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UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH MALCOM MCDOWELL March 25 | Ventura

RAGTIME: THE MUSICAL

March 24-April 2 | Thousand Oaks

Based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow, this musical tapestry depicts an African American family, a Jewish immigrant family, and a wealthy white suburban family in turn-of-the-century America, who collide in pursuit of the American Dream. Nominated for 13 Tony Awards® including “Best Musical,” and the winner of “Best Original Score” and “Best Book of a Musical,” Ragtime is a powerful portrait of life during the late 1800s and early 1900s, exploring America’s timeless contradictions of freedom and prejudice, wealth and poverty, hope and despair. Presented by 5-Star Theatricals, the resident theater company of the Bank of America Performing Arts Center. $30-$91. Fred Kavli Theatre at the Bank of America Performing Arts Center, 2100 East Thousand Oaks Boulevard, Thousand Oaks, 805.449.2787, bapacthousandoaks.com. 

COLLECTORS CHOICE: THE GREAT GALLERY ART GRAB GAMESHOW

March 25 | Camarillo

Studio Channel Islands’ biggest fundraiser of the year is your chance to take home an extraordinary work of art while supporting one of the area’s finest art institutions. The Collectors Choice Gala for 2023 will feature a game show theme. Each ticket includes one entry into the prize draw. When your ticket is drawn, you have 60 seconds to select your artwork. Every ticket holder walks away with a work of art valued from $300 to possibly $1,000(s). This is your chance to pillage a piece of art from this year’s outstanding collection of work. Join our nefarious host in this fun game show-style lottery and steal from donated artworks by contemporary artists from across the country. So don’t miss this opportunity to snatch a fabulous artwork and make your getaway! All proceeds raised will go to support Studio Channel Islands in delivering its mission of providing art education programs in the schools, the community, as well as programs focused on helping with dementia and stroke patients. Tickets start at $300 for two people. Studio Channel Islands, 2222 East Ventura Boulevard, Camarillo, 805.383.1368. More information at studiochannelislands.org.   

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH MALCOM MCDOWELL

March 25 | Ventura

Join us at the Museum of Ventura County for the next installment of Ivor Davis: Up Close and Personal. Returning, this time in-person, is legendary actor and raconteur extraordinaire Malcolm McDowell, winner of Ojai Film Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award. McDowell’s impressive career puts him in the pantheon of the all-time great British-born actors from Laurence Olivier to Michael Caine to Anthony Hopkins. McDowell’s dazzling career has spanned more than 50 years, where he has starred in scores of movies, including Stanley Kubrick’s iconic Clockwork Orange, Caligula, The Artist and many more. His vast television credits include Entourage, the animated series South Park and Mozart in the Jungle. MVC Members can attend in-person or tune-in on Zoom for free. Nonmembers can purchase in-person tickets for $10 or $5 for Zoom tickets. Saturday, March 25, 6:30-8 p.m. at the Museum of Ventura County, 100 East Main Street, Ventura, 805.653.0323, venturamuseum.org. 

CELEBRATION OF THE WHALES

March 26 | Oxnard

Visitors who attend the 24th Annual Celebration of the Whales Festival at the Channel Islands Harbor are going to be in for a variety of surprises! This year’s event will feature two new activities — a concert in the park by Unkle Monkey and a community “paint a whale” mural project. In addition, there will be family-friendly activities, chalk art, shopping, a children’s fun zone and more.The event is being held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 26. Activities will be held at the Channel Islands Maritime Museum, 3900 Bluefin Circle; and the Channel Islands Harbor Farmers Market, 3600 Harbor Boulevard. In addition, the “Gray Whale Migration Trail” that runs through Harbor View Park will connect these two activity centers. All outdoor activities are free. For more information, visit www.channelislandsharbor.org/event/2023-celebration-of-the-whales-festival-2/. 

