’Tis the season, but it’s been a smoky one in Santa Barbara.
Here are some indoor revelries to enjoy this weekend. (Check with presenting organizations regarding possible cancellations.)
A British holiday tradition, a “revel” combines music, song, comedic acting and audience participation into an often hilarious performance.
Santa Barbara Revels celebrates its 10th year with a theme close to home: Spanish California.
The audience is transported to the 1835 holiday wedding of Anita de la Guerra, daughter of the Presidio’s comandante, at their home (which still exists; now called Casa de la Guerra). This real event was attended by visiting sailors including a young Richard Henry Dana who recounted it in “Two Years Before the Mast.”
This “Alta California” celebration includes mission and Spanish music of the day and lively dances like the fandango and la jota performed by the “Californianos.” Sea shanties and British Christmas carols sung by the sailors, and there is authentic storytelling by the Chumash. Bawdy dramatics, comedy, and hilarity also ensue. Tickets for “The Christmas Revels” start at $29 for performances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at the Lobero Theatre. (963-0761, www.lobero.com)
Artist and naturalist John James Audubon may be famous for his drawings of birds, but he also created 150 stunning images of North American mammals, which were published in from 1845 to ’48. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History displays some of these gorgeous and rare works in the new exhibit “Wild Things” in the Maximus Gallery through May 2018.
Bring the kids on Saturday at 11 a.m. for a free “Science on Site,” where they can create their own scientific illustrations, just like the Audubon’s. Peter Gaede shares tips and techniques for how to work up close, using the samples from the museum’s Mammal Hall, which is currently closed as part of their ambitious renovation project. (682-4711, www.sbnature.org)
An opulent production of the classic holiday treat “The Nutcracker” is presented by Santa Barbara’s professional ballet troupe State Street Ballet, students from Gustafson Dance and Opera San Luis Obispo Grand Orchestra. Catch one of the three performances at the Granada Theatre on Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets start at $36 for adults, $24 for kids (must be aged three or older).
The Slavic history of the ballet is captured in the sets, costumes and staging, which beautifully complements Tchaikovsky’s glorious score. Clara and her beloved Nutcracker battle that evil Mouse King, meet dancing snowflakes, and venture into the Palace of the Dolls. Was it all a dream? You decide. (899-9222, www.granadasb.org)
Quick tip: Saturday night’s Holiday Show with the Blind Boys of Alabama is sure to raise the roof at UCSB Campbell Hall Joined by Preservation Hall Legacy Horns and special guest Ruthie Foster, this show features songs from the album “Talkin’ Christmas!” along with gospel classics. Tickets start at $35. (893-3535, www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu)