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Central Coast Living: PCPA performs summer shows at outdoor Solvang Festival Theater

Posted at 6:45 AM, Jun 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-13 10:59:48-04

The Pacific Conservatory Theater, better known as PCPA, will debut its summer season of plays and musicals this weekend at the iconic Solvang Festival Theater.

The Santa Ynez Valley sunshine has faded the red Mets stadium seats that were gifted to the Solvang Festival Theater more than 40 years ago.

In the summer of 1974, locals broke ground on the theater. Actors took the stage for the first performance in the space just 58 days later. The theater’s construction was the product of a grassroots effort by the community in hopes of drawing people to the Danish town.

This summer, the Solvang Festival Theater is celebrating 45 years of shows under the stars.

Last week, stagehands put the finishing touches on the set ahead of opening weekend.

Andrew Philpot is preparing for his nine-character performance in the comedy, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.”

“It’s just sort of unapologetic, silly fun,” Philpot said.

After several weeks of shows at the Santa Maria Marian Theater, PCPA will move the set and show to Solvang.

“It’s almost like a party when we come out for the shows [in Solvang],” Philpot said. “I don’t know if it’s because [the audience is] outside, because it’s sometimes a little brisk, because maybe they get to drink a glass of wine… I don’t know but there is this sort of extra added excitement.”

Director Katie Fuchs-Wackowski says there isn’t a bad seat in the house at the Solvang Festival Theater.

“We just get to use more angles when we are creating the show because we have these outer seats in mind and these inner seats in mind,” Fuchs-Wackowski said.

The small-town amphitheater seems to offer a greater sense of connection between the audience and the actors and offers a unique theater experience where the closing curtain is nothing more than the night sky.

“The [audience gets] to actually see our faces and they get to actually be that close that our energy is just right there in their lap,” Philpot said.

“There’s a heightened energy to having just the roof gone and space around you,” Fuchs-Wackowski said. “It makes the world magnify.”

PCPA will perform four shows in Solvang from June to September starting with “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder,” then “Million Dollar Quartet,” “The Addams Family,” and the season will round out with the classic play “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

Tickets may be purchased online or at the door.

Aside from the PCPA shows, the Solvang Festival Theater also hosts numerous events and performances throughout the year.

The Solvang Festival Theater is located at 420 2nd St. in Solvang.