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See & Do 

APRIL 28 - WEDNESDAY
The Queen City Soul Slam Competition is hosted by the African American Cultural Center today. Poetry slams -- or performance poetry -- allow poets to perform their works to be judged by members of the audience. A final competition will be held April 30 to determine the Charlotte "slam team," which will go on to compete in the nationals in St. Louis. Tonight, registration begins at 7pm and the show begins at 8pm. Poets pay $3; general admission is $5. The AACC is at 401 N. Myers St. Call 704-374-1565 for details. (Grossman)

The AiCH Student Film Festival will be held at 7pm tonight in Room 178 of The Art Institute of Charlotte (located at Three LakePointe Plaza, 2110 Water Ridge Parkway). The festival will showcase short movies created by the institute's Multimedia & Web Design students. Admission is free. For more info, call 704-357-8020. (Brunson)

Beware of the evils that lurk in your spouse's sweater drawer! Cass learns the hard way in David Lindsay-Abaire's Wonder of the World, and the shock sends her hurtling toward Niagara Falls in search of new adventures. If you heard about Actor's Theatre of Charlotte's last Lindsay-Abaire production, Fuddy Meers, you know why they're expecting a huge rush on the box office at ATC's facility at 650 E. Stonewall Street. Chip Decker directs a strong cast that includes Tom Scott, Sheila Snow Proctor, Jorja Ursin, Tonya McClellan, and Michael Nester. Cat Zeggart wields an endless to-do list as Cass. Since that list of exhilarating experiences includes skydiving, appearing on The Newlywed Game, and bedding a bellboy, you won't want to miss a single episode of her whirlwind escape. The production runs through May 23 with tickets priced at $17-$22. Call 704-342-2251. (Tannenbaum)

APRIL 29 - THURSDAY
North Carolina author Kaye Gibbons made her reputation by presenting a series of strong female characters who are able, through sometimes torturous struggle, to overcome personal and societal repression and land on their feet, at times damaged, but free. Her new book Divining Women, which takes place during the First World War in rural NC, features two women finding their strength through resisting one of them's controlling, nutcase husband. The Victorian touches and dark, neo-gothic tones of the novel have divided critics, but Gibbons is to be commended for trying some new approaches. She will be at Barnes & Noble at the Arboretum today at 7:30pm to sign copies of her books. For more info, call 704-341-9365. (Grooms)

Comedian Frank Caliendo, MADtv star, NFL on FOX sports personality and acclaimed impressionist, will be appearing at the Comedy Zone today through Sunday. Known for his dead-on takes on Robin Williams, John Madden, Jerry Seinfeld and others, Caliendo also manages to be pretty damn funny just being himself. Call 704-348-HAHA for more information on tickets and times. (Davis)

APRIL 30 - FRIDAY
In the tradition of Atlanta's Urban Market on Means Street, The Urban Market at NoDa premieres in Charlotte this weekend at Highland Mill. Today through Sunday, the market will offer a variety of art, jewelry, antiques and personal items as well as accessories for the home and garden. In addition to local and regional items, vendors will be selling unique finds from all over the world. Market hours today and Saturday are 10am-6pm; Sunday, 11am-4pm. $3 or a donation of a brand new children's book will get you in. Visit www.urban-market.com or call 770-481-0280 for details. (Grossman)

Take spiffy piano work, the compositional prowess of Elvis Costello, add witty lyrics and Ben Folds comes into focus. The North Carolina native will perform solo on the ivories and while he walks the paths forged by Elton John and Billy Joel, he has clearly established a Ben Folds sound. Folds' rapport with the audience engages the crowd into a "gather around the piano" mood and his power-pop sensibilities instigate plenty of sing-alongs. Singer/songwriter David Berkeley will open. It starts at 8pm in Belk Arena at Davidson College. General admission: $28. Details: 704-894-2135 or www.davidson.edu/tickets (Shukla)

