From drag meets an old-timey supper club to a musical parody of Titanic, a festival spotlighting kids, a Cuban American Music festival, an exhibit dedicated to skateboard deck art and avant-garde music, here are the 14 best things to do in Los Angeles this week!
L.A.'s Take on the Supper Club
Drag-friendly variety shows are big business these days, and with good reason. But under the radar of moments like the deservedly epic DragCon, it's worth appreciating the charms of the intimate variety shows that gave rise to the cultural phenom. One such is Omeroshow: Deluxe Assortment, as Isabel Omero (producer of Zulu Lounge) makes her first independent foray into the classic supper-club experience with a night of magic, music, exotic hooping, bellydancing, comedy and camp. One update to the night's old-timey style: Your two-item minimum could be an old-school mixology dinner, but there's the option to grab tasty raw/vegan bites from host Âu Lac L.A. instead — for variety. Âu Lac L.A., 710 W. First St., downtown; Fri., May 18, 8-10 p.m.; $20-$35. omeroshow.eventbrite.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot
From Ukraine With Love
The 150-year-old National Ballet of Ukraine opens its 11-city debut U.S. tour with two technically demanding full-length performances, Sleeping Beauty (Friday) and Don Quixote (Saturday). Based in Kiev, the company is a bastion of Russian classical ballet boasting more than 150 dancers and a history of producing international stars such as Alina Cojocaru (the Royal Ballet) and American Ballet Theater veterans Vladimir Malakhov, Maxim Beloserkovsky and Irina Dvorovenko. The company frequently tours Europe but has never made it stateside — until now. The choice of the Orpheum Theater, one of downtown's magnificent old movie palaces, is in keeping with the grand opera house the company is used to at home. Orpheum Theatre, 842 S. Broadway, downtown; Fri., May 18, 8 p.m.; Sat., May 19, 7 p.m.; $38-$153. laorpheum.com/events. —Ann Haskins
An Unsinkable Production
After more than 20 years of driving us crazy, Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" has beaten us into submission. In fact, director Tye Blue is so fond of the singer and her theme song to the 1997 blockbuster Titanic that he created a musical parody completely inspired by her. With musical direction by Nicholas Connell, Titanique re-enacts key moments from the plot and features Jack Dawson (Constantine Rousouli) and Rose DeWitt (Alex Ellis), with the addition of Dion (Marla Mindelle), who not only narrates the spoof but pops up everywhere in the show. Who knew Canada's greatest chanteause was a passenger for one of the most historic disasters ever? Backed by a live band, the cast sings Dion's biggest hit, as well as other familiar tunes, including "The Power of Love," "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" and "A New Day Has Come." Dynasty Typewriter, 2511 Wilshire Blvd., Westlake; Fri., May 18, 8-10 p.m.; $40. dynastytypewriter.com. —Siran Babayan
Letting the Kids Lead the Way
You've been around the block a few times — now bring your hard-earned wisdom to the Pico Block Party. "Empowering Youth Voices" is the theme of today's family-friendly festival of kindness and creation, and there's a plethora of kids leading workshops, giving performances, mobbing food trucks and otherwise showing you what's what when it comes to the changes rocking your world lately. An adjunct to the 18th Street Arts Center's bilingual neighborhood oral history initiative, CultureMapping90404.org, it shows you just how involved in activism the kids are these days, and what you can do to better your community alongside them. Activities include art workshops, artists' open studios, exhibitions on view, live music and food trucks. 18th Street Arts Center, 1639 18th St., Santa Monica; Sat., May 19, 3-6 p.m.; free (RSVP required). (310) 453-3711, 18thstreet.org/event/pico-block-party-empowering-youth-voices/. —David Cotner
From the Streets
DIY: The History of Creative Culture in Skateboarding presents a survey of the artistic side of skate culture that goes way beyond deck art and into the adjacent realms of street art and photography, along with aspects of fashion, zine-making, design and a kind of crazy-inventor engineering and adaptive re-functionality in the use of architecture, such as empty pools transformed into painting pits and athletic courses. That's the spirit of the culture, and "do it yourself" is not only an emblematic creative impulse, it's something of a motto, celebrating the independence and resourcefulness you'd expect to find in such an amped-up world. "DIY" is curated and created by Jürgen Blümlein of FauxAmi Exhibitions and the Skateboard Museum (Berlin), Todd Huber of Skatelab and the Skateboarding Hall of Fame, and FACT. Subliminal Projects, 1331 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park; Reception Sat., May 19, 7-10 p.m.; exhibit Wed.-Sat., noon-6 p.m., through June 16; free. subliminalprojects.com/exhibitions/diy/. —Shana Nys Dambrot
