• Living ‘Green’ – Ensemble Theatre couldn’t have picked two more diverse plays to open its 2006-07 season. Where Harold Pinter’s “Betrayal” employs pinched dialogue and implied events that leave huge spaces for nuance and interpretation, the current show, “Visiting Mr. Green,” fairly hits you over the head with very direct statements offering transparently dramatic plot points and a strong, unmistakable message – prejudice in all its guises is ugly and damaging. It’s like a Hallmark TV movie, which might explain why the show has proved popular across wide swatches of the country. Still, for all its obviousness, the play is far from objectionable; while it’s surely not your typical holiday fare, the themes of family and home will make you feel warm all over. Meanwhile, the acting – especially by Broadway vet Ben Hammer as an 80-something recently widowed man – is remarkably convincing. “Mr. Green” is worth seeing for him alone.

• Mr. Mayor – “The man himself, the Mayor of Santa Barbara,” the bassist in Alan Parsons’s band said, introducing the leader near the end of Sunday night’s benefit concert at the Arlington Theatre, a trip down progressive rock memory lane for the 1,000-plus fans – perhaps the oldest non-classical audience ever to grace the theatre – who were treated to soaring versions of such hits as “Eye in the Sky” and “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You.” Parsons looked sheepish as he acknowledged the applause. “Sorry, Marty,” he said.

But it’s a good bet even Mrs. Blum wouldn’t object to misappropriation of her title for the night since the concert – Parsons’s first since he moved to Santa Barbara seven years ago – raised much-needed funds for the Unity Shoppe as an adjunct event to the 20th annual Unity Telethon. Meanwhile, the main event across the street at Victoria Hall raised $538,677, a pretty penny, to be sure, but well short of the 2006 goal of $700,000.

“It’s a tough economic climate,” executive director Tom Reed lamented a few minutes after the 11-hour marathon ended. “We have to close that gap. So while it looks like the end of the holiday fundraising season with the end of the telethon, our work is just starting.”

• Ice, ice, baby – It almost seemed surreal to see skaters actually gliding across ice on the stage at the Arlington Saturday night as part of the inaugural “It’s Christmas, Snoopy On Ice!” show, brought to town by the daughter of the lovable beagle’s creator, Montecito resident Jill Schulz Transki, a former pro skater herself. The emphasis was more on big, holiday-themed skating production numbers than the “Peanuts” gang, although Snoopy pranced his way through a few numbers, and the strip’s main characters were shown in projected scenes from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and in live on-stage vignettes featuring young Montecito students of Janet Adderly’s school, which gave the skaters time for the myriad changes of elaborate costume. And what an amazing presentation! One highlight: time and again, the pairs team of Melanie Lambert and Fred Palascak astounded the audience with daring stunts that were both viscerally and emotionally appealing, including a truly dangerous high-speed routine where Lambert’s head veers inches off the ice.

Thanks, Jill, and we hope the show becomes an annual tradition!

• Adult Adderly – And speaking of Adderly, here’s an exclusive: current members of the theater teacher’s first class of adult students will perform an abbreviated version of the Broadway smash “Mama Mia” at Victoria Hall this weekend (7 pm Friday and Sunday, 7:30 pm Saturday, a different cast each night). The class is comprised mainly of Montecitans, some of whom are appearing on stage for the first time. “I’m almost more proud of the adults than the children because they have so many learned inhibitions to get over,” Adderly said.