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‘Phantom’ Box-Office Sales Begin March 20; Demise of Santa Barbara Theatre Festival

Get out the sleeping bags. The Music Center plaza may well become the site of “Camp Phantom” in the wee hours of March 20.

That’s the day when the box office for “The Phantom of the Opera” will finally open--at 7 a.m. All “Phantom” tickets for performances from Sept. 12 through Nov. 26 will go on sale that day.

Orchestra seats for May 18 through Sept. 10 have already sold out via mail order and telephone sales, but balcony and parquet seats for the summer months are still available via telephone sales and may still be available at the box office on March 20.

The box office will stay open until midnight March 20. Normal box office hours will be 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

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The supporting cast for the Los Angeles “Phantom"--joining the previously announced Michael Crawford, who will re-create his performance in the title role--has been announced.

Dale Kristien will play the Phantom’s girlfriend Christine, a role she has recently performed as the Broadway alternate. Reece Holland, currently at the Shubert as Marius in “Les Miserables,” will play Raoul, the third wheel in the Phantom-Christine romance.

The cast will include 14 Los Angeles natives, including Kristien and Holland.

ADIOS: Santa Barbara’s only professional theater company has closed.

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The Santa Barbara Theatre Festival, which produced shows in the Lobero Theatre for the last five springs, will not return there or play anywhere else this year, reported the festival’s artistic director Paul Blake.

The festival achieved a degree of fame beyond Santa Barbara during its last two seasons. Its production of “She Loves Me,” with Pam Dawber and Joel Higgins, moved to the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles in 1987. The festival’s “Annie Get Your Gun,” with Donna McKechnie, and its “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” with Jo Anne Worley, went on to runs in San Francisco last year.

But the festival may have ventured too far beyond Santa Barbara. Working under a League of Resident Theatres (LORT) contract with Actors’ Equity, the festival imported most of its actors from the ranks of Los Angeles Equity.

“Many people in the community didn’t want ‘those L.A. people coming up and getting our money’,” said Blake, a resident of Beverly Hills.

The rival Santa Barbara Civic Light Opera, also five years old, also produces in the Lobero and uses largely local and unpaid actors, with only a sprinkling of Equity members as “guest artists.” Last year, in an attempt to support the festival, Equity suspended its “guest artist” agreement with the SBCLO, enforcing a union rule that prohibits such agreements with non-union companies that are competing with union companies.

With the demise of the festival, Equity again allows “guest artists” to perform with SBCLO, but only one is in the current SBCLO production of “The Student Prince.” The SBCLO has 7,500 subscribers, compared to the festival’s most recent figure of 3,200. The SBCLO also operates year-round, in comparison with the festival’s brief spring season.

Blake’s analysis of what went wrong with the festival: “wonderful product, terrible organization. The board got tired, and I got busy with my other projects.” The final blow was when the festival couldn’t pay its rent at the Lobero.

ALSO UP NORTH: Santa Maria’s Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year with a season that’s designed to recall a few highlights of PCPA history. Six shows will be presented in repertory at the PCPA Theaterfest’s theaters in Solvang and Santa Maria.

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The season will include revivals of the first play staged at PCPA, “A Man for All Seasons,” and the first musical, “The Fantasticks.” The most frequently requested and revived show of PCPA’s history, “Fiddler on the Roof,” will receive its fourth PCPA production.

The shows new to PCPA will include Larry Shue’s “The Nerd,” starring James Pickering, who also played the title role in the play’s original production (Milwaukee, 1981); “Quilters” and “Evita.”

For the first time, “weekender” subscriptions--five shows in three days--will be available. Information: (800) 221-9469.

Also at PCPA, the Outreach Program, which brings a taste of theater to schools and other community sites, has received a $25,000 grant from the Hearst Foundation.

WEEKLY TREMORS: Pipeline producer Scott Kelman has lined up a provocative sampling of Los Angeles talent for “L. A. Tremors,” an evening of performances at the Wilshire Ebell Friday. The program will kick off the L.A. Weekly’s two-day “Remaking Los Angeles” conference, all of which is open to the public.

Scheduled to perform: the Actors Gang, LAPD (Los Angeles Poverty Department), Los Trios Ringbarkus, John Fleck, Blue Palm, Jude Narita, John Densmore, Don Preston and poets Wanda Coleman, Chungmi Ki, Ruben Guevara and Kamau Daaood. Paul Krassner will be the emcee.

Speaking of the L.A. Weekly, its annual awards for achievement in smaller theaters will be handed out Monday at Myron’s Ballroom, 1024 S. Grand. The ceremony, hosted by the Groundlings, will be open to the public for the first time. Kedric Robin Wolfe and the casts of “Bittersuite” and “Blame It on the Movies II” will perform. Information on both events: (213) 667-2620.

ANGELS RESURRECTED: On Friday the Company of Angels opens its new theater, the former Frog Pond restaurant at 2106 Hyperion in Silver Lake, with “Looking for the North Star,” a long one-act by Sanford Clarke. Volunteers transformed the building into a theater. It will cost the group $1,700 a month in rent, compared to the $1,000 a month paid at the Angels’ longtime Hollywood home, which was gutted by fire last April.

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The Company hopes to initiate repertory programming--with a revival of “Waiting for Lefty,” a late-night comedy group and a new play series joining “Northstar"--by the end of April. Parking is available at a nearby lot and on Griffith Park Boulevard.


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