[Noozhawk’s note: The “LoveLoveLove” soloist was Adam Phillips, not Jeffrey Foskett. The story has been corrected below.]
“LoveLoveLove” saluted the Beatles in two performances at The Granada over the Valentine’s Day weekend, with the State Street Ballet and the Santa Barbara Choral Society doing the honors.
A grace note was added by the presence of Sir George Martin, legendary producer of most of the Beatles’ recordings from 1962 through 1969. With his back ramrod straight and his English accent in evidence, the 84-year-old Martin spoke briefly to the enthusiastic crowd on Sunday, then conducted one of his own compositions, “The Mission Chorales.”
This closed out the first part of the program, which featured selections that included ballet company patrons dancing onstage to a recording by Judy Garland of George Gershwin’s “Embraceable You”; Paul McCartney’s “Eleanor Rigby,” scored and conducted by Martin; a reprise of State Street Ballet’s version of Felix Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”; and “The Mission Chorales.”
In the “Midsummer Night’s Dream” ballet, Sergei Domrachev danced the role of Bottom the Ass, and was brilliant and outrageous — as is his custom. He and Bayaraa Badamsambuu are alumni of Russia’s renowned Perm State Ballet School, and their artistry adds immeasurably to State Street Ballet’s stature. It also helps to have Rodney Gustafson as the company’s artistic director.
On Sunday, the lively audience gave Martin not one but two standing ovations when he came out from the wings. It was heartening to see the white-maned Martin still creating and performing so many years after the Beatles. During the Fab Four’s heyday, Martin was sometimes referred to as the Fifth Beatle — and the audience obviously felt he merited a royal welcome.
The second half of the program was given over to “LoveLoveLove,” with music by McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison, arranged by Stephen Dombek and conducted by JoAnne Wasserman.
Speaking of rock legends, the solo voice in the piece was Adam Phillips. He has a poignant tenor that mined the emotional riches of “Help,” “In My Life,” “Here, There and Everywhere,” “All You Need is Love” and other Beatles songs included in the program.
The State Street Ballet did the dancing, to choreography by William Soleau, who has a number of previous credits with the company. The principal dancers were Leila Drake, Lead Girl; Jose Edwin Gonzalez, Lead Boy; David Michael Eck and Bonnie Krotzer as the Girl’s parents; Badamsambuu and Ezlimar Dortolina as the Boy’s parents; and Steven Jasso as the Other Boy.
The ballet’s story involved young lovers, disapproving parents and all the elements of stormy, thwarted love. The dancers were — as they usually are — exemplary. The music was of the Beatles — and for the many audience members of a certain age, that was all that was needed.
The Santa Barbara Choral Society was splendid throughout the complex program. Nichole DeChaine was the tender soprano soloist in “The Mission Chorales.”
— Margo Kline covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.