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What to Know Before You Go


Varla Jean Merman
8 p.m. Thu.-Fri., March 9-10; through March 18
Le Chat Noir, 715 St. Charles Ave., 581-5812;

Behind all the beautiful glitz and glam of Varla Jean Merman is one Jeffery Roberson, a former New Orleanian. His extremely funny and vivacious onstage alter ego has been known to put on quite the cabaret, and this time she's here to explore the seven deadly sins — or virtues, depending on one's point of view — in her latest show, I'm Not Paying for This! Besides being a talented vocalist, a writer of many cabarets and a veteran of the stage, Roberson also has an extensive list of film and television credits, including the acclaimed film Girls Will Be Girls (directed by Richard Day and screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2003), which won him both "Best Actor" and "Best Actress" awards. Roberson also played a recurring role as Rosemary Chicken on the daytime soap All My Children. The Mystic Krewe of Satyricon will sponsor Thursday's performance. Tickets $25 (call 525-4498 for Thursday only). Friday's tickets are $36 (which includes a $5 bar credit). — Katie Walenter



The Katrina Project: Love Letters to New Orleans
8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., March 10-11; 2 p.m. Sun., March 12
Tulane University, Newcomb Quad, 300 McWilliams Hall, 865-5106;

Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig, an award-winning New York-based choreography duo, have been working with students and faculty from Tulane University and the Newcomb Dance Program as well as with members of the community to create a multimedia dance/video/spoken-word performance piece in response to the hurricane. The Katrina Project: Love Letters to New Orleans is the result of Pearson and Widrig's two-week teaching residency in New Orleans, sponsored by the American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA), during which students practiced technical training, improvisation and choreography. The program's applicants were asked how they were affected by the storm and, therefore, the performers' experiences are integral to the healing content of this production. Pearson and Widrig are world-renowned for their poetic, transformative, subversive and community-based projects. The duo has a great fondness for New Orleans, where it has had numerous residencies at Tulane, and has also planned a large multi-site community-performance project for September 2005. Love Letters will travel to the University of Texas-Austin for the ACDFA's conference on March 15-18. Tickets $5. — Katie Walenter



Southern Rep Reopening Party
5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sun., March 12
Board of Trade of New Orleans, 316 Magazine St., 566-9212

As Alison Fensterstock's recent cover story ("Upstaged," Jan. 24) suggested, the future of New Orleans theater depends on savvy, improvisation, the return of our displaced citizens, a lot of structural rebuilding É and money. And no other New Orleans theater space speaks more to the future of New Orleans than Southern Rep, which under Ryan Rilette's leadership has exposed local audiences to the most critically acclaimed new, original and/or regional works. Rilette recently returned and is continuing the rebuilding process, one that hopefully will take a nice step forward with next Sunday's fundraiser. It's a modest affair with the important goal of providing a little cash infusion to Southern Rep, which plans to present its delayed local premiere of David Lindsey-Abaire's Kimberly Akimbo (with Becky Allen, pictured) from May 3-28. The fundraiser will feature the 20th anniversary season announcement with readings from the works, with guests served appetizers from local restaurants, wine and specialty drinks. About 60 percent of the $100 tickets are tax deductible. — David Lee Simmons



"Back in the Big Easy:" Hornets-Lakers
7:30 p.m. Wed., March 8 New Orleans Arena, 1501 Girod St., (866) 371-9180 or 522-5555; or

Man, oh man, do I miss me some New Orleans Hornets, even if they were struggling, what with the injuries to Baron Davis, Jamal Mashburn and Jamaal Magloire. But you had to admire the spark that J.R. Smith gave them É no, wait. Sorry, got that "Katrina brain" going on. The days of Davis, Mashburn and Magloire are long gone. So are the days of the Hornets sucking ass. Unfortunately, for this season, so have the days of them playing in New Orleans, for the Floodwaters of Her Highness and wind damage did a little number on the Hornets' happy home, sending them to Oklahoma City.

In between sampling OK City's regionally inspired cuisine, funky live music and historic architecture — sorry, got confused again — the Hornets have reinvented themselves as one of the NBA's most improved teams. Rookie point guard Chris Paul (16 points per game, 8 assists) recently earned conference rookie-of-the-month honors for the fourth consecutive month.

The Hornets are coming back to town three times to show us what we've been missing, and we're glad even if we're a little anxious to see if they really are committed to returning permanently once the coast is clear (so to speak). The three-pack kicks off with Wednesday's game against the once-great Los Angeles Kobes — er, Lakers — followed by a March 18 game against the Denver Nuggets and a March 21 matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers. Three-game ticket packages range from $30 (Upper End) to $695 (Floor); single-game $10-$240. — Simmons

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