LitFest Pasadena has been a free, communitywide literary gathering for the past seven years, spotlighting local scribes and others. Among the 200-plus writers and performers scheduled to appear this year are Jerry Stahl, Janet Fitch, Lisa Teasley, Naomi Hirahara, Erin Aubry Kaplan, Michelle Huneven, Laurie Kilmartin, Sholeh Wolpe, Congressman Adam Schiff, Assemblymember Laura Friedman and Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek. Daylong activities taking place in and around landmark venues such as the Pasadena Playhouse and Vroman's Bookstore include readings, poetry, art exhibits, walking tours, kids activities and the Roswell Award, which honors science fiction writers. There will be panel talks on such topics as "Combchella: Normalizing Natural Hair Through Literature," "The Border as a Character: Storytelling About Fences, Walls and the People They Shape" and "Getting Off: Sex, Porn & Female Sexuality." A highlight is L.A. Times food critic — and Pasadena resident — Jonathan Gold, who discusses "Writing About Home Cooking" with chef Nadine Levy Redzepi. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena; Sat.-Sun., May 19-20, 1-10 p.m.; free. (626) 590-1134, litfestpasadena.org. —Siran Babayan
The Sturt Haaga Gallery inside the Descanso Gardens has been a fascinating outpost of contemporary art within a magical woodland, always thematic and enviro-topical, but often quite avant-garde (Would that be avant-garden?). With the new summer show opening today, the gallery will highlight not the flora but rather the diverse fauna of the gardens and the surrounding San Rafael Hills. "Growing Habitats: L.A.'s Wildlife and Descanso" is photography-based but also features tactile, interactive and immersive experiences (not counting the larger immersive experience of being in the gardens themselves). Going beyond natural beauty, the show touches on wildlife encounters with civilization, mechanisms of protection and incursion, and provides proof you don't have to head all the way to NatGeo territory to marvel at the sweeping diversity of God's creatures. In celebration of the opening reception, admission is free today from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Sturt Haaga Gallery, Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge; Reception (free): Sun., May 20, 4-6 p.m.; gardens: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; gallery: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; $9. (818) 949-4200, descansogardens.org. —Shana Nys Dambrot
Havana in L.A.
The second annual Cuban American Music Festival celebrates that Caribbean jewel's immeasurably rich culture with a horde of local Cuban artists, food, drinks, vendors and, yes, cigars. The real focus is, of course, music and dancing, with such formidable orquestas de baile as La Charanga Cubana, Calixto & Timba L.A. and Las Chikas, but the stunning jewel in the crown of an already impressive lineup is a rare local appearance by Pedrito Calvo, the innovative vocalist who rose to prominence during his mid-'70s stint with legendary Havana dance band Los Van Van. Calvo will perform a special tribute to the renowned Cuban singer Benny Moré, "El Bárbaro del Ritmo," with accompaniment from local Cubano swingers ARP Big Band. It's bound to be a deliriously dreamy experience. LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, 501 N Main St., downtown; Sun., May 20, noon-8 p.m.; $25-$60; 21 and older. cubanamericanmusicfestival.net/festival. —Jonny Whiteside
Prepare to get chills at A Place for Us — A Symphonic and Choral Performance. In conjunction with its current exhibit "Leonard Bernstein at 100," the Skirball Museum hosts a concert with the Harmony Project orchestra and the Urban Voices Project choir, who'll perform their rendition of the Bernstein/Sondheim classic "Somewhere" from West Side Story, one of Broadway's most oft-covered songs. Each group will perform additional music by Jason Mraz, Tito Puente, Carly Rae Jepsen and Kirk Franklin, as well as "It's Quiet Uptown" from another famous musical, Hamilton, followed by a Q&A with Myka Miller. Harmony Project is a nonprofit that provides music lessons to thousands of low-income students in L.A., while Urban Voices Project, a collaboration between the Colburn School and John Wesley Health Centers, comprises homeless artists from Skid Row. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Brentwood; Sun., May 20, 2 p.m.; $12, $9 seniors & students, $7 children. (310) 440-4500, skirball.org. —Siran Babayan
