Tag Archives: Granada Theatre

‘Force’ of comic nature: Eddie Izzard returns to Santa Barbara

 English stand-up comedian, actor and writer Eddie Izzard brings his stream-of-consciousness comedic style to the Granada Theatre. Amanda Searle photo

English stand-up comedian, actor and writer Eddie Izzard brings his stream-of-consciousness comedic style to the Granada Theatre.
Amanda Searle photo

When Eddie Izzard first came to town in 2012, he was working material out for his tour. Three years later, he’s still on that tour, called “Force Majeure,” which has taken him “from Moscow to St. Petersburg to Cape Town, 27 countries, and the show is in a very good space,” as the comedian puts it.

He returns to Santa Barbara tonight at the Granada.

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Dorrance Dance’s ‘The Blues Project’ combines blues and tap

 The marriage of blues and tap seems natural to tap dancer Michelle Dorrance, who is bringing "The Blues Project" to the Granada Theatre. Christopher Duggan

The marriage of blues and tap seems natural to tap dancer Michelle Dorrance, who is bringing “The Blues Project” to the Granada Theatre.
Christopher Duggan

In “The Blues Project,” tap dancer Michelle Dorrance and her company have teamed up with blues singer Toshi Reagon and a talented four-piece band to bring an evening to the Granada that expands the boundaries of tap dancing. This isn’t exactly a hybrid of two genres, but an extension of Ms. Dorrance’s long history of boundary-pushing within the realm of tap, and the musicians provide the background that places the numbers in a context of African-American history, from work songs to songs of the Civil Rights movement and beyond.

At first it may seem that blues is not as suited to tap as jazz is. But not so, Ms. Dorrance says. Tap and blues evolved around the same time.

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Playing Blanche in Opera Santa Barbara’s ‘A Streetcar Named Desire,’ Beverly O’Regan Thiele is in her element

 Baritone Gregory Gerbrandt sings the role of Stanley Kowalski and soprano Beverly O'Regan Thiele makes her company debut as Blanche in Opera Santa Barbara's new production of André Previn's operatic version of "A Streetcar Named Desire." David Bazemore

Baritone Gregory Gerbrandt sings the role of Stanley Kowalski and soprano Beverly O’Regan Thiele makes her company debut as Blanche in Opera Santa Barbara’s new production of André Previn’s operatic version of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
David Bazemore

André Previn wrote his operatic adaptation of “A Streetcar Named Desire” in 1995 and premiered it in 1998, with a critical consensus of “What took so long?” Tennessee Williams’ play is already pitched at a melodramatic level, and set in the kind of Bayou heat that frazzles brains, that it seems a natural for a musical adaptation. Fortunately, too, Mr. Previn’s score combines modern music with New Orleans jazz, and produced a good thing: a modern opera with some tunes.

Stage directed by Omer Ben Seadia, and conceived as a collaboration of Opera Santa Barbara, the Merola Program and Kentucky Opera, OSB’s production by Jose Maria Condemi opens tonight for two performances. Gregory Gerbrandt plays Stanley Kowalski, the brutish “common” man played memorably by Marlon Brando in the film version. MicaÎla Oeste plays his wife, Stella. And stepping up to take on an iconic role, Beverly O’Regan Thiele sings the part of Blanche DuBois, the aging Southern Belle with a tenuous grasp on reality.

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Why hearing a Buster Keaton silent is just as important as seeing it

 Rick Benjamin, far right, brings the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra to the Granada Theatre. Courtesy photo

Rick Benjamin, far right, brings the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra to the Granada Theatre.
Courtesy photo

When Rick Benjamin and his Paragon Ragtime Orchestra play music in front of classic silent films, like they will do on Monday night when they accompany a screening of Buster Keaton’s “Steamboat Bill, Jr.,” audiences not get something to listen to, but a re-creation of a time and place, a look into a sound industry that was disrupted by new technology like ours is now, and a rediscovery of early 20th-century composers whose fame and popularity dissipated when the sound era erupted.

In 1985, Mr. Benjamin discovered a treasure trove of lost scores, music written for the silent movie era that was thought to have been gone. It wasn’t like modern scores in the sense of a singular work for a film. It was closer to scores for soap operas, where cue sheets outlined the emotional outline of a film, sending a conductor to that cinema’s library to put together a score. “Like Legos,” says Mr. Benjamin.

