La Posada Magica | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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La Posada Magica

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La Posada Magica, Transplant Theater Company, at the Athenaeum Theatre. Like Dickens's parable of healing, this 1994 Christmas musical by Octavio Solis and Marcos Loya confronts the dark side of the holiday. Bitter over the death of her baby brother, the teenage Gracie decides to join a posada (a street procession depicting Christ's birth) and subvert it. But her bad deeds are met by unexpected forgiveness.

Solis brings street smarts to a tale that's neither too hip for sentiment nor too reverent for skepticism. A tad too many complications prolong Gracie's change of heart, but then Ebenezer requires the help of four ghosts. Two wily scavengers (Matthew Welton and James Finnerty, grotesquely caricatured by Daniel L. Grant's masks) bent on their own venal posada get the liveliest numbers in a score that ranges from traditional carols to rhythm and blues.

Now in its second year, Rogelio Riojas's staging nicely balances the show's Kodak moments against the plot's believable obstacles. Lucina Guerrero's Gracie exudes the usual exasperating or endearing teenage angst and, happily, earns her redemption. Jeremy Trager confidently plays the slyly knowing narrator, and Blake Sereno and Marilyn Bielby are affecting as seekers of shelter on a cold Christmas Eve.

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