Gotta sing, gotta dance: UCSB’s summer film series showcases the musical

Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain" UCSB Arts & Lectures photo
Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain”
UCSB Arts & Lectures photo

In its sixth installment of the popular summer film series, UCSB Arts & Lectures turns to another staple of Hollywood: The Musical. “Over the Rainbow: Great American Movie Musicals” runs from July 8 through Aug. 21 and features free screenings of seven musical movie classics.

Previous years have focused on a director like Alfred Hitchcock, or on silent comedies or classic Universal Studios horror or sci-fi. But this is the first time such a wide-ranging genre over such a long period has been chosen, with a nod to audience favorites and less to a comprehensive overview.

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Ensemble Theatre stages Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan’s daring musical ‘Woyzeck’

The "Woyzeck" cast includes Matt Gottlieb (Doctor), Stephen Van Dorn (Woyzeck) and Matthew Henerson (Captain). David Bazemore
The “Woyzeck” cast includes Matt Gottlieb (Doctor), Stephen Van Dorn (Woyzeck) and Matthew Henerson (Captain).
David Bazemore

When writer Georg Büchner died at 23 in 1837, he left behind the fragments of a play that had no ending and no official structure. Yet out of all his works, the “working-class tragedy” of “Woyzeck,” about a soldier gone murderously mad with jealousy, is the most read, most performed, and most interpreted. There have been operas, movies, a ballet and many stage adaptations. It is extremely open to interpretation.

Ensemble Theatre’s Jonathan Fox has taken on one of the most popular recent adaptations of the play — a musical by Tom Waits and his wife/collaborator Kathleen Brennan — and brought it to the New Vic, opening tonight. And even that is an interpretation: Mr. Fox has ditched the other third of that 2002 production: Robert Wilson’s direction and production design.

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William Koseluk’s history with one musical brings back Santa Barbara memories

Lea Schultz and David Gaertig
Lea Schultz and David Gaertig

When William Koseluk walked into the Village Country Club in Lompoc eight years ago, he immediately had a thought.

“I Do! I Do! This needs to be done in this space.”

This year, the musical director gets his wish, as 1966’s “I Do! I Do!” comes to Lompoc Civic Theatre, the city’s first musical in town since 2012’s “Tick, Tick . . . BOOM!” Directed by Marian C. Stave and Patricia Roby, the play stars Lea Schultz and David Gaertig as a married couple who evolve over time, from wedding night to growing old and moving on. Written by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, the creators behind the hit “The Fantasticks,” it features charming songs like “My Cup Runneth Over with Love,” “The Father of the Bride” and the title song.

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What Mama Morton wants, Roz Ryan gets: Broadway star continues her record-breaking run in ‘Chicago: The Musical’

Roz Ryan stars as Matron "Mama" Morton in the Tony Award-winning hit musical "Chicago."
Roz Ryan stars as Matron “Mama” Morton in the Tony Award-winning hit musical “Chicago.”

When “Chicago” comes to the Granada this coming Tuesday and Wednesday, it brings along actress, singer, comedian and voice actor Roz Ryan , who in 2013 broke the late Marcia Lewis’ record of 223 weeks playing the essential role of Matron “Mama” Morton. She’s now in that show’s 19th year. When asked if she remembers the day they told her she’d broken the record, she says, “I can’t remember the day they called and told me, but I was on Broadway when it happened.” (The date was Oct. 21, 2013, in case somebody wants to check.)

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Arete Productions brings Tony-nominated ‘Swing!’ to the New Vic

The "Swing!" cast mixes students from SBCC and UCSB.
The “Swing!” cast mixes students from SBCC and UCSB.

As Duke Ellington once opined some eight decades ago, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.” And that holds true with this evening of jumping jive coming to The New Vic. Produced by Dauri Kennedy and directed by Miriam Dance-Leavy, “Swing!” — the 1999 Tony-nominated musical — features singing, dancing and live music straight from the music era that couldn’t keep still.

The 90-minute show features the music of the Duke as well as Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller, played by a full swing band led by SBCC’s Chuck “Dr. Jazz” Wood, who was director of bands and jazz studies at the college for 15 years and Music Chair for three.

