In Pennsylvania's Hill District in 1904, authorities have falsely accused an African-American millworker of stealing a bucket of nails. Rather than serve time for a crime he didn't commit, the man jumps into the river, becoming a martyr for the cause of justice. Riots and strikes break out across the city, and a man named Citizen Barlow finds himself at the home of a 285-year-old healer named Aunt Ester. The keeper of tradition and history for her people, Aunt Ester sends Citizen aboard the slave ship Gem of the Ocean to go in search of the truth about himself and his ancestors.
A frequent finalist for Best Comedy Club according to Ventura County Reporter's readers, Ventura Improv Company offers the only improv comedy in Ventura and has been eliciting chortles and guffaws with family-friendly farce for the past 21 years. The VIC's veteran comedic combatants perform unscripted comedy through scenes, games, and music created on the spot. The VIC performs shows such as Spontaneous Broadway, a full-length musical whose plot is conceived through audience suggestions, and TheatreSports Team Match, a two-team battle where competitors perform a challenge set by the host.
Arthur Murray Dance Studio has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and the Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, the Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with an instructor as the teachers assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
For the Angaranos, dance is the family business. Reflections In Dance owner Doreen Angarano opened the studio in 1982, later instilling her love of the art form in her daughters Kristen and Erica, now instructors at the studio. Along with their expert staff, the three women share their passion for dance with their students in styles including jazz, tap, ballet, and hip-hop. They also instill valuable life lessons that can be applied outside the classroom, such as discipline, self-expression, and the perseverance to pirouette fast enough to reverse the earth's rotation.
Just before Halloween, Theatricum BOO-tanicum stocks its wooded grounds in the heart of Topanga Canyon with ghosties friendly to all ages. Throughout the evening, spooky guides weave stories about things that go bump or hiss in the night while teaching the basics of carving pumpkins and how to avoid accidentally granting them consciousness. Costumed thespians, many of whom can be seen on stage in less ghastly roles during the Theatricum Botanicum's regular season, staff a haunted house and game booths, and live musicians including Tommy Santee Klaws, Peter Alsop, and the Matt Van Winkle Band perform ghoulish hits. Guests can attempt to outscare the pros at a costume contest, and for an additional $10, help themselves to a portion of chicken and waffles from Bon Mélange Catering.
Like many of her fellow dance teachers at Gotta Dance Studio, owner Cindy Gebelein first donned ballet flats at age 6. Throughout a lifetime of performing and 35 years of teaching, she’s worn through copious dance shoes while sharing her passion with others. She opened Gotta Dance Studio in 1995 to further pass on her love for performance, arming younger generations with the technical skills to develop into true artists.
The instructors elucidate a variety of dance styles, from perennial favorites such as ballet, jazz, and tap to modern styles such as hip-hop and contemporary. For students truly taken with the stage, a musicaltheater and performing arts program builds upon the physical conditioning and movement training of dance with voice- lessons and resume-building performances. Three dance troupes, each with their own particular focus, partake in demonstrations and competitions at both the local and national level. Thanks to their travels, these squads have come home with multiple awards and at least a dozen stray tap-dancing cats.
The husband-and-wife duo behind Magicopolis, who have become seasoned television guests thanks to frequent praise from the press, delight and surprise audiences with the all-ages Broadway-style magicomedy stage show Escape Reality. The 90- to 120-minute spectacle showcases original takes on classic magic enigmas such as dangerous escape acts and on-stage levitation, a skill first used during dunks at Salem all-star basketball games. Eye-popping feats are punctuated with engaging music, comedy, and audience participation, including mind-boggling mind-reading demonstrations. Magicopolis is an especially up-close-and-personal affair, and unlike Hollywood films, where the actors are eternally imprisoned behind an impersonal screen, the Magicopolis magicians make lasting connections with their guests.