In its sixth installment of the popular summer film series, UCSB Arts & Lectures turns to another staple of Hollywood: The Musical. “Over the Rainbow: Great American Movie Musicals” runs from July 8 through Aug. 21 and features free screenings of seven musical movie classics.
Previous years have focused on a director like Alfred Hitchcock, or on silent comedies or classic Universal Studios horror or sci-fi. But this is the first time such a wide-ranging genre over such a long period has been chosen, with a nod to audience favorites and less to a comprehensive overview.
Music fans who attended Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble appearance at Campbell Hall in 2013 may remember Cristina Pato, the musician who stole the show with the gaita, a very particular kind of Spanish bagpipe that sounds less like the Scottish variety and more like an oboe. The artist returns two years later with her own band this Wednesday night, and brings a selection of tunes that explores the Galician region of Spain, her home country, and then moves out in ever increasing circles to encompass a world of influences.
Her new album is called “Latina” (released Thursday on Sunnyside Records), a musing on the history and the multiple meanings of the word by way of musical genres. (Don’t worry, the CD will be available at the show.)
The new season of Arts & Lectures is a few months away. Plenty of familiar faces return for this season — David Sedaris rounds it out in May as usual — but there are also a lot of new acts rolling through to get excited about. As UCSB’s arts series expands its venues to downtown, there’s a sort of delicate balance between campus and downtown.
“Much of our audience is community oriented, so it often makes sense to have it downtown,” says Roman Baratiak, Director Celeste Billeci’s second in command. The organization has its eyes on using The New Vic more too. And dance usually does better downtown.
In January, UCSB Arts&Lectures screened Harold Lloyd’s “Safety Last” at the Granada with pianist Michael Mortilla accompanying. “It was a non-stop laugh-fest the entire time,” A&L’s Roman Baratiak says. “All ages were there and it was super inspiring … People gasped.” Mr. Baratiak is referring to the infamous 20-minute sequence where Lloyd scales the outside of a building and at one point winds up hanging from a clock.
Mr. Baratiak took that inspiration and has made classic silent comedy the theme for this year’s Summer Film Series, which screens both at Campbell Hall and at the Courthouse’s Sunken Gardens. Last year’s Hitchcock series got the biggest crowds in the Summer Series and it was time to make things a bit more fun. So for the fifth annual event, A&L will be screening two films each, from Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, with extra shorts thrown in for good measure.
Roman Baratiak’s longtime dream of screening summer movies in the Sunken Garden came true some four years ago, and he’s been watching the crowds come every year since. For the first three years, this Arts & Lectures summer series has stuck with genre films: One year it was musicals, another it was science fiction, and another was classic monster movies. But this year is the first time Mr. Baratiak & Co. have settled on the works of one director: Alfred Hitchcock. Starting this Wednesday with arguably Mr. Hitchcock’s best film, “Vertigo,” the summer series will screen eight of the director’s best suspenseful works, ending with “Strangers on a Train” on Friday, Aug. 23.
Most of the films — except for “Shadow of a Doubt” — screen on a Wednesday at UCSB’s Campbell Hall, for those who want to have a more traditional moviegoing experience, but on the Friday following, bring your blankets and chairs and get ready for some classic films.
Working on The Moth is an endless stream of fascinating,” says Maggie Cino, senior producer, story coach, and director of the Peabody Award-winning organization/ show/workshop/podcast. This evening of storytelling – no scripts, no words on the page – comes to Campbell Hall on Thursday with a cast of familiar and unfamiliar faces.
The Moth has gained notoriety and momentum over the last five years due to its podcast and public radio show, but it was started back in 1997 by George Dawes Green, a poet and novelist who wanted an evening that recreated the sort of laid-back summer evenings of his native Georgia, where funny and poignant yarns would be spun among friends.
Alright, so Universal’s attempt to resuscitate its classic monster movie franchise hit a big, hairy speed bump with “The Wolf Man.” Its mixed reviews don’t bode well for the remake of “The Creature From the Black Lagoon,” coming next year. While Hollywood (in all its wisdom) tries to reinvent the wheel, why not take in the original wheel? This summer, Arts & Lectures presents all the classic Universal monster movies in one spooky fest.
Even if you haven’t seen these films, you’ve heard of the monsters: Dracula, Frankenstein (and his bride), Wolf Man, Invisible Man, Mummy, the aforementioned Black Lagoon chap and the Phantom of the Opera, who, by the way, isn’t some handsome guy in a mask.
Is it too early to be planning the fall and new year? Didn’t summer just start? If you’re Celesta Billeci and her longtime staff at UCSB Arts & Lectures, thinking years ahead is just part of the job. Long before this story, A&L signed off on a full calendar of events beginning in August and ending next May, with lots of room in between for surprises to happen. (And good surprises, too. This time last year, that surprise turned out to be Elvis Costello.)
“People always ask us, ‘What’s new?'” says Billeci. “But ‘what’s new’ is our modus operandi. We’re always adding new events. We want to keep it fresh and relevant. We don’t want to say this is it, and nothing more.”
Ken Burns has been shaping the way we think about history for the past 30 years with his epic, sprawling narratives of America’s past. In his multi-part documentaries for PBS, he has taught us about the Civil War, baseball, jazz, World War II and, in last year’s 12-hour series, the history of our National Parks.
UCSB’s Arts & Lectures celebrates the end of its 50th anniversary season with a very special appearance by Ken Burns on Monday, May 24, at the Coral Casino. Paula Poundstone emcees the event, which includes dinner and a silent auction of such goodies as a guitar autographed by Elvis Costello.