Coming home again: Actors and directors reunite for Vietnam vet play ‘Pvt. Wars’

Sean O'Shea plays Gately and Sean Jackson is Silvio in the Center Stage Theater production "Pvt. Wars." Courtesy photo
Sean O’Shea plays Gately and Sean Jackson is Silvio in the Center Stage Theater production “Pvt. Wars.”
Courtesy photo

Not everybody in theater gets a second chance, either with a role or a production. But for the three actors and one director behind “Pvt. Wars,” which comes to Center Stage Theater tonight, they get an opportunity to return to a show from years ago.

These three actors, Sean O’Shea, George Coe, and Sean Jackson, along with Bill Egan, their director, mounted James McLure’s play two years ago at Plaza Playhouse in Carpinteria. Mr. McLure’s play, which started as a one-act in 1979 then got rewritten as a two-act years later, features three Vietnam vets in a VA hospital, all dealing with PTSD. But it’s also funny, a character study of the ways humans cope with trauma, try to make connections, and concoct strategies to get through the day. It’s an anti-war play that doesn’t mention the war, but just honestly looks at the people left in its aftermath.

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Paws for thought: Humans play cats and their owners in ‘Indoor/Outdoor’

Richard Gracyk plays Schuman, owner of Samantha, who is played by Nikki Stark. William Koseluk photo
Richard Gracyk plays Schuman, owner of Samantha, who is played by Nikki Stark.
William Koseluk photo

“Indoor/Outdoor” is a play wherein humans play cats and intermingle with other humans who play their owners, but before you conjure up visions of a certain Andrew Lloyd Webber musical with make-up and furry costumes, it’s not like that.

Instead, there’s little in appearance to tell the difference between the two, as the cats walk upright and dress like humans, but in Kenny Finkle’s comedy its the obsessions, distractions and attitudes that quickly set them apart.

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A quarter century in the arts: Center Stage Theater celebrates its local legacy

Motion Theater Dance will perform at the Center Stage Theater 25th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday. Lerina Winter photo
Motion Theater Dance will perform at the Center Stage Theater 25th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday.
Lerina Winter photo

This Saturday, Center Stage Theater celebrates its 25th anniversary with an evening of hors d’oervres, cocktails and special performances from Alma de Mexico, Santa Barbara Silver Follies, Proboscis Theater Company, and more, with the intent to raise $25,000 for capital improvements to improve the theater for another quarter century.

The evening celebrates Santa Barbara’s premiere black box theater, which was wrangled into existence by the Santa Barbara City Council and County Arts Commission in 1990 as part of a deal with the original builders of the Paseo Nuevo mall. Yes, they could have those two prime blocks of Santa Barbara retail real estate, but they had to give back to the arts with an art museum (now the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara) and a theater. Through the mall’s many owners – and despite each owner’s attempts to skirt funding according to one of Center Stage’s founders Tom Hinshaw – the Center Stage Theater has remained, providing a needed space for local arts.

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String theory: Lindsey Stirling goes from YouTube sensation to touring musician

Violinist and dancer Lindsey Stirling quickly rose to fame after starting her own YouTube channel in 2007. She brings her Music Box Tour to the Santa Barbara Bowl on Saturday. Kate sZatmari photo
Violinist and dancer Lindsey Stirling quickly rose to fame after starting her own YouTube channel in 2007. She brings her Music Box Tour to the Santa Barbara Bowl on Saturday.
Kate sZatmari photo

Is there a split between becoming famous through YouTube and becoming famous the traditional way (gigs, festivals, talk shows)? The rise and success of violinist, dancer, and electronic music maven Lindsey Stirling may be confusing to some, but the proof is not in the pudding but in the Santa Barbara Bowl this week where she is headlining.

Here’s the potted version of Ms. Stirling’s rise to fame. A violinist with no outlet for her art turns to YouTube and starts her own channel in 2007. Raised Mormon, she attends Brigham Young University in Utah to pursue film, does the missionary thing in New York City, continues to play violin in small bands and refuses to just stand there playing. Instead she dances and plays at the same time.

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Start the dance: Thursday night’s Fiesta ends with Noches de Ronda

Grupo Quetzalcoatl performs "El Son de La Negra" at Noches de Ronda on Thursday at the Courthouse Sunken Garden.  NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS
Grupo Quetzalcoatl performs “El Son de La Negra” at Noches de Ronda on Thursday at the Courthouse Sunken Garden.
NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS

Noches de Ronda, one of Old Spanish Day’s oldest traditions, opened for a three-night run at the Courthouse Sunken Garden on Thursday.

A two-hour program of flamenco and folklorico dance and music is a treat for both the ear and eye and represents the differing Latin influences on Santa Barbara history, from the Spanish explorers to the Mexican and Californio residents.

No matter the origin, the evening is filled with stunning outfits and poetic dancing. The Sunken Garden fills with families and friends, sitting in beach chairs and covered in blankets against the damp night air.

