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Monday, March 18 , 2019, 1:06 pm | Fair 68º


Tell Me Mo’: Reveling in the Season

Santa Barbara Revels picks up a longtime tradition with a winter solstice theme of merry olde England.

Trying to decide what to put in the column this week had me going back and forth, flip-flopping and going nowhere fast. Just the cultural choices out there — on a daily basis, not just weekends, is daunting. Santa Babs is a microcosm of a large city in so many ways. Where do I start? Who do I leave out?

Mo McFadden
And hearing about a new arts group in town put me into this conundrum. Yes, another performing arts group with a holiday show in celebration of winter solstice. Called Santa Barbara Revels, it is one of 10 companies nationally that grew out of an idea John Langstaff had in the 1950s back in Cambridge, Mass.

Susan Keller, Santa Babrara Revels’ founder/producer, and I spoke on the phone. I asked her why … she explained that she’s been working on this for the past year.

“What appealed to me was the inter-generational, nondenominational aspects, ethics (yes, she’s a lawyer), the mixing of professionals and volunteers, it’s all very inclusive,” Keller said.

This year’s theme is medieval and Renaissance England and she gushed on about Jennifer McGibbon’s costumes. Some others participants you’ll know are Miller James and Ken Ryals, the Santa Barbara Quire of Voyces, the James-Michael Consort. Funding for the Revels came from the Santa Barbara Community Events & Festivals Committee and the ever-so-generous Anne Towbes.

Keller continued, “Hopefully, it will take the place of Civic Light Opera (I figure she means in terms of the community being able to participate and to have fully staged shows once more) and to adjunct (there’s that legalese again) with Summer Solstice as well.”

You can catch an open preview of the show at First Thursday, 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Casa de la Guerra, 15 E. De la Guerra St. The official public show is Sunday at the Casa. Tickets at the door are only $10. Definitely worth a look.

Julie McLeod, who heads up the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance, will be feted locally, as the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the ground-breaking musical, West Side Story, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday at the Marjorie Luke Theatre, 721 E. Cota St. And it’s FREE! SBDA is hosting the screening and, afterward, Julie will talk about her role in the Broadway musical. (Noozhawk arts coordinator Margo Kline did a full write up on this — but the date changed from that first story in Noozhawk). McLeod was a “swing girl” understudy, meaning she would step in for any of the female dancers in the show (guys were called “swing boy” in the program) and be ready to go on at a moment’s notice. She had to know all the dances — both gangs, Jets and Sharks. And it wasn’t easy learning the choreography as no one would help her.

“Choreographer/director Jerome Robbins (who was not trained as a director) pitted the gangs against each other and they played tricks on each other…gang to gang," she explained. "That’s how the costumes were developed. Each gang had its own dressing room. And they didn’t talk to each other in the hallways.” Sheesh, Robbins had onstage and backstage drama going on.

Also this Sunday, earlier in the day, the DramaDogs will have a “Move Your Monologue” workshop from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Leslie Sack Dance Studio, 20 W. Calle Laureles. The Dogs — that’s E. Bonnie Lewis and Ken Gilbert — will encourage you to howl, bark and wag your tails with glee as they continue to explore the physical process of finding and creating characters.

I’ll be heading up to the Santa Ynez Valley on Saturday for the Warren Zevon event at the Maverick Saloon starting at 4 p.m.  One of my all-time favorite singer-songwriters, his music will be played by a raft of great local and global players – like Jordan Zevon, Mike Campbell (Heartbreakers guitarist) and Phil Cody, along with some “surprise guests.” Although no one will give any names, I’m guessing … like Jackson Browne, David Crosby and Kenny Loggins to name a few. Just hearing Zevon’s music will be enough for me.  I had a dog that would sing along with Warren and me on the radio to “Werewolves of London.”  I plan to howl Saturday.  Visit www.warrenzevontribute.com for details and tickets.

Marie Cagara
For those photographers out there and people who love the art of photography, then do check out the portfolio of Chuck and Marie Cagara’s work on their Web site, www.magicallightphotography.com.  Scenes of Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons will take your breath away. Along with celebrity and animal shots, light-hearted pics and artsy-farsty stuff, you get the gamut online. We met a few years back and discovered Chuck had been at Villanova University around the same time as I was playing around the campus with the Belle Masque Society.  Small world.  The couple lives in Goleta but does a lot of traveling.

Also, don’t miss the black-and-white photography exhibit up through Jan. 5 at East/West Gallery called “PAIRED.” The show celebrates three California photographers — Imogen Cunningham, Rondal Partridge and Horace Bristol — who defined the art in the 20th century.

“Having these photographs in one place is phenomenal,” exclaimed gallery owner Henri Bristol.

Apparently, they’ve never been shown together and you can easily see the richness and variations in their individual choices of subject matter when they’re all in one space.  Henri is the son of Horace Bristol and 2008 will mark the 100th anniversary of Horace’s birth. Henri is planning an extensive exhibit of his father’s work.

John Dickson is looking for volunteers to man and woman the phone lines this Christmas season (from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 17-24) as Santa and Mrs. Claus. The “Santa Claus Call Center” will be set up at Montecito Bank & Trust, 1000 State St.  Volunteers would commit to two-hour shift(s). This happy mistake came about when Dickson launched his toll-free business number late last year and it was one-digit off from 1-800-SantaClaus. When misdialed calls started coming in from kids spewing their Christmas wishes, Dickson couldn’t be a Scrooge.  He played along and even got his mom to pinch hit for him as Mrs. Claus. And thank goodness she did because now women can jump in on this terrific opportunity to talk to the children at this special time of year.

Go to http://santabarbara.com/santa/ for the form to fill out and hear a couple of the kids’ calls from last year.  From my vantage point of under 5 feet tall, I have been recruited as Santa’s helper and elf for more years than I care to talk about. But Mrs. Claus? Well, now that’s a new character and I think it’d be a blast to do this.  Good one John!

And one mo’ thing … if you’re like me and have no health insurance, then from 5 to 7 p.m. today, find out about the “Rewards of Wellness” at Qui Si Bella Eco-Wellness Spa at Loreto Plaza, 3311 State St.  My friend, Al Marcelline, has been working on this with Michael Framberger for the past two years, and they have a plan to educate and engage people in the idea of Corporate Wellness.  Personally, I like the idea of a wellness approach rather than a wait till it gets bad approach.  And Al says all can be done a lot cheaper than what we’re currently doing.  Call 805.682.0003 for reservations.

Mo McFadden’s Tell Me Mo’ column is published every other week on Noozhawk.

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