Few organizations took the hit of pandemic lockdown as hard as the Pacific Conservatory Theater (PCPA), where the suspension of in-person instruction and performances led to the decision to cancel an entire year of school. Although the talented PCPA faculty created an abundance of online content in that period, digital workshops and Zoom play readings can only go so far toward filling the live performance gap. Thankfully, the long wait is over, and from July 21 through August 7, audiences can return to the company’s summer home at the Solvang Festival Theater for the first time in almost two years.
It’s fitting that the initial show is called Together, and that it will feature the faculty members whom fans of PCPA know and love. Written by Erik Stein, directed by Katie Fuchs-Wackowski, and music directed by Michael Wilkins, Together covers a wide range of styles and moods, from the swinging sounds of Cy Coleman’s “The Best Is Yet to Come” to the heartfelt Laurel Canyon folk rock of Carole King. The connecting thread between the various numbers will be a series of questions and answers about the history of PCPA taken from interviews with performers and audiences and crafted into a coherent unity by Erik Stein.
There will be a group number from the Broadway show Dear Evan Hansen and a tender duet called “Falling Slowly” from the musical Once. Expect performers to show off more than just their singing and dancing skills, as George Walker plays multiple instruments and Emily Trask will bring her cello. The staff at the Solvang Festival Theater has been thoroughly trained in all relevant safety procedures, and the first two rows will be kept open in order to provide a buffer between the performers onstage and the audience. The outdoor space, always a treat, will be an advantage in keeping everyone involved healthy and comfortable. Add in the next show, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, featuring Karole Foreman as Billie Holiday (August 19-September 5) and you have an abbreviated but nevertheless welcome and heroic return to one of our region’s favorite venues by an extraordinary organization.
Sign up to get Pano, Charles Donelan’s Wednesday newsletter that captures the full range of arts and entertainment available in our region in one panoramic weekly wide shot, scanning our cultural horizon for the best in theater, visual art, film, dance, music, and more every Wednesday.