Jazz-Age journey – Ensemble Theatre presents the area debut of “The Violet Hour,” a smart, captivating comedy by Tony Award-winning playwright Richard Greenberg about choices between love and friendship, duty and inspiration. The play “balances heights of wit with depths of feeling,” said The New York Times in a review of an off-Broadway production. WHEN: 8 pm Tuesdays thru Saturdays and 2 pm & 7 pm Sunday through April 29, WHERE: 914 Santa Barbara St., COST: $25-$37.50 (discounts for students, seniors and groups), INFO: 962-8606 or

Ansel Adams art – The Santa Barbara Museum of Art continues its series of exhibitions devoted to California artists with this show of prints from the famed photographer of the American West. The exhibit, drawn from the museum’s permanent collection including recent acquisitions, ranges from early, delicate prints from the 1920s, to elegant images of the Grand Tetons and the Sierra Nevadas originally made in the 1940s, and a heroic mural-sized photograph of ranchland in Petaluma from the early 1950s. Local trivia: the Santa Barbara Museum of Art was an early champion of Adams, having presented a solo exhibition of his work way back in 1946, around the time as he founded the department of psychology at what is now the San Francisco Art Institute. Adam’s picture of Refugio Beach, including in this exhibit, was shot the same year. WHEN: 11 am to 5 pm Tuesdays-Sundays, through June 23, WHERE: 1130 State St., COST: $9 (discounts for seniors, students and children; free every Sunday), INFO: 963-4364.

‘Crimes’ on the Ranch – Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre 2007 season is underway with a presentation of “Crimes of the Heart,” the 1981 Pulitzer Prize winning play. Later made into a heartwarming and funny, critically acclaimed movie, “Crimes” tells the story of the three 20-something McGrath sisters, who have gathered at a local Mississippi hospital to say goodbye to their grandfather. WHEN: Friday & Saturday evenings at 6 pm, Sunday matinees at 2 pm through May 20, WHERE: Refugio Rd., COST: $40, seniors $32 on Sundays, INFO: 967-1962 or

Self-portraits – The Santa Barbara artists in question aren’t painting their own likenesses, but instead have captured the local scenery in Santa Barbara in this two-person exhibition opening today. "Two Santa Barbarians Paint Santa Barbara" features Camille Renga Dellar and Kris Buck – both born and raised and still life-long residents of Santa Barbara who also grew up together. Both artists primarily work plein air, on location, with Dellar painting in oils and Buck focusing on pastels. WHEN: Mondays-Thursdays 9 am to 2 pm through April 30, WHERE: The Architectural Foundation, 229 East Victoria St., COST: free, INFO: 965-6307.

Blue line special – Al Gore’s Academy Award-winning film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” is the impetus for a new volunteer group seeking to bring attention to climate change by proposing that a light blue line be drawn marking the new waterline if the sea level rose 7 meters, as suggested in the film. This exhibit, “Drawing the Line Against Climate Change,” blends art and science to educate the public about the steps we can take today to help keep the oceanfront down at the beach, where it is today. WHEN: Exhibit through June 29, WHERE: Santa Barbara City Hall, 735 Anacapa St., COST: free, INFO:

Thursday, April 26

To be at RTC – Shakespeare’s epic tragedy, “Hamlet,” has drawn a veteran, all-star cast for Rubicon Theatre’s Production of the classic. Joseph Fuqua (recent RTC shows: “Tuesdays with Morrie” and “All My Sons”) plays the dark Prince of Denmark, while RTC artistic director James O’Neil portrays Claudius and RTC regular Stephanie Zimbalist (who recently made her Santa Barbara debut) takes on Gertrude. WHEN: Previews tonight and tomorrow at 8 pm, opens Saturday at 7 pm. Plays Wednesdays at 2 pm & 7 pm, Thursdays and Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2 pm & 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm; ends May 20, WHERE: Laurel Theater, 1106 E. Main St., Ventura, COST: $25-$45, discounts, INFO: 667-2900,

