We begin in November with the musical that propelled Lin-Manuel Miranda into the spotlight, long before HAMILTON; first conceived when he was a sophomore in college, IN THE HEIGHTS is an explosion of sound and color and emotion, chronicling the joys, sorrows, hardships and triumphs of the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York. Filled with great characters, sassy, brassy, music and lyrics, IN THE HEIGHTS is the perfect show to begin our season, and remind SB audiences what we are about as performers: bold, emotional, and authentic. IN THE HEIGHTS will be designed by Otto Layman and Tech Director extraordinaire Jonathan Mitchell a collaboration that has created the sets for Crybaby, The Musical; The national high school premiere of Bullets Over Broadway; Young Frankenstein; Hair; and Pippin), while the Lighting Design is once more in the capable hands of Mike Madden. We are once again honored to work with Musical Director Dr. Jon Nathan and the amazing UCSB Jazz Ensemble; with the talent and passion of Vocal Director Sio Tepper, and we are ecstatic to be able to welcome back Choreographer Gianna Burris, who made her debut here with last season’s hit Urinetown, The Musical. The Costume Designer is Sophia Hurtado, SBHS alum, who has been the assistant designer on a number of shows and makes her debut with this production.
In December, we are proud to offer up THE LAST FIVE YEARS, Jason Robert Brown’s intimate window into a couple’s doomed marriage. Cathy, a struggling actress, and Jamie, a budding novelist on the brink of wild success, are 20-somethings in New York who meet, fall in love, marry, and divorce over the span of five years. Cathy tells the story from the end of their marriage; Jamie begins from when they first meet. As the musical unfolds, Cathy moves backward in time to the beginning of the relationship as Jamie moves toward the end; they meet only once, in the middle, at their wedding. Since its Off-Broadway premiere in 2002, Brown’s funny, poignant, and devastatingly honest two-person production has enraptured audiences around the world with its spellbinding and emotional score and libretto. For our production, we will be casting two separate couples, who will each perform during the run, and then switch partners on the closing Saturday. Directed by Otto Layman, and musical and vocal direction by our outstanding staff. In late January we kick off 2019 with the 19th spectacular year of Music of the Night, which began as a “little” show to fill the void between Fall and Spring, and has since blossomed into a full-scale, wildly popular revue produced entirely by students. Each year, directors are selected, and they are tasked with producing a musical revue entirely on their own (outside of the logistical support the technical staff provides). They must select the material, cast the show, hire the band, choreograph, design set and lighting, and advertise the show; it is a proud venture for us, demonstrating a mastery of craft and deep knowledge of the mechanics of theatre—literally owning their work as students. This year’s directors are seniors Bella Holland, Gianna Gonzalez, Elvis Pagano and Drewes McFarling.
Finally, we round out the year with the Nation High School Premiere of the 2014 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder an uproarious, hilarious musical comedy, with the book and lyrics by Robert L. Freeman, and the music and lyrics by Steven Lutvak. It is based on the 1907 novel Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal by Roy Horniman. The show opened on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre November 17, 2013, running until January 17, 2016. The Broadway production won four Tonys at the 68th Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Costume Design.
Set in London in 1907, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder centers on Monty Navarro, a penniless clerk who is informed after the death of his mother that he is ninth in line to inherit the earldom of Highhurst, controlled by the wealthy D’Ysquith banking family. After the imperious ruling Lord dismisses Monty’s claim of being a relative, the eight D’Ysquiths ahead of young Mr. Navarro begin dying in natural and unnatural ways. Meanwhile, Monty is trying to woo money-minded Sibella Hallward —until he finds himself drawn to young Phoebe D’Ysquith. How will all these convoluted storylines come together?
Please join us for another amazing year with the young, gifted and bold actors at SBHS, and take the opportunity to see these performers before they are on Broadway (I’m not kidding or exaggerating—in the spring 2002 grad Dana Costello (nee Musgrove), who has performed in both Jekyll and Hyde and Finding Neverland on Broadway returns to the New York stage in the World Premiere of the musical DAVE, currently in its pre-Broadway production at the Arena Stage in Washington D.C.). I hope you consider a season subscription, ensuring your seat at all of these amazing shows at a ridiculously low price!
Hope to see you here,
Artistic Director and Performing Arts Chair, SBHS Theatre