Teatro Mascara Magica’s award-winning pastorela is celebrating its 12th anniversary this year and the Mexican-inspired Christmas musical is fresher and more relevant than ever. Where else would theatre lovers see Michael the Archangel, Lucifer, Jerry Springer, Martha Stewart and Spiderman sharing the stage?
“La Pastorela” is TMM’s 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.
Written by Max Branscomb and directed by William Virchis, “La Pastorela Nacer de Nuevo” runs December 12-23 at the Lyceum Space Theatre in Horton Plaza.
Cast members include some of San Diego’s most popular actors. Paul Kruse plays Lucifer, the evil chameleon. Brian Doig is the heroic Michael the Archangel. Timothy Evans and Rhys Green are once again devilish sidekicks Satan and Moloch.
The pastorela is a folk art form that dates back to the beginning of Christianity. During the second century early Christians in hiding acted out the Christmas story to hand it down in the oral tradition. It survived as an underground movement until the Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity.
The Spaniards brought it to Mexico in the 1540s and it became that country’s most popular form of theatre. More than 2,500 unique versions of the story are produced south of the border. Almost every city, town and village in Mexico has its own version of the pastorela.
A pastorela is the tale of the shepherd’s journey to Bethlehem to witness the first Christmas. It is the B-plot of the nativity, a journey fraught with temptations, distractions and mortal peril as the devils try to prevent the shepherds from reaching their special destination. It is a traditional morality play full of choices and introspection, but presented with levity, music, beautiful costumes and poetic dialogue. Pastorelas are written entirely in verse, like a Yuletide Dr. Seuss story.
Following a tradition established by Raul 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.
Teatro Mascara Magica 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 the Teatro is to subsidize ticket prices to make live theatre affordable to families and less affluent persons. The company is a national leader in multicultural theatre.