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Brewery bits – Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre returns to its roots with “Suds,” a musical melodrama set in old Milwaukee. Characters include an evil step-mother, a helpless heroine, her half-wit hockey-playing boyfriend and others in this romp written by Neal LaVine. Prices include a full Santa Maria-style tri-tip dinner (chicken or vegetarian on request) with refreshments and dessert. WHEN: Friday & Saturday evenings at 6 pm, Sunday matinees at 2 pm through July 2, WHERE: Refugio Road, COST: $40, seniors $32 on Sundays, INFO: 967-1962 or www.circlebarbtheatre.com.

Opera Under the Stars – The popular evening featuring sumptuous three-course dining and romantic tableside music returns for another summer. Pairs of singers entertain every Thursday evening in the Arts & Letters Café’s charming courtyard setting, behind Sullivan Goss gallery. Upcoming shows include Gershwin night with mezzo-soprano Nicole Callahan and baritone Scott Reed (July 20), Puccini with Montecito soprano Agatha Carubia and tenor Edgar Ernesto Ramirez (July 27), and a night of music from “Les Miserables” and the best of Broadway with soprano Jessica Shaw and Reed. WHEN: Seatings at 6 pm & 8:15 pm every Thursday through September 7, WHERE: 7 East Anapamu Street, COST: $50, INFO: 730-1463.

Christmas in July – City College’s Theatre Group concludes to 2005-06 season with the classic comedy “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” which chronicles the travails of a Middle American family forced to house an irascible critic when he’s injured on their property over the holiday season. The ensuing hijinks make for a story that has endured from Broadway to Hollywood for 68 years. James E. Broadhead, who debuted on Broadway nearly 50 years ago opposite Paul Muni in “Inherit the Wind,” stars at the critic, Sheridan Whiteside. WHEN: 8 pm Thursday thru Saturday, 2 pm Sundays through July 29, WHERE: Garvin Theatre on SBCC’s West Campus, 800 Cliff Drive, COST: $19-$21 (discounts for students, seniors and groups), INFO: 965-5935.

UCSB Film – Two films that enjoyed reasonably long stays in commercial theaters in town return for one-shots at UCSB’s Summer Cinema series. Eugene Jarecki’s “Why We Fight,” which won best documentary at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, examines whether America engages in frequent foreign conflicts because of an ongoing militarism first discussed by President Eisenhower in his “military-industrial complex” speech (July 26). The audience takes on the role of incidental voyeur in the 2005 French film “Caché,” a gripping combination of mystery and political/social commentary that won Michael Haneke the best director award at Cannes (August 2).

Bowl concerts – Two veterans of the natural amphitheater return to the venue following the Santa Barbara debut of a fine new crooner. Is he the second coming of Harry Connick, Jr., the great hope for the Great American Songbook, or just a singer who appreciates the value of a great classic song. No matter, Michael Buble, who interprets Broadway show tunes, the Gershwin-Porter-Cahn-Berlin catalog, and more modern pop tunes with a brash exuberance. Miss his Bowl debut at your own peril (July 21; $47.50-$71.50). The Gipsy Kings return to the fold after defecting to the Chumash Casino for their last area appearance last year (July 23; $54.50-$84.50). Meanwhile, Carlos Santana, once a perennial visitor to outdoor arena, plays his first concerts at the Bowl since 2002 (August 1-2, 6:30pm, $68-$98), WHEN: 7 pm, WHERE: Milpas Street at Anapamu Street, INFO: 962-7411.

Six by Six by ETC – Ensemble Theatre Co., closes out its 2005-06 season with “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks.” Richard Alfieri’s comedy finds a recent widow of a Southern Baptist minister hiring an acerbic dance instructor 30 years her junior for private lessons, through whom she ultimately discovers an unlikely friendship and a pathway to each other’s innermost secrets. The funny and incisive play lasted but a month on Broadway, but was a hit just about everywhere else, including the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. ETC artistic director Robert Grande Weiss directs. WHEN: 7:30 pm Tuesdays, 8 pm Wednesdays thru Saturday and 2 pm and 7 pm Sunday through July 23, WHERE: 914 State Street, COST: $25.50-$35.50 (limited half-price Quiktix available day of show), INFO: 962-8606 or www.ensembletheatre.com.