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Beyond the fairy tale: Music Academy’s summer opera is the delightful ‘Cinderella’

"I'm living my own fairy tale!" says mezzo-soprano Beste Kalender about her role as the lead in Rossini's "Cinderella." David Bazemore photos
“I’m living my own fairy tale!” says mezzo-soprano Beste Kalender about her role as the lead in Rossini’s “Cinderella.”
David Bazemore photos

Composer Gioachino Rossini didn’t have a lot of time for stage magic. Unlike Mozart, he didn’t have time for transformations, or animals, divine messengers or the like. So it’s odd that he took on the fairiest of fairy tales in “Cinderella,” with its glass slippers and Prince Charming and all the trappings of the princess story. Rossini’s “Cinderella” (aka “La Cenerentola”) eschews fantasy for the reality of court intrigue between an impoverished maid and a prince.

David Paul is directing this Music Academy of the West production opening Thursday, and that means opera fans are in good hands regarding this material. Mr. Paul brought the Old Spanish Days-themed version of “Carmen” to the Granada last summer, and beyond trappings of the Californio costumes there was a serious rethink. Don Jose was no longer a tragic hero, but an abusive, ultimately murderous boyfriend. Rossini’s more realistic Cinderella is very much suited to Paul’s modern taste.

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Out of the Box Gets Bloody with ‘Carrie’ Musical

Julia Kupiec as Carrie White in the musical, "Carrie." Peter Bertling photo
Julia Kupiec as Carrie White in the musical, “Carrie.”
Peter Bertling photo

While a new version of the blood-soaked prom queen, “Carrie” blows up the box office this Halloween season, Out of the Box Theatre Company has brought their own production of Stephen King’s classic horror tale to the stage. Yet, “Carrie: The Musical” is not new. Instead, it’s a story of growing pains.

A dozen years after Brian De Palma’s film, the Royal Shakespeare Company workshopped a musical version, but it was beset by tech problems, and the 1988 Broadway production closed after five performances. It was the definition of a flop. Or so everyone thought. Remade as an off-Broadway musical without the special effects and with fewer characters, the revivals began to happen, first illegally, with companies performing without the rights. Then a proper, 2012 revival occurred with new songs from the writers. “Carrie” had risen from the grave.

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A Little Night Music – Broadway’s Bernadette Peters comes to The Granada

Erin Baiano Photo
Erin Baiano Photo

At 65, Bernadette Peters has earned the title of Broadway legend. For 60 of those years she has been performing — in television, movies, musicals and going on the road solo. Her appearance at The Granada Saturday night will find Ms. Peters working with her most basic elements, spare accompaniment, a set list of well-loved standards, and her powerful voice.

“My main goal is to entertain, and these are songs that I love singing. I get to pick my own songs,” she says.

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One Step Forward, One Back – Elements Theater returns with a time-bending musical

Elisha Schaefer
Elisha Schaefer

In “The Last Five Years,” playwright Jason Robert Brown tells a typical love story: boy meets girl, they fall in love, they squabble and split. But here’s the twist: One character in the play lives out the story in linear time. The other character, sharing the same stage, tells the story in reverse order. They only overlap once, right in the middle. Oh, and it’s a musical.

That’s a DramaDesk-award winning musical, mind you, being presented by stage-hopping Elements Theater Collective tonight and running through April 28. As is the company’s wont, the play will be performed at various locations — a coffee shop, the Piano Kitchen, SHIFCO, the retirement community on the Mesa, and others — from Carp to Goleta. All shows are free with suggested donations.

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Revel-ution – Five Years of Song and Celebrating Solstice at Santa Barbara Revels

In its five-year existence, Santa Barbara Revels have traveled as far away as Bavaria (on stage at least), to explore the multi-faceted and multi-cultural worlds of winter solstice celebrations. This year, they plan to bring it on home with a trip to America’s Deep South and the Appalachia. Santa Barbara Revels puts a secular spin on the holiday season, celebrating the turning of the year, December 21, the day with the shortest amount of daylight.

No matter what the culture or religion, the day has been celebrated for good reason: the sun begins to come back into our lives, and warmth is around the corner. The event, featuring 70 dancers, musicians, and singers, comes to the Lobero this weekend for three shows.

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