In Latin culture Christmas is a time to remember the true origins of the holiday. One of the ways this is done is by having a neighborhood “posada” in which neighbors, one posing as Mary and another as Joseph, go from house to house asking for shelter and being turned away.
It is also a time to collect blankets and clothes for the poor. La Posada Magica is a play by Octavio Solis (who wrote the Taper’s Lydia). It has been performed for the last thirteen years as part of South Coast Repertory’s Christmas celebration and remembrance. Due to hard economic times, even in Orange County, the play was let go from the annual schedule. The cast, who over the years have grown very attached to the piece and know its power, approached the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles, which agreed to sponsor the show.
It is a simple but moving tale of a girl, played by the lovely Tiffany Ellen Solano, who is asked to join the neighborhood posada. But Gracie has recently lost a baby brother and is distraught with grief, so she sets about to undermine the posada because she just can’t bring herself to celebrate the birth of Jesus after her brother’s death. In other hands this part could be cloying and the girl unpleasant in her grief, but Solano brings it off beautifully.
She is supported by a combination of vets and newcomers to this production. Chrissy Guerrero and Richard Soto play her parents, Kevin Sifuentes plays the school custodian Eli. The always good Denise Blazor and Carla Jimenez play a pair of amusing widows, Benito Martinez is the leader, and Sol Castillo nearly steals the show as the rambunctious Refugio. (This cast alternates with a different one, except for Ms. Blazor, who is also the costume designer and producer.) Diane Rodriguez directs, and music is provided by a wonderful set of musicians: Lorenzo Martinez, cast member Sol Castillo, and composer Marcos Loya.
In the end Gracie realizes that it is more rewarding to let the message of Christmas inspire her, and by proxy we the audience, to overcome hard times. I can’t think of a more fitting message for the season. La Posada Magica plays at the Odyssey Theatre until Dec 24th and it is hoped that the show will find a home at the Odyssey in future seasons as well. So if you are all “Scrooged” out, see this delightful, moving show.