While Hollywood is known for its star power, less than two hours north, Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theatre has quietly featured A-listers for 150 years. The intimate 604-seat venue has seen superstars such as Carol Burnett, Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman, Lucille Ball, Jeff Bridges, and Neil Young grace its stage throughout the years.
Originally founded in 1873, the Lobero Theatre is the oldest continuously operating theatre in California, and the fourth oldest performing arts theatre in the country. It’s known for helping to launch Hollywood legends, offering world-class jazz performances, and being the centre for a robust program of regional performing arts. With its relatively small seat count, the Lobero affords audiences the chance to see top talent in a more personal, intimate venue.
“As the 4th oldest performing arts theatre in the nation, the Lobero Theatre tells the story of American entertainment from 1873 right up to today. There are few places in the U.S., let alone on the west coast, that better embody the changing tastes and interests of American audiences. Our 150th Anniversary is a wonderful opportunity to remember that history and to consider the possibilities that the future holds.” – David Asbell, Executive Director
To celebrate its 150th Anniversary, the Lobero Theatre created an Ovation program for its 2022/23 season, featuring headliners like Jack Johnson, The Wallflowers, and It’s Magic annual show (this year personally headlined by Lance Burton). The season includes performances from acts celebrating special anniversaries of their own, like Los Lobos in its 40th year, Preservation Hall Jazz Band at 50, and Los Romeros/The Romeros Guitar Quartet on its 60th anniversary. Additionally, The Blasters with Dave Alvin recently celebrated their 40th anniversary of playing at the Lobero.
“I was once quoted as saying ‘The audience is never wrong,’ and I think this sentiment also applies to the Lobero. When it comes to the endurance of this cultural and architectural jewel, it’s no wonder generations of patrons keep coming back.” – Carol Burnett
The diverse Ovation program is in keeping with the wide variety of performing arts that the Lobero has featured throughout its history. The theatre was known for hosting top African American opera talent dating back to 1889, when singer Flora Baston brought the crowd to tears with her beautiful voice, and in the late 1940s was the site of the first African American ballet troupe. The Lobero was also turned into a roller rink in the 1880s, and the site of a stirring speech by Susan B. Anthony before the historic vote which granted women voting rights.