A Fine and Pleasant Misery: To find another cast of American characters as defiantly regional as Patrick McManus' Blight, Idaho, residents, you would have to travel to Joe Sears' and Jaston Williams' Greater Tuna. McManus' New York Times-best-selling short story collections chart the cranky, loony adventures of a similar town. Now actor Tim Behrens has fashioned a one-man, two-act play around McManus' not so bucolic small-town America (with McManus' blessing). A Fine and Pleasant Misery plays at 8 p.m. October 9 and 16 at the Plaza Music Theatre in Carrollton. Tickets are $8-$14. Call (800) 654-9545.
Old Coots Read Genesis 1-8, King James Version: We know one of the biggest cliches of show business is that actors have gargantuan egos, but really, Johnny Simons, did you have to cast yourself as God? Actually, the artistic director of Hip Pocket Theatre can do whatever the hell (or heaven) he wants. As usual for the writer-director-actor, his vision pretty much suffuses a Hip Pocket show from top to bottom. Old Coots Read Genesis 1-8 is Simons' latest, a 13-character cast taking stories about Cain and Abel, Adam and Eve, and the flood and recasting them through pantomime, music, and live narration. Simons presides over everything as the Lord. Performances happen at 8:15 p.m. Friday-Sunday at Oak Acres Amphitheatre, 1620 Las Vegas Trail, Fort Worth. Tickets are $5-$10. Call (817) 237-5977.
Singe: Halloween at the Wax Museum: If it's true that a haunted house is only as good as the story the operators cook up to explain why it's haunted, then "Singe: Halloween at the Wax Museum" ranks among the best out there. The title is the name of a character created by sculptor/designer Peter Carsillo, who explains that a demented sculptor fell so in love with one of his own creations--a wax version of the breathtaking Countess Katerina--that he hurled himself in a tank of boiling wax to, presumably, avoid the gossip that a marriage between a man and a wax mannequin might stir. He emerged as...Singe, a horribly disfigured (and probably randier 'n heck) tour guide through "Halloween at the Wax Museum." This haunted house opens this weekend and is open 7 p.m.-midnight Fridays and Saturdays through November 1 at The Palace of Wax, Belt Line at Interstate 30 in Grand Prairie. Tickets are $10. Call (972) 263-2391.
10th Annual All-Breed Cat Show: Obviously, it helps to think that cats are cool to enjoy something like the 1997 All-Breed Cat Show. Since more than 400 purebred felines are expected to compete in this year's show, you'd better at least not hate the clawed, furry little charmers. But to the eye trained in an appreciation for the follies of human nature, there's a whole other competition going on among the cats' owners, who tend to dote on their Maine coons, Scottish folds, Siamese, and Persians in a manner usually reserved for mother and child. We shudder to think what crimes against nature might be committed if a mad, cat-loving scientist ever dabbled in cross-species in vitro fertilization (kinda makes you look at the people who boast that they're "top breeders" a little differently). In addition to the beauty pageants, purebred cats as well as cat supplies are for sale. The event happens 10 a.m.-5 p.m. October 11, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. October 12 at the Ranch of Lonesome Dove in Southlake, just north of D/FW Airport. Tickets are $3-$5. Call (972) 790-6282.
The Seagull: For a long-winded but undeniably stimulating meditation on the relationship between life and art, check out Oscar Wilde's De Profundis, written while the playwright languished in prison, broken and humiliated, after a young life of great literary success. For a more focused meditation on this same intersection, hung on the framework of the relationship between a mother and her son, investigate the Undermain production of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull. Although Chekhov died just four years after Wilde, in 1904, the trajectory of his career was reversed--after many years of early failure, Chekhov left the earth a celebrated playwright and spinner of short stories. Whereas Wilde rejected the commonplace as artless, the very antithesis of beauty, Chekhov searched for that beauty in the mundane. After tonight's opening of The Seagull at 7:30 p.m., performances take place Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday at 8:15 p.m., through November 15 at The Basement Space, 3200 Main St. Tickets are $8-$20. Call (214) 747-5515.
Literature of the Political Conscience: In his new book The More You Watch, The Less You Know, veteran lefty journalist Danny Schechter attempts (with mixed results) to revive liberal outrage with a smart critique of how the U.S. media (especially the film and TV industry) have, by monopolizing news and entertainment, squelched political opposition to the status quo in many corners of the Western World. His point is that, in places where the American media rules as it does here, people's political consciences are dictated (or deadened) by satellite broadcasts. Cara Mia Theatre reminds us that the language barrier can be a good thing when it shields a country and allows its people to determine their own fate. They bring us another Latino Literature Night, this one dubbed "Literature of the Political Conscience," that presents readings of the works of radical U.S. and Latin American writers trying to stir the pot a bit. The show happens at 8 p.m. at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E Lawther. It's free, but donations are gratefully accepted. Call (214) 670-8749.
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