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Gerald Carpenter: UCSB Creative Studies Creates Musical Comedy with ‘Even Greater Britain’

Here's something new — brand new, in fact — and definitely not something you would find around the house. It's an original musical comedy by the UCSB College of Creative Studies called Even Greater Britain. written, produced and performed by the students thereof.

Britain
Even Greater Britain, opening Thursday, is an original musical comedy by the College of Creative Studies at UCSB.

The musical features stage direction by Gerry Hansen, technical direction by Tim Wood and musical direction by Jeremy Haladyna.

It will play at 8 p.m. this Thursday through Saturday, April 9-11, in the Old Little Theater (a maroon building adjoining the College of Creative Studies on the UCSB campus).

Now, I haven't heard a word or a note of the show, and even if I had, I could not convey the sense of hearing music in written prose, because it can't be done. So, the music and lyrics will come as a — no doubt delightful — surprise. The story, however, we have in some detail, and from the source.

The premise is that "the sister of the current English queen, bumped from queenly contention at home, has set up shop on a remote Pacific island where her high-flown antics don't quite fit in with the natives. Now, having trashed the island's economy, she prepares her exit — which means installing her young son, Charles, in her place."

There is, of course, a complication: "Charles isn't quite sure he's ready. He doesn't want to be king.  At his age, he's more into pop stars, puppet theater and his Olympic speed-walker girlfriend."

A rather postmodern coalition forms, "of an international reggae star, an American TV journalist and a lady practitioner of the island's ancient magic art," and the trio make sure that "Prince Charles has a chance, anyway, of rising to the challenge of kingship. Yet there are daunting obstacles: a meddlesome advisor to the queen bent on leading a new democracy himself, an overzealous security chief, and — most daunting of all — the island's dangerously lethal giant cassowary birds — birds that boom!"

For the past 3,000 years, at least, we have been taken by stories about the education of princes. It is never an inappropriate study, even in The Swan, The Prince and the Showgirl or Roman Holiday not to mention their contemporary recyclings. It's not snobbery, not really. Snobs don't like that part of the royal story. As the power of royalty vanishes, the responsibilities and duties of monarchs proliferate exponentially. Every generation will forge its own definition of kingship, however biased or fanciful.

It will be interesting to be shown a part of this generation's idea of royalty, and the glimpse won't cost very much either. Tickets to Even Greater Britain are $10 for general admission and $5 for all students and children. For reservations, call 805.893.4146.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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