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South Coast Theater Company Comes Up With Unique Answer To Coronavirus; Drive-In Concerts

Rubicon Theater Company photo
Kenny Loggins and Jimmy Messina are among the performers set to take the stage at the Rubicon Theater Company's unique drive-in concert series at the Ventura County Fairgrounds

Forget about live theater being completely shut down on the Central and South Coasts because of coronavirus safety concerns. 

A Ventura theater company has figured out a way for audiences to see shows, using the Ventura County Fairgrounds as a safe venue.

Karyl Lynn Burns is co-founder, and Producing Artistic Director of Ventura’s Rubicon Theater.  Like all of the theater groups on the Central and South Coasts, coronavirus led to the cancellation of Rubicon’s upcoming productions.

But, they came up with the idea: A safe distance drive-in theater concert series.  It’s like combining a retro drive-in experience with a live stage show.

The result of what’s called “Rubicon Goes Retro” is a five show series, featuring everything the music of Sinatra to a live show starring Loggins and Messina.  

The first show is called “Drive-In Hits” and features some Broadway performers doing classics from the 1950’s and 60’s.  Then, Burns says there are event in late July and early August featuring the music of Sinatra, and from the musical “Forever Plaid."

On August 17th -19th, the Rubicon series at the Ventura County Fairgrounds will feature a three night concert series with Jimmy Messina, from Loggins and Messina.  Every night, he will have special guests artists, including Kenny Loggins on the 19th.

The series will wrap up in September with “Music Of The Night.”  It’s a show featuring music from Andrew Lloyd Webber, Elton John, and Paul McCarney.  It's headliners are a number of Broadway stars, and features Ted Neeley, from the  film and stage versions of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

The shows will be like a theater in the round, with the stage in the center of the parking lot.  People will tune their car radios to an FM frequency for the sound, and big screens will make the performers visible to everyone, just like at a drive-in.

Burns says Rubicon is excited about being able to present in-person live theater, and music at a time when it’s become virtually impossible.

Tickets are now on sale online for the Rubicon Goes Retro series. Kids 12 and under are free. Depending on the show, the capacity will range from just over 320 to around 650 vehicles.

Each event will be about 70 minutes long.  You’ll want to be prepared.  Because of social distancing, there are no on-site concessions available, and no restrooms.  And, no, you can’t bring lawn chairs, or sit in the back of a pickup.  Because of safety requirements, theatergoers will have to remain in their vehicles.

But, it’s a unique melding of drive-in theaters and live concerts, and will provide entertainment for people missing the chance to see a show.  Ticket information:

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.