PuppetPalooza Kick-Off Fundraiser

Come play with the puppets this weekend when PuppetPalooza Central—Museum and Theatre  celebrates their opening with a fundraiser extravaganza on Saturday, January 27, from 4-7 p.m. in Paseo Nuevo.

The festivities  honor Santa Barbara’s beloved anchorman John Palminteri and the KEYT News Channel 3 team for going above and beyond with their coverage of the Thomas Fire and aftermath in Santa Barbara County. A special  “John Palminteri Puppet” will perform live with “The Palm.”

The Muppets will headline the Puppetpalooza Festival on Mar. 2 at the Marjorie Luke Theatre. Courtesy photo.

The Muppets will headline the Puppetpalooza Festival on Mar. 2 at the Marjorie Luke Theatre. Courtesy photo.

Guests also will enjoy a showcase of the puppetry attractions coming to PuppetPalooza, as well as live performances, and and light bites and beverages.

“We hope our joyous festival filled with music, puppets, families and fun can bring renewed hope and laughter to our entire community after a winter season that has been difficult for everyone and tragic for too many,” states festival creator Mitchell Kriegman. “Honoring those in our community who have been reporting about our tireless first responders and informing all of us about these pressing events seemed like the best way to kick off our festival.”

Featured at the fundraiser, and on display throughout the season at PuppetPalooza Central, is noted puppeteer—and Vice Chair and Director of Dance of the UCSB Theater and Dance Department—Christina McCarthy and her handcrafted puppets. 

The Paseo Nuevo headquarters also features the regional debut screenings of Handmade Puppet Dreams presented by Heather Henson, the daughter of legendary puppeteer Jim Henson. Handmade Puppet Dreams is a traveling film series that promotes independent artists exploring their handmade craft specifically for the screen. 

Fundraiser tickets are $25 and are available for purchase online here or at PuppetPalooza Central in Paseo Nuevo (301 Paseo Nuevo). For more information, visit puppetpaloozasb.com.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 25, 2018.

Val Kilmer Presents Cinema Twain LIVE

Val Kilmer as "Citizen Twain," courtesy photo.

Val Kilmer as “Citizen Twain,” courtesy photo.

Val Kilmer will be at the Lobero Theatre this Friday night (Jun. 30) at 8 p.m. to present a screening of his play about Mark Twain. The one-man show, Citizen Twain, played to sold-out houses at several performing arts venues in Los Angeles.

Kilmer transforms himself into Twain in a comedic and moving performance based on the life of the man, Samuel Clemens, and of course his writings as Mark Twain. From his thoughts on politics (including his famous disdain for the U.S. Congress), to his family and ultimately his faith and God, Twain spins a series of yarns with his timeless satire and incomparable wit.

Kilmer will conduct a question and answer period with the audience following the screening.

The Lobero Theatre is located at 33 E. Canon Perdido St.

Special meet and greet tickets are still on sale at the Lobero Box Office and here.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on June 28, 2017.

Cavalia’s Odysseo is One Wild Ride

Odyesseo "Freedom," photo by Jak Wonderly.

Odyesseo “Freedom,” photo by Jak Wonderly.

If you’re looking for a perfect way to entertain the whole family this holiday season, Cavalia‘s new Odysseo show is just the ticket.

Odyesseo "The Fairies," photo by Pascal Ratthe.

Odyesseo “The Fairies,” photo by Pascal Ratthe.

This magical spectacle blends jaw-dropping equestrian artistry with Cirque du Soleil level acrobatics and music, as well as beautiful costumes and incredible set design. It’s really quite a magical experience, and well worth the drive to Irvine, where it’s playing through January 8 (under a giant White Big Top at the junction of the I-405 & the SR-133).

Odyesseo "Finale," photo by Lynne Glazze.

Odyesseo “Finale,” photo by Lynne Glazze.

The production is so unique that it’s hard to describe. “Odysseo marries the equestrian arts, stage arts and high-tech theatrical effects at never-before-seen levels. A veritable revolution in live performance, Odysseo comprises a list of superlatives: the world’s largest touring production and traveling big top, the biggest stage, the most beautiful visual effects, and the largest number of horses at liberty,” according to the promoters.

For once, they aren’t exaggerating in the least.

Odyesseo "Carosello," photo by Dan Harper.

Odyesseo “Carosello,” photo by Dan Harper.