Local theatrical premiere – Lee Blessing’s 1988 political drama “Two Rooms” still resonates nearly 20 years later, and now Santa Barbara is having its first opportunity to see this compelling piece. The “Two Rooms” title comes from the intertwined stories of Michael, who is being held by terrorists in Beirut with his wife, Lainie, who chooses to create a similarly sparse environment for herself to empathize at home with her husband’s situation. The tense love story written a year after the author captured the Pulitzer for “A Walk in the Woods” has obvious political overtones that are still relevant today. WHEN: Previews 8 pm tonight, plays 8 pm tomorrow and Saturday, and 2 pm Sunday, WHERE: Lobero Theatre, 33 W. Canon Perdido St., COST: $30.50-$60.50, INFO: 963-0761.

Friday, April 27

‘Mothers’ of invention – The Founding Mothers release their debut CD “Constitution” – a 15-song reflection on politics, war, consumerism and media in the United States – at the Santa Barbara Art Studios as part of the gallery’s 4th Friday Art Salon. It’s also your last opportunity to view Isaac Hernandez' exhibit, "My Home in Peru and In the World.” Proceeds benefit Project Hope. WHEN: 6 pm to 9 pm, WHERE: 709 E. Mason St., INFO: 637-6802.

Swing into Spring – Spencer the Gardener provides the music for this fourth annual benefit for Peabody Charter School, with earnings earmarked for the school’s Exploration Center. The event also features a “Taste of Santa Barbara” banquet featuring local restaurants and wineries, live and silent auctions hosted by special MCs Larry Crandell, Mark D’Anda and Nancy Newcomer. Extend the fun by participating in the golf tournament that precedes the party at Sandpiper Golf Course ($350 includes cart, drive-range balls, lunch, awards, drinks and hors d’oeuvres, plus two party tickets). WHEN: 6 pm to 11 pm, WHERE: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 2559 Puesta del Sol Rd., COST: $60 advance, $75 at the door, INFO: 563-1172, 682-4711 or email

Concert and workshop – Acoustic guitarist Muriel Anderson is no stranger to Santa Barbara, having played everywhere from SOhO nightclub to home concerts in Goleta. Now the first woman to have won the National Fingerpicking Guitar Champion returns to town not only to entertain but also to teach. First, Anderson offers her interpretations that range from Japanese Koto music to Sousa marches and the Beatles on the new “Main Stage” at Jensen’s Guitar tonight. Tomorrow morning, she’ll lead a workshop open to all budding guitarists. WHEN: 7 pm tonight, 11 am tomorrow, WHERE: 2905 De La Vina St., COST: $15 advance, $17 at the door tonight; $20 advance, $25 at the door tomorrow (includes 2 free sets of GHS signature strings), INFO: 563-3200 or

UCSB Music – Two wildly different concerts kick off the 2007 Spring Season at the university’s music department. The annual CREATE concert tonight at Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall features the latest innovations in electronic and computer music in a mix of works by students and advanced artists in the field, with multi-channel sound projection using the Creatophone spatial sound system. On Sunday, pianist Philipp Richardsen delivers his Ph.D. recital at Keiringer Hall featuring works by Beethoven, Debussy, Takács, Granados and Piazzolla. WHEN: 8 pm both nights, COST: $7 general, $5 students tonight; free on Sunday, INFO: 893-7001.

Saturday, April 28

E-SCAPE art – Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment (SCAPE) holds its annual “Art in the Garden” exhibit and sale at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. The group’s award-winning artists will be on hand to present nearly 200 juried paintings amid the native landscape in the foothills above town. Music, painting demonstrations and the opening of the Discovery Garden round out the activities. WHEN: 9 am to 6 pm today and tomorrow, WHERE: 1212 Mission Canyon Rd., COST: free, INFO: 682-4726.

