Alexa Ortega sings of joy, resilience in holiday show

Alexa Ortega goes on a nostalgic musical journey in “Once Upon a Fiery Christmas." (Courtesy photo)

Alexa Ortega is a renaissance woman.

The Los Angeles personal trainer (who has a degree in psychology and has worked as a child counselor) also is a singer-actress opening her third original show, “Once Upon a Fiery Christmas,” in The City this week.

The collection of nostalgic, emotional and substantive songs and stories celebrates universal themes — compassion, joy, family and belonging — and the resiliency of the human spirit.

“With a show being this personal, it’s both terrifying and freeing because I’m stepping into vulnerability and authenticity,” says Ortega, 28, who was born and raised in the Philippines and the Bay Area.

Following after “Soul on Fire,” which she presented at Martuni’s in San Francisco in April, and a variation of it in October in Hollywood, “Once Upon a Fiery Christmas” is filled with new material.

Featuring vocalist Lauren Arnold and piano accompanist Alan Choy, the show is the culmination of a multifarious career and her most transparent presentation yet.

“My writing process is based on my intuition. I’ll listen to different musical theater songs, and whatever I feel emotionally connected to — because I have a visceral reaction to it — then I know that’s the right song. Then after choosing the songs, these stories come up from my past and I start to choose one to match that song so that I can emotionally transport people to that moment with me,” says
Ortega, who has been performing since she was 12.

A vivacious, belting soprano, she starred in Broadway by the Bay’s “The Wiz” as Dorothy, Bay Area Musicals’ “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and in the title role of Hillbarn Theatre’s production of “Aida.”

She also has worked in film and television, hosting “Whacked!” on Nickelodeon Asia and the 2005 “Kids Choice Awards” in Los Angeles.

In a singing appearance on the Filipino reality show “Are You the Next Big Star?,” she placed among the top five contestants; she also starred in two San Francisco-shot films, “Paramutual Activity” and “Bambi’s Epiphany.”

IF YOU GO
Once Upon a Fiery Christmas
Where: Phoenix Annex, 414 Mason St., Suite 406, S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Dec. 16
Tickets: $17 to $25
Contact: www.alexaortega.com/upcoming-shows

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