'The Rocky Horror Show' at Santa Barbara High. | Credit: Courtesy

Each spring, the various local high school drama programs mount their major productions of the year. Dos Pueblos, San Marcos, and Santa Barbara High Schools are presenting musicals, bringing a little bit of Broadway to the Central Coast. Private schools like Anacapa and Laguna Blanca are also mounting their end-of-the-year presentations, showcasing the talent and hard work of the young theater artists of Santa Barbara.

‘The Music Man’ at Dos Pueblos High School | Credit: Courtesy

Directed by Emily Libera, the Dos Pueblos High School theater program introduces young audiences to a Broadway hit of yesteryear and today: The Music Man. Harold Hill (played by Senior Jack Forgea) is a traveling shyster who moves town to town, promising to lead a children’s band; he sells uniforms and instruments to the locals, then skips town. When he arrives in River City, the only trained musician is Marian the librarian — who threatens to expose him. “Professor Hill is a lovable con man,” says Forgea. “He constantly fools everyone he meets and even openly admits to his wrongdoings, yet the audience is still enamored with him. He’s suave, charismatic, sophisticated, but sly — a great example of an antihero.” The show is a staple of the musical theatrical canon, with memorable music and lyrics. “The Music Man is American musical theater at its best,” says Forgea. “Additionally, it is a great show for all ages.” See The Music Man at DPHS May 4-13.

‘The Addams Family’ at San Marcos High School | Credit: Courtesy

Embracing a more recent hit, San Marcos High School, under the direction of Shannon Saleh, presents The Addams Family, the musical about the much-loved “spooky” family of Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsly, and Uncle Fester. Junior Milo Bustany, who plays Fester, says the show is about the importance of family and the joy of discovering new ways of existing. “You have to be willing to embrace the unknown. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, ‘move toward the darkness’ as the characters call it, and really welcome change. Face your fears, move through them, and grow,” he says. Choreographed by Christina McCarthy, The Addams Family features song, dance, comedy, and a message of acceptance. “It’s fun!” says Bustany. “High school theater definitely needs to have an element of fun to it, both for the performers and the audience.” This show runs at SMHS May 4-13.

Santa Barbara High School is taking a more rogue approach to the end-of-year musical with cult classic The Rocky Horror Show. A campy, loving ode to mid-century pulp science fiction and horror tropes, this wild musical is about the sexual awakening of “squares” Brad and Janet, as inspired by the antics of a licentious mad scientist named Frank ‘N’ Furter. Senior Presley Villa plays Frank: “I never wanted to play Frank as a man in female drag or as a woman in male drag,” she says. “I hope to portray him as genderless, and for the content of the show to be celebratory of the queer community.” Directed by Gioia Marchese, The Rocky Horror Show runs at SBHS from April 14-22 (with a late night showing on April 21).

Several private school productions are also in the works, including Anacapa School’s production of Nightfall with Edgar Allen Poe May 19-20, and Laguna Blanca’s Beauty and the Beast April 21-23. Nightfall dives deep into the mind of Poe, offering theatrical versions of some of his best-loved stories. Beauty and the Beast is, of course, the popular musical based on the “tale as old as time.”

For many kids, high school drama programs are where they first fall in love with theater. Check out any of these performances to see Santa Barbara’s up and coming actors, the next generation of local (and some professional?) theatrical performers.


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