The Making of a Holiday Classic: Coney Island Christmas

Ralph Meranto, Artistic Director of the JCC CenterStage, is always an entertaining guest, so I was delighted when he agreed to come on Conversations with Creatives to talk about the East Coast Premiere of Coney Island Christmas, a charming holiday play by award-winning Playwright Donald Margulies. Even as I read the play, not having yet seen it, the scenes sprung to life because Margulies is such a master storyteller.

Coney Island Christmas is the story of Shirley, the daughter of Jewish immigrants, who is chosen to play Jesus in her school’s Christmas Pageant.  Needless to say, this wreaks havoc in her family and provides great fodder for comedy as cultures clash, holiday traditions are put to the test, and parents and daughter are embroiled in a battle of wills.

Composed of a large cast of adults and children, most of whom each play a variety of roles, the play sparkles with life.

In this episode, Ralph Meranto talks about the casting, the characters, and the abiding themes and shared experiences that surface in this play, that are guaranteed to delight audiences of all ages and make this a timeless holiday classic.

Coney Island Christmas is directed by David Henderson, and features the talents of Tali Beckwith-Cohen and her actual parents, who shine as the young Shirley and her theatrical parents. The play runs through December 20, 2015 at the JCC Centerstage with performances on Thursday at 7 PM, Saturday at 2 PM and 8 PM and Sunday at 2 PM.

2 Minute Excerpt

Excerpt: An Inside Look at the East Coast Premiere of Coney Island Christmas from CAROL WHITE LLEWELLYN on Vimeo.

Full Episode

An Inside Look at Coney Island Christmas, with Ralph Meranto from CAROL WHITE LLEWELLYN on Vimeo.