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Future Broadway stars: Gustafson Dance Program produces an evening of Broadway numbers

Students from the Gustafson Dance Two-Week Junior Intensive program perform Broadway numbers during the 2014 show. Photo courtesy John Conroy Image
Students from the Gustafson Dance Two-Week Junior Intensive program perform Broadway numbers during the 2014 show.
Photo courtesy John Conroy Image

There’s a chance to see the fruits of an intensive summer workshop of dance this weekend, and no, it has nothing to do with Fiesta. Instead, Gustafson Dance’s Two-Week Junior Intensive program brings an evening of Broadway hits to the Lobero. And while many a parent and family member will be there, the event is open to the public.

Gustafson Dance is the official school of State Street Ballet. Allison Gustafson is director of the dance school and Rodney Gustafson is artistic director of State Street Ballet.

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Bowl’d over: New York Philharmonic brings rare pops concert to the Bowl

 Conducter Alan Gilbert led the New York Philharmonic in an all-American program at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Monday. Michael Moriatis/News-Press

Conducter Alan Gilbert led the New York Philharmonic in an all-American program at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Monday.
Michael Moriatis/News-Press

The Santa Barbara Bowl has rarely seen a full orchestra on its stage, although Monday night’s visit by the New York Philharmonic proved it can not only fit everybody, but the sound – at least for those not up in the gods- was excellent. Why don’t we do this more often?

That just might be the plan with this event that was arranged through Music Academy of the West, which is the first in the NY Phil’s Global Academy initiative. Maestro Alan Gilbert, since taking over the baton at the New York Philharmonic in 2009, has set about reshaping the orchestra for the 21st century. During his tenure, which will be up in 2017 as per his contract, he’s dusted off what was regarded as a stuffy institution and introduced an element of play. He’s reintroduced audiences to composers like Charles Ives, who still may be too radical for the subscriber base.

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Romance in the Air: Sunday’s Fiesta Party welcomed this year’s El Presidente, Cas Stimson

2015 El Presidente Cas Stimson, second from left, greets guests at Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort for the annual La Recepción del Presidente to celebrate the upcoming Fiesta week. MICHAEL MORIATIS/NEWS-PRESS
2015 El Presidente Cas Stimson, second from left, greets guests at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort for the annual La Recepción del Presidente to celebrate the upcoming Fiesta week.
MICHAEL MORIATIS/NEWS-PRESS

A perfect late afternoon turned into a warm Sunday evening, the right weather to unofficially kick off the 91st annual Old Spanish Days, La Recepción del Presidente.

This event, a gala dinner with entertainment at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort, honored the current El Presidente, Cas Stimson, as well as past Presidents, board members, donors and sponsors. Around 450 were in attendance, with many turned away at the door, and El Presidente himself alluded to this as a sign of a very successful Fiesta to come. There’s never been as many Flower Girls as this year, ticketed events are sold out, and other indicators are looking toward a very busy year.

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Mediterranean flavor: Santa Barbara Greek Festival off to great start

Above, Thavma, a Greek dance group, performs Saturday during the Greek Festival at Oak Park. Below, religious icons attached to the Evil Eye, meant to protect from negative energy, are offered for sale at the festival.  NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS
Above, Thavma, a Greek dance group, performs Saturday during the Greek Festival at Oak Park. Below, religious icons attached to the Evil Eye, meant to protect from negative energy, are offered for sale at the festival.
NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS

The 42nd annual Santa Barbara Greek Festival opened in Oak Park Saturday and by all accounts it was a success.

The line to the gyro booth stretched long near the entrance, the dance stage was crowded with viewers and participants, the ouzo flowed freely, the food court was packed, the pastry stall tried not to run out of goods, and the sun beamed down, creating a sense that yes, this could all be happening in the Mediterranean.

The economic troubles in the home country didn’t affect this two-day fest that acts as a fundraiser for Santa Barbara’s Greek Orthodox Church.

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Here’s to You, Mr. Robinson: Comedian Craig Robinson tickles the funny bones and tickles the ivories

Craig Robinson, best know as Darryl Philbin from the television show "The Office," will bring his standup act to the Chumash Casino Resort on Thursday. Courtesy photo
Craig Robinson, best know as Darryl Philbin from the television show “The Office,” will bring his standup act to the Chumash Casino Resort on Thursday.
Courtesy photo

Comedian Craig Robinson was a guest on Ebro’s Morning Show on Hot 97 earlier this year and the DJ introduced him thus: “You were always the black guy I never saw before. I was like yo, where did this guy come from? And why is he getting all the big white comedies?” It wasn’t that eloquent a statement, but it does describe the sideways trip Mr. Robinson – who plays Thursday night at the Chumash Casino – took into popular culture.

TV viewers best know him as Darryl Philbin on “The Office,” and that successful role led him into the Judd Apatow repertory company, starting with “Knocked Up.” From there he got roles in “Walk Hard,” “Pineapple Express,” “Zach and Mimi Make a Porno,” “This Is The End” and “Hot Tub Time Machine” and its sequel. But he also did a solid turn as James Brown’s put-upon partner Maceo Parker in “Get on Up” from last year and ran from CGI dragons in the South Korean action film “D-Wars.”

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