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Thursday, September 22

The annual Southern Women's Show features a weekend of events for contemporary women. The festivities include Charlotte firefighters strutting their stuff for a benefit fashion show, actress and skin care entrepreneur Meredith Baxter, fitness wiz Richard Simmons, scrapbook expert Faye Morrow-Bell, Friskies Cats stage show, cooking demos and plenty more. The show happens today, 10-8pm; tomorrow, 10am-9pm; Saturday, 10am-7pm; Sunday, 10am-5pm, at Charlotte Merchandise Mart, 2500 E. Independence Blvd. Admission is $4-$8, kids 5 and under are free. For more information and updated schedules, visit (Shukla)

Since 1964, Festival in the Park has provided the Queen City with music, food, art and excellent people-watching opportunities. The Charlotte institution celebrates its 41st anniversary this month, with more than 175 local and regional artists exhibiting their works. Nearly 1,000 entertainers will perform, including magician Hannibal and local power-pop vets The Spongetones. Festivities begin today and continue through Sunday, Sept. 25, in Freedom Park. Parking is limited, so you may have to walk a few blocks. For more information, go to (Boykin)

North Carolina Dance Theatre launches its 35th anniversary season at Belk Theater with classics. "Swan Lake to Sleeping Beauty" is largely a non-Nutcracker tribute to Tchaikovsky, featuring pas de deux from Marius Petipa's Swan and Beauty along with George Balanchine's Serenade, set to another Peter Ilych confection. Septime Webre looks to Prokofiev for his Romeo and Juliet, and Bonnefoux's Danses Brillantes takes its inspiration from the music of Edouard Lalo -- and the traditions of the famed Paris Opera Ballet. The 8pm performances repeat nightly through Saturday. Tickets are $10-$55. Call 704-372-1000. (Tannenbaum)

Charlotte Symphony Orchestra's CSO Neighborhood Concert #1 touches down in two attractive local venues. If you wish to hear the ensemble's first public performance of Strauss's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, with Christof Perick conducting, show up at First Baptist Church on North Davidson Street. The Strauss suite, which docks at the Belk on Sept. 30, is coupled with Schubert's Symphony #6, which reaches the PAC palace on November 4. An encore performance on Saturday night brings the orchestra to UNC-Charlotte's new Robinson Hall. Both concerts begin at 8pm with a fetching general admission price of $15 ($5 for students). Call 704-972-2000. (Tannenbaum)

They've pissed off authorities from coast to coast. They play a mix of buzzsaw metal, hardcore, goth and industrial rawk. And they're the only band ever to have a pictorial in Hustler. Ladies and gentlemen, the inimitable Genitorturers. These performance art/rockers are quite possibly the only band around that can make the masked marauders of Gwar blush (that is, if you could see Gwar's faces). The lovely Gen and Co. will take the stage -- along with a slew of guest artists and props -- at Amos' SouthEnd tonight at 9pm. Local DJ Matt Bolick opens. Tickets are $12 in advance thru; $15 at the door. As you might imagine, you must be 18 to get in. Then again, if you recently turned 18, you've probably been waiting months to see this show. (Davis)

Friday, September 23

Hometown rockers Peralta have been plugging away on the Latin rock tip since the early 90s, long before La Rúa and other younger local rock en español bands hit the scene. Peralta's sound is laced with a breezy, Santana-esque styling, yet the Peralta brothers have created a tropical party sound all their own, with lyrics in both English and Spanish. As one of the band's more popular song says, "Feel It" -- tonight at Skandalos. Showtime is 9pm; tickets are $8 at the door. For more information, call 704-535-2466. (Shukla)

If you've seen her before at McGlohon Theatre, you'll need little incentive to catch jazz singer Nnenna Freelon up at Davidson College. But there is an extra compelling reason to head up I-77 to lovely Duke Family Performance Hall. Freelon plans on celebrating an icon's 90th birthday with a program she's calling "Blueprint of a Lady: A Tribute to Billie Holiday." Expect an evening studded with some of the best American popular music written between 1930-1950 -- plus more groovy blue notes from Freelon. Concert begins at 8pm with single tickets priced at $20. Call 704-894-2135. (Tannenbaum)

Saturday, September 24

We're not sure about Stan Peal's cred for writing a play on conversion to Judaism. But Peal's success with a wide range of other subjects -- from Poe to pizza to Shakespeare -- certainly earns the playwright a look-see for his new Through the Water. Temple Beth El commissioned the new script, and some pretty fair local talent has been rounded up for the project, including such blue-chip actors as Joanna Gerdy, Donna Scott, Lee Thomas and Glenn Griffin. Directing this one-night performance is former CL Theaterperson of the Year Julie Janorschke. Curtain goes up at 8pm at Temple Beth El, located at Shalom Park off Providence Road. A discussion follows the play along with a dessert reception. Stay even longer and join the circumcised for Selichot services at 10pm. Call 704-944-6838. (Tannenbaum)

Feeling the need to expand your worldview? Longing for a foreign excursion without the expense and hassle of getting on a plane? You can "visit" about 50 nations in just one day at the 30th annual International Festival at UNCC. The Barnhardt Student Activity Center will be decked out in colorful marketplace style with booths staffed by UNC-Charlotte International students and members of Charlotte's international community. See the arts, crafts and costumes of participating countries, and taste traditional foods at many of the booths. Indoor and outdoor stages will present music and dance from a variety of nations. The festival will have activities for children, too. This event is free and runs from 10am to 6pm. For more information, call 704-687-2410 or visit (Vespa)

Tuesday, September 27

Mary Gauthier, named the New/Emerging Artist of the Year at the 2005 Americana Awards, will perform with Phyllis Tannerfrye at 8pm tonight at The Evening Muse. Gauthier's at her best when relaying the hard-luck lives of common folk -- unfortunately, the Louisiana native has seen more than her share of potential songwriting material recently. Check out her new album Mercy Now for a nice primer. Tickets for the show are $12, available at the door or at (Davis)

The Culinary Arts Festival takes place today through Saturday at Gateway Village in downtown Charlotte. Some of this year's events include a local-chef "Clash of the Culinary Titans," a BBQ competition, celebrity guests like Rick Browne (Barbecue America), Scott Liebfried (Hell's Kitchen), Sara Moulton (Sara's Secrets), Wolfgang Puck (Spago) and TV chef show pioneer Martin Yan, and more tastings, workshops and cooking demonstrations than you can shake a (chop)stick at. For more information on specific events, guests and times, go to (Davis)

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