Yes, Vagina, There Is a Benefit

Happy V-Day. What’s V-Day, you ask? It stands for victory, Valentine and vagina and is a “global movement to end violence against women and girls.” If you like vaginas and you want them all to be happy and healthy, don’t miss this reading of The Vagina Monologues, with new material written by Eve Ensler. Lending their voices will be Calista Flockhart, Tricia Leigh Fisher, Penny Johnson Jerald, Christine Lahti, Doris Roberts, Debra Wilson-Skelton, D’Lo, Elaine Kagan, Wendy Hammers, Deborah Kagan, plus performances by Chris Pierce and all-gal percussion group ADAAWE. After the show is an after-party with KCRW DJ Jeremy Sole, open bar, food and silent auction, all to benefit Peace Over Violence and V-Day’s global spotlight, the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Broad Stage, Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica; Fri., March 27, 8 p.m.; $40-$125. (800) 595-4849. —Libby Molyneaux



Oh, Carmen, You’re So Fine …

If I so much as mentioned the word “opera” to my 16-year-old nephew, he recoils in terror and contempt. There’s no way I’d ever give him a ticket to Carmen. Well, the regular Carmen. But now there’s a new Carmen, updated to appeal to the teenagers. Carmen Highis Extreme Makeover Bizet, recast as a high school drama and dealing with all sorts of teen-angst issues, from peer pressure and bullies to unplanned pregnancy and marginalization. The production is being mounted by the Full Circle Opera Project, an outreach program dedicated, says artistic director and famed mezzo-soprano Stephanie Vlahos, to “promoting the classical arts in a fresh, new way.” And is it ever fresh! One wonders what Bizet would say to Carmen, now a popular cheerleader, singing, “This Friday night at Frasquita’s . I know of a certain party . we’ll dance and we’ll drink and the music will be playing till morning . And her parents won’t be there!” Actually, Bizet might just think it’s totally cool — when his Carmen premiered at Paris’ Opera Comique in 1875, critics blasted it as “low” and “immoral,” to which the composer replied, “I tell you that if you were to suppress adultery, crime, evil and the supernatural, there would no longer be the means for writing one note!” Carmen High is performed and presented by students at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, and features Celeste Rose as Carmen, Cameron Kush as Jose, Lily Ali-Oshatz as Micaela, Meghan Mahowald as Mercedes, Katie Colbert as Frasquita and Alana Haim as “the Rock & Roll Muse.” At Cal State L.A., Luckman Theater, 5151 State University Drive, L.A.; Fri.-Sat., March 27-28, 8 p.m.; Sun., March 29, 2 p.m.; $20, $15 students. (323) 343-6600.  —Mary Beth Crain



Louis C.K.

Since HBO canceled his sitcom, Louis C.K.’s doing just fine. He’ll star with Ricky Gervais in This Side of the Truth.  —Libby Molyneaux


L.A. WEEKLY: Why are so many funny comics from Boston?

LOUIS C.K.: Because Boston is a miserable place filled with drunks, losers and Jewish girls with big tits.


What’s it feel like to be nominated for an Emmy for comedy writing?

It feels squishy and a little bit AIDSy. And it’s an honor just to be nominated. Did you know that I won one of those, too?


When was the last time you had a Cinnabon?

I had one in Louisville, Kentucky, but I don’t remember when. Whenever it was, I still feel awful about it.


Your bio has a ton of typos — would you hire me to be your proofreader?

Typos are subjective. I’ll spell my bio any way I want.


What was your highlight of 2008?

Recording my last standup special in March and waking up the next day with no usable standup material.


What was your low point?

My dog died.


What about you would most surprise your fans?

I am gay and a Republican.


What event from childhood most shaped your life?

Shitting on my grandmother’s floor on Christmas Eve in Mexico City.


What would cause you to give up comedy?

Death. Or if I feel like stopping. Or if the president tells me to stop.


The Wiltern is a classy place — what will you wear?

A wig made from your father’s hair. And Crocs.

Louis C.K. performs at the Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Fri., March 27, 8 p.m.; $19.75-39.75. (213) 388-1400.