Carpinteria Beautiful – “A Slice of Carpinteria” is the theme for the tenth annual home and garden tour showcasing six dwellings ranging from a beachfront cottage to a “green” home in the foothills and a charming Cape Cod down in the heart of the seaside town. A map that includes descriptions of the homes allows you to visit them in any order you choose. (For more on the tour check out “Real Estate View” on page 30.) WHEN: 11 am to 5 pm, COST: $25, INFO: 684-2406.

Quite an Impression – Santa Barbara Museum of Art unveils a new collection of 13 works by French Impressionist and American artists from the late 19th to mid 20th centuries, including such notables as Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Berthe Morisot and Anna Mary Robertson "Grandma" Moses. Known as the Dwight and Winifred Vedder Collection after the couple who donated them, the paintings – which will become part of the museum’s permanent collection – are the second most significant gift of art given to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in its 66-year history. WHEN: Open 11 am to 5 pm Tuesdays-Sundays, WHERE: 1130 State St., COST: $9 (discounts for seniors, students and children; free every Sunday), INFO: 963-4364.

Winery opening – Roblar Winery & Vineyards in the heart of Santa Ynez Valley celebrates its grand opening with gourmet food pairings, chef demonstrations, live music and special offers on select wines and gifts. The winery, which specializes in premium estate varietals, goes beyond the requisite tasting room in their 12,000-square foot lodge-style estate, which was designed by world-renowned architect Bob Easton and includes a marketplace, culinary school, separate VIP lounge and outdoor dining terraces. WHEN: all day, WHERE: 3010 Roblar Ave., COST: free, INFO: 686-8654.

Sunday, April 29

Solo piano recital – Russian pianist Daria Rabotkina, who was a hands-down favorite as a Concerto Competition winner at the Music Academy of the West last summer, returns to town for a solo recital featuring Beethoven’s Sonata No. 32 in C minor and shorter works by Chopin, Debussy, Bartok, Liszt, Ligeti, Prokofiev and Skryabin. WHEN: 3 pm, WHERE: Unitarian Society, 1535 Santa Barbara St., COST: $15 adults, $10 seniors/students, INFO: 965-4235.

Kirkin’ O’ the Tartan – The Scottish Society of Santa Barbara holds its annual “blessing of the tartan” – a tradition that dates back 350 years and offers honor to one’s family or clan. The celebration features bagpipers, a sing-a-long, traditions unique to Scotland and light refreshments. In Santa Barbara, the service is ecumenical and conducted by representatives of four churches as well as a rabbi. Also, the public is invited to participate by bringing companion dogs on leashes and cats in pet carriers – called “wee beasties” by Scots – for blessing. Dogs are brought on leashes, cats in pet carriers. WHEN: 3 pm, WHERE: Trinity Episcopal Church, 1500 State St. (at Micheltorena), COST: free, INFO: 684-1300.

Monday, April 30

Literary tales – Tonight’s penultimate segment of the Speaking of Stories series is devoted to stories that were originally published in The New Yorker. With actors including Henry Brown, Charles de L’Arbre and Ed Romine reading works by David Sedaris, Tobias Wolfe and Christopher Buckley, among other authors, you’re sure to get your word’s worth this evening. WHEN: 7:30 pm, WHERE: Lobero Theatre, 33 W. Canon Perdido St., COST: $13-$30, INFO: 963-0761.

‘Springtime’ in Santa Barbara – The smash Broadway musical “The Producers” finally arrives in Santa Barbara via the Broadway at the Arlington series. Original theatrical and film stars Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane are long-gone, of course – the show even finally closed in New York not too long ago, and the lackluster movie version didn’t do the play justice – but this non-equity touring production has been getting more than reasonable reviews across the country. WHEN: 7:30 pm tonight through Wednesday, WHERE: Arlington Theatre, 1317 State St., COST: $37-$65, INFO: 963-4408.

