On May 17, 1873–Just three months after the Lobero opened its doors–the Wilton Dramatic Troupe staged a production of the Broadway play “Under the Gaslight.”

This production featured high-quality special effects, including the first railroad train ever seen in Santa Barbara, and a reversal of the classic damsel-in-distress trope, as the heroine saves the hero from certain death tied to the railroad track.

“Under the Gaslight” has been called the classic melodrama, and is best known for its suspense scene where the hero is tied to railroad tracks as a train approaches, only to be saved from death at the last possible moment. Interestingly, in “Under the Gaslight”, it is the heroine who saves the hero from certain death on the railway tracks – and the genders are only swapped in later versions of the melodrama.

“The first railroad train ever seen in Santa Barbara made a trip across the stage of Lobero’s Theatre in “Under the Gaslight. It looks as natural as does Denny’s drop curtain representing the Golden Gate.” – San Francisco newspaper, the Weekly Alta California

The first real train to arrive in Santa Barbara would come in 1887, 14 years after the play.

While we wait in the wings for things to return to normal, we hope you enjoy a peek into the Lobero archives.

We hope you’re staying safe and enjoying the arts from the comfort of your own home. Go ahead and read more stories below.