Author spotlight: Steven Libowitz

Steven has reported on the arts and entertainment for more than 30 years. He has published his work in daily and weekly newspapers in New Jersey and California, as well as in Santa Barbara Magazine and a nationally syndicated news service. When not at his computer or out on the town, you’ll often find him playing volleyball at East Beach, just a short jog from Montecito’s famous Butterfly Beach.

Sansum Diabetes Research Institute
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 17, 2022

Less than three weeks after this issue of the MJ hits newsstands, Sansum Diabetes Research Institute will mark an incredible milestone: 100 years since its founder, Dr. William Sansum, administered the very first injection of insulin in Santa Barbara to Charles Cowan, the first U.S. patient to receive the lifesaving shot. Prior to the discovery […]

Launch Pad Preview
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 17, 2022

“I’m a survivor of childhood sexual assault,” Candrice Jones said plainly when asked about the origin of her latest play, A Medusa Thread, which is getting its first-ever production this week via the inspired theatrical incubator known as UCSB’s Launch Pad. Placing Medusa, the mythological Gorgon with snakes instead of hair, as the owner of […]

Vincent & Theo: Through Charles’ Eyes
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 17, 2022

Ensemble Theatre Company is bringing back its production of Vincent, the critically-lauded one-man show created by Leonard Nimoy, who spent years researching the hundreds of letters exchanged between the artist Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo, to fashion the intimately-scaled 1980 play in which the actor portrays both brothers. Veteran thespian Charles Pasternak takes […]

Jazz Trio & Orchestra: Roberts’ Outrageous Range
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 17, 2022

Jazz is about a lot of things, not the least of which is the ability to improvise in connection with both the music and the other instrumentalists. That’s a Marcus Roberts Trio specialty, as the long-term partnership featuring pianist Roberts, drummer Jason Marsalis, and bassist Rodney Jordan share equally in shaping performances via changes in […]

CommUnify and Head Start at 55
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 10, 2022

Head Start, the federal early childhood education program, was established in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty with a goal of promoting school readiness to young children from low-income families through providing health, educational, nutritional, and social services. Two years later, Community Action Commission, or CAC, incorporated as a nonprofit to […]

Pressing Pause with Paula Poundstone
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 10, 2022

Interviewing Paula Poundstone is a little like binge watching a comedy series on Netflix: you hit the start button once and autoplay keeps the episodes rolling, and everything is interesting enough that you don’t really want to hit pause.  Poundstone’s tendency toward stream-of-consciousness rants and musings is a big part of her appeal, of course, […]

Joffrey Juxtaposes Past, Present, and Future of Dance
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 10, 2022

Choreographer Gerald Arpino, the co-founder of the Joffrey Ballet who succeeded Robert Joffrey as its artistic director from 1988 to 2007 and composed nearly 50 ballets for the company, would have turned 100 next January. So, it’s fitting that Arpino’s 1986 work Birthday Variations forms the centerpiece of the Joffrey’s two-day, eight-work pair of performances […]

Library Friends: They’ll Be There for You
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 3, 2022

It’s not hard to get a clear picture of the breadth of the age range served by the Montecito Library. Take a look at the events tab on the Friends of the Montecito Library website and you’ll find Italian Conversation, Knit ‘n’ Needle, Poetry Club, Spanish Conversation, Pre-School Story Time, and a New Yorker Discussion […]

Rubicon’s Twilight
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 3, 2022

Rubicon Theatre Company (RTC) officially kicks off its first full season since the pandemic shuttered its doors in February 2020 with a new production of Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 at 8 pm on Friday, April 29. That would be exactly 30 years and just shy of five hours since the not guilty verdicts were announced […]

OOB’s ‘Tick….’ 
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 3, 2022

Also emerging from the pandemic for its first live theatrical production in 30 months, Out of the Box (OOB) is reviving a three-decade-old work as well, in this case tick, tick…Boom! (TTB), originally a semi-autobiographical one-man show that Jonathan Larson created in the early 1990s before his Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning Rent. Coincidentally, TTB […]

Classical Corner
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 3, 2022

Still pivoting due to the pandemic, the Santa Barbara Symphony is squeezing in the pair of postponed performances featuring violin superstar Anne Akiko Meyers as guest soloist beginning just a week after the ensemble offered the world premiere of Concerto for Piano Four Hands and String Orchestra by composer Richard Dünser via Brahms and Schumann. […]

Cream of the Copy Bands
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 26, 2022

Tribute bands are all the rage in music clubs and even theaters these days, and it’s not hard to understand why. Not only is it easier to imitate than innovate, but it’s also relatively simple to put a band together to perform the best-known songs from a classic rock band or famous singer, because so […]

HHII: Expanding the Dance Universe
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 26, 2022

Nebula Dance Lab didn’t have to cancel its annual HHII Dance Festival during the COVID crisis, although last year’s event did migrate to the virtual world. But what also happened in the more than two years since the festival’s last live weekend, was that the world caught up to Nebula and HHII’s concept of inclusivity, […]

Finding Focus and Fun on the ‘Fringe’
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 26, 2022

The pandemic pushed Westmont’s Fringe Festival into the virtual world in 2021 after forcing the festival to furlough completely the year before. So the 2022 version of the entirely student-created fest, which takes place all over the Christian college’s Montecito campus this weekend, April 21-24, is a brand new experience for all except seniors. Maybe […]

Chaucer’s Choices
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 26, 2022

This week, Chaucer’s Books’ event schedule includes a rare paid event, an outdoor one at that, featuring Max Brallier, the multiple New York Times bestselling author and Netflix series creator. Ever so clever, Chaucer’s is calling the event “Last Kids on Earth, Day” in honor, not only of Brallier’s epic, eight-book adventure series that was […]

Hospice of Santa Barbara
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 21, 2022

Lots of people in Santa Barbara might have only become more aware of Hospice of Santa Barbara (HSB) over the last two years through one of its responses to the pandemic. And it wasn’t simply because folks were afraid of catching a fatal case of COVID-19 in those early pre-vaccine days, but because of the […]

The Lights Go Back on for Gore’s Immersive Show
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 19, 2022

Anybody who caught initial performances of Kerrilee Gore’s When the Lights Go Out immersive theatrical mystery-cabaret show onstage at the Lobero in 2016 couldn’t have failed to be wowed by the production, featuring an impressive cast of dancers, acrobats, and choreographers with vast industry experience, thrilling music, and a spectacular light show. But on the […]

A New Season for Rite of Spring
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 19, 2022

Le Sacre du Printemps has had immense influence in the classical arts ever since the collaboration between composer Igor Stravinsky and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky was premiered by Ballets Russes to great controversy in Paris in 1913. The decades-ahead-of-its-time music has gone on to great success in the concert hall while the ballet has been adapted, […]

Four Hands, 20 Fingers Add Up to Finesse and Fluidity
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 19, 2022

Most of the time we see piano four hands – which finds two pianists sharing the same keyboard – it comes off as something of a lark, a lighthearted diversion during a more serious recital from a piano studio. But there’s lots of beautiful and important music written specifically for the format, said Gil Garburg. […]

Sibling Sensations at UCSB
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 19, 2022

Duos continue to be de rigueur this week, as Britain’s brother-sister breakout stars Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Isata Kanneh-Mason follow Jennifer Koh and Davóne Tines’ April 12 world-premiere presentation of Everything Rises at Campbell Hall, with a concert of their own at Campbell on Tuesday, April 19. Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason first gained renown as winner of […]

Kloots on Coping 
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 19, 2022

Hospice of Santa Barbara’s free virtual “Illuminate” Speaker Series steps up the star quotient with its next presentation on Wednesday, April 20: Amanda Kloots, the TV host, Broadway actress, award-winning fitness entrepreneur, and recently a finalist on the 30th season of Dancing with the Stars. Kloots might also be the speaker who has been most […]

Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley (FBSMV)
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 14, 2022

Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley (FBSMV) does some very important and impactful work. Since its founding in 2003 as a response to the methamphetamine epidemic in the Valley, the nonprofit has taken a proactive approach to the issues, creating programs that focus on protecting kids not only from drugs and other substance abuse but also […]

Ailey’s AD Battles for the Ages
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 12, 2022

Robert Battle intentionally benched his own creative endeavors when he took over as artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 2011, as only the third person to occupy the position after founder Ailey’s 31-year tenure, and former dancer Judith Jamison’s 21-year reign. Instead, Battle focused on administrative duties and even more so on […]

ETC’s American Son 
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 12, 2022

After two false starts forced by the pandemic, ETC is finally bringing American Son to the New Vic Theatre for a mid-April run. The nail-biting drama takes place in real-time in the waiting room of a Miami police station where the parents of a bi-racial African American teenager anxiously await news about their son, who […]

SBHS Chicago
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 12, 2022

Nearly two years after taking over for the legendary Santa Barbara High School theater director Otto Layman, newcomer Justin Baldridge is getting his chance to put his stamp on the kind of big classic musical Layman loved to bring to the school’s auditorium. Chicago, the second longest-running show in Broadway history, is a song-and-dance filled […]

Thrown to The Wolves 
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 12, 2022

The Wolves, the first play by former college actress Sarah DeLappe to be produced and professionally written while she was still an undergraduate at Yale, was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Now, SBCC Theatre closes out its season with the local premiere of the piece, ostensibly about a girls’ indoor soccer […]

Aoife Addresses Apathy… and Affirmation 
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 12, 2022

Aoife O’Donovan has come a long way from her first recording as a member of the folk-bluegrass band, The Wayfaring Strangers, with stops as lead singer of Boston-based Crooked Still, collaborations with Chris Thile and other genre-busters, a series of critically-acclaimed solo albums, and her most recent Grammy-winning trio, I’m With Her, with fellow singer-songwriters […]

Hillside House
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 7, 2022

Back in 1955, Hillside House relocated to what was then a state-of-the-art facility capable of housing and caring for children with developmental disabilities, the gleaming new digs located in what was then a remote part of Santa Barbara with the descriptive name of Hidden Valley.  A lot has changed in almost seven decades. Society no […]

MAW Music: Competition Winners Congregate for Concerts
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 5, 2022

The official launch of the Music Academy of the West’s special 75th anniversary summer festival is still more than two months away, but in the span of less than three weeks, Santa Barbara will have been witness to the wildly divergent extremes offered by the revered institute. Hot on the heels of three landmark performances […]

Franken-sense: Ex-‘SNL’ and former Senator returns to comedy roots
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 31, 2022

You can count on one finger the people who have shifted from a soaring career in comedy to a pinnacle of political power, and somehow, shockingly, back again. Maybe Ukrainian president Zelenskyy, although the former comic is a bit busy fending off the Russian invasion to find anything funny these days – So that leaves […]

More From MAW
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 31, 2022

Even more accomplished alumni of the Music Academy’s summer festival are returning to Hahn Hall this week, if only via streaming via satellite in a re-broadcast of the Met Opera’s Live in HD presentation of Strauss’ Ariadne Auf Naxos on April 3. Former fellows Brenda Rae and Isabel Leonard appear as Zerbinetta and the Composer, […]

What Dreams May Come
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 31, 2022

In the quarter-century since its founding, Dream Foundation, the only national dream-granting organization serving terminally-ill adults, has provided end-of-life Dreams for more than 32,000 terminally-ill adults across the country. Based in Santa Barbara, the organization serves as something of a counterpart to the well-known Make-a-Wish Foundation – the Phoenix-founded nonprofit that for 40 years has […]

5Qs: Good Omens with Sarah Jarosz
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 29, 2022

Sarah Jarosz immediately caught acoustic music lovers’ ears while still a teenager with her detailed and layered songs delivered with an utterly captivating voice, both of which belied her years. A four-time Grammy-winner before she turned 30, the native Texan multi-instrumentalist by way of New York City released four astounding albums by the age of […]

Home, Life, Loss
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 29, 2022

Home Within, the audio-visual collaborative performance piece from Syrian composer-clarinetist Kinan Azmeh and Syrian-Armenian visual artist Kevork Mourad, was originally conceived of as an emotions-into-art response to the loss and longing of the Syrian conflict that has claimed more than 100,000 lives and sent about one-third of the Syrian people into exile. It grew out […]

From MAW to LSO
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 24, 2022

The pandemic sure played havoc with the Music Academy of the West’s (MAW) landmark transcontinental partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), postponing both the orchestra’s second appearance in 2021 and nixing the opportunity for fellows who won the annual Keston MAX competition to travel to London to a week with the LSO for the […]

NatureTrack
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 24, 2022

You’d be hard-pressed to find nonprofits with an origin story more organic and homespun than NatureTrack. The organization was founded 11 years ago by Sue Eisaguirre, who, after raising her own kids with lots of outdoor time, returned to work heading up the docent and K-12 outreach programs for the UCSB Sedgwick Reserve.  “It was […]

Oscar & SBIFF: Friends Forever
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 22, 2022

Let’s get this out of the way: there is no way that we have the space to cite even a single sentence from each of the Academy Award nominees who set foot on the stage at the Arlington Theatre during the 37th annual SBIFF – but here are a few pithy comments: Will Smith (commenting […]

Ventura Ventures: Rubicon Returns
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 17, 2022

The Rubicon Theatre Company (RTC) was the first of the local companies to find a way to produce something for its audiences when the COVID-19 pandemic shut things down way back in early spring 2020. Indeed, RTC was the first regional theater company in the country to offer a socially distanced drive-in series, bringing such […]

Elsewhere in Theater
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 17, 2022

Center Stage Theater and UCSB’s Initiative for New & Reimagined Work are teaming to present the world premiere of Seaward, written and directed by UCSB acting student Cyrus Roberts. An absurdist tragicomedy exploring the issue of identity within the setting of a 1930s asylum for the mentally ill, Seaward finds a new patient stepping into […]

Book ‘em: Writers’ Round-up at Tecolote
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 17, 2022

Prolific local literature lover Steven Gilbar, who probably spends as much time involved in books, research, and writing as he does practicing law, has just added another new title to his two dozen-strong published collection, this one sharpening the local angle to focus on writers who call Montecito home. Titled The Little Book of Montecito […]