Motezuma, Revenge

If the only Vivaldi you’re familiar with is The Four Seasons and his 1 million concerti for all sorts of instruments, you’ll be interested to know that the Baroque maestro also composed operas — or what was known in the 18th century as “dramas with music.” Although Vivaldi himself claimed to have written 94 operas, only about 50 have been identified, and of those, perhaps 20 have survived intact. The score to one of them, Motezuma, was discovered a few years back, after 269 lost years, and the opera received its reconstituted world premiere in September 2006, in Dusseldorf. This week, Long Beach Opera and Musica Angelica baroque ensemble present the U.S. premiere of Vivaldi’s and librettist Luigi Giusti’s musical foray into 16th-century world of the conquistadors and the Aztec emperor Montezuma. The exotic subject matter was de rigueur for 1733, a time when curiosity about distant lands and strange cultures abounded and operas practically doubled as travelogues. As far as historical accuracy goes, well, Vivaldi and Giusti knew what really sold: hot stories of forbidden love. So, they centered the plot around a fictitious romance between Montezuma’s daughter Teutile and Cortez’s brother Ramiro. As Vivaldi biographer Michael Talbot observes, “Opera has a template. Mismatched lovers at the beginning of an opera get matched up by the end, and that’s more important than whether it is set in Mexico or China.” Andreas Mitisek conducts; David Schweizer directs. Cast includes baritone Roberto Perlas Gomez as Motezuma; mezzo-soprano Cynthia Jansen as Mitrena (Mrs. Motezuma); tenor/countertenor Charles Maxwell as Cortez; soprano Courtney Huffman as Teutile; in a gender-bender twist, mezzo-soprano Peabody Southwell is Ramiro. At Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach; Sat., March 28, 8 p.m. And at Barnum Hall, 600 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica; Sun., April 5, 4 p.m.; $45-$95; student & group discounts. (562) 432-5934 or—Mary Beth Crain




Hey, Brother, Can You Help an Old Jew?

With this lousy recession having some of us curled up in the fetal position trembling most Saturday nights (what? you too?), let’s say to hell with it. I say get seven pals together to fork in for the “Yada Yada Yada Sponsorship Package” for The Los Angeles Guardians of the Jewish Home for the Aging Comedy Club 2009 fund-raiser. It’s $4,500, but here’s what you get: VIP seating for eight at the beautiful new Eli and Edythe Broad Stage, limousine service for the evening, a preshow reception, prominent placement of your company logo (or a Xeroxed picture of your ass) in the Playbill, and a full-page ad in the Guardian magazine. The comedy lineup is terrific — Andy Kindler, Shawn Pelofsky, Sarge (I’m Black, But God Knows I’m Jewish), Ray Jessel (he was the last lyricist to work with Richard Rodgers). You’ll be benefiting an important cause. Of course, I’ll be at Madeleine Peyroux on this particular night, benefiting another important cause: the Nokia’s bar revenue.Eli and Edythe Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica; Sat., March 28, 8 p.m. $150-$4,500 (the Yada Yada Yada Sponsorship Package); all tickets or sponsorships of $300 or more include a private reception at 6:30 p.m. (310) 479-2468 or  —L.M.




He Who Dies With the Most Frosting in His Hair Wins!

Cupcakes, like leggings, are a privilege, not a right. And only cupcake connoisseurs with the most sophisticated taste buds are encouraged to attend the second-annual L.A. Cupcake Challenge. The butter cream will fly, as nearly 20 bakeries, from Delilah in Echo Park to Miss Priss in Long Beach, will compete in three categories: traditional vanilla, chocolate and red-velvet flavors, original and overall. Wine and coffee will be available, and to sweeten the pot, proceeds benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Remember, the higher the frosting, the closer to God. Renaissance Hollywood Hotel, 1755 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood; Sun., March 29, 1-4 p.m.; $40. (310) 902-6955 or www.drinkeatplay.comL.M.




A Wise Man Once Wrote

For some poets, authenticity’s elusiveness drives them into mock-impressive displays of cognoscenti-friendly writerliness or confessional outbursts of soul-baring histrionics. Not so with Robert Hass, whose verse helps unravel what he calls “this vast, deeply strange net of contingencies.” Whether his themes are personal, societal or natural, the former U.S. poet laureate’s humble, truth-seeking, syntax-suspending poems plumb and ponder life’s mysterious interconnectedness. They riff on the seen world and the self, and at times are angry, funny, sad, lustful, fragile, wondrous. “September, Inverness,” describing a scene on Tomales Bay, captures a moment “when bliss is what you glimpse from the corner of your eye.” In “Bush’s War,” he asks, “what good is indignation to the dead?” Hass, now pushing 70, said a few years ago that his “sense of the instability of memory, and of the language in which we can recover it, has intensified.” Evidence of Hass’ creative intensification can be found in the California native’s latest collection, Timeand Materials: Poems 1997-2005, which won the National Book Award and shared the Pulitzer Prize — all the more reason to hear one of our most honest poets read his work with tender energy and wry elucidation. University of Southern California main campus, Doheny Memorial Library, Room 240, L.A.; Mon., March 30, 5 p.m.; free. (213) 740-3726. —Tom Cheyney




Stage Against the Machine

So yes, L.A. Weekly was forced to lay off its Theater editor this year — but the guy still writes reviews for us every week anyway. Even more important for L.A. theater people looking for recognition in the form of a trophy and the thunderous applause of an audience of peers, critic Steven Leigh Morris is still producing the 30th Annual L.A. Weekly Theater Awards. For a description let’s go to the press release: “Holy Moly, Lounge Lizards! A Depression? Layoffs? The crisis of the century? Let’s party! Okay, James Dean wannabes and Marlon Brando worshippers, or, if you can’t get enough I Love Lucy reruns without needing medication, this is your night! Get out those black leather jackets, shine those saddle shoes, drag out that poodle skirt you found on eBay, and get ready to jive with all the cool cats. ’Cause the El Rey is going to be as sizzling as the Sahara in Las Vegas, circa 1958, as the King and Queen of the Lounge, Louis & Keely (a.k.a. Jake Broder and Vanessa Claire Smith) host the Weekly’s 30th annual celebration of L.A.’s best intimate theater produced between January 1 and December 31, 2008. It’ll be cabaret seating, as co-hosts Broder and Smith reprise the repartee and show numbers from their hit prize-winning musical, Louis & Keely: Live at the Sahara.” Plus, there will be special guests … politicians … famous actors (did someone say 90210?) El Rey, 5515 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Mon., March 30, 7:30 p.m.; $20. (310) 574-7208.  —L.M.




