Dallas Sci-Fi and Toy Show: The same weekend that Return of the Jedi, the final and weakest entry in the Star Wars trilogy, is rereleased the Ninth Annual Dallas Sci-Fi and Toy Show boasts three Texas exclusives--appearances by the actors who donned the masks for Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), R2-D2 (Kenny Baker), and Boba Fett (Jeremy Bulloch) stop by to see who can endure longest the most trivial of Star Wars trivia by fans frantic to make an impression ("Have you ever been to Beggar's Canyon?" "Did you have to study the Clone Wars in school?"). In addition to the typical marathon gamings, auctions, merchandise rooms, autograph sessions, etc., there's an appearance by Richard "I Was the Han Solo Knockoff" Hatch from "Battlestar Galactica." Events happen March 15 and March 16 at the Plano Convention Centre, Spring Creek Parkway and Central in Plano. For info call 972-578-0213.
Phillips Academy Cantata Choir and Academy Chamber Orchestra: Think of the Phillips Academy Cantata Choir and Academy Chamber Orchestra as the Menudo of the classical world--once body hair becomes a reality for its members, they'd better update their resumes. Actually, Phillips Academy has an excuse beyond the Teen Beat factor for its expiration date: It's one of the most prestigious musical high schools in America. The rigorous curriculum there has carved an international reputation for the choir and orchestra of handling some of the most difficult works in the choral-orchestral canon. They come to Dallas to perform Felix Mendelssohn's Elijah Op. 70. The concert is at 3 p.m. in the Hamon Atrium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. It's free. Call (214) 922-1220.
Connemara's 15th Season: If your idea of communing with art and nature is riding one of those hideous ironcast steers downtown, then get thee to the Connemara Conservancy, where the sculpture is plentiful and noncliched and the nature is spread over 72 acres. This natural landscape preserve opens its spring season today with a display of 12 site-specific sculptural works you can touch and eat a sack lunch next to. Connemara opens to the public at noon. It's free. To reach Connemara from Dallas, take McDermott Drive (exit 34) and head west for 1.6 miles. Drive into Collin County on I-75, turn left on Tatum Drive, go 1.5 miles. Connemara Meadow is on the left, over the stile. Call (972) 934-0835.
Ukrainian Boys Choir of Kiev: There is a worthy benefit behind the U.S. debut of the Ukrainian Boys Choir of Kiev, sponsored by the Dallas-based Ukrainian-American Multi-Cultural Connection--the proceeds benefit the Chernobyl Children's Hospital in Kiev, which took on a considerable burden of care after the nuclear plant disaster in that area. However, many of the choir members, whose ages range from 9 to 23, were living within a hundred miles of the plant and themselves received high doses of radiation. The choir begins its three-week tour of 20 major American cities in Dallas. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora. Tickets are $10-$30. Call (214) 443-1000.
The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld There are two reasons you shouldn't bet your beer money on the Oscar-nominated The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story bagging the gold for Best Documentary at this year's ceremony: 1)the hyper-hyped, entertaining, but frustratingly incomplete When We Were Kings is a shoe-in and 2) The Line King doesn't deserve it because it's a depressingly typical, talking-head Academy choice. Still, if the filmmakers lack the imagination to do the legendary Broadway caricaturist justice, their subject remains an endlessly charming, articulate 93-year-old artist with an opinion on everything. The USA Film Festival screens the Dallas premiere of The Line King as part of its Independent Showcase at 7:30 p.m. at the AMC Glen Lakes Theatre, 9450 N. Central Ewy. Tickets are $5.50-$6.50. Call (214) 821-NEWS.
Hopkinson Smith: Although compositions written specifically for the guitar didn't appear until the 19th century, thus incurring the disdain of classical purists who don't like anything less than 150 years old, the lute was a celebrated ancestor whose literature requires little fiddling to make it relevant to the guitar. Internationally celebrated lutenist Hopkinson Smith, who currently teaches at the Schola Cantorum Bailienses in Switzerland, has his name slapped on 15 solo recordings that preserve the beauty of the lute. This Harvard graduate makes his first appearance with the Dallas Classic Guitar Society in a program of baroque music by the likes of Bach, Weiss, and Sanz. The show happens at 8 p.m. at Caruth Auditorium on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $12. Call (214) 871-ARTS.
A Cloud of Witnesses: Paintings by Jerry Dienes: The 20 oil paintings that constitute the one-man exhibition A Cloud of Witnesses: Paintings by Jerry Dienes are equal parts kitsch and eloquence, a combination that often produces something far more interesting than Great Art. Peter Dienes became a Christian in the early '80s and promptly decided to start painting contemporary renderings of Biblical scenes. The concept would seem to lend itself to the medium of velvet and blue light, except for the fact that Dienes has a way of painting the most exquisitely emotional expressions onto the faces of his subjects. The show runs through April 17 in the Haggar Gallery of the University of Dallas, 1845 E. Northgate Dr, Irving. It's free. Call (972) 721-5099.
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