Concerts in the Park – The sun keeps shining, the music keeps flowing and the people keep on dancing every Thursday evening all summer long. Don’t stop now as the Chase Palm Park concert series continues with Santa Barbara’s own Soul City Survivors, who play the best of the ‘60s and ’70s funk-soul and boast a full five-piece horn section and three singers (July 20), and perennial favorite Captain Cardiac & the Coronaries, who put on a full ‘50s/’60s oldies-but-goodies show complete with bright red tuxedo jackets and sunglasses (July 27). WHEN: 6 pm to 8:30 pm, WHERE: Cabrillo Boulevard near Calle Cesar Chavez, COST: free, INFO: 897-1982.

Migrants in art – While politicos countrywide debate the immigration problem, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art traces the 100-year history of migrant workers in California in the new exhibit “Taking Root.” Vintage prints by photographers from the Works Progress program and Life and Look magazine and documents of Cesar Chavez’s legendary march to Sacramento are on view at the museum, while contemporary prints by News-Press photographers of Mixtec strawberry pickers in Santa Maria can be seen at Channing-Peake Gallery. WHEN: 11 am to 5 pm Tuesdays-Sundays, through August 6, WHERE: Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1130 State Street, COST: $9 (discounts for seniors, students and children; free every Sunday), INFO: 963-4364

Thursday, July 20

New Media NIGHTS – Explore Chinese-themed new and old media ideas – or just mingle with friends old and new – at this month’s edition of the summer-long monthly soiree at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Inspired by the current exhibition “Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China,” each gallery offers activities and/or performance including East-meets-pop scrolls, calligraphy tattoos, Chinese acrobatics, “I was there. Really,” great monuments postcards, history and memory symbol lanterns, music encompassing “Dragon Pulse” remixes and lion dancing, and drink special the Absolut Forbidden City martini. It’s the city’s biggest happy hour of the summer. WHEN: 5:30 pm to 8 pm, WHERE: 1130 State Street, COST: $25 ($10 discount for museum members), INFO: 884-6414 or sbma.net.

‘Anna’ in Solvang – PCPA Theaterfest presents the Central Coast debut of Nilo Cruz’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Anna in the Tropics.” The relationships and passions inside a Florida cigar factory mirror “Anna Karenina,” the book that is being read to them as they work. (See “On Stage” for an interview with Nilo Cruz on page 61). WHEN: Opens tonight, plays 8 pm Wednesday thru Sunday through August 6, WHERE: 420 Second Street, Solvang, COST: $18.75-27.25, discounts available for students, seniors, children and subscribers, INFO: 922-8313.

Doug’s dance – SUMMERDANCE presents the return of the contemporary Doug Varone and Dancers, who as part of a three-week residency offers two performances of “Mythography.” The expanded company features 10 dancers, two singer/performers and an actor interpreting Lewis Thomas’s “Lives of a Cell” through a series of tableaux encompassing movement, music, moving sets and visual projections. A special picnic dinner with Varone will be offered before tomorrow’s performance ($35). WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: Lobero Theatre, 33 West Canon Perdido Street, COST: $37.50 & $45 (students $22.50), INFO: 963-0761.

Friday, July 21

Pacifica projects – Tap into what students have learned this year at Montecito-based psychology graduate school Pacifica Institute at a public presentation of masters’ projects and doctoral dissertations distilled from the work that students have accomplished. Come and go as you please throughout the day-long event. WHEN: 8 am to 5 pm, WHERE: Faulkner Gallery, Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 East Anapamu Street, COST: free, INFO: 969-3626.

California Wine Festival – More than 100 wineries pour 400 varietals at the third annual seaside festival, fast becoming one of the biggest wine events on the Central Coast. Dubbed “Red, Whites and Blues,” the fest features continuous tastings from vineyards all over the stage, plus live music, appetizers and a silent auction. VIP ticket holders are invited to the Private Reserve Sunset Tasting tonight at the Sea Center on Stearns Wharf (7 pm to 9 pm) and also enjoy a full hour early admission to the main event tomorrow. WHEN: 1 pm to 4 pm (VIPs admitted at noon), WHERE: Chase Palm Park, Cabrillo Boulevard near Calle Cesar Chavez, COST: $45 advance, $55 at the gate ($95 VIP), INFO: 965-2813.

