‘A Little Tokyo Christmas’ Returns Dec. 21

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Above and below: Scenes from last year’s show.

“A Little Tokyo Christmas” is returning this year to the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center.

Helmed by producer/director/performer Michael Hagiwara and music-directed by Dan Taguchi, the show got its start in 2009 at East West Players, though last year it found a new home at JACCC.

“It’s an all-new show,” says Hagiwara of 2019’s offerings. “Different acts and new songs, of course. We’re going to have taiko this year and we’re also having a mariachi band come in.”

That said, you can count on the classics as well: “One of the favorites last year was Jason Fong’s piece, so he’ll be returning. So will Ukes for Little Tokyo,” Hagiwara says.

Rumor on the street is the Nisei Widows Club will also be in attendance. (Now, will Greg Watanabe’s surprisingly stirring spoken-word version of “Frosty the Snowman” be back too? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.)

In addition, Hagiwara promises “lots of surprise guests,” as well as fun Little Tokyo-themed re-workings of some of your favorite musical theater standards. The show will also feature a Christmas tree trimmed by none other than actor/Christmas tree decorator extraordinaire Tamlyn Tomita.

“It’s a great way to see artists who have been a part of this community come together during the holidays and share the warm Little Tokyo spirit,” says producer Rani de Leon.

The show’s accompanying craft fair will also be back, so get ready to stock up on holiday gifts and goodies.

“It gets people in the Christmas spirit,” says Hagiwara. “It’s a great way to get the community together.” He adds that he was particularly touched by a patron who came up to thank him after last year’s show. “He said, ‘I wasn’t feeling very much in the mood for Christmas, but after I saw the show, it got me in the mood.’ Really, that’s what it’s all about.”

Performers include: Cesar Cipriano, Alison De La Cruz, Geoff Dwyer, Takayo Fischer, Jason Fong, Ai Goeku Cheung, Here and Now Theatre Co., Mike Hagiwara, Yumi Iwama, Nina Kasuya, Kurt Kuniyoshi, Emily Kuroda, Mariachi Los Alumnos, Rosie Narasaki, Walter Nishinaka, Sharon Omi, Helen Ota, Mike Palma, Tripp Pickell, Krystina Reyes, Aaron Takahashi, Tamlyn Tomita, Diana Toshiko, Ukuleles for Little Tokyo, Samantha Valdellon, Greg Watanabe, Allen Lucky Weaver, Marlene Yamane Chau and more.

“For folks and families looking for mutli-generational cheer, laughter and connections, this is the show for us all!” says Alison De La Cruz, JACCC vice president of programs. “It’s been a great process re-introducing Little Tokyo to this annual tradition and we look forward to our friends from Little Tokyo and beyond joining us for a uniquely LT holiday experience!”

Tickets: $25 general admission, $22 for seniors and students, $20 for JACCC members. Proceeds go to JACCC’s free programs like Fiesta Matsuri, Keiro No Hi and FandangObon.

Showtime: Saturday, Dec. 21, from 3 to 6 p.m. JACCC is located at 244 S. San Pedro St. between Second and Third streets in Little Tokyo. For reservations, contact the Aratani Theatre Box Office at (213) 680-3700 or [email protected]

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