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Every few nights, Ben Diskant practices walking on 35-inch stilts before getting slathered with blue body paint, donning a sarong and topping the whole look with a white-and-blue wig made of human hair and yak hair.

Diskant’s unusual routine this summer is one of the biggest pluses he’s found going to grad school. As he finishes his master’s degree in theater at the University of San Diego, Diskant is playing colorful Ariel in The Old Globe’s “The Tempest.”

We caught up with a plainclothes (and plain-haired) Diskant for this week’s Behind the Scene TV with our partners at NBC San Diego. You’ve got to check out the contrast between his personae offstage and onstage, the latter as colorful as this courtesy photo from the Globe shows:

You’re reading the Arts Report, our weekly compilation of the region’s arts and culture news.

Musical Scares

• The horn section used to worry some audience members at the San Diego Symphony, several have told us, but the last decade has brought the brass players to a new level. Have you shared with us what you’ve noticed in the symphony in the 10 years since the organization received the largest gift in U.S. orchestra history? Leave us a note here.

• It’s been a year of several swift cast changes for the Old Globe: The theater announced this morning that actor Matt McGrath will play Frank-N-Furter in its production opening next month of “The Rocky Horror Show.” The previously announced lead, James Barbour, left the production last week due, according to a Globe press release, to “issues with his wife’s pregnancy.”

But his exit came after it was revealed locally that Barbour pleaded guilty a few years ago to misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of a child, admitting he seduced a 15-year-old girl when she went backstage at the production of “Jane Eyre” he was acting in in 2001, according to the New York Times. The Union-Tribune’s Tom Blair wrote about the actor’s “rocky past” in a column earlier this month.

The Globe hasn’t said anything beyond the press announcement about Barbour’s departure, but in Blair’s column, Globe CEO Lou Spisto was quoted as saying: “As we do with all staff and artists, we did our due diligence and we’re proud to have this accomplished performer in our midst.”

• When influential booking agent Tom Windish offered local indie rockers (and pals of mine) Cuckoo Chaos the opening spot on a North American tour in May and June, they got in the van to drive 48 hours straight to New York City for the first show. Says guitarist Scott Wheeler, “You don’t want to disappoint Tom, you know? It’s like disappointing God. He’ll send you to Hell.” (CityBeat)

• With planes rumbling overhead, the quirky city organist Carol Williams does her best to fight back at the helm of the 4,518-pipe organ in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. We spent the day with Williams earlier this summer to bring you this peek at a Sunday afternoon in her life. Our story and images from trusty photographer Sam Hodgson also appear in September’s issue of San Diego Magazine.

• We didn’t see any bears, just a lot of relentless hospitality, mountaintops, berries and ferries on my band’s recent tour of the West Coast. If you’re interested, here’s a collection of photographs from disposable cameras, the latest installment of local bands contributing to the Disposable Project. (Sezio)

Shifting Perspective

• The city of Escondido might suspend or eliminate its requirement that developers pay public art fees on everything they build that’s bigger than 2,000 square feet. (North County Times)

• Local nonprofit funder the San Diego Foundation is placing the emphasis on funding individual artists rather than arts institutions in a new program. (U-T)

• North County artist Jean Lowe is known for her twists on commercialism; we saw many of her pieces when we visited her and Kim MacConnel in their Encinitas home last year. Her papier mâché books are in Juxtapoz magazine.

• A panel of art-savvy folks picked some must-see art pieces — 100 of them — around San Diego County and San Diego Magazine plotted them on an interactive map. How many have you seen?

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Kelly Bennett is the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach her directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531. Or you can keep up with her on Twitter @kellyrbennett or on Facebook.

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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