Santa Barbara Found Jesus 30 Years Ago

“Jesus Christ Superstar” opens on Thursday at the Arlington Theatre. Interestingly, early in the show’s history, Ted Neeley (Jesus) performed here at the County Bowl. Thirty years ago, Neeley and Carl Anderson (Judas), starred in the locally produced (Jack Nakano) presentation, with director Gary Goddard, and choreographer Tony Jenkins. The cast was made up of Santa Barbara theatre friends – including Rubicon Theatre’s James O’Neil as Pilate, Eric Stoltz, Tony (Anthony) Edwards and the MET’s Eduardo Villa – all were local thespians before becoming stars. What I remember was that after the crucifixion scene, while the audience attention was still focused on the stage, Neeley was tossed into a jeep that sped quietly along the side service road to the back top of the Bowl. Later, a spotlight snapped to the back of the Bowl and there you saw – in a stunning finish just seconds later – the illuminated, risen Christ.

Marjorie Luke, RIP

Speaking of local theater, the beloved Marjorie Luke has passed way. The theater teacher at Santa Barbara Junior High School and then San Marcos High, Luke was renowned as a mentor and personal cheerleader for hundreds of Santa Barbara students. They saw her as firm but compassionate and a trusted mother figure. The junior high auditorium was renamed several years ago after former students such as Rod Lathim, and Anthony Edwards came forward to honor her with a restored community theatre focused on youth programming. A special celebration will take place on March 11 at the Marjorie Luke Theatre at 4 pm.

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Dancing with the Stars

If you see Nina Terzian waltzing 1-2-3 down Coast Village, or Leni Fé Bland doing a pirouette coming out of the pool – not to worry. They are just brushing up on their footwork for their upcoming role in “Dancing with the Stars,” State Street Ballet’s fundraiser on March 25. The entertainment – dinner divertissement! – will be city celebs dancing with the stars of the State Street Ballet in a friendly feud focusing on the Viennese Waltz. Others pulling out their dancing shoes include Tim Tremblay, Mayor Marty Blum, McConnell’s Ice Cream’s Jim McCoy, Mary Ellen Tiffany, Patricia Gregory and yours truly. The invitation says “Ladies dress for dance – Gentlemen, black ties if you can stand it.”

Get it in the fun by calling 965-6066.

Royal Rally for Rudy

A reception for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani will be held on March 25 by the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Exploratory Committee. The intimate afternoon reception will be in a private home in Montecito. You’ll need to shell out at least $2,300 to get in the door, according to David Lack, the state co-chair for the committee along with Bill Simon. However, price is apparently no deterrent. Just five days after the reception was planned, there were more than 65 people putting up checks, and no invitations had even gone out yet. This is expected to be the biggest political fundraiser in county history.

If you want in, call David at Lack Construction at 963-3600.

A Model Ford

El Pilar is a living museum on the Belize and Guatemala border. Hidden beneath a jungle canopy and located in the Maya ruins of El Pilar, this contemporary project is under the direction of Dr. Anabel Ford, a UCSB archaeologist. Her study of the Maya Forest gardeners shows their cultivation of the natural landscape can provide food, medicine and building materials that support (rather than destroy) their environment. Intrigued? Dr. Ford envisions developing El Pilar Archaeological Reserve for Maya Flora and Fauna as a specialized tourist destination – as a boon to the surrounding communities and as a model for people who want to see biodiversity/sustainability in action. Dr. Ford will be giving an illustrated presentation on Thursday at 7 pm at the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum.