The Powerhouse : THE NEW VIC AND ITS NEW SEASON REDEFINES SANTA BARBARA THEATER

The exterior of the New Victoria Theatre
The exterior of the New Victoria Theatre

A pool and a splash zone for an upcoming Ensemble Theatre show? Who would have thought? But in the beautiful new space for one of Santa Barbara’s oldest theater companies, anything is possible. Called The New Vic, the $11.5 million remodel of the building on the corner of Victoria and Chapala Streets opened this month, a mixture of state-of-the-art theater construction and a devotion to preserving this former church and its 92-year-old original structure.

When the mayor cut the ribbon at the opening several Fridays ago, it celebrated the end of a construction process that had its high and low points, as well as a new chapter in Santa Barbara’s performing arts district. Mayor Helene Schneider called it the “jewel in the crown” and with its refurbished, stained glass windows glowing during a performance, the comparison is apt.

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Communication Breakdown – THREE ABSTRACT ARTISTS SHOW AT MICHAELKATE

Isis,' Liv Zutphen Brad Nack photos
Isis,’ Liv Zutphen
Brad Nack photos

Curator Brad Nack has brought three artists, mostly locals from the region, for a show at MichaelKate Interiors that doesn’t even try to match the crazed intensity of its Halloween/October exhibit. Instead, this show, titled “Perfect Day” as a nod to the recently passed Lou Reed, acts as a sort of palate cleanser. We have the bold graphics of James Paul Lambert, the brutal abstracts of Liv Zutphen and the landscapes of Julie Young to contend with. Do the three have anything really to do with each other? Not really, apart from the abstract, but their jarring proximity is a breather, a chance to regroup. All three are worth checking out.

Julie Young’s landscapes break geography into geometric shapes and explode them onto her canvases in her colorful oil paintings. There’s a Chagall and Miro-like dance in such works like “Summerland Beach,” where the sand can barely be seen through the blue and green shapes (swimmers? umbrellas?), or “Paradise Road” with its green curlicues and odd stripes. Elsewhere in sketchier and centered “Hendry’s Beach” or “150 Lookout,” one can see the paragliders off the cliffs, for example, but it’s still like a half-remembered dream. For those not versed in the look of Santa Barbara, it may not just look abstract. Call it a hidden message to the locals.

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Drink of the Week: La Arcada Bistro’s Hot Toddy

NIK BLASKOVICH / NEWS-PRESS
NIK BLASKOVICH / NEWS-PRESS

The story of a pleasant Thanksgiving is still clouded by a particularly grumpy one spent absolutely shattered, on a couch in the living room, surrounded by family having fun, as the world’s worst head cold ran riot around the noggin. But we’ve all been there, right? A warm drink, something preferably with whiskey, is just what the infirm need in this season. But also, it’s a perfect finish to a meal that might just be sending you into a food coma.

So we here at Drink of the Week would like to provide a public service this holiday (and sickness) season, and find a cocktail that solves all our problems.

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The Story Continues . . . DELTRON 3030 RETURNS AFTER 13 YEARS WITH A SECOND ALBUM AND TOUR

From left. Kid Koala, Del tha Funky Homosapien and Dan the Automator Michael Donovan photo
From left. Kid Koala, Del tha Funky Homosapien and Dan the Automator
Michael Donovan photo

In the film world, science fiction sequels come pretty regularly, and a hit always spawns a follow-up. But in the hip-hop world, sci-fi is still an anomaly, and despite having a cult hit with their self-titled debut album, Deltron 3030 has been promising a follow-up to their futuristic concept album for years. At long last, “Event 2” dropped two months ago and the trio has gone on the road to promote it, touring with two different backing bands, depending on the venue, one a rock combo, the other an orchestral unit. The former comes to the Majestic Ventura Theater this Wednesday.

Individually, the members have their own careers. Lead rapper Del tha Funky Homosapien (Teren Delvon Jones) was a founding member of Oakland’s Hieroglyphics; Dan the Automator (Dan Nakamura) rose to fame producing Kool Keith and soon became know for his odd, humorous use of samples, and being a worthwhile collaborator with Prince Paul, DJ Shadow, and Gorillaz (where Del became the voice on several hit singles); and turntablist Kid Koala (Eric San) who became a fixture of Ninja Tune records for his use of non-traditional samples, and who has also teamed up with Dan as the smooth group Lovage. So these guys are busy. But as early as 2004, Kid Koala mentioned new material was being worked on for Deltron 3030’s follow-up. This continued for so many years it almost became a running joke among hip-hop fans. So, why’d it take so long?

