CONEY ISLAND CHRISTMAS: 79% – SWEET

“Coney Island Christmas” at the Geffen Playhouse. Credit: Michael Lamont.

SWEET
As with many gifts, the wrapping isn’t much to speak of, in this case a weak framing narrative taken from a Grace Paley short story. But what’s inside – not one but two kid pageants superbly staged by Bart DeLorenzo, and a pan-denominational message – is a jewel to be cherished.
Bob Verini – Variety

SWEET
Coney Island Christmas is a lovely evening of theatre for everyone, regardless of religious beliefs. Everyone will be moved and first and foremost entertained by Margulies’ little theatrical parable.
Don Grigware – Grigware Reviews

SWEET
Thanks to the limitless imagination of director Bart DeLorenzo, as well as a dynamic cast stuffed full of some of our town’s finest actors, this could be the biggest hit of the jam-packed holiday season. If it can melt the hardened heart and tickle the calloused funnybone of crusty old critics, leaving one ready to get the kid to go to the corner and buy the prize goose for the Cratchits’ Christmas dinner, it could even become an annual event for Geffen Playhouse.
Travis Michael Holder – Backstage

BITTERSWEET
Director Bart DeLorenzo stages the show efficiently and gets good work from his ensemble, although the material doesn’t give him much to work with. Playwright Margulies has said in interviews he was commissioned to create a “Jewish Christmas play,” but in trying to satisfy both parts of that mandate he winds up in a middle zone that fulfills neither.
Terry Morgan – LAist

SWEET
In a holiday season filled with the usual plethora of Christmas Carols, White Christmases, and other seasonal standards, a brand new December tale provides welcome variety to an otherwise business-as-usual month. That Margulies, DeLorenzo, and company make bona fide holiday magic on the Geffen stage is icing on the Christmas cake.
Steven Stanley – StageSceneLA

BITTER
Director Bart DeLorenzo does his best to keep this memory play moving and stages it as if to preemptively head off any boredom. But there’s little he can do when the source material lacks real dramatic conflict. Theatrical flourishes and stagecraft abound. At one point snow even falls, but because it’s not attached to a story of consequence, the effect melts away before any effect has a chance to resonate or stick.
Thomas Antoinne – Stage and Cinema

SWEET
Relief is here and can be found on stage at the Geffen Playhouse in the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright’s over-the-top delightful, well-written play, “Coney Island Christmas,” which is based on “The Loudest Voice,” a short story by Grace Paley.
Beverly Cohn – LASplash

SWEET
Treat yourself and buy tickets for the whole family. “Coney Island Christmas” is such a gift of a play. You will want to unwrap it and share with those you love.
Audrey Linden – LA Examiner

SWEET
DeLorenzo deserves credit for the committed and seamless work that he elicits from the entire ensemble, and the evening’s graceful blend of lighthearted fun and timeless truths. And Margulies has given us a gift that promises to continue enchanting audiences for years to come as a new holiday-season classic.
Les Spindle – EdgeLosAngeles

BITTER
Past and present are bathed in a warm, sentimental light and covered with enough shmaltz to choke a rhinoceros.
Willard Manus – Total Theater

SWEET
Margulies has easily created the framework, and DeLorenzo has set a high bar for subsequent productions. It is hard to imagine a better one.
Melinda Schupmann – ArtsInLA

SWEET
While it’s not a masterpiece, “A Coney Island Christmas” is a diverting and fun night at the theater for the whole family.
Katie Buenneke – Neon Tommy

SWEET
This wonderful story by Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Margulies (based on the short story, The Loudest Voice by Grace Paley), can mollify those of the Jewish persuasion and offer a humorous and entertaining production for everyone.
Carol Kaufman Segal – Reviewplays

BITTERSWEET
The question of whether she’ll be allowed to go on with the show is belabored by Margulies. Paley’s story, “The Loudest Voice,” conjures entire worlds with Yiddish-inflected turns of phrase, and both the playwright and director, Bart DeLorenzo, should have followed this less-is-more approach. There’s also too much speechifying about America, Christmas and the meaning of a play that recognizes the dangers of assimilation but generously sees the glass as half full.
Charles McNulty – LA Times

SWEET
Director Bart DeLorenzo gives the piece a lovingly hilarious production, full of holiday memories. Ann Closs-Farley’s witty costumes, including a glorious Thanksgiving turkey, are a triumph, and Takeshi Kata’s sets cleverly evoke 1930s Brooklyn.
Neal Weaver – LA Weekly

SWEET
And kudos to the playwright and director for bringing us a new holiday classic; it was commissioned in memory of the Geffen’s late artistic director, Gil Cates, and it’s a loving tribute.
Sarah A. Spitz – Santa Monica Daily Press

SWEET
A play commissioned from Donald Margulies might as well come with a money-back guarantee. Coney Island Christmas is a smart investment in Christmas Futures for the Geffen Playhouse. Its world premiere (through December 30) should cheer American theaters hungry for holiday fare that owes nothing to Scrooge.
Cristofer Gross – TheaterTimes

SWEET
Director Bart DeLorenzo’s cast — mostly talented young adults in real life — channel their more juvenile memories into a hilarious panorama of somewhat bored, somewhat curious, generally untalented kids who are bewildered by this thing called acting.
Don Shirley – LA Stage Times

SWEET
The play is a huge success and I think Gil would reiterate, “perfect”.
Robert Machray – Stagehappenings

SWEET
A bit of nostalgia and a lot of fun, Coney Island Christmas is a play from the heart that delicately weaves different religious beliefs into a holiday story about children’s dreams, cultural history, and family dynamics.
Marilyn Anderson – LASplash

SWEET
A glorification of Yiddish theatre posited in a multicultural melting pot. One of the best holiday productions I’ve seen this season.
Bonnie Priever – LA Examiner

BITTER
“Coney Island Christmas” is a warmed-over shapeless mass of good will. Even the yuletide could use a little bit of bite.
Evan Henerson – LA Examiner

BITTERSWEET
Even at 90 minutes, “Coney Island Christmas,” directed by Bart DeLorenzo and running through Dec. 30, feels attenuated, as well as predictable and sentimental. Much of the fun derives from watching the actors portraying Shirley’s schoolmates shuffling awkwardly through their roles in the pageants: casting embarrassed or teasing glances at one another, rambling across the stage awkwardly like newborn foals, delivering their lines with zombified intonation as they stare saucer-eyed into the audience.
Charles Isherwood – New York Times

CONEY ISLAND CHRISTMAS
Presented by and at the Geffen Playhouse
10886 Le Conte Ave., L.A.
Nov. 28–Dec. 30, 2012
Tickets: $45-$75; (310) 208-5454

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LemonMeter About the Author: We don’t “review” shows here at the Lemon, rather we "review" reviews by gathering them from a variety of local review sites around the internet, judging them to be positive or negative, then forming an aggregate score that we call a LEMONMETER RATING, showing how well that show has been reviewed in total. For more detail on how the LemonMeter works visit here.

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