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See & Do 

Embarking from the dark days of the slaveships and sailing toward the majesty of Ru Paul, The Colored Museum cruises through a satirical gallery of black experience and stereotypes. George C. Wolfe, famed for his Bring in "Da Noise, is our curator, and even the venerated Raisin in the Sun is prey to his hilarious taxidermy in "The Last Mama on the Couch Play." Dee Abdullah directs the all-black cast in this Victory Pictures production at Central Avenue Playhouse through November 23. Vic Pix artistic director Michael Simmons figures to give a special environmental feel to the journey. Call 704-455-8542. (Tannenbaum)

It's a constant refrain during the holidays: Americans go completely overboard for Christmas. Yes, it's true that reindeer displays showing up in stores before Halloween can be disturbing, but there are tons of folks who love all the lights and tinsel and Uncle Dave's Santa-shaped pipe and the wreaths made from sweetgrass or leather or whatever. If you're a Christmas person, it's time to buy some eggnog to drink on the way to the 37th annual Southern Christmas Show. Expect plenty of vendors, foods, a model railroad display, holiday decor out the wazoo, an entire village designed and built to resemble a European streetscape, NC wines, and of course pictures with Santa Claus. The Southern Christmas Show starts today and runs through November 23 at the Charlotte Merchandise Mart, 2500 E. Independence Blvd. Hours are weekdays and Saturdays 10am-9:30pm, and Sundays 10am-6pm. Admission is $8 for adults ($7 in advance); $3 for ages 6-12; free for children under 6 with a paying adult. Group rates are available. For information, call 704-376-6594 or visit (Shukla)

NC Dance Theatre brings back its most outre and intimate event, Innovative Works, to Booth Playhouse after a mere seven-month hiatus. Apparently that wasn't enough time for two of the scheduled choreographers, Elliott Bradley and Septime Weber, to complete their homework. Not to worry, resident NCDT genius Mark Diamond has stepped into the breach with a newborn, while lead dancer Uri Sands has come through with a hatchling wedded to the music of Vivaldi and Radiohead. We get a second chance to follow Alonzo King's Map, and Darrell Grand Moultrie premieres his first piece for NCDT. Through Saturday. Call 704-372-1000. (Tannenbaum)

The Charlotte Film Society's Second Week/Second Chance series continues today at the Manor Theatre, as well as next Friday, November 21, at Movies at Birkdale. This month offers the Danish feature Lilya 4-Ever, about a 16-year-old prostitute; Finland's quirky The Man Without a Past, which earned a Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar nomination this year; the seriocomic British import Lawless Heart, starring Bill Nighy (currently seen as the aging rocker in Love Actually); and Iran's Ten, which focuses on a series of conversations between various people sharing a car ride. For info on prices and times, call 704-414-2355 or go online to (Brunson)

The Reel Soul Cinema series continues tonight with showings of Proof Positive, Jeremiah Strong and Twelve Minutes, a trio of short films focusing on the triumphs and travails of African-American men. The screenings will be held at 7pm and 9pm at the Afro-American Cultural Center; the venue will also be simultaneously hosting the Reel Soul Lounge, featuring a reception and local artists in the lower gallery. Admission is $7; for details, call 704-492-2519 or 704-374-1565. (Brunson)

After the death of Clifton Chenier, Chubby Carrier has become the most recognizable touring proponent of the musical style known as zydeco. One of very few undiluted such artists currently making the club rounds, Carrier's well worth a waltz over to the Double Door. For more information, call 704-376-1446. (Davis)

What draws people to this aural wallpaper remains a mystery to traditional jazz fans, but among the practitioners of smooth jazz, Brian Culbertson is a bona fide star. The multi-instrumentalist/producer/composer is touring behind his new record, Come On Up, which doesn't veer one iota from the formula let no note stand out that's guided Culbertson's previous work. The transition from writing commercial jingles (McDonalds, Sears, Oldsmobile) to this kind of jazz was apparently a smooth one. With Paul Jackson, Jr. Two shows, 7 and 10pm, at Spirit Square. For more information call 704-372-1000. (Schacht)

This is the last weekend of the year for the Renaissance Festival. The slightly anachronistic medieval-themed attraction (Ye Olde Espresso?) is wrapping up its 10th, and most successful, year, serving up eight stages full of comedy and music, a variety of foods and beverages, wandering minstrels and minstrellettes, games of skill, a king and queen, a bigtime jousting match, and a slew of vendor booths. The Renaissance Festival is up and running today and tomorrow, from 10am till 5:30pm each day. It's located between Concord and Huntersville on Hwy. 73 at Poplar Tent Road, between I-77 and I-85. Tickets are $14 for adults, $5 for kids 5-12, free for those under 5. For more information, call 704-896-5544. (Grooms)

You have to see the wizardry of Darwin Ortiz and David Roth to believe it. But to see Ortiz' sleight-of-hand exploits with cards or Roth's with coins, you need to be close. Charlotte Rep artistic director Michael Bush knew that from the moment he began developing All of the People, All the Time. So he's taking the action from Rep's normal digs, Booth Playhouse, to the cozier confines of Duke Power Theatre. Pat Cook's script retraces the longtime friendship of Ortiz and Roth -- and their quest to perform at the prestigious Magic Castle. Through December 7. Call 704-372-1000. (Tannenbaum)

The theme for today's pro football game could be "What happened?" as the Carolina Panthers host former area favorites the Washington Redskins today at 1pm at Ericsson Stadium. The Panthers, who weren't expected to be ready for the playoffs till next year at best, are firmly in control of their division, while the Redskins have a head coach, Steve Spurrier, who was expected to transform his team into a powerhouse pro version of his former Florida Gators squads. Well, again, "what happened?" Tickets cost $40-$54 and may be purchased at the Ericsson Stadium Ticket Office or by calling 704-522-6500. (Grooms)

OK, all you beginners. If you can't be satisfied without the fabled live helicopter and Cadillac, please return your tickets to Miss Saigon by sundown. The new, non-hovering craft that's landing at Belk Theater, lingering through Sunday, has been streamlined for travel. But its cargo is still one of the finest musicals of the past 25 years and, Rent notwithstanding, the best-ever transformation of Puccini. The exquisitely delicate Madama Butterfly has been flown to a Saigon dive at the end of the Vietnam War -- with fresh rations of backbone and relevance. The Engineer still rules, singing "The American Dream" in mock praise of the liberators. Call 704-372-1000. (Tannenbaum)

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