Our top picks of the month’s events
On March 3, one of Louisiana’s homegrown talents will return to her roots. Britney Spears, one of the biggest pop stars in the world, will perform at the New Orleans Arena to promote her latest album, Circus. Though the last few years have been shaky for the performer (who has been through a divorce, a custody battle and a few stints in the hospital), the Kentwood native has certainly been working hard for a strong comeback. If a world tour isn’t proof, her new album also features a No. 1 hit single, “Womanizer,” along with other saucy, catchy tunes that are occasionally futuristic and fun and occasionally reflective of her troubled past. The concert, which also features performances by the Pussycat Dolls, will have cutting-edge special effects and complex choreography.
The Magic of Mahalia
Born in 1911, Mahalia Jackson is yet another legendary performer about whom we can boast. Viewed as a pinnacle of gospel music, Jackson began singing as a small child and never really looked back. Jackson’s influence is still seen today spanning across many different fields. As a 16-year-old, she moved to Chicago to work odd jobs and pursue a singing career; during the ’50s, she traveled through Europe; she sang at JFK’s inaugural ball and was a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement.
Through Feb. 15, the Jefferson Performing Arts Society will host performances of Mahalia! A Gospel Musical, which allows the audience to follow her from a three-room shanty in New Orleans to her height of fame. Presented by Chase Bank, the musical will feature three gospel singers including Danielle Edinburgh Wilson, Jay Van Hall and Vickie Thomas. Directed by Troy R. Poplous, Mahalia! is a fitting tribute and sure to entertain all ages.
Information, 885-2000, www.jpas.org.
Feel the Blues
Valentine’s Day is supposed to be romantic, and while a traditional date often features a romantic dinner for two, our city has other things to offer. In lieu of dinner (or a Carnival parade) on Feb. 14, if you’re looking for something unique, the New Orleans Arena will host the Big Easy Blues Festival. World-class blues entertainers Mel Waiters, Bobby Blue Bland, Floyd Taylor, Shirley Brown, Sir Charles Jones and others will take to the state, delivering energetic musical performances. Information, 522-5555.
Taste the Talent
The NOLA Project, a group of young playwrights, will debut its premiere performance just in time for Mardi Gras season. Taste is set in the Bywater at the start of Carnival season, telling the story of six young New Orleanians (locals and transplants alike). The story revolves around food; in fact, the audience will get to interact with the players as dinner is ultimately served. Written by Gabrielle Reisman, Taste is directed by Ashley Riccord and stars a combination of NOLA Project veterans. The play will run Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Feb. 7 at the Marigny Theatre, a newly renovated, state-of-the-art cabaret-style theater. Information, 304-3753, www.nolaproject.com.
Going to the Dogs
Sunday, Feb. 15, the French Quarter will be filled with revelers, no doubt; but several of these characters will be small, furry and will set tails wagging. The Mystick Krewe of Barkus parade at Armstrong Park is open to all at no charge. The parade winds through the French Quarter, while a VIP tent is set up at the park. This year’s theme is “Batmutt: The Bark Knight.”
Preceding the parade is a humans-only fundraiser and ball at the Windsor Court Hotel (black tie is optional; costumes are encouraged!), taking place on Feb. 13.
Canine royalty for the parade is selected by secret ballots and is always a rescued or adopted female.
The Krewe of Barkus is a nonprofit organization. Its proceeds benefit various animal shelters and animal welfare organizations.
Volunteers are also needed for this event.
Merry wanderers of the night
Krewe du Vieux, the krewe known for its satirical and often wildly inappropriate (ahem, “adult”) themes, will roll through the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny on Feb. 7, poking fun at themselves and the world, with this year’s theme “Krewe du Vieux’s Stimulus Package.”
Always clever, with lots of double entendres, silly throws and merry pranksters in costume, the krewe this year will feature Frankie Ford as king and Barbara Bennett as queen. Look out for the talented marching bands as well. Readers be warned, this parade is not for those who lack a sense of humor.