New Village Arts Innovates this Holiday Season Presenting the Hilarious

1222 Oceanfront: A Black Family Christmas
Playing at the Carlsbad Venue Until December 26 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Deja Fields, Kory LaQuess Pullam, Durwood Murray, Frankie Alicea-Ford, Milena (Sellers) Phillips, Victor Morris, Portia Gregory, and “Joon”.
Photo by Rich Soublet

The holiday season brings many offerings from Christmas carols, photo ops, light trails, and of course, theatre. I mentioned in one of my Views that during the holidays, audiences have the option to see versions and versions of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol front and center. It is not a bad thing, it is just a given that follows tradition. New Village Arts within the merry mix debuted with 1222 Oceanfront: A Black Family Christmas, a new holiday musical written by San Diego playwright Dea Hurston and devised by Frankie Alicea-Ford, Kevin “Blax” Burroughs, Milena (Sellers) Phillips, and Dea Hurston. Directed by one of San Diego's best, Delicia Turner-Sonnenberg, the musical features original music by Milena (Sellers) Phillips with adaptation and direction by JohnMark McGaha.

This novelty is a great example of representation and the bridge to produce different stories with different-looking families. 1222 Oceanfront shows and proves that family issues that arise within the holiday gatherings, are one and the same regardless of color. So why not produce more of them?

Frankie Alicea-Ford and Kory LaQuess Pullam. Photo by Rich Soublet
Dorothy Black (Milena (Sellers) Phillips) is a widow and mom of two grown men that live their own lives but have the Christmas tradition of coming back home to Carlsbad for the holidays and feast on memories, practices, and family love. Junior (Kory LaQuess Pullam) likes things the way he likes them, his mother's fresh-squeezed lemonade for example, and is not a fan of change. He's been married for a couple of years to social media mogul Aadya (Deja Fields) who Dorothy is not a fan of, shocker! lol. Junior has a younger brother Javi (Frankie Alicea-Ford), who is Latin American and in a relationship with Podiatrist Brian (Durwood Murray). Dorothy is a traditionalist and a bit conservative too, her sister Lizzie (Portia Gregory) kicks some sense into her from time to time, and also plays matchmaker with her co-worker Victor (Victor Morris).

There are so many things I loved about this piece. It is a well-written story with attention to detail that is relatable like I mentioned in the beginning, regardless of color. You would think that the mother not liking the daughter-in-law is a formulaic approach but it definitely is standard. The funny, fun aunt Lizzie who is also a widow carrying her husband's ashes in a creative, user-friendly way,  hilariously brought to life by Portia Gregory lands the play and shows audiences that these stories are "just like us". A son having a hard time with change and facing the reality of "sharing" his mom and, accepting that she is too a woman with needs and longing companionship. Junior is jealously furious at Dorothy's new beau Victor, a cowboy owner of an avocado ranch. An avocado ranch of all things! oh, how I welcomed this storyline which makes for great scenes between Kory and Victor. Brother Javi being Latin American well, what can I say. AWESOME. 

The issues captured within a Black family that chose Carlsbad as their home. An upper-class, predominantly White area where they faced racist obstacles provides a window to matters that need to be put out there, and what better way to do so than onstage. 

Milena (Sellers) Phillips, Victor Morris, Kory LaQuess Pullam, Deja Fields. Photo by Rich Soublet
Additionally, Dea Hurston blends topics like adoption, grief, loss, parenting, and family in a jolly, memorable and rhythmic staging. Every actor in the cast is great and they carry the beat well. Their singing voices are not bad either but for me, Frankie Alicea-Ford's potent vocals take the cake. -I had never in my life heard a version of jingle bells in Spanish BTW-.

I greatly enjoyed the 2 hours and change delivery however, I believe the songs need work. The musical element is understandable but the story is so good that the songs became more of a filler than anything.

Savannah Brittian's charming set design definitely brings everyone back home for the holidays. Chanel Mahoney and Joy Ivonne Jone's costume designs make everybody look merry and all the footwear is on fire. Especially Dorothy's high heels and Victor's cowboy boots. 

1222 Oceanfront: A Black Family Christmas is one that should not be missed this holiday season. Great family fun for everybody in a gorgeous area fun for everybody as well.

Single tickets range from $30 to $59 dollars and are available at 

Shameless plug: listen to our latest podcast episode where we talk to two wonderful cast members of She The People with The Second City HERE

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