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A&E Feature 

What to Know Before You Go

STAGE
Shut Up, Sweet Charlotte
8 p.m. Thu.-Sat., May 10-12; 2 p.m. Sun., May 13; through May 27
Le Petit Theatre, 616 St. Peters St., 522-2081; www.lepetittheatre.com

After selling out its initial run and collecting Big Easy Awards for Best Comedy and Best Director for a Comedy, Shut Up Sweet Charlotte is back for three more outrageous weeks at Le Petit. Based on the 1964 film Hush ... Hush Sweet Charlotte (filmed at Houmas House plantation in Darrow, La.), this production features Jeffery Roberson as Varla Jean Merman as Olivia DeHavilland as Miriam and (Big Easy Entertainer of the Year) Ricky Graham as Bette Davis as Charlotte. The bizarre, unexplained death of her fiancé at a party thrown by her wealthy father decades earlier still has Charlotte haunted and neighbors whispering. Fortunately, cousin Miriam has come to help. Or does she just want to take care of the estate? The skeletons, Southern Gothic horror and campy intrigue come tumbling out of the closet as Charlotte fights for her home and piece of mind. Roberson and Graham are joined by Martin Covert, Jack Long, Brian Peterson, Yvette Hargis and Jefferson Turner. Tickets $30. — Will Coviello

 

STAGE
Gem of the Ocean
8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., May 11-12; 3 p.m. Sun., May 13; through June 3
Anthony Bean Community Theater, 1333 S. Carrollton Ave., 862-7529; www.anthonybeantheater.com

A 285-year-old ex-slave woman, a journey to the imaginary City of Bones and a suicide over a bucket of nails are some of the far-flung but magical elements that come together in August Wilson"s Gem of the Ocean . The play follows matriarch Aunt Esther, who has gifts of insight and healing, as she shelters a convict and cares for her household during a time when slavery is still a vivid memory. Gem of the Ocean is set in the 1900s, and is the first chronological piece in Wilson"s 10-play collected works that take a look at African-American life in each decade of the 20th century. Wilson won Pulitzer Prizes for two plays in the series, Fences and The Piano Lesson . Adella Gautier, known to many as Adella the Storyteller, stars as Aunt Esther and Donald Lewis plays the criminal Citizen. Anthony Bean also directs Wilbert L. Williams, Harold X. Evans, Charles Bosworth, Escalante Lundy and Coti Gayles. Tickets $18 general admission, $16 for students/seniors. —Emily Hohenwarter

MUSIC
Kings of Leon 8 p.m. Fri., May 11
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999; www.hob.com

A preacher man"sprogeny who lost their religion to rock "n" roll, Nashville"s Kings of Leon couldn"t have a better back story if the late Lester Bangs himself had written it. Branded the "Southern Strokes" early in their career, close kinsmen Nathan, Caleb, Jared and Matthew Followill have, via a triptych of strong studio recordings, revealed the group to be more of a newfangled, slightly northern Allman Brothers (the unkempt looks, the country-fried hooks, the all-in-the-family sibling revelry). On April"s hard-rocking Because of the Times (RCA), the Kings renovate its castle ever so slightly with its own kind of religious accoutrements: a Joe Cocker altar here ("Ragoo," "True Love Way"), a Screamin" Jay Hawkins shrine there ("My Party," "Charmer"). But fans of the band"s honky-tonk debut Youth & Young Manhood (2003) and hellfire name-maker Aha Shake Heartbreak (2005) will find plenty of twangy Mason-Dixon delineations with which to get down ("On Call," "Camaro") on Times . Atlanta-based indie-rock outfit Snowden opens. Tickets $25. — Noah Bonaparte Pais

MUSIC
Mother's Day at Audubon Zoo with Irma Thomas
12:30 to 4 p.m. Sun., May 13
Audubon Zoo, 6500 Magazine St., 581-4629; www.auduboninstitute.org

The Audubon Zoo continues its longstanding Mother"s Day tradition of food, music and other special events in the park, all designed with Mom in mind. Bring her to the park for a full afternoon of festivities guaranteed to please mothers and kids of all ages. The raucous New Orleans Klezmer Allstars kick things off at 12:30 p.m., followed by the annual set of R&B classics from New Orleans soul queen and Grammy Award-winner Irma Thomas — who"s quite at home in the animal kingdom after four decades in the music business, not to mention raising several kids and grandchildren of her own. Craft and jewelry tents will be set up at the zoo for last-minute gift purchasing, as well as food vendors hawking a wide selection of dishes, including burgers, hot dogs, Jamaican chicken, crawfish sausage, crawfish pasta, fried soft-shell crab, gumbo and fried eggplant. The inhabitants of the zoo also include a few new moms to congratulate on Sunday. New residents at Audubon Zoo include a pair of baby golden lion tamarins in the primate area and Amur leopard cubs in the Asian Domain. Concert free with regular zoo admission: $12 adults, $7 kids 12-under, $9 seniors. Free for mom. — Alison Fensterstock