Continue reading Why hearing a Buster Keaton silent is just as important as seeing it

Broadway star continues her record-breaking run in ‘Chicago: The Musical’

Roz Ryan stars as Matron "Mama" Morton in the Tony Award-winning hit musical "Chicago." Jeremy Daniel
Roz Ryan stars as Matron “Mama” Morton in the Tony Award-winning hit musical “Chicago.”
Jeremy Daniel

When “Chicago” comes to the Granada this coming Tuesday and Wednesday, it brings along actress, singer, comedian and voice actor Roz Ryan , who in 2013 broke the late Marcia Lewis’ record of 223 weeks playing the essential role of Matron “Mama” Morton. She’s now in that show’s 19th year. When asked if she remembers the day they told her she’d broken the record, she says, “I can’t remember the day they called and told me, but I was on Broadway when it happened.” (The date was Oct. 21, 2013, in case somebody wants to check.)

Bolstered by Tony Awards and then Oscars, this Bob Fosse, Fred Ebb and John Kander musical continues to grow in popularity. Based on two real-life murderesses from the Roaring ’20s, the musical equates vaudeville with the media circus that pops up around salacious murder trials. It is smart, cynical, sexy and sad, and always helped by a saucy poster campaign filled with leggy stars wearing fishnet stockings. The production coming this week also stars Dylis Croman as Roxie Hart, Terra C. MacLeod as Velma Kelly and Jacob Keith Watson as Amos Hart.

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What Mama Morton wants, Roz Ryan gets: Broadway star continues her record-breaking run in ‘Chicago: The Musical’

Roz Ryan stars as Matron "Mama" Morton in the Tony Award-winning hit musical "Chicago."
Roz Ryan stars as Matron “Mama” Morton in the Tony Award-winning hit musical “Chicago.”

When “Chicago” comes to the Granada this coming Tuesday and Wednesday, it brings along actress, singer, comedian and voice actor Roz Ryan , who in 2013 broke the late Marcia Lewis’ record of 223 weeks playing the essential role of Matron “Mama” Morton. She’s now in that show’s 19th year. When asked if she remembers the day they told her she’d broken the record, she says, “I can’t remember the day they called and told me, but I was on Broadway when it happened.” (The date was Oct. 21, 2013, in case somebody wants to check.)

Continue reading What Mama Morton wants, Roz Ryan gets: Broadway star continues her record-breaking run in ‘Chicago: The Musical’

Teen Star’s finale at the Granada awards a new winner

After a year of anticipation, a popular audition process that brought in contestants from across Santa Barbara County, and weeks of mentorship and rehearsal, the sixth annual Teen Star Santa Barbara came to the Granada Theatre on Saturday.

Performing in front of a sold-out crowd, the evening featured 10 teen hopefuls vying for the title, but in the end there could be only one winner: 14-year-old Sydney Shalhoob of San Marcos High School.

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Passing with flying colors: Seventh Annual Kids Helping Kids benefit brings Ingrid Michaelson and Jon McLaughlin to the Granada

There’s that old adage: learn by doing. And there’s a new semester of young economics students that learned, and they took that adage to heart. The result is the 7th annual Kids Helping Kids showcase at the Granada Theatre, this Saturday. The event raises funds for needy kids both here and abroad, and the nonprofit that puts it on is based out of a San Marcos High economics class. Teacher James DeVries puts seniors in charge of a nonprofit, where they must use their skills to book, market and launch an evening of music. This year, two singer-songwriters will take the stage due to the hard work of these economics students. Ingrid Michaelson is a New York-based songwriter best known for the singles “Be OK,” “Girls Chase Boys” and “The Way I Am.” Also appearing is Jon McLaughlin, singer of the single “Beating My Heart” and who recently opened for Billy Joel.

James DeVries, who received honors last year from Goleta’s Chamber of Commerce for his work setting up this program, started the class in 2002 as a penny drive.