Thomas the Frank

Who said, “America touts itself as the land of the free, but the No. 1 freedom that you and I have is the freedom to enter into a subservient role in the workplace. Once you exercise this freedom you’ve lost all control over what you do, what is produced, and how it is produced. And in the end, the product doesn’t belong to you. The only way you can avoid bosses and jobs is if you don’t care about making a living. Which leads to the second freedom: the freedom to starve”? If you answered “Tom Morello,” then you already have your ticket to An Evening With Tom Morello at the Grammy Musuem. The museum’s executive director, Robert Santelli, will interview the — okay, we’ll type it again — Grammy Award–winning musician about his songwriting, political activism, electric and acoustic careers. If everyone is good, Santelli will scram so Morello can get down to some musical business. The Grammy Museum, 800 W. Olympic Blvd. , downtown; Tues., March 31, 8 p.m.; $19.95. (213) 480-3232.  —L.M.



Love Her or Leifer

If this Wikipedia is to be believed, Carol Leifer must have been a HUGE disappointment to her parents, Anna, a psychologist, and Seymour Leifer, an optometrist. However, she’s made a tidy career out of making funny as a standup comic, actress and writer (Seinfeld; do I really need to list the others?). Now she’s written a book, When You Lie About Your Age, The Terrorists Win, a collection of stories and thoughts that’ll have you laughing and saying, “Fran who?” (That’s “Leibovitz” in case you didn’t get that.) Leifer tells me (yeah, that’s right — we’re tight) that the inspiration for the book was a no-brainer: “I know so many writers in this town who are over 40 and lie about their age. To me, that’s the mark of a true pussy.” Leifer appears with Garry Shandling in a Writer’s Bloc/Book Soup event. The Writers Guild Theatre, 135 S. Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills; Tues., March 31, 7:30 p.m.; $20, resv. required. (310) 659-3110.  —L.M.




He Walked the Line … of Bad Taste

Johnny’s lacquered hairdo could be the only sane reason for watching Johnny Cash Presents: The Everly Brothers, a cross between an airship in David Lynch’s Dune and a silkworm. 1970 wasn’t a very good year for the brothers, and these fine artists’ talent is lost in a sea of tinsel macramé, Dentine and bad songs. This show’s set has to rate as the tackiest in the history of TV music shows, a tacky genre to begin with. Here, D.O.A. white acts like Melanie or Kenny Rogers and the First Edition offer no contest opposite the other brothers, Stevie Wonder and his band, and Ike and Tina Turner. Watch the camera guy losing it as he zooms in and out in rhythm on the Ikettes’ boobs and fringes. It’s this kind of show. Billy Wilder Theater, Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Wed., April 1, 7 p.m.; free. (310) 206-8013.  —Philippe Garnier





A few fortunate L.A. audiences previewed choreographer David Roussève’s latest, Saudade, last May before its praised premiere at last summer’s Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival. Those who missed out have another chance as David Roussève/REALITY returns with the finished product, which Roussève describes as infused with the “bittersweet” nature of the Portuguese title as well as fado, the sensual Portuguese blues music that backs the dancing. The collaborating dancers include Esther M. Baker-Tarpaga, Nehara Kalev, Marianne M. Kim, Taisha Paggett, Sri Susilowati, Olivier Tarpaga and Anjali Tata, as tour guides for considerations of flight, the American South and individuals finding individual strength and common ground to struggle against oppression. At UCLA Freud Playhouse, Westwood; Wed.-Sat., April 1-4, 8 p.m.; $34-$46. (310) 825-2101 or —Ann Haskins



Poetry in Motion

In a year when we’ve gone from having had the worst president ever to, possibly, the best one ever, more and more Americans seem to groove on taking a microscope to our leaders and the political process. For its Fifth Annual Poetry/Performance Festival, Highways Performance Space has adopted the theme “Personal is Political.” Michael Datcher curated the three-day event poetry/performance festival. Each day has a different focus: “Three Minutes of Funk: The Politics of Slamming” (Thurs.); “Leimert Park to Santa Monica: The Politics of Race” (Fri.); and “The People’s Champ(s): The Politics of Heavyweights” (Sat.). Sorry, no “Politics of Dancing.” Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica; Thurs.-Sat., April 2-4, 8:30 p.m.; $5-$15; $25 all three nights. (310) 315-1459. —L.M.

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