'Striking 12' implores audiences to remain hopeful this holiday season
Chance Theater proudly presents GrooveLily’s rock concert-musical ‘Striking 12’ to ring in the new year with fresh hope.
By Libby Nicolay
In the aftermath of a global pandemic, self-isolation has become commonplace. Many have found it difficult to find their new normal and restart their routines. Developing deeper connections with others feels much harder than it used to. Societal turmoil has caused many to lose their faith in the goodness of humanity. Nowadays, it seems as though everyone could use a bit of hope and laughter. Chance Theater is bringing the full measure of holiday spirit this season with funk-rock trio GrooveLily’s holiday concert-musical Striking 12. Though first premiered back in 2004, the show evokes themes that are especially timely for the world today.
Chance Theater has long been known to present adaptations of books and other literary works on their stage during the holidays. “Striking 12 has been on Chance's radar for some time now,” managing director Casey Long explains. When it came to choosing their holiday series, this show managed to fit right into the tradition as it brings to life the timeless fable of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Match Girl, about a young girl selling matchsticks on the street in a bitter cold winter.
This original musical weaves together the classic fairy tale with a new modern-day account of a tired and disgruntled man in New York City who shuts himself in on New Year’s Eve, refusing to go out and celebrate. A saleswoman suddenly shows up at his doorstep in hopes of “lighting up” his life by selling him holiday lightbulbs that combat “seasonal affective disorder” (or SAD).
The two stories parallel and eventually converge, all while striking a similar chord to the current era of self-isolation our world is collectively experiencing today. The musical also explores themes of hoping and dreaming for the future and of rediscovering one’s forgotten holiday spirit. “It’s about dreaming,” director Kari Hayter says. “It’s about having visions and looking into your future and seeing the good out of the cards that you’re dealt.”
Deemed the “anti-holiday holiday show for people who don’t like holiday shows,” Striking 12 also beckons anyone who may not be feeling the typical thrill of holiday spirit this year. Managing director Casey Long agrees, adding, “The songs are so relatable to anyone who has felt lonely during the holidays.”
Despite its timeliness, the show has spent the last 17 years being produced in several regional and off-Broadway theatres around the country, and received a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical in 2007.
The Chance’s production features a talented cast of local artists who will play their own musical instruments throughout the show, with the music ranging widely from pop and rock to jazz and showtunes. Hayter wants those who come see the show to find this energy infectious in such a close and comfortable space. “It’s entertaining, you’re right there with the band. It’s really intimate,” she explains.
Striking 12 is one of the few holiday plays that doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Unlike the Christmas traditions that vary by region, celebrating the new year is a universal experience that transcends all cultures and traditions. “It’s a real universal story,” Hayter explains. “It’s really just about a new life, a new year, a new future.”
Hayter hopes audiences will take away from this show “pure entertainment” and total fun. She hopes the story will lead many to consider their own dreams and visions for both the new year and for our world in the times ahead.
As for Long, he expressed gratitude for the return of live theater post-pandemic. Chance Theater is eager to help ease the community back together once again for the holiday season. “I think after the last 20 months we've had as a global community, the journey back to believing in humanity again speaks to us.”
Libby Nicolay is a writer, literary manager, and local theater enthusiast working in the entertainment industry throughout Orange County.
Cripe Stage, Chance Theater at Bette Aitken Theater Arts Center, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim.
Previews: Nov. 26-Dec 3. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.
Regular run: Dec. 4-Dec 19. Thu., 7:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 and 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.