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Metro Santa Cruz Summer 2005 Guide


Dramatic Moments

This summer will be dramatic--on a stage near you

By Sarah Phelan

Two of Santa Cruz's most venerable theatrical institutions--Cabrillo Stage and Shakespeare Santa Cruz--enter their 24th season this year. Both appear to be celebrating by working harder than ever before. Meanwhile, a relative newcomer to the summer fest scene, the third annual Santa Cruz Improv Festival, is pushing itself to comedic extremes, offering four weekends of side-splitting buffoonery. To help you plot your dramatic engagement calendar, here's our brief guide to what's hot on local stages this summer.

Belly Laughs and Silly Snorts

Local improv troupes--Freefall, the Funatics!, Hooligans, Loose Cannon, Scriptease and Stay Tuned--dominate the first three weeks of the Santa Cruz Improv Fest. After which freaky out-of-towners Oui Be Negroes, and the Revolution AllStars heat things up to sidesplitting temperatures on the fest's fourth and final weekend, with the L.A.-based Groundlings and their Crazy Uncle Joe show bringing the fest to a sidesplitting climax on July 30.

Thirty years old, the Groundlings nurtured the likes of Phil Hartman, Paul Reubens, Michael McDonald, Lisa Kudrow and Will Ferrell long before they graduated to Saturday Night Live, Peewee's Playhouse, Mad TV and Friends.

The Santa Cruz Improv Festival runs July 8-30 at the Actors' Theatre, 1001 Center St., Santa Cruz. If that isn't enough funny-bone tickling, you can try your hand at making other people laugh by attending the fest's super weekend improv workshops, on Saturdays, July 9-30, with kid and teen workshops happening on Sunday mornings throughout the fest. For showtimes, ticket prices and workshop information, see www.santacruzimprovfest.com or call 831.425.1003.

Anything We Can Do, They Can Do Better

This year, Cabrillo Stage expands its summer season into repertory theater by staging two shows, something it hasn't done since the '70s, when Prop. 13 eliminated the tax revenue that helped fund the college's repertory program. The first show in its 2005 season is Annie Get Your Gun, which plays the main stage, July 8 through Aug. 14. In case you're not familiar with the story, it goes like this: Annie Oakley, the best shot around, is persuaded by Buffalo Bill to join his Wild West Show, where she promptly falls for show headliner Frank Butler, all of which leaves Annie wondering whether shooting for the stars will kill her chances of romance. If that sounds like a familiar plotline, then so will crowd-pleasing numbers like "There's No Business Like Show Business" with which you have our permission to sing along, since it has become the unofficial anthem of American theater.

A week later, Cabrillo Stage's second show, The Fantasticks, kicks off at the Cabrillo Forum. An intimate 240-seat space, the Forum is perfect for staging this tale of what happens when a star-struck boy falls in love with the girl next door and both must choose between going out into the outside world and staying at home. Once again, tunes like "Try to Remember" will have audiences humming along.

Annie Get Your Gun runs July 8-Aug. 14. The Fantasticks runs July 15-Aug. 7. All shows are on Cabrillo College Campus, 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos. For showtimes and ticket information check www.cabrillostage.com or call 831.479.6154.


Up at UCSC's redwood-studded campus, theatergoers have four plays to choose from in Shakespeare Santa Cruz summer season. On July 20, SSC's 24th season opens in the Glen with Twelfth Night. Directed by P.J. Paparelli, this classic comedy is guaranteed to delight thanks to all the usual Shakespearian suspects--the shipwrecked (and, of course, separated-in-the-process) twins, the impossible love-triangles, and practical jokes aplenty.

On July 27, SSC's artistic director Paul Whitworth directs W.S. Gilbert's Engaged, a comedy about what happens when the Glasgow to London train is derailed on the borders of Scotland, which graces UCSC's Mainstage. A satire on the rampant materialism and hypocrisy that plagued Britain, back in the 1870s, the show's a little known but classy comic gem.

On July 31, SSC brings The Winter's Tale to the Glen. Directed by SSC favorite Tim Ocel, The Winter's Tale is much like Othello in that it revolves around male sexual jealousy but unlike Othello, it ends in forgiveness, reconciliation and joy. Written at the end of Shakespeare's life, The Winter's Tale used relatively wacky devices for its times, like, jumping forward 17 years in time, and having a statue come back to life, and watching it gives you a chance to see Shakespeare at his most theatrically inventive.

All three of these plays run through Aug. 28, leaving SSC audiences with a fourth and final option--two performances of The Antipodes, a fringe show which will be performed in the Glen on Aug. 15 and 22 at 7pm. Written by Richard Brome in 1636, The Antipodes is the story of Peregrine Joyless, whose addiction to travel books has prevented him from doing many things, including consummating his marriage. The cure? Travel to the Antipodes, apparently. By just how do you get to this mystical sounding place? By traveling to the theater, of course ...

Shakespeare Santa Cruz 2005 runs July 20-Aug. 28 at UCSC. For tickets and performance info call 831.459.2159 or go to www.shakespearesantacruz.org.

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From the June 15-22, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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