Mark Morris mines the Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper' for an irresistible 'Pepperland'

Sunday, May 13, 2018

 From Carlsbad to Santa Barbara, the Southern California coast is peppered with pepper — Pepperland Recording Studios, Pepperdine University, Pepper Lane in Montecito, the Pepper Tree Inn in Santa Barbara just up the road from the Granada Theatre, where choreographer Mark Morris' "Pepperland" had its California premiere Thursday night.

An eveninglong dance program based on parts of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "Pepperland," of course, felt very much like it belonged. Indeed, in an extraordinary nod to California, Morris even found a way to pepper George Harrison's Indian raga-inspired "Within You Without You" with an Indonesian gamelan lick in the style of the late Californian maverick composer Lou Harrison.

The dance was originally commissioned by the city of Liverpool, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles' historic album, along with a host of other international presenters, including UC Santa Barbara's Arts & Lectures series. For the next couple of years, it will tour the world. Or maybe even across the universe. It's that dazzling. (Upcoming local performances will be at the San Diego Civic Theatre on Saturday, and at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa in June 2019.)

Source: Mark Swed/


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