It was a magical evening at the Geffen Playhouse as Debbie Allen played fairy godmother to a mesmerized pre-Christmas crowd. The famed singing and dancing machine presided over a lavish musical production called “Pearl,” a contemporary adaptation of the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Pearl proved to be a perfect holiday pick and a delight for audiences of all ages.

    In this hip, new version, Snow White becomes Pearl, whose sparkling voice outshines that of her wicked rock star mom, not so affectionately called The Queen. Things get tense when meanie Queenie’s computer tells her she’s no longer the fairest of them all. The dastardly diva orders her henchmen to take poor Pearl to the circus, where she will meet her untimely end. But of course, the plan is foiled and good prevails over evil. In the meantime, we are enchanted by a colorful procession of clowns, gymnasts and ribbon dancers, and of course, Prince Charming.

    While Allen was the big name draw, she wasn’t the only star in this show. She shared the spotlight with 35 talented youngsters who gave it their all. Ranging in age from 6 to 18, most of the young performers hailed from the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Culver City.

    Geffen Director Gil Cates was clearly impressed with the production and with the force behind it. “Debbie Allen is an artist of great vision,” he says. “She is fulfilling our educational outreach mission by updating a timeless fairy tale and making it more accessible for a new generation of theatergoers.”

    In addition to colorful sets, dazzling costumes and memorable performances, Pearl has a message for kids and adults alike. According to Allen, it’s about tapping into your inner truth and beauty letting those fairest of qualities flow out to the world around you.

    “Pearl” runs through Dec. 29.

    WHERE TO BE IN ’03

    If you don’t feel like making the trek into town, there are plenty of local fetes to satisfy party fever with a theme to suit every taste.

    For Greek food and ambiance, Taverna Tony’s will host a belly-dancing bacchanal. For a blast to the past, Guido’s will feature a ’70s deejay, and they’ll also be spinning vinyl at Moonshadows, where you can bust some moves by the sea. And Granita promises a snazzy 31st, with Conrad Janis and the Unlisted Beverly Hills Jazz Band.

    As for me, Mamma Mia! I’m taking a gaggle of my favorite pals home to Venice.

    So sip some bubbly, burn some sage and wherever you may be, here’s to health and joy and a fab 2003!