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With three performances this year at the Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara Revels welcomes the holiday season with an exciting, new version of The Revels, beginning on Saturday, December 16th with a matinee at 2:30 pm and an evening performance at 7:30 pm and concluding with a matinee at 2:30 pm on Sunday the 17th.
This year’s production takes place on Ellis Island, the “Gateway to America,” where the Mexican medical supervisor informs the newly-arrived immigrants from Ireland, Germany, Russia that – due to changes in immigration regulations – they all must stay overnight before admission. Thrown together unexpectedly, these disparate groups first discover their differences, then come to appreciate and respect their individual customs; they ultimately join together to celebrate and participate in each other’s festivities, resulting in a joyous and rich blend of Jewish, Irish, and Mexican music, dance, and story-telling. Described as “creat[ing] just the kind of holiday spirit that bypasses the commercial and heads straight to the heart of the season” (Santa Barbara Independent), The Revels this year is a worthy successor to last year’s popular presentation of The Christmas Revels: A Scottish Celebration of the Winter Solstice.
The story centers around two families: one from Ireland that includes a young woman, her widowed father, and aunt, portrayed by Isabelle
Marchand, Bill Egan, and Leesa Beck; and a Jewish family, a young man, his sister, and their grandmother, portrayed by David Beck, Anna Moy, and Revels favorite Meredith McMinn. Additionally, Luis Moreno returns to Revels as the supervising doctor. The story is framed by Paula Lopez, as the “Spirit of Place.” A friendship between the young people develops, and they come to appreciate and understand what each family has overcome and now hopes for the future. Finally, they joyously experience each other’s seasonal traditions. During the evening spent together, all the new immigrants re-live the WWI story of Christmas in the Trenches, learn about the Irish involvement in the Mexican-American War with The Sands of Mexico, sing Hanukkah songs and Christmas carols, enjoy a traditional Jewish folk tale, and participate in dances from all their countries.
Long-time reveler, Matt Tavianini, who also has performed in many Revels productions, is the Stage Director. Mica Basilici is the Music Director, a newcomer to Revels with an accomplished and varied career in teaching, performing, and choral conducting. Artistic Director, Susan Keller reports that this year’s Indy-Award winning production of The Revels has something for all ages, and the Jewish, Irish, and Mexican traditions featured in the show have particular relevance for the Santa Barbara community. With a large company of actors, singers, dancers, and musicians, this lively and colorful production is a heart-warming and entertaining experience that fully engages the audience by inviting everyone to sing and dance along with the Revels company. As revelers always say, “Join us and be joyous!”
Tickets are selling briskly at the Lobero Theatre Box Office, 33 East Canon Perdido. Purchase tickets in person, by phone at (805) 963-0761 or online at lobero.org. Group discounts and special Family Packages are available. For more information, please visit santabarbarerevels.org.
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