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CL's picks for March 15-21, 2006

Wednesday, March 15

No, it wasn't some sort of weird, hallucinogenic fit that induced Moving Poets Theatre of Dance to create Johannesburg Stories, uniting South Africa's most famous storyteller with a Louisiana playwright who has a sweet tooth for white trash. To understand why Gcina Mhlophe is mixing her griot brio into the same gumbo as satirist James (Laundry and Bourbon) McLure, you simply need to be aware of the "South by South Africa" project now in progress across metro Charlotte. The colorful Johannesburg singer-actress-storyteller-poet-spellbinder is spearheading a last-ditch effort to put Moving Poets on secure financial footing, headlining a show at McGlohon Theatre that showcases Poets' typical cross-cultural fusion of live music, theatre, dance, AV and visual arts. Limited cabaret seating is available at the top tier of tickets, priced from $10 to $35. Wednesday (an open dress preview) through Saturday performances are at 8pm. The Sunday finale begins at 7pm. Call 704-372-1000. (Tannenbaum)

Friday, March 17

OK, let's go ahead and speak on it. That was Kirk Franklin on Oprah admitting to being addicted to porn since age 8. He's just a man, people! Since the show, Franklin and his wife celebrated a decade of marriage by renewing their wedding vows. The same faith that saved his marriage is what Franklin brings to his performances. His new CD, Hero, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Gospel Album and Top Christian Album charts. Tour mates include platinum-selling sibling duo Mary Mary and Philadelphia-based artist Da T.R.U.T.H. The show is tonight at Cricket Arena, 6:30pm. Tickets are $30-$40. Call 704-372-3600 or visit www.cricketarenacharlotte.com. (Calloway)

Since her first jazz album in 1995, singer Carol Welsman has pursued the fame that has come so easily to Diana Krall -- with similar gifts at her command. She has listened to the right records, she plays the piano, her voice is easy on the ear and her CD covers confirm she's a joy to behold. So maybe she'll stop trying so hard, quit seeking out perverse tempos and arrangements, and finally let her talent do the talking. Welsman joins the Charlotte Symphony at Belk Theater for two concerts at 8pm Friday and Saturday. The playlist should include mostly standards, with sprinklings of Ella, Billie and Peggy Lee. Hopefully, conductor Albert Schramm will let go of the microphone long enough for Welsman to warm up and wail. If so, tickets priced at $19-$59 will be a bargain. Call 704-972-2000. (Tannenbaum)

Scott Hamilton finally decides to add something interesting to his 19-year-old figure skating revue. Smucker's Stars on Ice celebrates its 20th anniversary with a humorous take on how Stars on Ice became America's most prestigious figure skating tour (there're more?). "A Show ... about the show" looks at the creative process and includes the moments we crave -- those embarrassing falls. This year's cast includes Olympic Gold medalists Alexei Yagudin, the Canadians that brought down a committee, 2002 Olympic Pair Champions Jamie Sale & David Pelletier, six-time US National Champion Todd Eldredge and others. Showtime is 7:30pm. Tickets start at $25 and are available at the arena box office by phone at 1-800-495-2295 or online at www.charlottebobcatsarena.com. (Calloway)

Saturday, March 18

The Jewish Film Fest 2006 will be held tonight and tomorrow afternoon at a pair of Charlotte locations. The feature-length comedy-drama Rashevski's Tango, accompanied by the short piece The Nose Job Jew, will be screened at 8pm tonight in the Duke Theatre at Spirit Square. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door; because of adult content, no one under 16 will be admitted. Then at 2pm Sunday in the Sam Lerner Cultural Arts Center at the Levine Jewish Community Center, the documentary Moving Heaven and Earth, about a Jewish community in Uganda, will be shown alongside the short films My Dad Is the Strongest, Black Hats and Short Skirts and Kosher. Tickets are $6 in advance and $8 at the door; this matinee showing is recommended for ages 12 and up. A special rate for both days' screenings costs $15 (advance purchase only), with tickets available at the Levine JCC. For further details, call 704-366-5007. (Brunson)

Sunday, March 19

Yes, there's another celebration of Mozart's 250th Birthday, this one at Providence United Methodist Church. But you may be happy to learn that Providence Chamber Music Series is not overdoing it. They're varying the program by infusing the Bohemian flavor of three Madrigals for Violin and Viola by Bohuslav Martinu. Also planned is a new wind quintet arrangement of a traditional klezmer suite by clarinetist Eugene Kavadlo. Even the Mozart is off the beaten track: an Adagio and Rondo originally composed for glass harmonica, once regarded as an instrument of the devil, freshly transcribed for the angelic harp by Charlotte Symphony harpist Christine Van Arsdale. The free concert begins at 7pm at Providence United on the corner of Providence Road and Sharon-Amity. (Tannenbaum)

If a concert that mixes old and new symphonic music sounds appetizing, then Charlotte Civic Orchestra's New Music Project is serving up exactly the main dish you're looking for -- with a generous side order of operatic favorites. The new composition, titled "Unearthed," comes from Craig Bove, chairman of CPCC's music department. Matched with that is the most famous two-movement symphony in the repertoire, Schubert's "Unfinished." For the operatic selections, Charlotte Symphony's principal hornist, Frank Portone, puts his tenor voice on display in the famed "Vesti la giubba" from Pagliacci and equally celebrated arias from Puccini's Tosca and Bizet's Carmen. Tickets for the 3pm concert Uptown at First United Methodist Church are $10 for adults, $8 for students/seniors, and $22 for families. Call 704-344-0098. (Tannenbaum)

Monday, March 20

The world welcomes the return of the Soweto Gospel Choir on tour to promote their sophomore effort, Blessed. The enchanting 26-member choir spreads its message of love and hope to audiences regardless of all colors, languages and faiths. The group's new CD combines traditional South African hymns and spirituals with refreshing renditions of well-known American gospel gems like "Oh Happy Day." In addition to winning the support of fellow South African Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and anyone ever lucky enough to see them, the choir also started an AIDS orphans foundation, Nkosi's Haven/Vukani, in 2003. Tonight's concert is at 8pm in Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, 130 N. Tryon St. Tickets range from $22-$32. Call 704-372-1000. (Calloway)

Wednesday, March 22

Love 'em or hate 'em, Korn rules the post-grunge nu-metal roost. No word on whether the departure last year of founding guitarist Brian "Head" Welch (apparently he's now a born-again Christian) has had any effect on the band's abrasive live shows. Korn's new album, See You on the Other Side, sports a more industrial sheen, but the furious hip-hop rhythms aren't too far behind. The band plays tonight at Cricket Arena with opening acts Mudvayne and 10 Years beginning at 7pm. Tickets are $39.50. For more details call 704-522-6500. (Shukla)

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