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Thrills and Spills – THE EXCITING TELLURIDE MOUNTAINFILM FESTIVAL RETURNS TO UCSB

Climbing Trango Towers on the north side of the Baltoro Glacier in Baltistan, a district of the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, in the film 'A New Perspective Corey Rich photo
Climbing Trango Towers on the north side of the Baltoro Glacier in Baltistan, a district of the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, in the film ‘A New Perspective
Corey Rich photo

Every year the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival receives 500 submissions from all over the world, and Emily Long gets to whittle them down not just for the Fest, but working with UCSB’s Roman Baratiak, she’s reduced them to 14 gems for this touring production. The Mountainfilm in Telluride Tour comes to UCSB’s Campbell Hall this Wednesday, bringing a selection of shorts that, as the Fest’s slogan goes, “Celebrate the indomitable spirit.”

Some of that may mean the kind of crazy, death-defying adventure found in the opening film, “Cascada,” from Skip Armstrong and Anson Fogel, where kayakers head to the Mexican jungle and brave the elements and plunging waterfalls. Some include cute, animated films like “The Squeakiest Roar” by Maggie Rogers about a tiny lion cub learning to be just like mommy and daddy. (Yes, the evening is family friendly.)

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Good Enough Expectations – Mike Newell directs a new version of Dickens’ classic

Jeremy Irvine (Pip) and Holliday Granger (Estella) star in the new adaptation ofCharles Dickens'"Great Exppectations Main Street photo
Jeremy Irvine (Pip) and Holliday Granger (Estella) star in the new adaptation ofCharles Dickens'”Great Exppectations
Main Street photo

Mike Newell is one of those journeyman directors who has been steadily working since the ’60s, who rose through the ranks of British television, directing soaps and play-for-todays, until he hit his stride with “Donnie Brasco,” “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” and the fourth Harry Potter movie. He’s not somebody whose name readily comes up when discussing film art, but I bet he paid off his mortgage ages ago. And now he steps up with a pretty faithful but truncated adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations.”

The expectations, pardon the pun, on Mr. Newell however are whether he can shrug off the shadow of David Lean’s classic version of the tale of Pip. Yes, the ages of the actors are much better than a late-30s John Mills pretending to be a young man in his 20s, but Mr. Lean’s film has art and economy on its side. And another Harry Potter director, Alfonso Cuarun, tried to modernize the story in 1998 with Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow with mixed results.

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Drink of the Week: The Imperial’s Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS
Pumpkin Pie
NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS

We’ve always loved Dawn O’Brien’s bars — the Mercury Lounge in Goleta and Elsie’s in Santa Barbara, which she has since sold, not that it looks any different. But DOTW has never been able to cover them because of their lack of hard liquor n’ cocktails.

That has changed, sometime back in July, with the opening of The Imperial, in the location once held by the Bak-Dor. And Ms. O’Brien has brought her own funky style to the remodel. There’s the tiki vibe, the low golden brown lighting, and the extensive vinyl selection, from Blue Note jazz to modern pop.

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Shawn of the Dead – Maurie Lord’s Genesis West company resurfaces for ‘The Designated Mourner’

Jenna Scanlon has performed in several local productions around Santa Barbara, from Circle Bar B to SBCC Dana Sherlock photo
Jenna Scanlon has performed in several local productions around Santa Barbara, from Circle Bar B to SBCC
Dana Sherlock photo

Maurie Lord has a few things to say about his job as the head of theater company Genesis West.

“Doing a play is a giant pain in the butt. It’s hard, it’s expensive, it wrecks your health, you lose a lot of money, you lose friends. It’s a horrible, horrible experience to go through. It’s the worst thing a human being can ever do.”

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This ain’t no party : The Flaming Lips close off the Bowl season in bloody style

The Flaming Lips played songs from their latest album "The Terror" at the season-closing concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl. NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS
The Flaming Lips played songs from their latest album “The Terror” at the season-closing concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl.
NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS

When the Flaming Lips last played Santa Barbara it was in 2002, and they brought their now famous party to the Arlington — dancing bears, balloons, confetti cannons, and more. Their album at the time was “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,” which has gone on to be considered one of their best. Though melancholic underneath, the music bopped along, and so did the band.

When lead singer Wayne Coyne and his cohorts returned to Santa Barbara this last Friday, they did so as headliners on the final show of the Bowl season, and with a locally-created Dia de los Muertos theme to celebrate. But they were also bringing an album considered by critics to be the bleakest of their career: “The Terror.” The resulting concert was disconcerting. How to balance their reputation as one of the best live shows around while pushing ahead with their experimental music? The results were mixed.

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Pleading and Reading the Fifth

Phrases and lines from Shakespeare’s Henry V have made their way into popular culture, no doubt spawned by film adaptations. “Once more unto the breach” gets referenced, while every Hollywood scriptwriter has to come up with his/her own version of Henry’s St. Crispin’s Day speech just before a battle scene. (See this year’s “Pacific Rim” and Idris Elba’s “Today, we are canceling the Apocalypse!” speech for one example.)

Likewise, Casey Caldwell’s “We Happy Few” quotes from the same text for his experimental play, opening tonight at the Public Library and then popping up at various venues around the county — at the Solvang Veterans’ Memorial Building and the Santa Barbara Veterans Building, at UCSB, and at the Unitarian Society. This time, the play will be sampled much more.

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