“I was a theater major at UCSB,” said Rick Cipes, the writer, director, and lead actor in the upcoming musical Bad Daddy, “but I hadn’t been involved in theater for 25 years. I’d seen a thousand shows, and I had done some acting for television, but I hadn’t been on the stage. And then I saw this show in 2008 called Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson, and I walked out of the theater and I thought, ‘This is it. This is the form I need to use.’ I saw this new thing, a genuinely 21st-century musical theater, and I knew at that moment that I had to be part of it.” Now, two years later, former Santa Barbara native Cipes has put all his chips on Bad Daddy, which he describes as “an absurdist tragedy.” Cipes wrote the script, he composed original rock songs for the show, and he will play the lead opposite familiar Santa Barbara theater stalwart David Brainard and SBCC student Camille Andersen, who help tell this story of generational conflict that is set in motion when the title character decides to take away his daughter’s cell phone.
Cipes brings great passion to the project, and to his descriptions of the social issues it was created to address. He can’t stand the way that digital media has eroded our sense of community, and he decries what he sees as an increasingly lonely and isolated youth culture hunched over their devices, texting away their lives. When asked about the process of developing an original work with a cast, Cipes laughs, likening it to “holding the tail of a big dog and just hanging on.” His vision for the event, which takes place at Center Stage Theater from August 26-28 and again from September 1-5, includes much more than just a play with songs. “Please tell everyone to get there early, because the go-go dancers will already be onstage, and the whole thing will be like a party with a show in it, not just the performance,” he said, handling a promotionally wrapped Bad Daddy condom, just one of the many inventive marketing materials associated with this unique theatrical endeavor. For info, showtimes, and tickets, call 963-0408, or visit centerstagetheater.org.