Shoshana In December

Special call out to Intimacy Choreographer Hannah Westbrook. Her staging of the number “Super Nova” in which the frozen Shoshana decidedly melts is funny, touching, hot as the Sahara, and tasteful to boot. But coloring reindeer is not the problem facing Shoshana as a grown woman. She is in love with boyfriend Danny, who is in love with his guitar. After some years, she delicately hints at her desire for something more: “Danny,” she asks. “Would you rather have a baby or be a baby?” The point is punctuated by a few members of the ensemble entering in Christmas Caroling garb to sing (in Latin – here loosely translated): “SHOSHANA LOVES CHRISTMAS AND SHE’LL KEEP HER MOUTH SHUT….” -in Gregorian-style chant.And there you have it. Will bisexual polyamory involving a Jewish girl with a Christian girl and her Christmas-mad family be enough to unfreeze poor Shoshana without destroying her relationship with Danny or upsetting her Mom?It’s a helluva setup for a Christmas musical and the entire company has a ball with it, working as a well-orchestrated ensemble. Everyone on stage is delightful. The music and the lyrics are sparking and bright. The efficient set design by Matthew Owens does a lot with a little. Nolan Miranda’s costume designs are suitably festive, as is lighting by Maxx Kuzunski.

“Shoshana in December,” a new musical with book by Rose Oser, music by Matt Fukui Grandy. Director: Vanessa Flores. Music Director: Kipi Lipsett. Choreographer: Meredith Joelle Charlson. Scenic Designer: Matthew Owens. Costume Designer: Nolan Miranda. Lighting Maxx Kurzunski. Sound Designer: Ted Cordano, Jr. Properties Designer: Samantha Alexa. Intimacy Choreographer: Muffy Koster. Intimacy Choreographer “Super Nova”: Hannah Westbrook.Shoshana freezes in December, not just because she is Jewish, but because her mother, Rebecca, is militantly anti-Christmas. As played with exuberance by Sara Felder, Rebecca is warm and affectionate, but she has her views.

When Lena Sibony as Shoshana takes center stage in the opening moments of “Shoshona in December,” and eases into the first song, it feels like the audience is getting a great big hug. Which is ironic, because the subject of Jewish Shoshana’s lyric is how she freezes up every December. Can’t seem to help herself. To wit:
Cicely is hotter than hot, and Shoshana starts to heat up. But, she tells Cicely, I have a partner. Cicely does too, as it turns out. And Cicely doesn’t see a problem.

Lena Sibony could not possibly be more delightful as Shoshana in “Shoshana In December,” a world premiere produced at Custommade Theater in association with FaultLine Theater.
Rebecca responds, “They are Christmas animals. And if Mrs. Tasker thinks otherwise, she can host her reindeer contest next June.” The point is hard to dispute.For the health, safety and well-being of everyone in our space, Z Space’s current COVID-19 policy requires all patrons and staff to be fully vaccinated and to wear masks while in the building. You will be asked to show proof of vaccination with ID before entering. Children under 12 are not currently permitted at Z Space. All tickets must be pre-purchased, we are not currently accepting walk-up sales. The difference between a latke and a hashbrown is obvious to Shoshana. It’s as obvious as the difference between being partnered with Danny or being single. But when Cecily invites Shoshana on a winter rendezvous, Shoshana leaps into a world that no longer feels straightforward. Shoshana in December is a new musical about Hanukkah, queerness, and the traditions we must create for ourselves. Operating two venues in San Francisco\u2019s historic Mission District, a mainstage and a black box theater, Z Space hosts new works from a variety of performance disciplines year-round.Sliding scale tickets ($0, $15, $30)! Come one, come all! If you are financially able, please consider purchasing a full-price ticket. Z Space appreciates your support.

This is a one-night developmental reading produced by Z Space. Performers will be acting and singing with scripts in hand. The full production will be produced by Custom Made Theatre Company in December 2022.
Muffy Koster (she/her) is an acting teacher, intimacy director, and actress living on Ramaytush Ohlone Land, San Francisco. Her work focuses on developing new, process-oriented performance techniques that make theatre safer and more imaginative for artists and audiences alike. She’d like to thank Rose, Ciera, Vanessa, and the cast for their trust.

