November 22, 2006

Teatro Máscara Mágica’s delightful nativity play, La Pastorela de la Estrella, lights up Globe’s Cassius Carter Center Stage this holiday season

The Old Globe is pleased to present Teatro Máscara Mágica’s award-winning production of La Pastorela de la Estrella, by Max Branscomb, directed by William Virchis, playing in the Cassius Carter Centre Stage December 7 – 23.

Teatro Máscara Mágica’s Mexican-inspired holiday musical is the newest twist on the traditional story of the shepherds’ journey to Bethlehem to witness the first Christmas. Called to action by Archangels Michael and Gabriel, the shepherds face temptation and danger from evil Lucifer and his nasty minions. The bilingual script is primarily in English with more than a dozen beautiful Christmas carols sung in Spanish.

Celebrating its 16th anniversary this year, the musical is trendier than ever. Where else will theatre lovers find Archangels Michael and Gabriel, Lucifer, super models, Nacho Libre, Howie Mandel and Superman sharing the stage? The cast include some of San Diego’s most popular actors: television star Willie Green (Michael), Ed Hollingsworth (Lucifer), Timothy Evans (Satan), and Joey Molina (Moloch).

La Pastorela is the tale of the shepherd’s journey to Bethlehem to witness the first Christmas — a journey fraught with temptations, distractions and mortal peril as the devils try to prevent the shepherds from reaching their special destination. This delightful morality play is full of choices and introspection, but presented with levity, music, and hilarious contemporary references.

Teatro Máscara Mágica and The Old Globe developed and produced the first English language pastorela in San Diego in 1991 at the Globe. Following a tradition established by Globe Education Associate Raúl Moncada, who wrote the 1991 pastorela, Branscomb’s devils and angels are masters of disguise who appear throughout the shepherd’s journey as historic and contemporary characters. TMM’s pastorelas have inspired theatre companies throughout the Southwest United States to produce their own.

A journalism professor at Southwestern College, playwright Max Branscomb has written 14 Pastorelas for Teatro Máscara Mágica, and several others for theatres in Los Angeles, Tucson, and Bakersfield, and other cities. Besides his work with Teatro Máscara Mágica, Branscomb is the founder and artistic director of the annual Bonitafest Melodrama, which just concluded its 28th season. Branscomb is San Diego County’s most commissioned playwright. He has authored more than 70 produced plays and musicals for more than 20 theatre companies.

William Alejandro Virchis, former professor and artistic director at Southwestern College, is Director of Visual and Performing Arts at the Sweetwater Union High School District. In the 1970s, Virchis directed the Old Globe’s GET Tour. In 1981, he and Dr. Jorge Huerta, along with Old Globe Founding Director Craig Noel, founded Teatro Meta, the Globe’s bilingual playwriting program. Virchis and Huerta co-directed the Puerto Rican play, The Fanlights/Los Soles Truncos, in the Carter in 1983, offering performances in English and Spanish.

Teatro Máscara Mágica was founded in 1989 by Virchis and UCSD professor Dr. Jorge Huerta to increase the production of multicultural theatre and to provide professional theatrical opportunities to underrepresented segments of the population. Another mission of TMM is to subsidize ticket prices in order to make live theatre affordable to families and underserved populations. The company is a national leader in multicul-tural theatre.

This year’s production will also include La Posada, a longstanding Mexican Christmas tradition, in which actors and audience members re-enact Joseph and Mary’s journey through Bethlehem looking for shelter. The wanderers go from door to door, and are consistently refused sanctuary until they reach the manger where the Christ child is born. The name refers to the specific song (“Las Posadas”) that is sung in which tells of the search for shelter and the “homeowners” who turn them away. La Posada will take place on the Globe Plaza at about 30 minutes before curtain on the evening of each performance.

Performances take place at 7:30pm on December 7-10, 13-17, and 19-23; matinees December 9, 10, 16, 17 and 23 at 2pm. Tickets are $22 for adults, $16 for students/military/seniors, and $10 for children under 17. For tickets and information please call (619) 23-GLOBE (234-5623) or visit www.TheOldGlobe.org.

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