Archive » November 23, 2006
By Steven Libowitz
ICE COLD COMFORT
“It’s Christmas, Snoopy (on Ice),” the show that premieres at the Arlington Theatre early next month, breaks two barriers in town. The production is the first ice show to take place in Santa Barbara in more than a quarter-century, and it’s the first time Jill Transki – who in business goes by her maiden name, Schulz – has produced a show featuring characters created by her dad, Charles, here in her adopted hometown.
Transki, whose father wrote the “Peanuts” comic strip for more than 50 years before his death in 2000, moved to Montecito right around the same time, but is just now putting together the big show that will play four performances at the Arlington December 1-2. Credit her young daughter’s role in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” at the Adderly School for bringing Transki – who had a long career as a professional ice skater and Rollerblade skater and promoter – with getting her creative juices flowing again.
“That’s what finally lit the fire to step forward and actually do it,” Transki says at her West Beach office. “I wanted to get back into it, but I wasn’t going to go on the road because I wanted to be here for my kids.”
The production is being adapted by longtime Peanuts choreographer Karen Kresge from 25 years worth of ice shows that the Schulzes produced at their community rink up in the family home in Santa Rosa and at theme parks such as Knott’s Berry Farm. It’s a fully staged piece, with a large cast of professional skaters, live comic strip characters, video projection of TV specials (with voices dubbed by the principals who recently appeared in a Montecito Union version of “You’re A Good Man”) and – a first at the Arlington – snow falling on the stage.
“The model for this is from a really successful Christmas show that ran for five years,” Transki says. “It’s really going to be legitimate theater; we’re turning it into a much bigger and more theatrical show than the ones at the theme parks.”
With admission prices as low as $25 (VIP tickets are $75, and get you a reception with the characters), Transki expects to lose money this first time out. But it was a way to keep her father’s legacy going locally, and to give something back to the community she’s come to love.
“We moved here purely by coincidence,” she explains, noting that her brother, Monte, has lived in Santa Barbara for years and that she’d gotten married at Dos Pueblos Ranch with a reception at the Biltmore Hotel. “I’d driven up here (from L.A.) for years whenever my dad was at the Writers Conference, and we’d spend the day together, walking on the beach. Every year, my dad would say, ‘If your mom and I had known about Santa Barbara, we would have moved here. But I never dreamed I’d live here myself.”
But having a young child as well as two dogs meant a vertical condo with no yard in Santa Monica was no longer practical, and the Transkis came to Santa Barbara on a home search, and fell in love with the tree-lined neighborhoods of Riven Rock in Montecito.
“When we moved here I was a bit worried because I didn’t know what type of community it was,” Transki says. “I thought it might be all retired people. But once the kids started school, we met all kinds of people, so many friends in all age categories. I was so amazed at how friendly everybody is. Now, I don’t have any plans to ever move anywhere else.”
Indeed, she’s hoping to turn the “Snoopy on Ice” show into an annual tradition.
“There are three or four ‘Nutcrackers’ every year, and I’ve been told they fill the houses,” she says. “Wouldn’t it be fun to have something completely different? This show can be completely different each year. We can add in Cirque du Soleil, aerialists with skaters going around under the trampoline. We have a whole warehouse full of twenty years worth of costumes and theme, so we can continue to change the show, and make it better every year.”
Rubicon Theatre Company presents the world premiere of “Back Home Again: A John Denver Holiday Concert,” a musical extravaganza comprised of modern and traditional Christmas carols and some of the late singer-songwriter’s most memorable hits. The show reunites Tony Award nominees (for 1999’s “Ain't Nothin’ But the Blues”) director Randal Myler and performer Dan Wheetman, the latter a Ventura resident who plays guitar and fiddle in such groups as – another holiday reference – Marley’s Ghost. Songs include “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” “Grandma’s Feather Bed,” “Matthew” and the title number. The show opens November 30 and plays through December 24 at the Laurel Theatre in downtown Ventura. Call 667–2900 or visit www.rubicontheatre.org.
Yep, it’s that time of year again, when every ballet company and dance school in town gets in on the “Nutcracker” rage. Gustafson School of Dance, run by the main choreographer of the State Street Ballet, which stages its own version later in the month, kicks things off on December 1 with ballet students ages 6 and up performing in the classic tale of Clara and the Nutcracker Prince. The school also presents its youngest children in its “Holiday Show” featuring the tiny tots (ages 3-5) joining tap and jazz students to illustrate the classic poem “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” complete with Sugarplums, Sleeping Kids, Toy Dolls and more. Get details from Lobero Theatre at 963-0761 or www.lobero.com.
Think Pink: Living in Santa Barbara is so fulfilling, one can be excused for not feeling that burning urge to travel, even more so following the recent visit to UCSB of Pink Martini, a veritable musical travelogue, whose repertoire not only traverses genres (who doesn’t these days?) but cultures as well, including songs sung in French, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and more. The band also ups the lounge music ante with four percussionists, which would still grow tiresome were it not for the sheer talent and earnestness the outfit offers. Drink it down, quick, and skip the olives.
Still Stewed: “He’s not the nice man from the TV,” offered Jon Stewart in one of his many self-reflective moments last weekend during a rare live stand-up gig at UCSB. No, indeed. The host of “The Daily Show” mixed plenty of vulgarities and scads of unprintable references in his 75-minute (to the second) set, perhaps pandering to the college audience who stomped their feet to every time Stewart poked fun at the Thunderdome name. Yet he still managed to deliver the most sophisticated – and darn funny – political commentary anybody dares to speak these days. Stewart skewered both sides of the aisle, including Connecticut Senator Joe Liebeman, who lost the primary but then emerged victorious as an independent in the general election. “He must be really tough to break up with,” Stewart began. “You tell him, ‘Joe I don’t want to see you anymore,’ and he says, ‘OK, I’ll pick you up at eight.’” The show was so funny, I’m thinking about forking over the $30 monthly for cable so I can finally get hip and watch him at home.
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