To See and Not Be Seen

Vince Coronado of the Granada Theater renovation project looks up at the work in progress.
Sue De Lapa

Scared of Wendy?: For the benefit of those who fear being seen at next Friday’s showing of the documentary Citizen McCaw, brown bags with eye holes will be offered at the Arlington.

“Due to the fact that there are people in town who have said to us that they really want to see Citizen McCaw but will not be attending out of fear of being seen by people associated with the Santa Barbara News-Press ownership and management, we are offering a Brown Bag Service,” reports one of the producers, Rod Lathim. “We will have brown paper bags with eye holes cut out that people can wear to maintain their anonymity while in the theater. Isn’t it amazing that people cannot feel free to attend a movie on their own time without coming under attack or fearing for their jobs? Last time we checked, we lived in a free country. I just purchased the bags.”

A few of us watched excerpts of Citizen McCaw Thursday, some moved to tears by the emotional impact of the tragic events since July 6, 2006. The outrage and anger shown by former editor Jerry Roberts, indignantly denying a page one News-Press smear, was powerful. The 85-minute documentary revealed that Roberts’ legal bills in defending McCaw’s $25 million breach-of-contract arbitration action have cost him something approaching $1 million. The arbitration trial, held privately, is over and the arbitrator’s decision is awaited. About 1,200 of the Arlington’s 2,000 seats have been sold, at $15 each.

The Big Night: Hard-hat workmen I dodged at the revamped Granada Theater the other day will get a pre-opening night treat Tuesday, watching the same show gala-goers will see two nights later. Up to 500 carpenters, electricians, painters and other construction workers and craftsmen from 70 different trades, along with 180 volunteers — and their families — who’ve been working 10-hour days are invited as a tribute to their dedication. The show involves 210 performers: The Santa Barbara Symphony with violinist Nina Bodnar and pianist Warren Jones on the Steinway, State Street Ballet, Opera Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Choral Society and Flamenco Ballet Pablo Pizano. World-famous mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves is flying in from New York to serve as the evening’s hostess.

And after the Hard Hat Sneak Preview, workers and volunteers and families will be treated to a buffet, on stage, by Philippe Sautot. I toured the 1924 theater the other day, stepping over spaghetti of wires and gently touching the new seats still being installed. I was blown away. As will be the visiting musicians and performers, who’ll find a cutting edge sound and electric system, an elevator-like stage and state-of-the-art dressing rooms and other facilities. And bathrooms? I heard that philanthropist Betty Stephens was so determined that there’ll be enough for women — are there ever? — that she wrote a check to make sure. Betty even paid visits to make certain that the 28 stalls are top-notch. (Wonder if this is a naming opportunity?) The terra cotta decorative facing on the theater front is being restored and a replica of the original marquee built. The one added decades ago is being sent to San Luis Obispo. The big news is that you don’t have to shell out $500 bucks for VIP seats to see the big show Thursday night. First-nighter seats went on sale this week for $75. There are 1,500 seats. The last four original rows had to be torn out, but, I was told, they were “the worst seats.”

Singing Strings: I’m not big on choral music, especially when it’s sung in German, but I was lulled into a peaceful spell by the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra Tuesday night. First came J.S. Bach’s Air, AKA Air on the G-String. (Note: A brief excerpt appears in the Beatles’ animated movie Yellow Submarine, where the sub lost in the Sea of Monsters lights an exploding cigar it gave to a boxing monster.) Later in the concert, the Quire of Voices, led by Nathan Kreizer of Santa Barbara City College, lifted those voices in Bach’s Cantata No. 48 and Handel’s Dixit Dominus. Some heavy hitters, right? A great evening. You can’t get this in Bakersfield.


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