Ted is a new and up-and-coming theater technician who officially started his professional career last May (2022). He has been studying and working in film and theater since high school and recently graduated from Loyola University of New Orleans. He is a jack of all trades but focuses more on sound, stage management, and video editing. He wants to thank Custom Made Theater for the opportunity and his family for their support.–Masks must be worn in the theatre at all times. We are not selling concessions, so there is no eating or drinking exception. Should you need to drink from your personal container, you will have to leave your seat at a safe time and do so in the lobby.Evan Wardell (he/him) is a Musician and Audio Engineer who works at music venues across the bay including The Bandshell in Golden Gate Park and Hyde Street Studios in the Tenderloin. He’s written and recorded 3 studio albums under his own name (look him up on spotify) and he plays in SF based psychedelic western band, The Green Door. He has worked in theater as a designer and tech with Faultline Theater, and a 5 year stint as a house tech at Pianofight, San Francisco’s coolest indie theater venue. Shoshonna In December marks his debut as an actor in a full-length theatrical production.

Hannah Westbrook (she/her) is a dancer and choreographer based in the Bay Area (CA). She has performed nationally and internationally with Tim Rubel Human Shakes and animi motus, and has appeared on stages across California in works by Tim Rubel, Elisabeth Kindler-Abali, Stephan Koplowitz/AXIS Dance Company, Tara Pilbrow, and more. Hannah is a graduate of UC Berkeley where she was honored with the Departmental Citation for outstanding undergraduate accomplishment in Theater, Dance & Performance Studies, and performed in the ensemble of Anna Halprin’s Parades and Changes. Hannah’s dance film work has been screened in festivals across the country including the San Francisco Dance Film Festival, Dare to Dance In Public, Tiny Dance Film Festival, Greensboro Dance Film Festival, DanceBARN ScreenDANCE Festival, and I’m Bored, What’s Next?
Matt Fukui Grandy is a keyboardist, music director, and composer in Oakland, California. He is a co-composer of The Red Shades: A Trans Superhero Rock Opera, co-composer of Totally Normal: A Queer Frenemy Musical Comedy (music by Adrienne Price and Matt Fukui Grandy, book by Adrienne Price and Kelly Anneken). He co-orchestrated Tinderella: the modern musical, which has been produced by FaultLine Theater and Custom Made in SF, and Stumptown Stages in Portland. He co-wrote and recorded the theme song for NPR’s Live from the Poundstone Institute podcast, hosted by Paula Poundstone. Band credits include keyboards in the funk/soul/ rock band “Californicorns”, producer/keyboards for “Peach Thief”, a trans alt folk band, and keyboards in the rock band “The Damn Fanatics.” He was the resident theater music director at Salesian Boys’ and Girls’ Club, a non-profit after-school organization. He will be attending Berklee College of Music in January 2023. As a proud Japanese-American hapa, he is passionate about increasing representation and diversity in historically monolithic field.Matt Owens (he/him) is a San Francisco-based scenic designer, technical director, and interior designer. He has worked as a theatre-maker both locally and in New Zealand. Matt is the in house Technical director for Custom made, most recently was the technical director for Ray of Light theatre’s “Kinky Boots”, designed for Hillbarn’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’”, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”, and “Heathers”, Altarena’s production of “La Cagé”. You can see more of his work in Hillbarn theatre’s “Elf” and Oasis’ production of “the Golden Girls the Christmas episodes”

Vanessa Flores (she/her) is a playwright, short story writer, screenwriter and performer with an MFA in Writing from California College of the Arts (2016). Her plays have been produced by SF Playground, SF Olympians, Double Backbone, and Aluminous Theater. In August 2018, her full-length play Where the Boys Are was produced by FaultLine Theater. In 2019, she premiered Uneasy, a web series about two women of color trying to maintain their challenging lifestyle as artists in Oakland, CA. In 2020, Vanessa launched Other Hand Media, a multi-media storytelling company creating on the basis of experimentation, vulnerability, and play. She is currently the CEO of Kinda Shitty Jewelry, a Word for Word Core Company Member, as well as a writer, singer, and keyboardist for the San Francisco based funny-girl-band, Lentil.Kaitlyn Ortega is a SF based *performer* 😉 who recently moved back from New York. Prior to this, they worked with Faultline in their production Where the Boys Are and they are excited to work with them on this brand new musical! Other Bay Area credits include: Ways to Leave a Body (Cutting Ball Theatre), The Cassandra Project (Troupe Theatre), Phosphorescence – Staged Reading (Z Space), Music/Scene (Pianofight), and Far Away (ACT Fellowship Project). Huge thanks to Rose, Matt, Weston, Vanessa, Kiki & all cast and crew for an amazing process.

