The Santa Barbara LOL Comedy Festival was new last year, but quickly ingratiated itself into Santa Barbara’s increasingly crowded arts fest scene with six nights of stand-up comedy, most of them filmed for cable TV. One of those specials was for Brad Williams, the “little person” comedian – though he’ll gladly call himself a dwarf or a midget, and more about that nomenclature later – who got his big chance to have a full-hour set recorded last year at the Lobero Theatre for Showtime.
Mr. Williams loved it so much that not only is he coming back this year, but he’s the “Ringmaster” of his own show next Friday, bringing on his own favorite – yet still unknown – fellow comedians.
Adam Barruch is on to something that might be new in both the world of theater and the world of dance. Mr. Barruch’s adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” is not a dance interpretation of the musical. Neither is it Mr. Sondheim’s musical with extra dance numbers. Sitting in on the rehearsals at the Lobero Theatre – Diane Vapnek and her DANCEworks secured the space as a gift for his residency – it’s hard to say what Mr. Barruch’s “Todd” will finally become until tonight’s premiere.
William D. Popp plays Sweeney Todd, yet he’s often working alongside the other dancers singing about himself in the third person. These are concepts, not characters, to be possessed by at will. There’s something primal about it, like Mr. Barruch has gone back to druidic times, thinking more of blood sacrifice, and less dreadful about human meat pies.
It’s been 10 years since Damien Marley, youngest of the Bob Marley sons and nicknamed “Jr. Gong,” exploded onto the scene with “Welcome to Jamrock,” fulfilling the promise of his first two albums and sending his album gold. And man, has that decade passed quickly.
“I was just thinking about that myself,” said Marley during a phone interview. “And I had the same sentiment that you do. It feels like yesterday. Time moves real quick.”
Then 27 years old, now 37, Damien is bringing the Catch a Fire tour to the Santa Barbara Bowl tonight. Along with his brother Stephen “Ragga” Marley, the evening features reggae legend Barrington Levy, Morgan Heritage, Tarrus Riley, Jo Mersa and Black Am I, along with DJ sets by Kingston 12, Shinehead and Papalote.
By the time you read this, you’ll know that Ian Bagg, one of the finalists in the popular NBC show “Last Comic Standing,” did not win . . . a fact that he’s been sharing on his Twitter feed for some time now. But it doesn’t matter, because along with Michael Palascak, Dominique, Andy Erikson and Clayton English, Mr. Bagg has made it onto the Last Comic Standing tour that pulls into Chumash Casino Resort on Thursday.
It’s part of a whopping 78-date, 90-day tour that ends just before New Years, and will introduce these already seasoned comics to a much wider audience.
Many theatergoers’ hearts were broken last year with the unexpected closing down of Circle Bar B Dinner Theater. After 40 years, Susie and David Couch’s creation was in the black and pulling in regulars from as far south as Orange County, but the ranch that hosted their small theater decided to go in different directions.
But the Couches have a new name – Prism Productions – and a new lease on theatrical life. And the venue, Timbers, is also coming back from hibernation. The woodsy Winchester Canyon restaurant and bar was built in 1952, using wood from the Goleta pier once bombed by the Japanese in World War II. Since 2004 it has fallen into disrepair. But HJL Group, the restaurant company behind Arch Rock Fish and The Marquee, are bringing it back. The Goodland Supper Club, as the Couches are calling this three-play series, will be one of its early entertainment options.
Buyers, collectors, fellow curious artists, locals and art tourists: all will be converging this weekend for the 14th annual Santa Barbara Studio Artists Tour. With over 30 painters, sculptors, photographers and mixed media artists opening up their studios to visitors, it’s a chance to see these creative beings in their natural habitat, their studios.
That might be a converted garage or a guest house or a barn or a shed. And the artist might be working in organized chaos or be impeccably neat. But the studio tour remains endlessly fascinating to many.
“Micah would throw a fit if he knew we were doing this.”
So says photographer and Orcutt resident Luis Escobar, one of the many people who knew the mysterious man known as Caballo Blanco, the White Horse.
Better known as Micah True, this vagabond “free runner” became the focus of a best-selling book about the sport of free running by Christopher McDougall, called “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.” The documentary that follows in its wake, “Run Free” is directed by Sterling Noren and screens Tuesday at Marjorie Luke Theatre.
Was the first Carpinteria Sea Glass Festival a success? You could ask the two lines of eager people that stretched down Linden Avenue and then around each corner of the block, just waiting to get into the marketplace.
Or you could ask the 800 people who rolled through the building in just one hour, looking at all sort of handmade jewelry.
Somebody back in the mists of time – maybe it was a teacher – said, “There is no such thing as a stupid question.” It’s in this spirit of feedback and inquisitiveness that Weslie Ching has started up the Crit series at Center Stage Theater. This free event is a chance for performance arts fans and the curious to see five new works in their zygotic form, and after each work they will be invited to give their opinions. The first installment is called “Crit 001.” (She hopes there’ll be a series that at least goes to double digits.)
“After a show everybody congratulates you and that’s great,” Ms. Ching says. “But I really wanted to create a place where somebody could give feedback that would’t necessarily be positive.”
When Brent Anderson was at UCSB he sang in the ensemble known as Schubertians, singing classical lieder. And while his career path took him into insurance and finance, he still yearned for the power of song, something at the same time more challenging than 18th century classical vocal works and less rarified.
His answer would be barbershop quartet.
“To be a solo singer is one thing, but to blend and harmonize with three other people is another, very complex, thing,” he says. “When I first discovered barbershop I thought it was fun. But then I discovered it was as challenging as anything I’d ever sung.” He quotes rock musician Ben Folds, who called barbershop the “black belt of vocal jazz.”