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7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., April 20-22; 2:30 p.m. Sun., April 23
Actor's Theatre of New Orleans, 4539 N. I-10 Service Road, 456-4111;

The Tony Award-winning play Art , like the medium itself, provoked plenty of reaction from those who viewed it. "It's an actor's dream, a nonstop cross-fire of crackling language, serious issues of life and art expressed in outbursts that sound like Don Rickles with a degree from the Sorbonne," gushed Newsweek 's Jack Kroll. But Time 's Richard Zoglin remained skeptical: "Unfortunately, Art is an overrated trifle: one of those small, schematic finger exercises that seem to win critical praise in direct proportion to their lack of ambition. The characters are all too easy to parse É ." Written by Yasmina Reza and translated by Christopher Hampton, Art 's plot aims to provoke as it explores the impact of a highly priced painting on the lives of three friends. (I'd have killed to see Alfred Molina's Tony-nominated performance in 1998's original production, which won the Tony for Best Play.) A true New Orleans theater legend, Stocker Fontelieu, returns to direct a cast that features Leon Contavesprie, Jimmy Murphy and Mat Grau. For mature audiences. Tickets $16 adults, $14 students/seniors. — David Lee Simmons


New Orleans International Music Colloquium
Fri.-Sat., April 21-22
Various locations; 680-9044 or (800) 568-6968;

One of the most important side benefits of the French Quarter Festival is the New Orleans International Music Colloquium, which helps a city grappling with its future take the time to remember what makes it so special. This year's theme, "Jazz Revivals," certainly feels appropriate under the circumstances, with the weekend focusing on the contributions of two of New Orleans' most famous musical families, the Edward "Kid" Ory family and the Brunies family. The program also includes a performance by the legendary and still-dapper "Uncle" Lionel Batiste (pictured) with his "Drumming in the Revivals" segment (1 p.m. Friday), the annual William Russell Lecture featuring pianist Bob Green (6 p.m. Saturday) and "Musicians' Katrina Experiences" hosted by John McCuskor (2 p.m. Saturday). The event concludes with a street dance led by Bob French & His Original Tuxedo Jazz Band at 6 p.m. Sunday. Note: Due to damage to the Louisiana State Museum's Old U.S. Mint, the Joseph Logsdon Awards luncheon has been relocated (as a breakfast) to the Gumbo Shop (9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday). Free admission, but advanced registration encouraged. — Simmons


A Midsummer Night's Dream
7:30 p.m. Sat., April 22
Tulane University, Dixon Hall, Lupin Theatre, 865-5105 ext. 2;

The Shakespeare Festival at Tulane presents a one-night-only public performance of William Shakespeare's early comedy about love and dreams. A Midsummer Night's Dream takes place in a forest full of fairies, and revolves around the chaotic tensions among an assortment of whimsical characters, complicated further by love. This staging marks the festival's first post-Katrina production, but it is the 10th annual production staged for New Orleans schools. This year's school performances take place at 10 a.m. April 18-21 and April 24. Tickets for the daytime performances are $8. The festival has scheduled two productions for its upcoming summer season: A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest. For the current production, AimŽe K. Michel directs Tony Molina, Lara Grice, Gary Rucker, Michael Salinas, Morla Gorrondona, Jessica Podewell, Sean Patterson, Randy Maggiore, Rebecca Frank and Donald Lewis. Billy Slaughter will replace the late Gavin Mahlie as Puck. (For more on Mahlie, see Dalt Wonk's tribute in this issue.) This staging is adapted by Michael Batt, with original music composed by Eric Klerks. Tickets $25 general admission, $15 teachers/seniors/adults ages 25-under, $8 students/kids. — Katie Walenter


Madama Butterfly
7:30 p.m. Thu., April 20; 8 p.m. Sat., April 22
Tulane University, McAlister Auditorium, 529-3000 or (800) 881-4459;

The New Orleans Opera Association closes its season with a production of Giacomo Puccini's masterpiece about love and honor. The opera is based on a short story by John Luther Long, which was then adapted into a play by David Belasco before Puccini got his hands on it. The opera tells the tragic story of a young geisha from Nagasaki, Japan, who is betrayed by an American officer who marries and then leaves her. David Bamberger, co-founder of the Cleveland Opera, directs Kallen Esperian (pictured) as Cio-Cio-San, and Raul Melo, Richard Zeller, Maria Zifchak, Mark James Meier and Perry L. Brown. Esperian is revered as one of opera's modern-day leading sopranos. Robert Lyall conducts the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, which is joined by the New Orleans Opera Chorus prepared by Carol Rausch. New Orleans archivist Jack Belsom offers insights into this opera in a "nuts-and-bolts" lecture one hour prior to each production. Tickets range from $35-$225. — Walenter

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