On Valentine’s Day, The Granada Theatre hosted a Love Your Theater soirée, where donors got a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at this majestic theater 10 years after its restoration and grand reopening.
Upon entering through the stage door, the 75 or so guests were greeted with champagne and hot hors d’oeuvres on the dimly lit stage. Some mingled while enjoying music by Debbie Denke on the Steinway grand piano, while others engaged with Granada production staff, who explained their work. Stage Coordinator Kevin Witherell demonstrated the state-of-the-art 4K Digital Cinema system and explained how the rigging system with 58 line sets is used to position scenery, lighting, draperies, and screens.
Audio department head Jon Fowler and lighting department head DeAnn Nguyen demonstrated their systems and fielded questions from curious donors. Some opted to enter an opera box for a fun photo op. Those not afraid of heights rode the elevator 30 feet up to the Gallery, where Facility Manager Rolf Freeman offered insights from above.
More excitement awaited below the stage, where guests wandered on their leisure from room to room, being entertained, fed, and edified along the way. In the Warm-Up Room, Gilberto Gonzales played flamenco guitar music while wine and appetizers were served. Guests passed through the Musicians Staging Area, where gourmet Mexican fare was offered, and on to the Wardrobe Room, where wardrobe department head Lauda Swan shared some of her techniques for creating dirty clothes. Whether the designer wants grass, mud, or other types of stains, Swan showed how she accommodates.
Guests got to peek in the makeup rooms and then enter the dressing rooms, where instructor Jennie Reinish and students from the Granada’s Multimedia Workshop were beckoning guests to participate in the making of a video. The Multimedia Workshop is funded by the Jurkowitz Center for Community Engagement, a program of the Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts, which operates The Granada Theatre. The 12-week workshop gives high school students video production instruction and experience. Students make videos for nonprofits, which then get to use the videos in their promotional efforts. It’s a win-win situation, all thanks to the Jurkowitz Center.
Unlike many performing-arts centers in other parts of the country, the Granada does not receive ongoing financial support from local or state government. It covers only half its budget through ticket sales and earned income, relying on private funding for the difference. For more info about the Granada, go to granadasb.org.
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By Gail Arnold