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What to Know Before You Go


Last of the Red Hot Lovers
8:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Jan. 13-14; 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22; through Feb. 4
Skyfire Theatre, 332 N. New Hampshire St., Covington, (985) 875-7577;

Poor Barney Cashman. He's 47 and having one helluva midlife crisis just as the sexual revolution is kicking into high gear. So what does he do? He tries like hell to get some, from everyone but his wife, in Neil Simon's Tony-nominated 1969 comedy, Last of the Red Hot Lovers . Jerry Lee Leighton, who has turned in fiery, award-winning work in such productioons as The Glass Mendacity and particularly A Few Good Men (making people forget, however briefly, Jack Nicholson), was a hilarious Barney Cashman under the direction of Dane Rhodes and opposite Jennifer Pagan, Stacy Taliancich and Ann Casey (a formidable trio) back in 2002. But this version features a great twist, as the very versatile Lara Grice ( Chicago , Othello ) takes on all three of the female roles: chain-smoking floozy Elaine, ditzy actress Bobbi and Barney's best friend's wife, Jeanette. Talk about range! But Grice appears up to the task, having explored some version of all three characters in her now-voluminous career. Truth be told, like many of Simon's plays, Lovers is a minor work with nothing much new to say about sex and middle age, but it does create an enormous amount of space for the cast to explore Simon's broad comedic sensibilities. In other words, it's a hoot. (Note: The Skyfire has two theaters, hence the multiple productions including Sea Marks . Lovers will have no Sunday matinee this first weekend.) Tickets $25. -- David Lee Simmons



Sea Marks
8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14; 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15; through Feb. 5
Skyfire Theatre, 332 N. New Hampshire St., Covington, (985) 875-7577;

Playwright Gardner McKay must have tailored Sea Marks specifically for Dane Rhodes. One of New Orleans' most versatile performers always seems to excel in the more melancholic territory of his vast repertoire, as everyone found out from his star turn as Amos Hart in Chicago . (When he performed "Mr. Cellophane," was there a dry eye in the house?) Rhodes and co-star Mary Lee Gibbons were equally lauded for their roles in McKay's Sea Marks , which was last mounted locally in 2002 to critical acclaim. The post-K theater scene features a lot of remountings, but this one in particular should be a treat, for Rhodes is also an accomplished director. As Colm Primrose, he plays an Irish fisherman who falls in love at first sight with a book-publishing assistant from Liverpool named Timothea, but he takes seemingly forever to begin his courtship. Together, they learn a little something about what role, if any, love plays in their lives, and what it takes to get there as they figure out their place in the world. (Note: The Skyfire has two theaters, hence the multiple productions including Last of the Red Hot Lovers.) Tickets $25. -- Simmons


George Porter Jr. & the Original Running Pardners
10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14
Tipitina's, 501 Napoleon Ave., 895-TIPS;

At last year's Jazz Fest, George Porter Jr. was the hero of the Meters' reunion. Whenever a jam seemed to have run its course or a musical conversation was taken to its logical conclusion, it was Porter on bass who subtly led that conversation to a new, exciting place. In the last few years, he has been most active, making exploratory music in the Trio with Johnny Vidacovich and a musical guest du jour. But whatever the lineup and band's purpose, Porter brings an unparalleled understanding of groove and melody. His funk solo project, the Running Pardners, has been an outlet for his songwriting as well as serving as a training ground for some of the city's top players. Trombonist Mark Mullins and guitarist Brint Anderson are Running Pardner alums, and Papa Grows Funk began when then-Running Pardners John Gros and Russell Batiste decided to try to make a few extra bucks playing on Monday nights. Though more song-oriented than the Trio, Porter's Running Pardners have also stretched out musically, giving whoever's in the band the space and support to make their musical statements. For Tip's 28th anniversary weekend, Porter has two guitarists -- Anderson and Tony Hall -- and Batiste on drums. Matt Lemmler will be on keyboards and Brian Graber, Tracy Griffith and Alonzo Bowens on horns. Cover $12. -- Alex Rawls


Super Cajun Fais Do Do
4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15
Tipitina's, 501 Napoleon Ave., 895-TIPS;

Those of us who evacuated to Lafayette during the storms developed a deeper appreciation for all things Acadiana, shedding a tear or two during the Band Together benefit concert on Sept. 10 and happily sweating our way through Festivals Acadiens on Sept. 17-18. Now, graciously, the mountain is coming to Muhammad in helping Bruce Daigrepont host his ever-popular Sunday Cajun fais do do at Tip's. Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys' 10th and most recent release, Dominos -- their ninth for Rounder Records -- shows New Orleans' most frequent Cajun visitors continuing to push the boundaries of the genre more than any of their contemporaries. It's also a perfect extension to the group's Grammy-nominated 2003 release, Bon Reve . BeauSoleil's 2004 release, Gitane Cajun -- its first release of original material in years -- served as the group's answer to the increased presence of gypsy music in Cajun, with Jimmy Breaux's accordion every bit as prominently featured as Michael Doucet's more lauded fiddle work. You might want to stick around for Monk Boudreaux's Mardi Gras Indian practice that traditionally follows. It's a great way to cap off Tipitina's 28th anniversary weekend celebration. Fais do do cover $10; Indian practice admission is free. -- Simmons

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