Tuesday, January 17 , 2017, 2:14 am | Fair 44º


Review: Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre’s ‘Ghost of a Chance’ Is Haunting and Hilarious

Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre is known for its high-quality productions of light theater, as well as its delicious tri-tip dinners. On my recent trip up the coast for its spring offering, I found the ante has been upped on both counts.

A new chef has subtly adjusted the traditional menu, replacing the already tasty mashed potatoes with a sublime cheesy mashed potato bake and using a marinade for the grilled chicken that leaves it moist and flavorful.

The play Ghost of a Chance, directed by Brian Harwell, offers all the best of what you expect from this intrepid little theater, now in its 40th season.

By Flip Kobler and Cindy Marcus, a husband-and-wife team who wrote scripts for many animated Disney films, this play is more a comedy of situation than one of manners. Its metaphysical element — the ghost in the title — adds a different dimension, but the comic performances we love are all there, and Harwell has done a superb job of exploring all the facets of the characters to make them as real and human as possible — even the ghost.

Tiffany Story, Santa Barbara’s queen bee of comedy, has a role that seems tailor-made for her — Crystal, the flaky psychic. Every flip of her hand or lift of her brow fleshes out the character just that much more, so that within moments, she is not only inhabiting the character but pushing past her edges, emanating an aura of hilarity. She truly steals the show.

In the role of the ghost who doesn’t believe in himself, Matthew Cooper is excellent. With his impeccable comic timing and full commitment to the physicality the role requires, he is a joy to watch, and his love/hate chemistry with Story is palpable.

Allison Threadgold and Sean O’Shea are solid as Bethany and Floyd, the couple trying to start a new life together, and Threadgold does a good job of portraying the angst her character feels, pulled between two men she cares for.

As Verna, Kathy Marden plays the meddling mother role to the hilt, but with sweet moments of poignancy as she cradles and converses with the urn holding her late husband’s ashes. Mike Wondolowski is the hapless would-be buyer of Bethany’s family cabin, and rounds out the cast well.

This swells to a more emotional climax than most other productions at Circle Bar B, but without being cheesy or maudlin. This reviewer, admittedly soft of heart to begin with, shed more than a few tears.

There are three more weekends to catch this excellent production, running through May 18, so take the chance to see it while you can. Tickets and information are available by clicking here.

— Justine Sutton is a Santa Barbara freelance writer and frequent Noozhawk reviewer. The opinions expressed are her own.

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 through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk encourages free expression, regardless of viewpoint, but requires that such expressions be civil in tone, respectful of other commenters and relevant to the stories on which they are posted. We reserve the right to remove any comment for any reason.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree not to submit a comment that is abusive, defamatory, disrespectful, illegal, libelous, profane, vulgar or disparaging (whether on the basis of disability, ethnicity, gender, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, traits with which people are born, or otherwise).

» Agree not to submit a comment that attacks or threatens another person, threatens or promotes violence, wishes for harm to befall another person, invades another person's privacy or proprietary rights, or uses expletives (including veiled profanity).

» Agree not to stalk or harass another person, dominate the conversation, discourage participation by others, or bait, belittle, bicker with, mock or taunt others.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

» Comments with spam or self-promotional links are not allowed. Comments that include links are automatically routed to a Pending queue. Regularly checking it is not a priority of ours.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >