We tried to read Great Expectations twice before giving up and buying the Cliffs Notes. Charles Dickens just never really appealed to us. If you're of the same bent, or even if you like Dickens, you're bound to enjoy The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a "music whodunit" based on the novel of the same name. The author's death left the novel unfinished. WaterTower Theatre takes advantage of the open ending, allowing the audience to select the villain and romantic hero each night. The play runs April 3 through April 27 at Addison Theatre Centre, 15650 Addison Road, at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Tickets are $19 to $25. Call 972-450-6232. --Michelle Martinez
Wait, you mean movie soundtracks once routinely featured all original orchestral scores--works of art in their own right? They weren't just compilation CDs by various 20-something bands looking for a little exposure? It's true. If you don't believe us, check out Plano Symphony Orchestra's "Memories of the Silver Screen," featuring well-known music for film by composers such as George Gershwin, John Williams and Elmer Bernstein. Sorry, no Badly Drawn Boy, but after a few bars of John Williams, you wouldn't be able to hear anything that subtle anyway. The show begins at 8:15 p.m. Saturday at the Charles W. Eisemann Center, 2351 Performance Drive, Richardson. Tickets are $14 to $44. Call 972-473-7262. --Patrick Williams
It's a mad, mad, mad, mad culinary world apparently, if the Dallas Theater Center's new play, Fully Committed, is any indication. The one-man show focuses on Sam, a "reservationist" at a trendy eatery where patrons will do anything for a table. Hmm...choosing a restaurant based on its fashionability? Dallas diners wouldn't know anything about that. In any case, hilarity is sure to ensue as the cast of characters keep Sam busy and fling him out of the frying pan and into the fire. Sounds delicious. Fully Committed runs April 4 through May 4 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. Ticket prices range from $19 to $59. Call 214-522-8499. --Rhonda Reinhart
There will be no Bollywood-style song-and-dance numbers in Echo Theatre's staged reading of India Song; and it's not just because during Echo Reads--Echo Theatre's staged reading series--it will be performed without costumes or props. Instead Marguerite Duras' play is about "doomed love" and "dying colonialism." Set in India in the '30s, it's the love affair between an ambassador's wife and a former diplomat. The theme beats you down without giving you a beat to dance to. Echo Theatre performs India Song at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Admission is free. Call 214-904-0500. --Shannon Sutlief
A show that tugs at the tassels
Remember the flickering candles, flashy costumes and variety of entertainment from cabaret shows from days of yore? Struggling to recall what happened last Saturday, let alone an age that no one but a great-great relative could slowly describe?Our Endeavors Theater Collective can help. OK, so they have no power in bringing back to mind the debauchery of the weekend, but they can put on one helluva show with elements from turn-of-the-century and modern styles of entertainment...and probably add said debauchery to this weekend. The collective pulls out all proverbial stops in their variety show Extreme Acts at the Greenville Avenue Center for the Arts, 5601 Sears St., Thursday through Saturday (Saturday being a Benefit Cabaret to raise money for the 2003-2004 season and educational programs), and they stun audiences with self-immolation (see: people on fire), dance numbers, comedy and the best in burlesque.
The show includes artistic director Scott Osborne's mandatory elements: "a sense of nostalgia, misbehavior and immediacy." Tickets range from $15 to $35 depending on the night, and it's well worth that to see a show that ranges from death-defying to familiar (a guest performance by Little Jack Melody). Of course, why not shell out the extra dough for the benefit show that includes cuisine, cocktails and a silent auction the collective says is "packed with dozens of indulgences and thrill-seeker raffle items." Maybe there's a pair of tasseled pasties just waiting to be won. Oops, or, um, yes, maybe a lovely spa treatment.
Reserve a table for a mere $5, and order a double for an evening that's like its own cocktail of equal parts Ripley's Believe It or Not!, Dita Von Teese, Jim Rose and old Hollywood. Call Our Endeavors' box office at 214-327-4001. --Merritt Martin
Poetry in Motion
Remember the comic strip Maxine? Neither do we. Well, it's Austin native Marian Henley's claim to fame. She, along with poet Jim Dolan, Philip Van Keuren, Gregory Zeorlin and David McCullough, will break in the Literary Café's new season called Visually Speaking at Club Dada on April 9. What's the theme, you ask? OK, so you didn't ask. But we'll tell you anyway: Texas visual artists who write. Bet you couldn't deduce that from the name. Makes sense that a club called Dada will host the debut. Makes more sense that it's absolutely free, because it's hard to get those artsy types who really appreciate this type of thing out on a Wednesday night at 7:30. Club Dada is located at 2720 Elm St. in Deep Ellum. Call 214-922-1220. --Desirée Henry