Despite a challenging economy, live theater in Santa Barbara continues to thrive. Most companies are reporting full schedules for the winter, with the exception of the SBCC Theater Group, which is on hiatus until the completion of the renovation of the Garvin Theatre. The Broadway at the Granada series takes the first bow of the year with Avenue Q. The delightfully edgy puppet show that’s definitely not for the kiddies runs for three nights, Tuesday through Thursday, January 26-28. Rubicon Theatre Company follows with its production of John Patrick Shanley’s contemporary classic Doubt, which runs from Wednesday, January 27-Sunday, February 21. Ensemble Theatre Company opens its new decade with Souvenir, a comedy about a tone-deaf opera singer that’s based on a true story. Souvenir runs from Thursday, February 4-Sunday, February 28, at the Alhecama Theatre. DIJO Productions returns to Center Stage Theater with Inherit the Wind from Thursday, February 11-Saturday, February 27. On Friday, February 12, UCSB Theater presents a new play by Sheri Wilner, Kingdom City, about a small town thrown into uproar by a student production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Kingdom City runs through Saturday, February 20, at UCSB’s Performing Arts Theatre. PCPA kicks off its winter season with William Shakespeare’s Macbeth on Thursday, February 18. With any luck, “the Scots play” will run through Sunday, March 7, at Santa Maria’s Marian Theatre.
Santa Barbara Theatre will mount a new production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town at the Lobero from Thursday, February 25-Sunday, March 7, reportedly with a mostly Santa Barbara-based cast. The next night, Friday, February 26, UCSB presents The Trojan Women by Euripides in an English translation based on the French version by Jean-Paul Sartre. The Trojan Women runs through Saturday, March 6, at UCSB’s Hatlen Theatre.
PCPA is first out of the blocks in March with its annual InterPlay, which involves the simultaneous production and alternating performances of two recent plays, Shipwrecked: An Entertainment! by Donald Margulies (2007) and Tender (2007) by Nicki Bloom. InterPlay takes place at the Severson Theatre from Friday, March 12-Sunday, March 21. The Rubicon has cast the wonderful, award-winning Robin Gammell in Trying, Joanna McClelland Glass’s autobiographical show about a crusty octogenarian former judge (based on real-life historical figure Francis Biddle) and his young female secretary. Trying will be at the Rubicon from Wednesday, March 10-Sunday, April 4. And, as the perfect Broadway ending to a season framed by two outstanding touring shows alighting at the Granada, The Drowsy Chaperone arrives there for three nights—March 16, 17, and 18.