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Little Shop of Horrors 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, June 14-18; 2 p.m. Thursday & Saturday-Sunday, June 17 & 18-19

Saenger Theatre, 143 N. Rampart St., 524-2490; ItÕs almost always heartening to see the young blossom into adulthood Ñ almost. Just as audiences were horrified to watch Audrey II grow into SeymourÕs botanical nightmare in Little Shop of Horrors , music-theater fans were delighted to watch Howard Ashman and Alan MenkenÕs 1982 off-Broadway parody of the 1960 Roger Corman film grow into a full Broadway production two years ago. The off-Broadway production won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, while the recent Broadway production earned star Hunter Foster a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. Mainstream audiences might be more familiar with Frank OzÕs 1986 movie version, featuring the original stage Audrey (Ellen Greene) as well as Rick Moranis, Vincent Gardenia and former Four Top Levi Stubbs providing the baritone for Audrey II. Jerry Zaks directs this touring version, with choreography by Kathleen Marshall; the cast features Jonathan Rayson as Seymour (pictured), Tari Kelly as Audrey and Michael James Leslie providing the voice of Audrey II. Tickets range $20-$60. Ñ David Lee Simmons MUSIC

Old 97Õs and Bobby Bare Jr. 10 p.m. Wednesday, June 15

TipitinaÕs, 501 Napoleon Ave., 895-TIPS In the mid-1990s, DallasÕ Old 97Õs (pictured) were tops in the alt-country boom, mixing snide punk attitude with speeded-up twang and cutting, well-crafted turns of phrase. Frontman Rhett MillerÕs voice Ñ as if WilcoÕs Jeff Tweedy sang a half a register lower and was a hell of a lot more bitter Ñ twists literate, succinct lyrics like the jagged edge of a broken Lone Star bottle. NashvilleÕs prodigal son and 97Õs labelmate Bobby Bare Jr. (Bare Sr., a running partner of Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, penned the classics ÔDetroit CityÕ and ÔAll-American BoyÕ) is a perfect touring partner; his genre-bending 2004 release, At the End of Your Leash (Bloodshot), mixes Stones-style country rock with pop hooks, Stax-style horns and wry wit. For all of both bandsÕ command of sarcasm, though, the thread of emotion running through their songwriting is as purely country as tears at the Grand Ole Opry. Tickets $15. Ñ Alison Fensterstock STAGE

Candide 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, June 16-18; 2 p.m. Sunday,

Tulane University, Dixon Hall, 865-5269; This seasonÕs Summer Lyric Theatre at Tulane could be called the Summer of Leonard Bernstein. The lineup features three of the late masterÕs greats: Candide , West Side Story and Wonderful Town . But Candide was a comparatively elusive ÒhitÓ for Bernstein; the original production in 1956 based on VoltaireÕs classic comedy, with its book by New Orleans-born playwright Lillian Hellman, was a virtual flop despite praise for BernsteinÕs music. That score (and many of HellmanÕs contributions) was dramatically pared down and the comedy was amped up for what became a smashing 1974 revival; more recent productions are what could best be called a happy medium, with much of BernsteinÕs work back in, and is a favorite of opera and music-theater buffs alike. Michael Howard (pictured) directs the first two productions of the season, with Diane Lala taking over for Wonderful Town ; Edmond Kresley will be this seasonÕs choreographer. Candide Õs cast features Kyle Malone, Liz Argus and Ricky Graham. Tickets $32 orchestra/first balcony, $25 second balcony. Ñ Simmons STAGE

A Confederacy of Dances 7 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, June 17-18

Contemporary Arts Center, 900 Camp St., 528-3800; The naughty-and-nice tug of war that seems to continually play out in the streets and back rooms of New Orleans is ripe for the artistic picking; one need look no further than ArtSpot ProductionsÕ recent work, New Orleans Suite . Now it seems to be a springtime obsession, as a similar exploration appears to be in the works for A Confederacy of Dances 7. One of the red-letter dance dates of the year, A Confederacy of Dances also features a murdererÕs row of this cityÕs dance choreographers: Gabrielle Pickard, Nicole Boyd, Monique Moss, Anne Burr and Eddy Villalta will present their most recent works. Confederacy founder Pickard has studied under some of the more important dance instructors, including the late Xenia Kosorukov of the Bolshoi Ballet. Boyd, a frequent Pickard collaborator, has also danced and choreographed with the New Orleans Dance Collective and the more recently formed Tsunami Dance Company. NOCCA grad Moss (pictured, with Villalta) has gone from being one of the brightest young choreographers in town to being one of the most sought-after, period. Burr founded her own eponymous dance company a decade ago and has been working hard every since. Villalta has also danced and choreographed for the New Orleans Dance Collective as well as for productions in Costa Rica. One of PickardÕs pieces, ÒAtom and Eve,Ó features original music from Mike Mayfield (of Electrical Spectacle fame) with video footage by John Stockwell and the dancers Millicent Jhonnie, Jarina Carvalho and Chistopher Weiss. Additional musical accompaniment will be provided by Potpie and the Naked Orchestra. Tickets $15 general admission, $12.50 CAC members/students/seniors. Ñ Simmons MUSIC