Kiki (she/her) is a musician, performer, and music educator. Having grown up in the Bay Area, she trained as a vocalist and pianist, and she has an extensive background in musical theater performance. Kiki has taught music and performance in education programs, in hospitals, and on many retreats and workshops. She frequently performs as a cantorial soloist in Jewish communities throughout the Bay Area as well. Kiki writes, directs, produces, and performs in an annual, politically satirical, feminist, musical Purim comedy all in rhyme. She is thrilled to be expanding her Jewish-holiday-inspired-musical theater repertoire to include Shoshana in December! Lena Sibony (she/her) is so excited to be a part of this incredible new musical. She graduated in 2021 from UCLA where she directed and performed in numerous productions. She has previously worked with SF Playhouse, Contra Costa Civic Theatre and Berkeley Shakespeare Company. A proud Grinch, she is thrilled to be celebrating Hanukkah onstage and off this year. Jord Liu (she/her) is a theater maker, musician, and creative technologist whose work centers collaborative engagement with art. Her work has been featured with the the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO), Musical Theatre Factory, and PACE University in New York, Shotgun Players in Berkeley, FaultLine Theater and Z-Space in San Francisco, and Underscore Theatre in Chicago.

Weston Scott (he/they) is a lyricist best known for Tinderella, a recipient of nine Bay Area Crtics’ Circle nominations and a Theatre Bay Area Finalist for Outstanding World Premiere Musical. He also co-created and co-starred in JFK ’n Me, which ran monthly at PianoFight for two years. Their musical about President William Howard Taft received a TBA CA$H Grant. As a performer, you can check out Green Eggs…and Man? wherever you listen to podcasts, or see him onstage currently in Shotgun Players’ production of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. Wes is an Associate Artist of FaultLine Theater and a proud member of the Dramatists Guild.Nolan Miranda (he/him) is thrilled to be working with Custom Made Theatre Company! He is a graduate of The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising with a degree in Fashion & Costume Design. He has been costuming San Francisco productions since 2009. Some notable design works include The Red Shades, The Book of Will, Urinetown, and A Christmas Carol. Nolan was born and raised in the Philippines, and has lived in the Bay Area since the year 2000. In addition, he is a co-founder and owner of Bab Boi, a catering company specializing in playful Filipino eats.

Rose Oser (she/they) is a theater producer, playwright, and performer. She is the book writer of Shoshana in December (NEA ArtWorks recipient) and Tinderella: the modern musical (world premiere April 2018 co-produced by FaultLine Theater and Custom Made, Portland premiere March 2022 at Portland’5 Brunish Theatre). She was the Interim Producing Director, previously Associate Artistic Director, of Z Space, where she recently produced The Red Shades: A Trans Superhero Rock Opera by Adrienne Price, Jeanine Adkisson, and Matt Fukui Grandy. More at
Sara (she/her) is delighted to be at Custom-Made with these generous actors and the smart and funny creative team. As a performer and playwright, Sara has created a body of work that juggles personal narrative, social justice and circus routines. Her shows – about queerness, Israel/Palestine, mental illness, grief – are all comedies. Sara is the script consultant for Dear San Francisco, now playing in North Beach. Big love to Dev and Jesse. This one’s for Frances Felder, z”l, watching from the best seat in the house.Shoshana is not one to play with fire. Things are good with Danny, great with Danny, nothing could be better than Danny. But when Cecily invites her on a winter rendezvous, Shoshana leaps into a world that no longer feels straightforward. Will exploring outside the bounds of monogamy bring Shoshana closer to Cecily, to Danny, to finally enjoying the worst month of the year? SHOSHANA IN DECEMBER is a new poly-holiday musical about Hanukkah, Christmas, and the traditions we create for ourselves.

John Mannion (he/him) recently emerged from a 20-year off-stage hiatus. Since resurfacing, he’s been busy – appearing at Hillbarn (Gypsy), Tabard (The Odd Couple), Foothill (Drood, Roe, Diary of Anne Frank), Z Space (Shoshana in December (2021 workshop)), Palo Alto Players (All Together Now), and Sunnyvale (Big Fish). Decades ago, John was a musical theater director (Stanford), improv/sketch actor (Mumblypeg, ComedySportz), and rock musician/vocalist. An advertising executive by day, John regularly performs in Zoom rooms around the world. Massive thanks to his talented wife and daughters, mother, in-laws, co-workers, Studio A.C.T., and the Custom Made team for their warm welcome and encouragement.
Book writer Rose Oser says, “In writing Shoshana, we attempt to capture what it feels like to be a jewish person in December, and what can be messy and beautiful about getting through the month with a partner, another partner, and another partner’s parents.”The Custom Made Theatre Co. (Ciera Eis, Interim Artistic Director) closes its 23rd season with the new musical “Shoshana in December” with book by Rose Oser, lyrics by Weston Scott, and music by Matt Fukui Grandy (writers of the smash hit Tinderella in 2018) directed by Vanessa Flores with music direction by Kiki Lipsett.