DARK OF THE MOON

March 29–April 16 | Ventura

Twilight meets West Side Story in a developmental world premiere musical based on the classic 1942 play of the same name by Howard Richardson and William Berney. This tragic love story set in the Appalachian Mountains centers on John, a “witch-boy” who seeks to become human after falling in love with a human girl, Barbara Allen. A thrilling rock and bluegrass score by is provided by an award-winning team of musicians. Directed by the Rubicon’s own James O’Neil with musical direction by Brent Crayon. Tickets start at $30. Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 East Main Street, Ventura, 805.667.2900, www.rubicontheatre.org. 

MERMAID MONTH AT VENTURA HARBOR VILLAGE

Through March 31 | Ventura

A tail of a good time awaits mermaids and mermen as they return to the sea for the Eighth Annual “March Is Mermaid Month” at Ventura Harbor Village, a mer-mazing, month-long celebration. All events are FREE to the public with the exception of vendor activities, dining and retail merchandise. Visitors across all oceans can meet to enjoy a myriad of mermaid activities. Kids’ Scavenger Hunt, mermaid meet and greets, crafts, live entertainment and more. Ventura Harbor Village, 1583 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, 805.477.0470, www.VenturaHarborVillage.com.  

THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME

Through April 2 | Simi Valley

Based on the Victor Hugo novel and songs from the Disney animated feature, The Hunchback of Notre Dame showcases the film’s Academy Award-nominated score, as well as new songs by Menken and Schwartz. Peter Parnell’s new book embraces story theatre and features verbatim passages from Hugo’s gothic novel. The musical begins as the bells of Notre Dame sound through the famed cathedral in 15th century Paris. Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer who longs to be “Out There,” observes all of Paris reveling in the Feast of Fools. Held captive by his devious caretaker, the archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo, he escapes for the day and joins the boisterous crowd, only to be treated cruelly by all but the beautiful Romani woman, Esmeralda. Quasimodo isn’t the only one captivated by her free spirit, though – the handsome Captain Phoebus and Frollo are equally enthralled. As the three vie for her attention, Frollo embarks on a mission to destroy the Roma – and it’s up to Quasimodo to save them all. A sweeping score and powerful story make The Hunchback of Notre Dame an instant classic. Audiences will be swept away by the magic of this truly unforgettable musical. May be too intense for very young children. $22-$28. ARTSpace Black Box Theater, 2956 School Street, Simi Valley, www.actorsrepofsimi.org.

VENTURA SPRING WINE WALK AND VENDOR FAIR

April 1 | Ventura

The Ventura Spring Wine Walk and Vendor Fair will once again return to beautiful Ventura on Saturday, April 1, 2023! This wonderful spring day will kick off with the free Vendor Fair from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Downtown Ventura from the Museum of Ventura County through the 600 block of Main Street with vendors and live entertainment. Shop artists, crafters, nonprofit organizations, commercial and food vendors. The street fair and entertainment is FREE and open to the public! The Wine Walk proper starts at 3 p.m. with local businesses showcasing wineries and breweries that you can sample (guests receive a tasting cup and map). Want the VIP treatment? The VIP Bunny Lounge is back and will offer a brunch buffet, exclusive wine pours and special entertainment. Tickets start at $50; www.springwinewalk.com.

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS

April 7–May 7 | Moorpak

The meek floral assistant Seymour Krelborn stumbles across a new variety of flower he names “Audrey II,” after his beautiful coworker, Audrey, on whom he has a crush. This foul-mouthed, R&B-singing carnivorous plant promises unending fame and fortune to the down and out Krelborn…as long as he keeps feeding it. The special diet? BLOOD. Over time, though, Seymour discovers Audrey II’s out-of-this-world origins and intent towards global domination! $23-$25. High Street Arts Center, 45 East High Street, Moorpark, 805.529.8700, highstreetartscenter.com. 

