Arts & Culture » Theater

St. Louis Blues

New ballet at Zellerbach

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1/28-2/1

When we think of fantastic, quick-on-the-feet ensembles straight outta Harlem, thoughts of certain athletes who sport fancy Converse, wear tacky knee-highs, and make cameos on Scooby-Doo come to mind. Well, the Globetrotters aren't the only ones representin' Harlem these days. The Dance Theatre of Harlem is back with a new show, St. Louis Woman: A Blues Ballet, guaranteed to astound you in ways that a two-turn, twelve-foot slam-dunk never could. Composed by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, the show made its original debut in the early 1940s but it failed to spark the old song-and-dance flame and was booted off Broadway not too long after its arrival. Now it has been revived, this time as a million-dollar ballet under the direction of choreographer Michael Smuin and the executive producer/cofounder of the Dance Theatre, Arthur Mitchell. They've updated the time frame, thrown in a few Charlestons, added fabulous period costumes, and convinced audiences once again that it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing. Performances Wednesday through Sunday at Zellerbach Hall on the UCB campus. Tickets: $32-$52, at 510-642-9988 or CalPerfs.berkeley.edu -- Erin Chancy

1/30-1/31

Joe B'way

Leiber and Stoller at DVC

In the early days of rock, songs were packed to the coda with colorful characters and narratives, and the compositions of hitmakers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller were no exception. "Poison Ivy," "Love Potion #9," "Spanish Harlem," "Jailhouse Rock" -- all songs you could close your eyes and visualize, your toes tapping all the while. So it's no surprise that, back in 1995, Leiber (the lyricist) and Stoller (the composer) helped to bring forty of their creations to theatrical life in the Broadway revue Smokey Joe's Cafe. Raw and greasy it ain't, but the show features costume changes, dance numbers, and rock 'n' roll posturing aplenty, at least. Diablo Valley College presents a 25-person cast (as opposed to the original, which featured nine performers) Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m., through Feb. 22. DVC Performing Arts Center, 321 Golf Club Rd., Pleasant Hill. Tickets: 925-687-4445. -- Stefanie Kalem

TUE 2/3

Love 2 Love U, Baby

New Orleans is the land of dreams, and when NOLa-born "word artist" Cassandra steps onstage, undoubtedly those dreams are of love. Cassandra, who recorded a CD called Love According 2 Love with her group the Love Poets, hosts a weekly show called "The Poetic Groove" in Oakland and is currently writing a book (of poetry, natch) and recording an accompanying CD, both titled I Speak, I Speak. Tuesday evening (7:30), she somehow has time to perform at Chokwadi's Poetry Diversified at the World Ground Cafe, 3726 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. There's an open mic for you, too. Info: 510-261-6792 -- Kelly Vance

1/30-2/29

Naughty Executives

Jump into The Solid Gold Cadillac

Scandals in corporate boardrooms. Shareholder outrage. Whistleblowers uncovering corrupt business practices. Naughty executives. Things haven't changed much since Howard Teichmann and George S. Kaufman wrote The Solid Gold Cadillac fifty years ago. The 1953 play about a disgruntled shareholder taking on a big corporation, in a new production by Concord's Willows Theatre Company, is as topical as today's news. The show, starring Nancy Madden and Gary S. Martinez under the direction of Willows' Richard Elliott, opens Friday (8 p.m.) and runs Wednesdays through Sundays through February 29, at 1975 Diamond Blvd., Concord. Tickets ($25-$35) from 925-798-1300. Info: WillowsTheatre.org -- Kelly Vance

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