The 65 horses and 48 artists who star in the show take you on a journey into a dreamy world of the planet’s most unforgettable landscapes. This is a show you won’t soon forget. For tickets and information visit www.cavalia.net/Irvine‎.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Odyesseo "The Angels," photo by Andrew Miller.

Odyesseo “The Angels,” photo by Andrew Miller.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 4, 2016.

Editor’s Pick: The Producers

The-Producers

Courtesy photo

I’ve been a fan of The Producers since my childhood friend (and Santa Barbara local) Cady Huffman originated the part of Ulla and won a Tony Award for it in 2001. This Mel Brooks hit musical is still one of the funniest shows around. Just thinking about the geriatric Old Betties dance number with their walkers is enough to make me laugh. If you haven’t seen it before, you’re in for a treat! | Feb. 16–17, 7:30 p.m. The Granada Theatre, 1214 State St. 805/899-2222, granadasb.org.

–Leslie Dinaberg

This story originally appeared in the winter 2015/16 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Impro Theatre’s Twilight Zone UnScripted

Twilight Zone UnScripted, courtesy photo

Twilight Zone UnScripted, courtesy photo

From the folks that brought us last spring’s laugh-out-loud hilarious performance of Impro Theatre’s Jane Austen UnScripted, Instant Karma Improv Comedy brings the group back to town with their wildly popular Twilight Zone UnScripted, directed by Jo McGinley and Stephen Kearin.

Hailed as “the greatest improvisational theatre company in the world,” Impro Theatre’s Twilight Zone UnScripted creates four brand new, completely improvised episodes at each performance—all in the style of the classic TV series The Twilight Zone.

The critically acclaimed ensemble returns with an eerie, macabre, entirely spontaneous show that begins with a single audience suggestion. From the darkest corners of reality, to the realm of the unexplained, Twilight Zone UnScripted enters a dimension of pure imagination whilst paying homage to Rod Serling’s award-winning sci-fi series.

Once they receive the audience suggestion, the lights go out, the theme music begins, and they, like you, enter into another dimension—a dimension known only as… Twilight Zone… UnScripted.

Performances are Friday and Saturday, Nov. 20-21 at 8 p.m., at Center Stage Theater, in Paseo Nuevo, upstairs at the intersection of Chapala and De La Guerra Streets. For tickets, please call 805/963-0408 or visit, centerstagetheater.org.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Twilight Zone UnScripted: Trailer “Fear” from Impro Theatre on Vimeo.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on November 18, 2015.

Ensemble Theater Company and K-9 Pals Partner for Pets

K-9 Pals and ETC are partnering to promote pet adoptions. Courtesy photo.

K-9 Pals and ETC are partnering to promote pet adoptions. Courtesy photo.

In conjunction with promoting the new comedy, The Best Brothersin which dog ownership is featured prominently—Ensemble Theatre Company has partnered with local nonprofit dog adoption agency, K-9 Pals, to raise awareness about the growing need for homes for dogs in Santa Barbara.

The Best Brothers, playing now through December 21 at the New Vic, focuses on estranged brothers who are forced to come together in the wake of their mothers untimely, yet hilarious, death. While reconciling their mother’s estate, one point of contention raises its head over and over again: who will care for mom’s beloved Italian Greyhound, Enzo? Enzo represents the unconditional love that can come from a dog, even during times of great distress and upheaval in life. This idea, that a dog can change a person’s life, led to the inevitable teamwork between ETC and K-9.

K-9 Pals finds homes for dogs after an owner’s death, and offers a safe environment for sheltering, feeding and training dogs who are waiting for homes. More than 1,200 dogs are taken into Santa Barbara shelters each year. As part of the awareness partnership, K-9 Pals has brought dogs in need of adoption to the New Vic before each matinee performance of The Best Brothers – December 21 is the final event. Adoption events begin one hour prior to the performance. The public is welcome to attend the adoption events, socialize with the dogs, and learn more about the adoption process. A ticket to the play is not required.

K-9 Pals and ETC are partnering to promote pet adoptions. Courtesy photo.

K-9 Pals and ETC are partnering to promote pet adoptions. Courtesy photo.

For more information about K-9 Pals, including steps in the adoption process and how to donate, visit www.k-9pals.org. To purchase tickets to The Best Brothers, contact the Ensemble Theatre Company Box Office at 805/965-5400, or visit www.etcsb.org. The theater is located at 33 W. Victoria St.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 17, 2014.