The Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre is haunted. Starting on Friday, April 11, there will be a ghost named Chance in the theater, along with the rest of the cast of Ghost of a Chance, the first show in the company’s 44th season. Like many Circle Bar B (CBB) productions before it, Chance mixes the fun of a comedy with the sweetness of a little romance, a blend that has worked well over the years, both as a complement to tri-tip barbecue and as a signature house style for the CBB troupe. Brian Harwell, who directed last year’s season opener, Return Engagments, is back to helm this one, and we spoke with him last week about what to expect. “There’s lots of verbal play, and it centers on the challenge of the ghost, whom only one, or at most two, characters can hear,” he explained.
Asked to describe the appeal of the Circle Bar B approach, Harwell said, “In these shows, we take standard formulas straight out of farce, and we put a twist on them, something that makes you go from thinking that it’s something you’ve seen before to that great moment of ‘aha’ when you realize that it’s not exactly what you expect.” Casting the show offered Harwell, who frequently works as a stage actor, the opportunity to give back some of what he has gotten from all that experience: “Having been onstage so much myself, I like the challenge of directing because it makes me have to explain it. I can’t just rely on intuition like I might in a performance — it’s got to be something that makes sense. At the same time, I try not to be Ty Cobb about it.” Wait, what? Ty Cobb, baseball’s most legendary not-nice guy? “I mean Ty Cobb in the sense that, when he became a manager, he wasn’t very good at communicating with the players,” laughed Harwell. “I’m just saying that I don’t want to be the kind of director who’s not helpful to the actors.” For tickets and info, call (805) 967-1962 or visit circlebarbtheatre.com.