Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Diego

1222 Oceanfront: A Black Family Christmas
New Village Arts Theatre
Review by Bill Eadie

Also see Bill's reviews of Azul and Witchland

The Cast
Photo by Rich Soublet Photography
1222 Oceanfront: A Black Family Christmas is a new holiday show, currently being given its world premiere by New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. It's such a delight that I hope it will return annually. Written by Dea Hurston with a "created and devised" credit to Frankie Alicea-Ford, Kevin 'Blax' Burroughs, and Milena (Sellers) Phillips, along with Ms. Hurston, this play with music (Ms. Phillips served as composer of the original songs) tells the story of a large family gathering in its middle-class home for the family's annual Christmas celebration. The characters are all adult family members or significant others, and this particular celebration may turn out to be the last one, at least in its current setting. The home, which has appreciated in value enormously, is too large for Dorothy (Ms. Phillips), the widowed matron, to care for.

Now, of course, the news that the mortgage is paid off and Dorothy wants to spend time with her new beau Victor (Victor Morris) is mixed for some of the family members, particularly James Jr. (Kory LaQuess Pullam), whose wife Aadya (Deja Fields) has not been as accepted into the family as James would have liked. Adopted son Javier (Mr. Alicea-Ford) is gay and has a boyfriend named Brian (Durwood Murray), who arrives late. Javier is worried that Brian may have become too busy with his podiatry practice to continue their relationship. And Dorothy's sister Lizzie (Portia Gregory) is the life of the party.

As directed by the stellar Delicia Turner Sonnenberg, everyone has a good time, including the audience. The worries and rifts are minor ones, and the surprises are pleasant ones. Family traditions, like eating Italian food for Christmas, provide a look into the dynamic of the kind of gathering you don't see in a Hallmark Christmas movie. The cast can all sing, and each one takes a turn at carrying either one of Ms. Phillips' original songs, or traditional carols, or gospel favorites such as "Go Tell It on the Mountain." The ensemble work sparkles under John-Mark McGaha's musical direction.

The creative team has done a solid job: set and properties design by Savannah Brittian, lighting design by Daniel Johnson-Carter, costume design by Chanel Mahoney and Joy Yvonne Jones, and sound design by Violet Ceja. The choreographer is Lesa M. Green.

After this run of 1222 Oceanfront: A Black Family Christmas, the New Village Arts Theatre building will begin its renovation. The final three shows of the company's four-show season will be presented at Oceanside Theatre Company's Sunshine Brooks Theatre at 217 N. Coast Highway in Oceanside, California.

1222 Oceanfront: A Black Family Christmas runs through December 26, 20201, at New Village Arts Theatre, 2787 State St., Carlsbad CA. Free parking is available within a short walk from the theatre. Patrons must present evidence of COVID vaccination and must remain masked while indoors. For tickets and information, please visit or call 760-433-3245.