Taste of Charlotte, one of the city's most popular food fests, happens this weekend in conjunction with Avenue of the Arts on Tryon St. between 1st and 6th Streets. Sample specialties from more than 25 locally owned and operated restaurants while checking out the artwork of 100+ local and regional artists. Judges will give awards for both food and art; street performers will entertain; and Tavern at the Taste will host wine tastings throughout the day, turning into a pub with live music at night. The festival is free and tokens may be purchased to sample all the goodies. The money raised will benefit a variety of Charlotte charities. Festival hours: today and Saturday, 11am-11pm; and Sunday, 11am-6pm. Avenue of the Arts opens each day at 10am. For more information, go to www.tasteofcharlotte.com. (Grossman)

Inviting comparisons with the great oratorios of Handel and Bach, Mendelssohn's Elijah rolls mightily into Belk Theater on the collective shoulders of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte, and an impressive roster of guest vocalists that includes the Metropolitan Opera's Richard Zeller in the title role. David Tang leads the Symphony and his mighty Oratorios for the last time after years of advancing both his chorus and CSO's wonderful Lollipops Concert Series. If you suspect an English text might get a tad fogged by 200+ voices singing it at the same time, you'll find printed copies in your program. Tickets for the Friday and Saturday performances are $14-$64. Call 704-972-2000. (Tannenbaum)

The 4th annual Charlotte Pride Weekend Festival starts today with the Pride Kick-off Party at the Hilton Charlotte & Towers. This year's festival, Progress Thru Pride, continues tomorrow at Marshall Park with local and national performers, speakers, the debut of the "I have a gay pet" Parade and "Drag Out Your Pride," featuring some the Queen City's finest "queens." Sunday is Gay Day 2004 at Paramount's Carowinds (which drives rightwing yahoos nuts, so we love it), followed by the weekend's final event, the Sweet T-Dance at Crush from 6-11pm. Visit www.charlottepride.com for event details or call 704-236-1014. (Grossman)

Planet of the Drums rolls into town tonight at Mythos with drum 'n' bass kings Dieselboy, AK1200, Dara and DJ J Messinian supplying the grooves. One of the biggest events on the dance music scene, the traveling road show of top American DJs is the Lollapalooza of drum "n' bass, an almost exclusively British phenomenon until recent years when the US -- including plenty of DJs from the Carolinas and Charlotte -- began wresting away the spotlight. Tickets are $15 (www.groovetickets.com ) and $20 at the door. For more information see our story in the music section, or call 704-375-8765. (Schacht)

MAY 2 - SUNDAY
The Levine Museum of the New South presents a critically acclaimed dramatic performance, Mill Worker, today. No, it's not about Sen. John Edwards' father. It's actually a moving, gritty and musical piece about the lives of early Southern textile workers, adapted from the book Like A Family, the "bible" of mill community history, exploring Southern cotton mills and mill communities, focusing on the day to day lives of mill workers themselves through the setting of an old time radio show. This is living history, showing how early textile workers who moved off the farms to work in the mills created lively new types of communities "in town." Proceeds will raise funds for the Pillowtex Carolina Cares Fund, which serves laid-off mill workers in our area. It all takes place at Byron Hall in the Design Center of the Carolinas, itself an old textile mill in Southend, at 101 W. Worthington Avenue, Suite 110. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by calling 704-333-1887 or at Levine Museum. (Grooms)

MAY 4 - TUESDAY
Talk about an epic chase! The implacable Inspector Javert has been pursuing the selfless Jean Valjean for so long that both their voices are now clearly audible on the planet Pluto. Yet audiences still haven't tired of Les Miserables, which marches into Ovens Auditorium for yet another encore through May 9. This musicalized Victor Hugo epic is presented on a theatrical scale that may never be surpassed -- with biggie-sized revolutionary conviction and heart-throbbing sentimentality. Oh, my Cosette! Ah, my Fantine! Gee, when is it over? Tickets are $24-$61. Call 704-522-6500. (Tannenbaum)

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