Custom Made Theatre has announced its 23rd season and first year of residency at the historic Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason St (@ Geary) in the Union Square neighborhood.
Custom Made is a member of Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and Theatre Bay Area (TBA). Recipient of the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Circle Paine Knickerbocker Award for making a lasting contribution to Bay Area theatre.

Director Vanessa Flores adds, “Shoshana in December is loaded with energy, it’s funny, it’s sexy, it asks big questions, and it has a whole lotta heart. This fabulous cast gives us an intimate, modern musical about a woman at a crossroads between tradition and the call of her own heart, all while singing some seriously, new, and catchy bangers.”
San Francisco, CA (October 2022) – The Custom Made Theatre Co. (Ciera Eis, Interim Artistic Director) closes its 23rd season with the new musical “Shoshana in December” with book by Rose Oser, lyrics by Weston Scott, and music by Matt Fukui Grandy (writers of the smash hit Tinderella in 2018) directed by Vanessa Flores with music direction by Kiki Lipsett. Co-produced with FaultLine Theater (Brady Brophy-Hilton, Ciera Eis, Vanessa Flores, Co-Artistic Directors), this new musical centers Hanukkah and queerness to offer a fresh perspective of the holiday season. The musical will close Custom Made’s 23rd season.

The show will perform at the Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason Street, Sixth Floor. The Phoenix is a 49-seat thrust stage next to Union Square in downtown San Francisco.
San Francisco is one of the oldest cities in the United States, offering a near-endless flow of events, cuisines, and cultures to savor. Whether you’re looking for the newest art installations or you’re wanting to watch the latest performances at the Orpheum, we have the connections and recommendations to take your weekend adventures to the next level.Though “Shoshana” is a story about being queer, Jewish and nonmonogamous, Oser hopes anyone will be able to see themselves in the musical. “The show is about honoring traditions and also questioning traditions,” she said.

“Tinderella” premiered at the Custom Made Theatre Co. in 2018 and ran in Portland at the Brunish Theatre in March of this year. Since 2016, Oser has worked at Z Space, a nonprofit performance space in San Francisco, where she is interim producing director. She also hosts Tinder Disrupt, a presentation-based dating show that has run since 2016 and was featured this summer in the San Francisco Chronicle.Oser was born in Munich but grew up in Novato. A longtime resident of the Bay Area, she celebrated her bat mitzvah at Reform Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael and studied rhetoric at UC Berkeley.“Shoshana” is her second production with lyricist Scott. The two previously collaborated on “Tinderella,” a musical about “finding the one … and the one after that.”

As is natural for a musical about the intersection of Hanukkah and Christmas, Oser is not the only Jew in the production of “Shoshana.” Oakland resident Sara Felder, a multidisciplinary performer and former star of her own one-woman show, plays Shoshana’s mother, Rebecca. Kiki Lipsett, a member of the musical team at Chochmat HaLev and creator of the Shushan Queens Purim spiels, is the musical director, and Berkeley actress Lena Sibony (whose Bat Mitzvah was announced in J.) plays Shoshana,
In the first scene of Rose Oser’s new musical, “Shoshana in December”, a Jewish character sings: “I want to have the thing that everyone else had in December, an effervescent outer glow from a fierce internal ember … if I stay frozen, not picking a side, I don’t have to hurt, don’t have to decide.”

Though Sibony has been acting since childhood, this is her first role playing a Jewish character. She has been a fan of “Shoshana” since its first reading at Z Space in December 2021.
Though “Shoshana” is a work of art, Oser drew upon her own life experience for the story. Christmas, for both Shoshana and Oser, is more complex than a simple holiday. As a Jew, Oser said, she always felt the need to resist Christmas. Traditional Christmas stories in film and literature usually carry heteronormative, monogamy-focused narratives — for instance, the pressure to find true love by Dec. 25 and the rush to get home in time for the holiday, Oser said. She wanted to explore the idea that someone would want to be in multiple places — and with multiple people — during the holiday season.

The musical, which Oser co-wrote with lyricist Weston Scott and musician Matt Fukui Grandy, takes place in one of those unusual years when Hanukkah and Christmas overlap. Shoshana is faced with the dilemma of whether to celebrate Hanukkah with her family or to give Christmas a try for the first time with Cecily.
“Part of what I love about Hanukkah is that it lasts for eight nights, and there is this freedom of not [having] so much pressure and urgency around one day,” said Oser. “Part of what we’re trying to explore is that it’s OK to be thoughtful or slow about how you come into yourself.”Presented in partnership with the Custom Made Theatre Co., “Shoshana in December” tells the story of the titular character, a queer Jewish woman who is deciding whether to have an open relationship with her long-term partner, Danny, while she grows closer to a new friend, Cecily — all in the month of December.