Pixel Tracker

Thursday, January 17 , 2019, 6:13 pm | Fog/Mist 59º


Review: Speaking of Stories Delivers ‘Nothing But Laughs’

Another evening of entertaining storytelling is planned for 7 p.m. Monday

Speaking of Stories provides something most of us don’t experience much as adults — the opportunity to sit back and let someone read us a story. This unique performance series features actors, both homegrown and from farther afield, reading short stories by a variety of authors.

SOS, founded by Steven Gilbar and directed by Maggie Mixsell, launched its 17th season Sunday afternoon, with a second performance set for 7 p.m. Monday. This is the series’ second season at Center Stage Theater, and while the elegance of the Lobero Theatre was fitting, the intimacy of this space perhaps affords the audience a richer experience. The smaller capacity requires two showings for each performance, resulting in more versatility for audience members.

This show’s theme, traditionally so for the first of the season, is “Nothing But Laughs.” Unusual here, though, is that all five stories presented are by the same author — Canadian Stuart McLean, a broadcaster, humorist and author who is best known for his radio program, The Vinyl Café. Sort of a Canadian Garrison Keillor, McLean writes and tells stories about Dave, who owns “the world’s smallest record store,” and his family and neighbors.

Santa Barbara actor, writer and teacher Jon Koons read “Christmas at the Turlington’s,” a comedy of errors about Dave’s neighbors, Bert and Mary, and the Christmas dinner he and his family is invited to at their house. As the first to read, he had the honor of introducing McLean’s deliciously cringe-inducing style of humor to those audience members not familiar with his work.

“The Hairdresser,” read by talented local actor Dan Gunther, was the brilliantly crafted story of a misunderstanding as Dave overhears his wife, Morley, telling a friend about her desire to “try someone new.” Gunther gave great life to the story by skillfully denoting each character with accents and attitudes, and was a delight to listen to.

“Teeth” detailed the difficulties of elderly neighbor Eugene with his dentures and was read with great aplomb by seasoned stage actor Rudy Willrich.

The only woman in the lineup, longtime local actor Cali Rae Turner, gamely read “The Jockstrap,” the tale of Morley’s efforts to purchase this equipment in time for her son’s first hockey practice. This was Turners first time with SOS, and I hope she returns for more.

Emmy-winning actor Jay Thomas, an SOS regular, closed the show with a stellar reading of “The Phone Message,” in which Dave blunders through a classic tale of attempting to right a wrong and not get caught. Thomas’ extensive experience was evident as he took the audience along on this wild ride.

During the intermission, the audience was offered beverages and chocolate chip cookies, home-baked — along with gorgeous mini-cupcakes — by SOS Executive Director Teri Ball.

Even for grownups, what better way to round out a session of stories than with milk and cookies?

Click here for tickets and more information.

— Justine Sutton of Santa Barbara is a freelance writer and frequent Noozhawk reviewer.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.