Let the Sunshine In: Out of the Box scores big with its adaptation of ‘Hair’

As the flower children saunter onstage and take their places on the crazy quilt of blankets, the band strikes up the opening bars of “Aquarius.” Suddenly, the question arises: Is this the right time to be celebrating the Woodstock generation? With such a grim economy outside, the cheery and hopeful up-with-people overture of this now-classic musical seems less like a balm for our ills and more like a poke in the eye from the past.

But last Saturday night at Center Stage Theater, Out of the Box Theatre Company managed to pull off this revival without sinking into irony, and it did so with talent, vitality and some self-deprecating humor.

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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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