‘Calamity Physics’ novelist speaks – Marisha Pessl hit literary stardom with her first book, “Special Topics in Calamity Physics,” which topped bestseller lists across the country and was selected as one of the Best Books of 2006 by The New York Times. The 28-year-old Pessl’s debut novel was lauded as a darkly comic coming-of-age tale with a distinct voice and complex plot. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: Victoria Hall, 33 W. Victoria St., COST: free, INFO: 893-3535.

Tuesday, May 1

Life of John – Montecito resident John Cleese doesn’t spend a great deal of his time these days reminiscing about his time with Monty Python, the groundbreaking British comedy ensemble that created a huge cult following on TV in the 1970s before releasing several uproarious films, including 1979’s “The Life of Brian.” But tonight Cleese will take a look back at the movie that hilariously and somewhat controversially parodied the original Christmas story in a benefit screening for UCSB Arts & Lectures that includes a Q&A session with the comedic icon. WHEN: 7:30 pm, WHERE: UCSB’s Campbell Hall, COST: $20, INFO: 893-3535 or

Clarinet, Copeland in chambers – Spanish-born clarinetist Jose Franch-Ballester makes his local debut as featured soloist when the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra takes on Aaron Copland’s jazzy Clarinet Concerto. The work was written for jazz great Benny Goodman, but the 26-year-old Franch-Ballester, who was recently named one of Symphony magazine’s top six young artists to watch, is making a strong bid to claim it as his own. In an intriguing, centuries-spanning program, the orchestra will also play the Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” suite in its original 13-instrument version, Purcell’s Chacony in G Minor and Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite. WHEN: 7:30 pm, WHERE: Lobero Theatre, 33 W. Canon Perdido St., COST: $42.50 & $37.50, INFO: 963-0761.

Wednesday, May 2

Dieties & Demons – It’s an intriguing title for an art exhibit, but the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara’s new show takes on the dark side via Herbert DeFriez’s solarplate etchings. DeFriez, a chemical engineer, learned the craft at Santa Barbara’s prized Adult Education classes. WHEN: Opens today, reception 5 pm to 7:30 pm on May 4. Exhibit open Mondays-Thursdays 9 am to 2 pm through May 31, WHERE: The Architectural Foundation, 229 East Victoria St., COST: free, INFO: 965-6307.

Nite Moves returns – With the warm weather and late sunsets back, Santa Barbara’s “Night Moves” resumes its weekly races for a 19th season down at Ledbetter Beach. Participants can take on a 5K run, a 1K swim or an “aquathlon” that combines the swim with a 3.5K run each week from now through September. The fee includes a party featuring music from local bands and a buffet dinner from a different sponsor each week. WHEN: registration 5:30 pm, races start 6:30 pm, COST: $25 or $225 for the full season, INFO: 564-8879 or

Capitol ideas – It’s already been a rough year for politicians and we’re not even halfway through spring, but political comedy troupe Capitol Steps just thinks that’s all the more reason to laugh. The veteran outfit makes its annual visit to the Lobero Theatre this week armed with a new album, “Springtime for Liberals,” and a whole slew of new, pun-filled songs – like Al Gore’s global-warming anthem “Told You Snow” (sung to “Let It Snow”) – to skewer the issues of the day. WHEN: 8 pm tonight and tomorrow, WHERE: Lobero Theatre, 33 W. Canon Perdido St., COST: $27.50 $ $37.50, INFO: 963-0761.

Thursday, May 3

Premiere preview – PAL After Hours-DIJO Productions and Virtual Theatre Company are teaming up to present a brand new play called “Not Quite Fifteen Rounds with Jackson Pollock,” by Bruce Clarke and starring Ed Giron and Jennifer Gimblin. But first they’re putting together tonight’s excerpts and readings from the play followed by a discussion with the actors and director Aaron Levin and a reception. WHEN: 5:30 pm, WHERE: Center Stage Theater, 751 Paseo Nuevo (Chapala @ De la Guerra), COST: $5, INFO: 563-8068.