Takacs plays – As part of the Music Academy of the West residency, the Takacs Quartet performs a program of works including Mozart’s “Dissonance” quartet, Britten’s SQ No. 3, op. 94, and Schubert’s “Death of a Maiden.” WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: Marjorie Luke Theatre at Santa Barbara Junior High, 735 East Cota Street, COST: $35. INFO: 969-8787.

Saturday, July 22

Busy day at MAW – Five students selected from among scores of contestants are given coveted soloist slots in the Music Academy’s Festival Orchestra concert, conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero. The dress rehearsals is 9:30 am, main performance at 8 pm. In between, the annual Marilyn Horne Foundation Awards Vocal Competition – the singer’s counterpart to the Concerto Competition – takes place back on the Miraflores Campus, with each singer performing three short pieces in hopes of earning one of the four top honors (10 am to 4 pm at Abravanel Hall; $10). WHERE: Lobero Theatre, 33 West Canon Perdido Street, COST: $20 rehearsal, $48 at 8 pm, INFO: 963-0761 or 969-8787.

Aiken at Trinity – No pain, only pure musical pleasure when Los Angeles-based bluesy singer-songwriter-guitarist Caroline Aiken brings her earthy, sensual songs back to town for a gig at the monthly Trinity Backstage series. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: Trinity Episcopal Church, 1500 State Street (at Micheltorena), COST: $8 INFO: www.trinitybackstage.com.

Sunday, July 23

Money for MDA – The Black & Blue Ball couldn’t have picked a more aptly named performer to headline the 14th annual event. The bash – voted Best Charity Event by Independent readers for seven years running – is a benefit for Muscular Dystrophy Association, and is all about raising funds for a good cause, so Eddie Money seems just right for the bill. For your two tickets to paradise, you’ll enjoy hors d’oeuvres from Santa Barbara’s finest restaurants, music all afternoon and evening from three additional live bands, and a silent and live auction second to none in the area. VIP tickets include a hosted cocktail reception with a meet-and-greet with Money. WHEN: 6 pm to 10 pm (5 pm VIPs), WHERE: Fess Parker Doubletree Resort, 633 East Cabrillo Boulevard, COST: $125 ($175 VIP), INFO: 563-0456 or www.blackandblueball.com.

Wednesday, July 26

Looking for a KISS – Are Gene Simmons and cohorts really donning the garish make-up and costumes, heading back out on the road, and singing the nasty hard-rock teen hits again even though they’re all nearing (or past) age 60? Yep. Hard to turn down those big bucks, even after selling 80 million albums over the years. But be forewarned: Ace Frehley – the band’s occasional conscience – is still MIA, and ticket prices ain’t cheap. Perhaps a better alternative: original soul singer Al Green, who returns to the venue tomorrow night, between the two KISS gigs, with Montecito-raised Crosby Loggins as opening act. WHEN: 8 pm tonight and Friday; Green/Loggins 8 pm Thursday, WHERE: 3400 Highway 246 in Santa Ynez, COST: KISS $155-$235; Green: $45-$95, INFO: (800) CHUMASH.

Aszure enough – Apparently, Canadian choreographer Aszure Barton can’t get enough of SUMMERDANCE and Santa Barbara. She made her Santa Barbara debut last summer, composed two dances and performed with Mikhail Baryshnikov at the Lobero for just last month, and returns with her company for two performances of her “Lascilo Perdere,” a daring, physical piece that makes its local debut. (See “On Stage” for an interview with Barton on page 61). WHEN: 8 pm tonight, 7 pm and 9 pm tomorrow, WHERE: Center Stage Theater, 751 Paseo Nuevo (Chapala at De la Guerra), COST: $32 (students $22), INFO: 963-0408.

Thursday, July 27

Totally Toad – Montecito singer-songwriter Glen Phillips has reunited with former high school band-mates in Toad the Wet Sprocket for what will be a one-off tour replete with the band’s nostalgic hits “Walk on the Ocean,” “All I Want” and “Fall Down.” And it’s also your last chance to see Phillips stateside under any guise: in September, he’s packing up the family for a one-year tour and trip to Europe. As usual, tonight’s show is a benefit for the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: Marjorie Luke Theatre at Santa Barbara Junior High, 735 East Cota Street, COST: $30, INFO: 583-8700.

