Tuesday, July 17 , 2018, 7:06 pm | Fair 71º


The Christmas Revels: Early California Celebration of Winter Solstice

The community can experience a slice of Santa Barbara’s storied history with four performances at the Lobero Theatre — this year’s new and original version of The Christmas Revels is based on an actual event from Alta California’s Rancho period.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday Dec. 15; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday Dec. 17.

Written by award-wining author and historian Erin Graffy and Santa Barbara Revels artistic director Susan Keller, the story focuses on the upcoming wedding of Anita de la Guerra, daughter of the Presidio’s comandante, to Alfred Robinson, local representative for a Boston-based hide-and-tallow trading company.

Richard Henry Dana, a young Harvard student spending a year at sea for his health, was invited to the festivities, and he recorded the exciting events in his class book Two Years Before the Mast.

Described as a “unique seasonal phenomenon” (Santa Barbara News-Press) and hailed as “creat[ing] just the kind of holiday spirit that bypasses the commercial and heads straight to the heart of the season” (Santa Barbara Independent), this year’s show is a worthy successor to last year’s sell-out presentation A Scottish Celebration of the Winter Solstice.

The Christmas Revels changes setting and centuries each year, so it’s always surprising and always different.

Matt Tavianini returns as stage director for The Christmas Revels, Erin McKibben joins the team as music director, and Susan Keller helms the company as artistic director.

Heading up the large cast of professional and volunteer performers is Tyler X Koontz, a big hit as a clansman in the Scottish show, playing Richard Henry Dana, joined by Bill Egan as Captain Thompson of the ship Alert.

Paul Brooks is their on-shore associate, Alfred Robinson. The Spanish contingent is led by Luis Moreno as El Tecolero, who acts as master of ceremonies for the festivities.

The de la Guerra family is headed up by Frank Artusio, as Jose, with Paula Lopez as Maria, Isabelle Marchand as the bride Anita, and Jessica Haro as her cousin, Antonia Cabrillo.

Special guests include Baile de California led by Diana Replogle-Purintan, a specialist in the dances of the Rancho times.

Santa Barbara Revels will be joined by Ernestine DeSoto from the Barbareño Band of Chumash, who will enact a traditional story of her tribe.

The annual Indy Award-winning productions of The Christmas Revels engages the audience in singing and dancing along with the Revels company.

Tickets can be purchased at the Lobero Theatre Box Office, 33 E. Canon Perdido St., by phone at 963-0761 or online at Lobero.com.

Group discounts are available for groups of 10 or more, and there is a family package, which includes a discount for two adult and two child or student tickets. For more information, visit SantaBarbaraRevels.org.

— Maureen McFadden for Santa Barbara Revels.


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