MUSIC
World Leader Pretend 10 p.m. Sat., May 12
One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., 569-8361; www.oneeyedjacks.net

With World Leader Pretend's signing to monolith Warner Brothers records in 2004, New Orleans indie-rock got a belated and well-deserved jolt of recognition. The local quintet play heavily textured, symphonic indie-pop with a soaring yet disaffected sound reminiscent of New York's Walkmen or the later efforts of Blur. Besides its now-annual Thanksgiving feat of weirdness at Tipitina's — a pageant that reimagines the familiar story to include an intergalactic battle, played out by an all-star cast of local musicians and familiar faces — this is its first club show in town in nearly a year. The band has been spending most of its time in the studio working on its second Warner release — due in early '08 — so expect a host of fresh material. Also on the bill are psychedelic space-rockers Rotary Downs and tight, bittersweet pop purveyors the Junior League. Tickets $10. — Fensterstock

WORDS
Jello Biafra 7 p.m. Sun., May 13
The A.R.K., 511 Marigny St., 944-0366

The longstanding bohemian community center, performance space and bike repair shop the A.R.K. now brings us an audience with legendary oddball, punk godfather, former San Francisco mayoral candidate and creative visionary Jello Biafra. Biafra and his band, the Dead Kennedys, are largely credited with kick-starting the massive second wave of punk rock. The Reagan-inspired, Southern California-based hardcore sound launched a thousand skateboards in the early '80s, with the Dead Kennedys' "California Uber Alles" and the Germs' "We Got The Neutron Bomb" as their anthems. After the DKs' breakup in 1987, Biafra continued to tour as a solo spoken-word artist, launching political tirades that are more activist philosophy than poetry in his distinctive fiery, irascible whine. He also continues to run the Alternative Tentacles record label and maintain a vociferously contentious relationship with his former bandmates. Biafra's voice is utterly — and likely intentionally — grating, but captivating nonetheless. He remains one of the greatest living artifacts of old-school American punk rock. Tickets $15 sliding scale. Donations of vegan nonperishable food or books also accepted. — Fensterstock

MUSIC
Flogging Molly 8 p.m. Mon., May 14
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999; www.hob.com

Blame Shane McGowan ... but it turns out that the stereotypical bawling, brawling, boozing Irishman is incredibly punk rock. Formed a decade ago in Los Angeles, Flogging Molly is one of the most well-known of a spate of bands that followed the lead of genuinely Emerald Isle-bred acts like the Pogues and Stiff Little Fingers to combine the rough-and-tumble themes and raucous rhythms of Gaelic drinking music with hard, fast rock 'n' roll for a Guinness-pounding good time. The six-piece act uses a combination of rock 'n' roll and traditional folk instrumentation to grind out both close-down-the-pub rockers and weepy drinking songs in the finest Irish tradition, incorporating everything from electric guitar to accordion, bouzouki, banjo, spoons, tin whistle, mandolin, Uilleann pipes, concertina, bodhran and the frenetic fiddle of founding band member Bridget Regan for a sound that hits as hard as an Irish car bomb (a shot of Jameson's whiskey dropped in a pint of Guinness). Chuck Ragan of Hot Water Music and local world beat blenders the Zydepunks open. Tickets $19. — Fensterstock

MUSIC
Bright Eyes 9 p.m. Mon., May 14
Republic, 828 S. Peters St., 528-828; www.republicnola.com

The delicate and often beatific-looking boy-waif Conor Oberst, along with acts like Sufjan Stevens and Jenny Lewis, spearheaded the latest incarnation of Americana-influenced, indie neo-folk with albums like 2005's touchingly spare I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning (although its sister record, the pensive, experimental electronic album Digital Ash in a Digital Urn showed Oberst was no acoustic guitar-wielding one-trick pony). Cassadega , which came out last month on Oberst's own Saddle Creek label, is the 27-year-old's first new studio release since that double-header. It puts emotional and political meditations on the state of the nation over sophisticated and at times grandiose layers of orchestral strings, Burt Bacharach-style piano, moaning pedal steel and kitten-fuzzy guitar. Opening band Oakley Hall is a six-piece electric string band that plays sunny, smiley California-style country-pop that draws on Sweetheart of the Rodeo -era Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers and the early, gentle Neil Young. McCarthy Trenching also opens. Tickets $27. — Fensterstock

click to enlarge JAMES MINCHIN III
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click to enlarge JAMES MINCHIN III
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