Friday, July 28

Feingold in SB – Democratic Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, a possible 2008 presidential candidate, makes two fundraising appearances in town to benefit his re-election campaign and the local Democratic Women. He’ll speak at Jon and Julie Williams’s Montecito home from 6 pm to 8 pm tonight ($250; call 565-9789 for more info) and participate tomorrow in the annual brunch. WHEN: 10:30 am, WHERE: Fess Parker Doubletree Resort, 633 East Cabrillo Boulevard, COST: $135, or $250 including a personal introduction and photo op with Senator Feingold ($50 students/limited income).

SUMMERDANCE finales – The dance festival culminates when Doug Varone & Dancers perform a work they’ve developed during their residency, the SUMMERDANCE Kids Connection (under the direction of Summerdance alum Brian Brooks) make its only public appearance, and the State Street Ballet dance a work by choreographer Robert Battle in tonight’s Choreographers’ Showcase. The real finale takes place tomorrow, when all the visiting artists come together for the Cabaret, the festival’s major fundraiser dinner-show known for especially intimate and lively performances. This year’s special guest: singer-songwriter Cat Power. WHEN: Showcase 4 pm and 7 pm tonight; Cabaret 7 pm tomorrow, WHERE: Showcase at Center Stage Theater, 751 Paseo Nuevo (Chapala at De la Guerra); Cabaret at Restaurant NU (1129 State Street,), COST: Showcase: $12; Cabaret $125, INFO: 963-0408 or 563-2844 or 568-0865.

Saturday, July 29

Greek Festival – The 33rd annual event is one of the few ethnic festivals still taking place at Oak Park, but you won’t be shortchanged as visitors get the chance to experience the sights, sounds, aromas and flavors of the old country. Dancing, music, arts and crafts and, of course, lots of Greek food make for a fun day for the whole family. WHEN: 11 am to 7 pm today and tomorrow, WHERE: Alamar & Junipero Streets, COST: free, INFO: 693-4492.

Sunday, July 30

Afternoon with the Author – Speaking of Stories sponsors the second in its new summer series of afternoon chats with accomplished writers hosted by local author David Starkey. Crime/suspense novelist Andrew Klavan, author of “Don’t Say a Word” and “True Crime,” will read briefly, discuss his work with Starkey, and take questions from the audience. WHEN: 4 pm, WHERE: Center Stage Theater, 751 Paseo Nuevo (Chapala at De la Guerra), COST: $15 (students $10), INFO: 963-0408.

New dance – Local dancer/choreographer and UCSB professor Stephanie Nugent curates this performance of works-in-progress by Southern California's most exciting contemporary choreographers – a low-key, highly creative night with the audience invited to share in the inspirations and investigations. Works include a new quartet of solos by Keith Johnson inspired by George Crumb’s music; a collaborative “talking dance” by Carmela Hermann and Kristen Smiarowski; dancer Stephanie Powell makes her local choreographing debut with a portrait examining the challenges of living with an aging parent; and Nugent offers a group piece focusing on the transference of kinesthetic experience from one person to another. A reception with the artists follows the show. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: Center Stage Theater, 751 Paseo Nuevo (Chapala at De la Guerra), COST: $13, INFO: 963-0408.

Monday, July 31

‘Richard’ redux – Westmont College Repertory Theatre and Lit Moon Theatre Co.’s award-winning production of Shakespeare’s “King Richard II” returns to the throne. The show, which earned strong reviews and sold-out audiences at Trinity last fall, also won four Indys, the most of any play at the 14th annual Santa Barbara Independent Theater Awards. The co-production will also serve as the lone U.S. representative at the Shakespearean Festival in Gdansk, Poland, which will include companies from Poland, Russia, Germany, Italy, Romania, England and Iceland. Director John Blondell leads a pre-performance discussion at 7 pm on Tuesday only. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: Trinity Episcopal Church, 1500 State Street (at Micheltorena), COST: $20, INFO: 565-6040,

Wednesday, August 2

Theatrical Treats Two – Montecito resident Elaine Kendall presents the world premiere of her new play, “The Chameleon,” at her own afternoon light lunch-short theater series. The work is based on the fascinating public and private life of Judah P. Benjamin, a Confederate secretary of state who fled to England after the Civil War and established a career as a distinguished barrister. WHEN: lunch 12:15 pm, curtain 1:30 pm, WHERE: 33 West Victoria Street, COST: $25, INFO: (800) 464-8497.