RED

Through April 9 | Ojai

The New York Times called John Logan’s two-person play about artist Mark Rothko “a fresh, exciting portrait of a brilliant mind.” Set in the 1950s in Rothko’s studio, this multi-award-winning drama captures Rothko at the height of his creativity. He struggles to complete a valuable commissioned work, one that violates all his principles as an artist. A perfect fit for Ojai, Red explores the ever-changing relationship between an artist and his creations.. $24. Ojai Art Center Theater, 113 South Montgomery Street, Ojai, 805.640.8797, ojaiact.org. 

SPRINGTIME EASTER FESTIVAL

Through April 10 | Moorpark

Come celebrate with us at our Springtime Easter Festival! With acres to visit and numerous activities, there is plenty of space to get outdoors and enjoy the sunshine with family and friends. Take photos at our Giant Easter Egg Basket and with the Easter Bunny, listen to stories in the labyrinth, compete in the egg ’n’ spoon or sack races and enjoy numerous games, arts and crafts and activities designed around Easter and spring. Adorable baby ducks will be hatching; see them and other barnyard animals in our Animal Center. And of course, you can always take a wagon ride out to our pick-your-own fields to get farm-fresh produce to bring home. So much fun for everyone! Note: Nonrefundable weekend tickets required for weekend admission; no walk-ins on Saturdays, Sundays or on Friday, April 7. $12-$16; free for children under 2. Discounts for military, veterans, emergency first responders and seniors. 3370 Sunset Valley Road, Moorpark and 5696 East Los Angeles Avenue, Somis. underwoodfamilyfarms.com. 

WINTER WHALE WATCHING SEASON

Through April 15 | Ventura

Join popular whale watching trips with Island Packers’ Gray Whale excursions. Trips depart from Ventura Harbor or Channel Islands Harbor and each 3-3.5 hour cruise takes you to the Southern California waters of the Santa Barbara Channel, with views of the Channel Islands National Park. These waters are known for their marine mammal diversity, and you may get to see other species of marine mammals along with the migrating Gray Whales. Seals, sea lions and several species of dolphins along with occasional Orca Whale pods may also be seen on your trip. Fun for all ages! Afterward, enjoy dining at the Ventura Harbor Village or Channel Islands Harbor eateries and restaurants. For more information and booking, contact Island Packers at 805.642.1393 or reserve online at islandpackers.com/winter-whale-watching/.

SHADOW AND LIGHT: THE LANDSCAPE PAINTINGS OF BRUCE EVERETT

Through July 9 | Santa Paula

With an eye for the drama of shadow and light, San Luis Obispo County artist Bruce Everett presents a survey of sweeping landscape paintings from his 60-year career. Everett’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California, Oregon, Seattle, New York, Connecticut and Texas. His art is included in numerous books, exhibition catalogs, and publications on Photorealism and landscape painting. Everett currently lives and paints in Templeton, California. In addition, Field Trip: 30 Days at Higher Elevation with mixed media paintings by Mary Neville will be on exhibit through May 7. Two great exhibits not to be missed! Santa Paula Art Museum, 117 North 10th Street, Santa Paula, 805.525.5554, www.santapaulaartmuseum.org. 

ON THE HORIZON

BINGING ON MOZART

April 15-16 | Camarillo, Thousand Oaks

No matter what genre of music he composed, Mozart did so with masterful skill – operas, choral works, concertos, chamber music, solo songs, sonatas and symphonies – making him what many consider the greatest composer in history. Highlights from more than six hundred works will take you on a Grand Tour of Mozart’s musical genius. Selections include Symphony No. 35, Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, Piano Sonata No. 11, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and more. Thousand Oaks performance: Saturday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m. at the Bank of America Performing Arts Center, 2100 East Thousand Oaks Boulevard, Thousand Oaks. Camarillo performance: Sunday, April 16, at 3 p.m. at the Rancho Campana Performing Arts Center, 4235 Mar Vista Drive, Camarillo. Tickets: $30-$120. newwestsymphony.org.