The Ventura County Ballet Company ushers in the holiday season with a magical rendition of The Nutcracker, which is accompanied by the 52-piece Ventura College Symphony Orchestra, and features a star-filled cast of 115 local and international dancers. New staging and video effects sprinkle the classic production with modern flair, and a freshly installed snow scene dazzles crowds as characters pirouette through twinkling flurries and dance to Tchaikovsky's immortal score. Anchoring the cast, both Madeleine Riddle and Makenna Ortiz alternately slide into the slippers of Clara, Hawaii native Ryan Camou tackles the royal tights of The Prince, and California native and professional dancer, Season Winquest, captures the ethereal essence of "Dream Clara". To raise the curtains on a fantastical foot, an opening dance sequence spotlights local celebrities such as Bo Jaxon and Dedria Brunett, who was crowned Miss California International 2012.
The Dinner Detective eschews campy costumes and plots for an exciting evening of food-accompanied mystery and paranoia, where actors hide among the diners, playing innocent and making everyone a potential suspect. To solve the crime, guests freely interrogate one another, chivvying out clues about the murderer and determining who has a bloodthirsty look in their eyes. Between dramatic deaths and simulated police involvement, guests dig into four-course meals, washed down with bottomless iced tea, coffee, and drinks from the cash bar. The diner who comes closest to solving the mystery through their snooping goes home with a prize basket to show off to their friends or split with the murderer as per their shadowy conspiracy. Prop guns and gunshot sound effects may be used during the performance.
At Java Joe's, guests sip freshly made coffee drinks and graze baked goods, rummage through a collection of eclectic clothing and merchandise, and tap toes to live tunes. Baristas blend aromatic shots of espresso with frothy milk riddled with chocolaty notes to create a 16- or 20-ounce café mocha ($3.85–$4.25). Utilitarian cups of joe ($1.95 for 16 oz.; $2.25 for 20 oz.) fill mugs for on-the-go sippers and bulk beans ($13.95/lb.) allow customers to bring robust flavors and caffeine-jolts home. Pluck a pastry from a bakery filled with treats, such as scones ($2.45), chocolate-filled croissants ($2.95), and cheesecakes ($3.75) that quench food cravings and hush grumbling tummies like a swallowed Paul Simon 8-track.
This summer, the California Beer Festival makes a triumphant return to Marin County. In a day-long celebration of craft beer on June 28, the festival fills cups with more than 70 craft brews on tap?some from local breweries, and others from nationally known brands. Situated amongst the hills of Marin County near Novato, Stafford Lake Park provides a spacious, sun-splashed backdrop for the event. In between sips, attendees can stroll or barrel-roll around the park while taking in the festival's other activities, which include live music performances, games of bocce ball, and food served by vendors.
Tequila and Taco Music Festival's Mas Margaritas aims to fill attendees' entire afternoon with a celebration of Mexican food and culture. Held at upscale shopping and dining center The Collection at Riverpark, the festival moves along to a soundtrack of live music and the clinking of glasses. Though craft beer is available, the focus is on margaritas?each crafted by acclaimed bartenders using top-shelf tequila and mescal. Gourmet street-style tacos provide the ideal pairing for drinks and the ideal decoration for any hats with a wide enough brim. Meanwhile, art and craft vendors put their handmade wares on display. Even though celebration is its own reward, the festival goes one step further by donating proceeds to the Food Share local food bank.
Got Rhythm Dance and Performing Arts Center's instructors begin cultivating kids' balance and grace at a young age. Their predance classes welcome pupils as young as 2, the age when humans grow their first pair of legs. Toddlers bounce through the basics of ballet, tap, or hip-hop, as do older children and teens in dance classes. More seasoned students can also tackle contemporary dance or jazz.