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New Orleans Magazine's top picks for April

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, April 23-25, 30 and May 1-2

SYNDEY BYRD PHOTOGRAPH

Marvelous Music
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2009, has become one of the most popular festivals in the world, and though it welcomes thousands of visitors each year, it maintains the welcoming atmosphere of a (very large) family barbecue, with hundreds of musicians from every genre imaginable.
Taking place at the New Orleans Fair Grounds, Jazz Fest offers seven days of music, delicious food from the area’s best restaurants and art from around the world. Whether you prefer the intimate atmosphere of a small jazz venue, or a large stage where you can rock out, Jazz Fest has offerings for everyone with its 12 stages and tents. Headliners this year include Simon & Garfunkel, Allman Brothers Band, Lionel Richie, Pearl Jam, Aretha Franklin and hundreds of other lesser-known but equally talented musicians. The festival even has a family-friendly Kids Tents where little ones can jam with musicians such as the Imagination Movers.

Information, www.nojazzfest.com.

A Bang with the NOLA Project
The NOLA Project is a local theater troupe that has been making waves in the Crescent City lately with its talented crew of actors who depict some very twisted and often humorous characters.

Their latest project, With a Bang, is a dark comedic tale penned by Peter McElligott and directed by Aimee Hayes of Southern Rep Theater.

The young heroine of the story, Margaret, is confronted by a messenger who tells her that her father has died. The only problem: He’s already dead. Though this messenger denies being an angel, Margaret believes there must be some great meaning in this encounter, so she resolves to take on her father’s mission and dying wish for her to “save the world.” Performed at Southern Rep Theater, With a Bang is sure to be a unique theatrical piece that will leave you laughing, maybe a bit uncomfortably. The production runs through April 18.

Information, 522-6545, www.southernrep.com.

The Other Side of the Story
There is always another side to a story, whether we like to believe it or not. And while this usually doesn’t apply to fairy tales, where there’s often a very clear “bad vs. good” theme, author Gregory Maguire has changed that sentiment. His hit novel Wicked is the story of The Wizard of Oz through the eyes of Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch of the West. The book was so popular that it has been made into a musical that will be performed at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, presented by Broadway Across America through April 11.

The award-winning musical is entertaining and colorful with catchy tunes and standout performances, and it proves that everyone deserves a chance to tell their story, even – and perhaps especially – wicked witches.

Information, www.mahaliajacksontheater.com.

MidWeek Fun at Lafayette Square
Organized by the Young Leadership Council and sponsored by the New Orleans Saints, “Wednesday at the Square” offers free concerts at Lafayette Square every week until June. The series, which has become tremendously popular over the past few years, always draws great performers and a big crowd, so if you need some midweek spunk in your life, check it out.

It kicked off another season just last month and this month will feature Big Sam’s Funky Nation with the Honey Island Swamp Band on April 7, Jon Cleary and The Lost Bayou Ramblers on April 14, Amanda Shaw and Mark Adam Miller on April 21 and Marcia Ball with MyNameIsJohnMichael on April 28. Concerts last from 5 to 7:30 p.m., and food and other concessions are available in the park.

Information, www.wednesdayatthesquare.com.

Sedaris Speaks
Although he struggled socially as a youngster for being honest and weird, writer David Sedaris has struck comic gold, several times, with his autobiographical stories and essays, as well as his contributions to NPR’s “This American Life” series on the radio.

With his sardonic wit, he’s one of the most recognized names in the book world today, and on April 29 he will venture to the Big Easy. “An Evening with David Sedaris,” presented by the New Orleans Speaker Series, will feature Sedaris in full form as he engages the crowd with his lively speaking voice and reads aloud from his stories.

The event will be followed by a book signing.

Information, www.mahaliajacksontheater.com.

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