous lemon aide was a specialty for her now grown son, James, JR (Kory La Quess Pullam). In fact, he looked forward to having some as he and his now wife Aada (Deja Fields) were heading to Carlsbad for the holidays. All he talked about was his lemon-aide and the special relationship with his mother. For Aadya, she couldn’t get Dorothy to recognize her if she stood on her head and whistled Dixie. She was in marketing and Dorothy could never understand how she earned her money.
As the show opens, Lizzy (Portia Gregory) Dorothy’s sister comes to the dinner with her specialty and food and presents. She’s also carrying the ashes of her late husband, June, kept in Santa doll large enough to stand alone on the fireplace mantel so he can be included. Gregory is a hoot and a howl as the know it all sister who introduces Dorothy to her co -worker Victor (Victor Morris).
Both work at the Post Office and Lizzy wants them to get together. Victor is no shrinking violet either. He’s a towering good looking ‘cowboy’ who adds a whole new dimension to the dynamics of the family. The show takes some dizzying twists and turns but that's what makes it so authentic and oft times funny.
It’s not every day that a new musical comedy/drama is as ready for audiences as 1222 Oceanfront. With most original music (Beautiful Christmas Day”, “Christmas Morn”, “Merry Christmas to Me”, “Cowboy Christmas”) by co- creator Milena (Sellers) Phillips and of course the usual traditional Christmas music, (“Silent Night”, “Hark The Herald Angels Sing”) it has a real holiday feeling especially under the deft direction of Delicia Turner Sonnenberg.
|Milena (Sellers)Phillips and Victor Morris|
Phillips also has some pretty sensual moves when she remembers dancing with Victor on a Vegas trip. Dejay Fields is outstanding as a singer and dancer, who, along with Pullman make a strong and very good looking couple. The fact that everyone could sing and the entire cast looked like they were fully involved makes for a truly magical evening. Look for it to become a holiday regular.
The creative team includes stage manager Beonica Bullard, Set and properties, Savannah Brittian, Sound designer, Violet Ceja, Lighting designer, Daniel Johnson- Carter, Costume designer Channel Mahoney & Joy Yvonne Jones Choreographer, Lisa M. Green and music adaptation & direction by John-Mark Mc Gaha.
So, back to the question of what does a nice Jewish girl do on the first night of Chanukah? She goes to the theatre to see a black play filled with charm, love, comedy and drama and the everyday vicissitudes of the Black Family.
And she lights the candles the for the remaining nights!
When: 2 p.m. Wednesdays. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays. 8 p.m. Fridays. 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays. 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays. Through Dec. 26.
Where: New Village Arts, 2787 State St., Carlsbad
Tickets: $20 to $59
Phone: (760) 433-3245
Photo: New Village Arts
COVID protocol: Full vaccination required with at least 14 days from second shot, or negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of performance date. Masks required indoors for all.