Back to the Stage! Center Stage Theater Welcomes Back Audience

By Steven Libowitz   |   June 3, 2021
The UCSB Chamber Choir will perform Resilience at 6 pm on May 26

The UCSB Initiative for New & Reimagined Work is presenting a staged reading of the classic Chekhov play Three Sisters at 6 pm on May 31. What makes this show most remarkable is that the performance will take place inside the intimate Center Stage Theater, where the general public is welcome to attend for the first time since early March 2020. The reading will be of the translation by Libby Appel, the former artistic director at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival who is considered one of the world’s most accomplished interpreters of the Russian playwright’s work and is also the mother of UCSB theater professor, Irwin Appel

The show features a slightly abridged version of the translation to fit an intimate cast of actors from the UCSB BFA theater program who are getting back on a stage for the first time in 14 months, who collectively decided that Chekhov “magnificently captures the beauty within the suffering of human existence, and after a year of isolation and sorrow for everyone, we think there is no better time to tell this story”. 

Northern California-based actor, singer, and now first-time director Blake Thompson is helming the production remotely, but the audience and actors will, amazingly, be at CST together, albeit following proper social distancing and other safety protocols including masking. Admission is free, but reservations are required. Call Center Stage at (805) 963-0408 or visit

Concerts in Your Car Continues

Although California is still on pace to fully reopen on June 15, the inventive Concerts in Your Car series is taking no chances on a setback and has already announced a number of shows scheduled for the summer months that will still take place outdoors as drive-in style events, although attendees are permitted to hang out outside their cars on folding chairs as long as they are socially distant. 

That format is still the only one available at the moment, which makes the show by band WAR at the Ventura Fairgrounds a best bet for Saturday night of Memorial Day weekend. The “street band” turned multi-platinum sellers has been trading in timeless music that carries a message of brotherhood and harmony for more than half a century, dating back to the days when former Animals front man Eric Burdon was the lead singer. Nowadays, Leroy “Lonnie” Jordan is the only original member in the group, but the singer-songwriter’s gruff vocals were the originals on a long list of hits that includes “Low Rider,” “The World Is A Ghetto,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” “The Cisco Kid,” and many more, encompassing a dozen Billboard Top 40 hits, seven of which reached the Top 10, and a cumulative total of more than 50 million records sold. Among the artists who have sampled or otherwise offered nods to War are Kendrick Lamar, Flo Rida, Tupac, Smash Mouth, Janet Jackson, Dave Matthews, and Korn. The group has twice been honored by its hometown of Los Angeles for making positive contributions to the betterment of the community. Perhaps it’s a testament to our troubled times that War’s music and message remain as relevant as ever; fortunately, the medium makes the message much more fun. 

Coming soon to Concerts in Your Car Get at the Ventura Fairgrounds: Adelaide’s tribute to Selena on June 11; Nelly and Baby Bash on June 12; Gin Blossoms on June 19; and Vanilla Ice & Tag Team on June 26. 

The promoters are also producing a Memorial Day weekend doubleheader at the San Diego Padres’ Petco Park featuring the Beach Boys with special guests John Stamos and Mark McGrath on May 29, and Grammy-winning reggae star Ziggy Marley playing a special tribute concert to his father Bob Marley on May 30. The shows take place on the baseball field with the stage set up near second base. Guests can choose between a limited number of VIP seats on the playing field, luxury suites, or vaccinated/tested sections or socially distanced pod-style sections in the stands. Get all the details and tickets at


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