On the Town: 'Christmas' is an interactive hit with children; Walter Hoving Home awarded grant
Riley Sheets' visit to "A Snow White Christmas" starts with a peek into Santa's mailbox at the Pasadena Playhouse. (Courtesy photo / December 28, 2012)
“A Snow White Christmas,” considered an interactive musical, was produced and written by British born Kris Lythgoe. His co-producer is fiancé Becky Baeling. Kris’ father, Nigel Lythgoe who exec produces “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” shows up in a video cameo for the Playhouse production. Kris’s mother, Bonnie Lythgoe directs. The production was produced by, natch, Lythgoe Family Productions.
According to Kris, American panto has an advantage over British panto: “The major difference is the talent. The talent, as we all know, in this country is far superior when it comes to musical theater than in the U.K.”
But the production’s young audience members were the talented ones during the party before the show. Ninety minutes before all matinee and evening performances were children’s games and activities in the Playhouse courtyard. There was also a professional photographer snapping pictures of family groupings in front of a busy elves backdrop. On Saturday (Dec. 22) Pasadena residents taking advantage of the fun and photos were Barbara and John House and their 5-year-old granddaughter Sophie House, visiting from Iowa. Another Pasadena grandma was Barbara Kaufman. She was accompanied by granddaughter Riley Sheets, 6, and grandson Braden Sheets, 4, from Manhattan Beach. The children’s mother is Summer Sheets who had been raised in Pasadena.
North San Gabriel residents were Julie Leung and 6-year-old daughter Ellen Leung. They brought friends from Santa Monica, Rachel Hsu and daughter Alix Grube, 4.
Patrick Oliva, one of three Playhouse house managers, said 580 seats were filled for the 11 a.m. performance. The Playhouse has 684 seats. According to Oliva, several performances during the run were standing-room-only.
Much of what goes on behind the scenes at the Playhouse is made possible by close to 400 volunteers. A volunteer for 10 years, Katharan Barrows from Monrovia was on duty during the party. She was in charge of the merchandise cart, heavy with production T-shirts for sale. Although not an official Playhouse volunteer, husband Bill Barrows was on hand to help. All cart proceeds support the efforts of the Friends of the Playhouse fundraising wing of the theater.
There will definitely be a future for Lythgoe Family Productions. The master plan is to expand their holiday franchise to a dozen U.S. cities over the next five years. “Aladdin” is already scheduled for next year at the Playhouse.
Pasadena’s Walter Hoving Home was awarded a $1,000 grant presented by members of Soroptimist International of Glendale. On Thursday, Dec. 20, the Glendale Hilton in its holiday splendor was the setting for over 100 members and guests attending the Soroptimists’ “Gifts of the Heart” Grant Presentation Luncheon.
Walter Hoving Home founder Elsie Benton accepted the award from Soroptimist Service Grants Committee member Janet Hamilton. The heart theme of the program represented “how much we appreciate your [charity] organization,” said Hamilton. The Home was one of 14 programs receiving Soroptimist grants totaling $16,775.
The Walter Hoving Home is a nonprofit, 24-hour residential rehabilitation center serving women ages 18 and over who have been involved in drug addiction, alcoholism and other life-controlling problems. The Home, located in the historic former Mira Monte Hotel on South El Molino Ave., has been in existence for 42 years and can house up to 50 women.
RUTH SOWBY may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.