Shemekia Copeland 5 p.m., Wednesday, June 16

Lafayette Square Vocalist Shemekia Copeland was born into the blues. Her father was legendary Texas guitarist Johnny Copeland, and she got her start opening up and sharing the stage with him before his untimely death in 1997. Since then she has recorded several albums, the last of which featured Dr. John as a producer and pianist, and taken home several W.C. Handy awards for Contemporary Female Artist of the Year. She also has a great scene in the blues movie Lightning in a Bottle with a powerful duet with Robert Cray on ÒI Pity the Fool.Ó Onstage she has a friendly, open persona with a powerful voice that can belt as well as croon. SheÕs young, talented, and fun, and her show in the fresh air of New OrleansÕ biggest music happy hour should be one of the seriesÕ best. Free admission. Ñ David Kunian STAGE

Ninth Annual New Orleans Dance Festival Friday, June 17, through July 2

Tulane University, McWilliams Hall, 314-7742 For this yearÕs New Orleans Dance Festival, the focus is definitely on what makes this cityÕs cultural clock tick. This annual 16-day dance workshop will explore the roots of the areaÕs dance culture, with classes in jazz, tap, hip-hop, modern and folkloric as well as ballet. For an added treat, there will be lessons in Afro-Carribean drumming. The festival is timed to coincide with the Newcomb College Dance Program of Tulane with its own classes. Instructors include Ron Wood, one of the key members of Rennie Harris Puremovement, and Millicent Johnnie, who is the resident choreographer for Urban Bush Women and winner of a First Place International Dance Title for her hip-hop work, ÒWrath.Ó Local instructors include Ausettua Amor Amenkum of New OrleansÕ Kumbuka African Drum and Dance Collective and J Hammons of Moving Humans. The festival will culminate in the New Orleans Dance Festival in Concert performance in Room 300 of McWilliams Hall on July 2, featuring the works developed in repertory. Call for more info. Ñ Simmons MUSIC

Six Flags Juneteenth Jazz Jubilee Saturday, June 18

Six Flags New Orleans, 12301 Lake Forest Blvd. (I-10 at I-510), 253-8100; This week marks the 140th anniversary of Juneteenth; more specifically, on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas, word of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached the slaves, touching off a celebration marked by freedom and uncertainty. Six Flags New Orleans commemorates this historic event with a music offering spotlighting both local and national talent. In keeping with the climate, jazz-fusion vibraphonist Roy Ayers will celebrate last monthÕs release of Virgin Ubiquity, Vol. 2 (Rapster/BBE), the sequel to last yearÕs release of a collection of previously unreleased material Ñ all refreshed and mixed by Jamey Staub. Also performing will be saxophonist Dave Koz, who performed on the VibinÕ With Ayers CD. Local music will come from vocalist Stephanie Jordan and brother Marlon Jordan on trumpet performing works from their recent release, You DonÕt Know What Love Is ; flutist Kent Jordan, violinist Michael Ward, singer-trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, and the Hot 8 Brass Band. Call for ticket info. Ñ Simmons MUSIC

Doc Otis and the Junker Jazz All-Stars 10 p.m. Monday, June 20

Circle Bar, 1032 St. Charles Ave., 588-2616 Looking like a saloon pianist from central casting, the bowler-hatted Doc Otis has been banging keys solo around town for some time. Now joined by the Junker Jazz All-Stars, who include Gas Tank OrchestraÕs Kathleen Kraus on upright bass and frequent Greg Schatz sideman Warren Byron on trumpet, as well as sax and drums, Otis is peddling what he calls Ògritty old tunes about hard luckÓ with a gang to back him up. The All-StarsÕ formidable repertoire of originals and standards runs the gamut from Ô20s and Ô30s barrelhouse and boogie to HowlinÕ Wolf, Willie Dixon and Louis Jordan covers, all bearing a boozy, growly Ninth Ward stamp. If Tom Waits had slunk across the Press Street tracks to hold court in a Storyville parlor, it might have sounded like this. No cover. Ñ Fensterstock

click to enlarge DONN YOUNG
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