Our top picks of the month’s events
West Side Story
A classic American musical, West Side Story is presented by Broadway Across America at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, March 15-20. The love story, inspired by Romeo and Juliet, is set in 1950s New York City and explores a gang rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, who are set against each other because of different racial backgrounds. Tony, a Jet, falls in love with Maria, the sister of his rival gang-leader, Bernardo, and what follows is a performance of passion with a lively soundtrack and intricate choreography. Directed by its two-time Tony Award-winning librettist, Arthur Laurents, West Side Story features a new cast whose album won a Grammy for the Best Musical Show Album. The original score features classics such as “Something’s Coming,” “Tonight,” “Maria” and “I Feel Pretty.”
Information, (800) 745-3000, www.mahaliajacksontheater.com.
100 Years of Tennessee Williams
Playwright Tennessee Williams, who referred to New Orleans as his “spiritual home,” has continued to inspire us long after his 1983 death. The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, March 23-27, celebrates Williams’ centennial (he was born on March 26, 1911) in a five-day fete complete with panel discussions, readings, short fiction and poetry contests, improvisational theater, one-act plays, literary late-night events, food, music, interviews with literary personalities from near and far – and much more. The festival, which also celebrates a landmark anniversary at 25, will be held at locations in the French Quarter – a source of creativity and the setting for many of Williams’ works. In attendance will be Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler, Louisiana Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque, Rex Reed, Dorothy Allison, Bryan Batt and John Waters, among numerous other notables. Literary programs include master classes for writers and readers conducted by authors, agents and editors; panel discussions cover a wide range of topics, ranging from Southern humor to coverage of the BP oil spill. The fest kicks off with a presentation of Bright, Beautiful Things: A World Premiere of Tennessee Williams One-Acts, produced by Southern Repertory Theatre and hosted by Zoe Caldwell. Other highlights include a production of The Glass Menagerie as well as a birthday party and champagne toast to Williams. Culminating with the Stella and Stanley shouting contest in Jackson Square, a lighthearted tribute to the characters in A Streetcar Named Desire, the festival is bound to be an educational and exciting tribute to a luminous writer who deeply loved New Orleans and its characters, fictional and real.
Information, 581-1144, www.tenneseewilliams.net.
Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Patricia Clarkson and two-time Screen Actors Guild Award winner and Broadway star Bryan Batt (some of us may know him as Mad Men’s Salvatore Romano), bottom right, will shine in the spotlight on the main stage of Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré on March 18 and 20. The duo will perform the A.R. Gurney play, Love Letters, which centers on two characters, Melissa and Andrew, who read notes, letters and cards that discuss their hopes, ambitions, dreams and disappointments that have occurred over 50 years as they’ve been separated from each other. Proceeds from the performance will benefit the venerable French Quarter theater, which is nearly 100 years old.
Information, 522-2081, www.lepetittheatre.com.
St. Patrick’s Day
Less than a week after Fat Tuesday, the St. Patrick’s Day festivities begin. On March 12, following the 64th annual Mass at St. Mary’s Assumption Church at noon, lads armed with trinkets, cabbages, beads and flowers will take to the streets, celebrating the holiday and the Irish Channel neighborhood and causing quite a spectacle as they interact with revelers on the street. The parade begins at the corner of Felicity and Magazine streets.
Strike a Pose
We’ve always thought this city has style; now it’s finally being taken to the next level. New Orleans is being recognized as a leader in yet another art form: fashion.
Fashion Week New Orleans fuses some of the city and region’s most ingenious designers and boutiques with four days of high-energy runway shows at the Sugar Mill. More than 25 shows, a top designer competition, a silent auction benefiting a bevy of organizations, and parties will take place March 15-18. The intent of the event is to be consumer-driven while giving regional fashion designers a platform to display their cutting-edge collections; at the same time, it will redefine what it means to be fashionable: giving back to the community with charitable partnerships and educational programs.
The Opera – Il Trovatore
Verdi’s Il Trovatore performances are set for April 1 and 3 at the Mahalia Jackson Theater, wrapping up a stellar season for the New Orleans Opera Association. The tragedy, sung in Italian, is set in four acts and is based on a 19th-century play by Antonio García Gutiérrez; this rendering features veteran performers under the direction of Bernard Uzan.
The story begins with a duel outside the Aliaferia Palace in Aragon as Count di Luna’s soldiers are waiting to apprehend Manrico, a troubadour, who rivals the count for the love of Lady Leonora. Ferrando, the captain of the guard, keeps the men awake by telling them a story of a gypsy woman who was burned at the stake years ago for bewitching di Luna’s younger brother. As the story unfolds, passion, drama and turmoil ensue in a mystical setting.
Information, 529-2278, www.neworleansopera.org.
Feel the Sting
The New Orleans Hornets are in the midst of an exciting season, and New Orleanians are quickly proving this year that they can “fan up.” Under the guidance of Monty Williams, the team has been executing some eye-catching wins at the New Orleans Arena, emphasizing defense (or “bee-fence” as it says at the arena), and smooth moves on the offense. The games are a spectacle with riveting half-time shows to keep fans on the edge of their seats. Home games this month are scheduled for March 9, 12, 14, 16, 19 and 30, providing some athletic distractions after Mardi Gras comes to an end.