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From Bugsy, to Elmer, with love: Paul Williams hosts the first of three classic film screenings at the Granada

Screening of "To Kill a Mockingbird" will be preceded by a conversation with guest curator Paul Williams and a composer. Courtesy photo
Screening of “To Kill a Mockingbird” will be preceded by a conversation with guest curator Paul Williams and a composer.
Courtesy photo

When Paul Williams turned up on last year’s Daft Punk album a generation of folks now in their forties wondered . . . he’s still around? For the guys in Daft Punk, it was the rock opera “Phantom of the Paradise” that endeared him to them. For others, like this writer, it was watching “Bugsy Malone” and “The Muppet Movie.” For those slightly older than us, it was the hits he wrote for The Carpenters and for his solo career.

But while Mr. Williams did go away – into a haze of addiction, seclusion and then recovery some 24 years ago – he’s been back longer than his fans might know. Oh, and he’s been head of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), the industry leader in performer rights protection, since 2009. He visits Santa Barbara this Monday to kick off a series of three screenings over the course of five months honoring composer Elmer Bernstein.

The series is put on by the Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts, which debuted its new programming back in September with a screening of “Bugsy Malone.” Mr. Williams then curated the next three films, starting with this Monday’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” January 26’s screening of “The Great Escape” and March 30’s screening of “The Magnificent Seven.” Completely different genres, stars and directors, but all tied together with a stirring Bernstein score.

“These three are a great cross-section of the work that he did,” he says. “I was on a plane from Paris recently and I watched ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and I swear I cried for two hours and 10 minutes. It is the most remarkable film, there’s some emotional harmonic to it. It’s Gregory Peck’s performance and that fabulous score. So minimal, strong and gentle at the same time.”

If Mr. Williams had to choose two films that sparked his interest in music, he says, one would be “Blackboard Jungle” (which launched “Rock around the Clock” into pop culture) and the Elmer Bernstein-scored “The Man with the Golden Arm.”

“In both those films music is not just the score, but the environment,” he said. “‘Man with the Golden Arm’ is remarkable, and as someone who is 24 years sober, he allowed us to hear what addiction sounds like.”

For each of the three evenings, Mr. Williams is bringing along a composer to join him in the discussion. For the first, Santa Barbara resident Richard Bellis (“Stephen King’s It”) to talk about Bernstein’s methods; for the “Magnificent Seven” he will bring Bruce Broughton, who scored “Silverado” and “Tombstone.” (The third is unannounced). Mr. Williams’ own journey to scoring film was convoluted. He was a musician first, but he says after his father’s death in a car crash, the 13-year-old became obsessed with film and becoming an actor. But music kept calling and his successful string of hits – for The Carpenters, Three Dog Night – led to soundtrack work. When it first came out, “Phantom of the Paradise” was unpopular, a “film even my family didn’t go to see,” he says, but its fans over the years included the two French men behind the helmets of Daft Punk and horror movie director Guillermo del Toro, who hired Mr. Williams to write songs for the recent animated feature “Book of Life” and an upcoming musical based on “Pan’s Labyrinth.”

“The big lesson is that you can’t write something off too quickly,” he says. “Because 40 years later it may deliver success.”

Bernstein Memorial Series: “To Kill a Mockingbird”
When: 7 p.m. Monday
Where: Granada Theatre, 1214 State St.
Cost: $10-$20
Information: www.granadasb.org, (805) 899-2222

The passion and the fire: The 14th Flamenco Arts Festival promises performance, talks and workshops

Flamenco is part of everybody in Spain," says organizer Vibiana Pizano. Paco Villalta photo
Flamenco is part of everybody in Spain,” says organizer Vibiana Pizano.
Paco Villalta photo

If your only experience of flamenco is watching it every Fiesta on the steps of either the Courthouse or the Mission, well, the Flamenco Arts Festival has some news: that’s only the beginning. For three days the Festival brings in some of the most daring artists in the world of flamenco not just to perform, but to hold master classes in the art form, from dancing to guitar playing. It’s only three days, but the Festival hopes that for some it will stoke the flames of flamenco passion.

“This is a very high level professional production,” says owner and organizer Vibiana Pizano. “These are the people who have made flamenco what it is. These are the people who are the masters, who the kids in town learning flamenco aspire to be. We’re really fortunate that we can bring them here and inspire the kids who are learning flamenco now.”

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