Karaoke ... but Better
Yodel Eclipse of the Heart — hosted by registered karaoke therapists — turns you on to an entirely new way of singing with this carefree night of creativity and caterwauling. The songbook runs deep and wide — more so than with ordinary karaoke bars, because now you can interpret those songs with more laughs and weirdness than ever before. You know what song really works with yodeling? That Gavin DeGraw song "Not Over You," because he yodels at the end and it's sad because you realize that he's calling out for his lost love! The Old Chalet, 1630 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock; Mon., May 21, 10 p.m.; free. (323) 258-8800, hihokaraoke.com. —David Cotner
Many people are under the impression that avant-garde music is only about noise or atonality and the dismantling of formal structures, but tonight's season-closing performance of the Monday Evening Concerts series focuses on two strikingly bold composers whose strangest passages are nonetheless twined with poignant, overtly beautiful melodies. Grammy-winning pianist Gloria Cheng and new-music champion Ursula Oppens stir their hands in the meditative, rippling waters of several idyllic, hypnotic piano interludes by composer-vocalist-filmmaker-choreographer Meredith Monk. Then the MEC Chamber Players ring up the circular, ever-expanding and epically evolving telephone-like tonal variations of Femenine by Julius Eastman, the once-overlooked gay African-American iconoclast whose provocative work is finally receiving serious recognition. Zipper Hall, 200 S. Grand Ave., downtown, Mon., May 21, 8 p.m.; $27. (213) 260-1632, mondayeveningconcerts.org. —Falling James
Parsing Schism and Unity
Are Ordinary Virtues More Powerful Than Universal Values? The eighth annual Zócalo Book Prize Lecture aims to answer this paltry civic dilemma in which abstract, platonically idealistic concepts of human rights and ordinary virtues of politeness, trust and forgiveness are somehow mutually exclusive. Central European University president Michael Ignatieff — also the winner of this year's Zócalo Book Prize for The Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World ($28, Harvard University Press) — lays it on you and massages your cognitive dissonance to show you that pleasant community standards really might just save us in these fractured, fractious times. National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, 369 E. First St., downtown; Tue., May 22, 7:30 p.m.; free (RSVP required). (213) 625-0414, zocalopublicsquare.org/event/ordinary-virtues-powerful-universal-values/. —David Cotner
The work of French electronic-music visionary Éliane Radigue is so subtle and slowly shifting that it sometimes masks her outsized importance as an influential composer and sonic inventor. Ironically, even though she created experimental music on synthesizers years before anybody else, Radigue has been composing more pieces for acoustic instruments in the past two decades. This evening, in a Monday Evening Concerts presentation billed as "a special season postlude," trumpeter Nate Wooley calls up the momentously foreboding cloud of Radigue's Occam X, and sound projectionist Michael Pisaro unfolds the wallowing swarm of sound known as L'île re-sonante. LAXART, 7000 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; Wed., May 23, 8 p.m.; free (RSVP required). (213) 260-1632, mondayeveningconcerts.org. —Falling James
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Same Zombies, New Tunes
Half a century later and 1968's Night of the Living Dead is still the greatest zombie flick of all time. Just as director George A. Romero changed the horror-movie genre, so has Film Independent at LACMA's Bring the Noise changed the way we listen to movies. Launched in 2016, the museum's series has invited artists such as Jack Antonoff, Kinky, YACHT, Seth Bogart, Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins to create and perform original scores to such titles as Alien, Weird Science, The Breakfast Club and Welcome to the Dollhouse. For tonight's Bring the Noise: Night of the Living Dead, L.A. garage-punk four-piece The Paranoyds play their unique soundtrack to a screening of the classic film about a group of strangers hiding out in a farmhouse while trying to kill flesh-eating ghouls who've risen from the dead. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Thu., May 24, 7:30 p.m.; $25. (323) 857-6010, lacma.org. —Siran Babayan