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A&E Feature 

What to Know Before You Go

STAGE

Diavolo residency Monday-Saturday, Jan. 23-28
Various locations, 430-0990; www.nobadance.com


Like many of the performing-arts organizations in the city, the New Orleans Ballet Association is struggling to get back on its feet. But that hasn't stopped the group from trying to keep dance alive and kicking, and this residency featuring one of the nation's most prominent dance troupe's is an impressive first step. The company was originally scheduled to perform Jan. 28 at the Mahalia Jackson Theatre of the Performing Arts. Featuring work reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil — artistic director Jacques Helm choreographed the company's production of Ka — the 14-year-old Diavolo has received tons of critical acclaim, moving Newsday to proclaim it "a brilliant, elaborately theatrical company of highly skilled acrobats." This weeklong residency will feature a series of lectures/demonstrations and classes/workshops throughout the area including Tulane's dance department and St. Benilde Church, Ella Dolhonde Elementary School and Phoebe Hearts Elementary School in Metairie. There will even be some work in St. Bernard Parish. For more information and a complete schedule, visit NOBA's Web site or call Education Director Suzanne Hirsch at 430-0990. — David Lee Simmons


STAGE

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change
7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Jan. 26-27; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29; through Feb. 11
The Actor's Theatre of New Orleans, WTIX-FM Building, 4539 N. I-10 Service Road, 456-4111

When it comes to dating, we just can't leave well enough alone, can we? We say we want something in our significant other, we say we can accept people for who they are, and then we completely contradict ourselves. They say dying is easy and comedy is hard, but dating is in a whole other league, ain't it? The challenges of dating and comedy come together under a rather delirious musical from the team of Joe DiPietro (book and lyrics) and Jimmy Roberts (music) in what has become the longest-running off-Broadway musical — currently in its ninth year with 3,000 performances. And yet the hit makes its New Orleans premiere, courtesy RenŽ J.F. Piazza's upstart troupe, Actor's Theatre of New Orleans, which just finished off its holiday run of A Christmas Carol — The Whole Story . Piazza and Chelle Duke Ambrose will co-direct a cast that features Terence Foster, Eva Langston, Matthew Mickal and Ambrose, with Karl Harrod handling the musical direction. For mature audiences only (we qualify, don't we?). Tickets $20 adults, $18 students/seniors. — Simmons


WORDS

Andrei Codrescu
1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28
Garden District Book Shop, The Rink, 2727 Prytania St., 895-2266; www.gardendistrictbookshop.com

The Exquisite Corpse editor and Romanian-New Orleanian author once commented that defiance in the face of death "isn't at all unusual in this town ... where people bury each other to the tune of jazz bands, and live as if there were no tomorrow." He then added, "Which could pretty well be the case if the levees break." Well, it happened, but we're living in that tomorrow. The flooding of our city is something we've all been mourning collectively, so it's nice to read a book that reminds us why we're still here in this new, shaky tomorrow. New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writing From the City delineates the innumerable, aging layers in the foundation of the city's unique culture and, therefore, intimates its intangible and complex spirit. If you live in this city, the same spirits grip and transform you so that, sadly or not, you can't easily live elsewhere without feeling as though something is missing. Codrescu will discuss and sign his new book. — Katie Walenter


STAGE

Cabaret
7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Jan. 27-28; 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29
Teatro Wego!, 177 Sala Ave., Westwego, 885-2000; www.jpas.org

Cabaret isn't the greatest Broadway musical ever just because it won 10 Tony nominations in 1967, winning eight, for Joe Masteroff (book), John Kander (music), Fred Ebb (music) and a cast that featured a breakout performance by Joel Grey. Or because Bob Fosse deftly adapted it for the big screen in 1972, matching the number of Oscar nominations and awards in helping make a star out of Grey and Liza Minelli. And not even because it features such unforgettable numbers as "Wilkommen," "The Money Song," "If You Could See Her," the title song and the bone-chilling "Tomorrow Belongs to Me." No, Cabaret is the best Broadway musical ever because it showed that a musical could transcend its trappings, that it could be multidimensional, that it could be darkly funny and scary, that it could take chances and still be entertaining in this story of the decadent Berlin scene of the 1930s on the eve of Hitler's Germany. Sam Mendes' edgier 1998 revival scored 10 Tony nominations, winning four including ones for performers Alan Cumming, Natasha Richardson and Ron Rifkin. In the spirit of this current post-K remounting trend, the Jefferson Performing Arts Society brings back Cabaret , though director Kris Shaw will turn over the Emcee role to Michael Tramontin (making his JPAS debut) and Trina Beck (Roxie in JPAS' Chicago production) as the firecracker Sally Bowles. Teatro Wego! Is JPAS' makeshift alternative venue next to the damaged Westwego Performing Arts Theatre and guarantees a more intimate setting for the infamous Kit Kat Club. Tickets $25 adults, $24 seniors, $12 students/kids. — Simmons

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