“Storm Reading” Celebration

Storm Reading, courtesy photo.

Storm Reading, courtesy photo.

When Access Theatre’s pioneering play Storm Reading debuted at the Lobero in 1988, it was a ground-breaking piece of theater, which went on to inspire audiences in show after show worldwide for nearly a decade. Part of what made this play so extraordinary is the central character, Neil Marcus, who played himself during the play’s six-year run. Marcus lives with a very visible disability and works hard to represent life in a realistic way that is not focused on the fear of being different.

“The world says ‘You are a spastic quadriplegic.’ I say I’m a dancer. There’s a new movement happening in the world. People are beginning to realize they are more than what they’ve been told they are. The flame is fanned. The fire spreads. Every moment is a new moment to do what’s never been done before,” says Marcus in Storm Reading.

Storm Reading, courtesy photo.

Storm Reading, courtesy photo.

Now a new generation has the opportunity to familiarize itself with the show, when Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation hosts “Celebrating Storm Reading,” an evening with the acclaimed Access Theatre cast (Neil Marcus, Matthew Ingersoll and Kathryn Voice) and Director/Producer Rod Lathim. Along with special guest Anthony Edwards, the cast and creators will return to the Lobero Theatre to take a look back at the impact the play had on audiences and at the sustaining message that art holds the transformative power to heal body and mind. Selected scenes from the show will be staged and scenes from the television version will be screened.

“This year is the 30th anniversary of the debut of Storm Reading,” says Lathim, founder and artistic director of the award-winning theatre company, Access Theatre, from 1979-1996. “Storm Reading was unique because it was created here in Santa Barbara and went on to tour internationally.”

Storm Reading, courtesy photo.

Storm Reading, courtesy photo.

Storm Reading went on to tour through 20 states in the USA, as well as Canada and England over six years, and it garnered recognition from several luminaries in the entertainment world. Maria Shriver interviewed Marcus on The Today Show, and Linda Wertheimer featured him on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” Storm Reading was performed as part of the NBC TV Special “From the Heart” at the Kennedy Center with Access Theatre Honorary Board Member Michael Douglas.

Don’t miss “Celebrating Storm Reading” at the Lobero Theatre (33 E. Canon Perdido St., Santa Barbara) on Friday, September 21 at 7 p.m. A VIP reception begins at 5:30 pm. For tickets and more information, visit cottagehealth.org/crhevent.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on September 19, 2018.

EXPLORE: Comedy Hideaway | Laugh it Up

By Leslie Dinaberg


Maz Jobrani at Santa Barbara Comedy Hideaway, photo by Mercedes Lowe

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the comedy club, of course! Chickens know how to cluck it up, and now you can, too, at the Comedy Hideaway. Andrey Belikov launched the venture in 2012, with a single show per week in Goleta. Now the entrepreneurial comic and promoter puts on six comedy shows a week in Goleta and Santa Barbara, and has additional venues in Ventura and Oakland.

“We’ll frequently book comics to all three places together,” says Belikov. The reception in Santa Barbara has been really good. “People love our shows; they give them 4.5 or 5 on Yelp,” he says. “A lot of clubs in other places are really dated with a two drink minimum, long lines and bouncers—it’s not the best experience. Here in Santa Barbara, we’re more laid back.”

That laid-back vibe attracts top-notch talent. Recent performers include Iliza Shlesinger (winner of Last Comic Standing), Taylor Williamson (second place winner of America’s Got Talent), Carlos Alazraqui (Officer James Garcia on Comedy Central’s Reno 911) and Bryan Callen (comedic actor in The Hangover 1 & 2, Mad TV, Ride Along and Old School).

“A lot of our headliners will use Santa Barbara as a place to try out material when they know they’re going to appear on Letterman,” says Belikov. “They’ll do seven shows just to get ready for a five-minute appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman, which is great for us.” The lineups are usually announced on Sunday night before the Thursday shows and typically include four to six comics: a host, special guests and a headliner—and a lot of special guests are also headliners.

Goleta Comedy Hideaway is every Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. (inside Petrini’s, 5711 Calle Real, Goleta). Santa Barbara Comedy Hideaway is every Friday and Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. (upstairs at Apero, 532 State St.). “The later shows tend to attract a younger crowd (guests must be at least 18), while the earlier 7:30 p.m. shows get all ages,” says Belikov. “It really depends upon the headliner. It just keeps growing and growing. It’s been great.” No joke! For more information or to purchase tickets, visit sbcomedy.com. 

Originally published in the Fall 2014 issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine

LOL Comedy Festival presents Brad Williams

Brad-Williams, courtesy photo

Brad-Williams, courtesy photo

Brad Williams has appeared on numerous TV shows including Legit, Live at Gotham, The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Mind Of Mencia, and Pitboss. Williams has also performed for the troops all over the world. Williams’s show is high energy. Robin Williams called him “Prozac with a head.” Williams’s ability to make humorous observations on disability, relationships, sex, and race are winning over audiences and proving that anyone can overcome their shortcomings.

Williams appears at the Lobero Theatre on Sept. 5 at 10 p.m. as part of the LOL Comedy Festival. The Lobero is located at 33 E. Canon Perdido St. For more ticket information, and the full LOL Comedy Festival schedule visit SBLOLFEST.com.


—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on August 27 2014.