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. When you come to the theatre look around you: this is a place demonstrably owned by student actors and artists. It is a theatre with an identity—you know that when you walk in the doors that the entire theatre, from house to stage, from wing to wing, it is dedicated to the fierce, brightspirit of creativity.
I cannot begin to tell you how fortunate I feel, I am, to be here, with students who are better than us—who are more tolerant, who embrace and celebrate difference with much more grace, who love the exotic and fear the mundane, who say, life, art and creation matter. It is why I will continue to be here for as long as they will have me. I have spent the last twenty years in the company of much beauty and spirit.
And so, while we also celebrate the things we have made together, we must temper that with the bittersweet, and say goodbye to a most wonderful group of seniors, whose leadership, care for their craft and for each other, and passion to perform at the highest level are both admirable and awe-inspiring. This group, whose legacy includes The Drowsy Chaperone, Spamalot, Chicago, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Big Fish, Mystery of Edwin Drood, Pippin, Hair, and 4 Music of the Nights that become progressively more and more powerful in drawing power and artistry (and for good measure a stunning summer production of Cabaret, which played to sold out audiences)—this group leaves a tangible presence that will be felt for a long time. They also leave the younger actors they have mentored prepared for the future.
I also say goodbye to my own wonderful child, who first began her time on stage here 18 years ago, in a playpen during classes; she has been the luminous firefly of my heart and a remarkable presence on stage—and my heart is saddened that I will no longer see her every day here—but gladdened and quickened also, knowing she continues her own adventure in life at UC Berkeley in the Fall. It’s the Janus-parent in all of us, cursed/blessed to see both forward and behind.