‘Kismet’ arrives in Granada



Credit: Courtesy

What is “kismet”? This exotic-sounding word for “fate” or “fate” descends from Arabic and entered the English language in the early 19th century via Turkish. It is most often used in a romantic context and generally carries a positive connotation. When the ambitious classic Broadway musical called Kismet arrives at the Granada Theater on October 23 and 24, it will represent this meaning in multiple ways.

In the story of the series, kismet occurs when the love interests of the main characters are finally realized and all apparent obstacles to a happy ending are overcome. As an episode in the ongoing saga of the Santa Barbara performing arts scene, Kismet represents kismet in a different way, as it also applies to the happy ending of our prolonged separation from the pleasures of concerts and live theater. Finally, this particular production of Kismet reflects the kismet of a life of positive karma in the person of its producer, Sara Miller McCune, who has made many extraordinary contributions to the arts in Santa Barbara through her support of our arts organizations.

McCune, who turns 81 in February, first designed this big project in anticipation of his 80th birthday, before the COVID pandemic slows theatrical production. Undeterred, and with the help of a team that included the Santa Barbara Symphony, State Street Ballet and Broadway producer Ken Davenport, she persevered, and thanks to her indomitable spirit, Kismet arrived.

When I spoke with Miller McCune by phone last week, she was full of energy and enthusiasm during a recent meeting with the cast and crew of the show that took place in the middle of air at the State Street Ballet’s Gail Towbes Center, where the performance was rehearsed. “It’s a great gang,” she said of the many actors, dancers, singers and musicians that this major production employs, “and it was great to be with them as they all return. at work.” Upon meeting the actors who will play the two romantic lead roles, Ani Djirdjirian (Marsinah) and Ariel Neydavoud (the Caliph), Miller McCune was moved to say: “I can see why you are going to fall in love” – ​​another recognition from kismet in action.

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What can the public expect Kismet? First of all, this show represents the opening of the season for both the Santa Barbara Symphony and the State Street Ballet, so there will be some lovely orchestral music conducted by Nir Kabaretti, all based on the compositions of the Russian composer. Alexander Borodin. Kabaretti singles out the colorful and brilliant orchestration of the score as one of the most symphonic of all Broadway musicals. For William Soleau, choreographer of the show and co-artistic director of State Street Ballet, it was the occasion to create a whole new set of dances. Times have changed since 1953, when the show premiered, and director Lonny Price asked Soleau to develop dances that would advance the plot and give the company’s dancing corps the opportunity to showcase their talents. .

Price, who has a distinguished record as a director on Broadway, having directed productions as important as the musical Sunset Boulevard, was a key player in Miller McCune’s plans from the start. It was Price who oversaw the casting of the actors, who almost all identify as MENASA (Middle East, North Africa, South Asia). Since Kismet takes place in Baghdad at the time of 1001 Nights, the characters are all members of the same Muslim community. As a result, and taking into account issues of justice, diversity, equity and inclusion, the production of the show and its rehearsal process was guided by a series of interventions from experts in cultural sensitivity. Naila Al Atrash, professor of Arab Theater and Film Studies at New York University, verified the script, and Judy Guillermo-Newton and Jarrod Schwarz facilitated an inclusive workshop on September 27 for the entire team to ensure that this encounter with the arabo-muslim world through the would be a productive learning experience for all involved.

This is the most famous song in the series that sums up what Miller McCune saw in Kismet it made him want to bring him here. Marsinah and the Caliph meet in a beautiful garden and begin to fall in love. This romantic kismet moment becomes a song, then a duet with the memorable title “Stranger in Paradise”. Explaining the personal significance of the project, Miller McCune said that since we live in Heaven, she wants to make sure we don’t remain strangers.


Kismet will be played on Saturday October 23 at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday October 24 at 2:30 p.m. For tickets and information, visit grenadesb.org or call the box office at (805) 899-2222.

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