TRANSYLVANIA MANIA AT SANTA BARBARA HIGH SCHOOL

Welcome back to another season of amazing musical theatre at Santa Barbara’s nationally-recognized, premiere performing arts high school—Santa Barbara High School, home of the Dons.   Now in our 93rd year of continuous theatre in this space, we are excited to begin the season with Young Frankenstein.  

Young Frankenstein is based on the critically-acclaimed Mel Brooks film that was named “one of the funniest movies of all time” by the American Film Institute and features a Book by Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award winner Brooks (The Producers) and multi-Tony Award winner Thomas Meehan (The Producers, Annie, and Hairspray), with Music and Lyrics by Brooks. Young Frankenstein has been called “Truly exhilarating!” (The New York Times); “Delightfully nutty! Glittering, buoyant fun that tickles its audience into high spirits!” (Los Angeles Times); “A highly entertaining musical-comedy spectacular featuring endless doses of Brooks’ classic humor!” (Hollywood Reporter); and “A jolly monster of a show!” (Variety). 

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Rule #1: Open a Door, Close a Door

What a season!  Exhilarating and bold, the 2015-2016 theatrical year was a transformational season, one where the community came out in great numbers to the shows and we had more sell outs than ever before, and began to acknowledge that Santa Barbara High School is indeed, “the best…musical theatre in town…and it’s a high school!”  I have had the great good fortune over the past twenty years to work with extraordinary artists, both the designers and artists behind the scenes, and the incredible group of actors that continue to grace our stage year after year.  The collaborations here are truly marvelous:  Dr. Jon Nathan and all the musical artistry and professionalism he brings to this school continues to raise the bar for what a musical should sound like; Christina McCarthy and her incandescent talent and ability to tell a story through movement continues to hold us in thrall, and our former student Jena Tico, who returned to SB after 8 years to choreograph HAIR on the stage where she grew up; Bonnie, after only two seasons has come into her own as a costume designer whose imprint upon our work is writ large and bold; Beau Lettieri, the best Production Stage Manager in the history of SB theatre;  and Jonathan Mitchell, tech god extraordinaire, who has brought our technical theatre into the modern world and nurtured a love of technical theatre in an incredible cohort of dedicated students—if you want your child to experience the best that musical theatre—that theatre--has to offer, Santa Barbara High School  is seriously the only place to be. 

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WELCOME TO THE AGE OF AQUARIUS

”HAIR” is in full swing at Santa Barbara High School, in its 3rd week of rehearsals, and we wanted to find a way to let people see behind the scenes at how a production comes to life—so we have created a daily blog (see “The Making of Hair”, above) so that you get an inside look at the complexity of art.  Creativity is messy and loud, full of halting steps and throw-away ideas, back and forth, tears, laughter , and the accessing and artistic transformation of deep, intense emotions.  The audience sees only the end result—which I think is  why, as much as people say they want creativity at the forefront of education, it can be frightening to the lay public.  Try walking into the middle of a theatre class and getting your bearings!  Theatre is organized chaos, with the process of editing and shaping built in to it—and it is never static.  Theatre is a living organism, and no two performances are ever alike.  It is dangerous and exhilarating, a high-wire act done with a few brave companions in front of an audience with high expectations.  It is unlike any other academic discipline.  Theatre students demonstrate their mastery in real time, and receive feedback in real time.  

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We've Got Magic to Do!

Welcome to another year at Santa Barbara High School, my 20th as the head of the Performing Arts Department, and the 91st year in this wonderful space, first unveiled in 1924.  Beginning with Into The Woods we will have done eight consecutive musicals (nine, if you count a summer production of Cabaret!) ; most schools will do a straight play in the Fall and a Musical in the Spring, but I have had the good fortune to have a program with such phenomenal musical talent, and with designers of prodigious talent with whom I love to collaborate, that somehow we have gravitated to the form. With Christina McCarthy (who I first worked with on the Wizard of Oz 13 years ago), and Dr. Jon Nathan, whose first show here was a spectacular production of Spamalot, I am able to work at level of professionalism and creativity with great minds and artists.

I do not know yet what we will do in the Spring; I am waiting to see what becomes available—in the meantime there is the 16th iteration of Music of the Night, the student produced and directed Broadway musical revue that has grown into a major part...

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Hello, I must be Going…

Hello, I must be Going…

It never is the end, is it?  In a space where theatre has been performed continuously for 90 years, it is another year in an enduring legacy of passionate, intelligent, and often spectacular theatre performed at the highest levels—next year will be twenty years for me at Santa Barbara High School, and to celebrate we will once again do two musicals (and our 8th and 9th consecutive musical) for our season, beginning with Pippin in the Fall. In fact, this will be the first graduating group of seniors who have performed exclusively in musicals.  I love the form, and as long as we have such a talented group of actors I will continue to explore the form and possibilities of musical theatre. So say goodbye (for now) to an amazing senior class, a class that was as tight a class as I have ever seen in my time here—they were leaders and mentors, and took their own particular legacy seriously.  We had a chance to have senior dinner together with the actors and their families, and to show film of their take on their time here at SBHS (you can see it on this website by clicking here).

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Dream Bigger

Welcome to another season of dynamic, boundary-pushing Santa Barbara High School Theatre. This year celebrate the 110th year of theatre at this amazing school, including the last 90 in the same space!  What marks SBHS theatre is a stability that ensures institutional memory, and an embracing of the performing arts by the community and administration unmatched anywhere else.  In those years of theatre in this wonderful space, alive with the passion and energy of countless theatre students and artists, three teachers alone have taught a total of 74 of those 90 years -- Olive Lamb, 38 years; Jack Nakano, 17 years, and Otto Layman, currently in his 19th year at the helm and still going strong, bringing big musicals, edgy contemporary works and classics to Santa Barbara audiences. Along the way, we have expanded the number of musicals and student-produced shows... 

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