Hitting the Road – ‘Becky’s New Car’ opens at SBCC’s Jurkowitz

 Leslie Gangl Howe, left, as Becky and Martin Bell as Walter Leslie Gangl Howe as Becky Bec Crop photos

Leslie Gangl Howe, left, as Becky and Martin Bell as Walter
Leslie Gangl Howe as Becky
Bec Crop photos

Actors break the fourth wall when they talk to the audience. But what is it called when a character not only talks, but invites audience members up on stage to help them pack a suitcase or pick out an outfit? Director Katie Laris calls it her new play at the Jurkowitz Theatre on the SBCC campus, a warm comedy called “Becky’s New Car”, which opens in previews this coming Wednesday.

Steven Dietz’s 2009 comedy borrows from the familiar mid-life crisis trope and presents it with a rare female perspective.

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Precious moments, onstage and off: ‘Time of My Life’ caps Rick Mokler’s career at theater department

Rick Mokler retired last month after 20 years as a director, instructor and later the head of the Theater Department at SBCC. A great number of local actors worked under his tutelage, and Santa Barbara theatergoers, whether they know it or not, continue to encounter his graduates at Center Stage, Rubicon and beyond. So his swan song, Alan Ayckbourn’s “Time of My Life,” can only take on added depth with its comic examination of time, nostalgia, memory and appreciating the here and now.

“Time” dates from 1992, and is one of Ayckbourn’s lesser-known plays, yet it employs the same kind of time-jumping formalism as “Absurd Person Singular” and “Bedroom Farce.” The center of events is a 54th birthday dinner at a favorite Chinese restaurant for Stratton family matriarch Laura (Katie Thatcher), surrounded by her husband Gerry (Jon Koons), her son Glyn (Brian Harwell) and his wife Stephanie (Leesa Beck), and her other, younger son Adam (Josh Jenkins) and his date Maureen (Marisa Welby-Maiani).

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Lost in memories in The Lady and the Clarinet

Michael Cristofer’s play “The Lady and the Clarinet” is less a straightforward romantic comedy and more like a mysterious chocolate candy. The outside is sweet, but the inside is bitter the more you chew — and by the end you’re not sure if the outside was really chocolate to start with.

Mr. Cristofer earned a Pulitzer Prize for his earlier play, 1977’s “The Shadow Box.”

“The Lady and the Clarinet” dates from 1984, and was at one point an off-Broadway hit for Stockard Channing. Director Maggie Mixsell has resurrected the play and brought it to Santa Barbara City College’s Jurkowitz Theater for a three-week run, where it becomes a star vehicle for its leading lady, Katie Thatcher.

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