My mother can do an amazing Edith Ann impression. She's got the 10-year-old's lisp and the flawed, nasal pronunciation, and I thought it was so cool because the creator of that character was safely the funniest lady I'd ever seen. When I was little, I wanted to be someone like Lily Tomlin and make people laugh. But it wasn't until I was much older that I realized that Tomlin makes an enormous range of ages chortle, chuckle and even weep. She's an icon, a superstar who surpasses time and genre. There's the Rowan & Martin's Laugh In era, the 9 to 5 generation and the underrated brilliance of her character Mary Schlichting in Flirting with Disaster. Now younger fans appreciate her physical comedy in I Heart Huckabees. She's no stranger to the stage (The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe) and she's no stranger to well-played drama (And the Band Played On, Nashville, The West Wing). On this trip south, Tomlin will riddle abs with laughter from the stage Saturday at Bass Performance Hall, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth, as she performs as part of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Association's Special Concert Series. Tickets are $29 to $99. Call 817-665-6000. --Merritt Martin
Child of Wonder
Sarah Chang is one of those musicians we love to hate: She started studying violin at age 4 and within the year had performed with several orchestras in her hometown of Philadelphia. Her debut album was released before her 10th birthday; she went to Juilliard; she plays on a 287-year-old instrument; she speaks three languages (Korean, German and English). If this were a just world, she'd be buck-toothed and socially awkward. Instead, at 24, she's stunningly beautiful, endearingly goofy and charming to boot, joking about how getting her driver's license was more stressful than any concert. So not fair. And yet amazing to watch and hear. She'll perform Dvorák's "Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53" with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, which will also present Beethoven's "Overture to Fidelio, Op. 72B," Gutiérrez-Heras' "Postludio for Strings" (in honor of the DSO's music director Eduardo Mata on the 10th anniversary of his death) and Ives' Symphony No. 2 (in tribute to Ives on the 50th anniversary of his death). Performances are 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $8 to $100. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St. Call the box office at 214-692-0203 or visit www.dallassymphony.com. --Shannon Sutlief
A Mellow Drama
Like other productions at Pocket Sandwich Theatre, Fu Manchu: The Melodrama is a venture in daffy improbability. The producers explain Fu Manchu thusly: "Brilliant English detective Nayland Smith matches wits with the mad Oriental genius and villain Fu Manchu, who is bent on world conquest." Translation: There will be many opportunities to throw popcorn at the actors performing Fu Manchu, popcorn-tossing being the preferred sign of approval at Pocket Sandwich. Fu Manchu runs from January 6 through February 19 at Pocket Sandwich Theatre, 5400 E. Mockingbird Lane. Call 214-821-1860. --Claiborne Smith
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The holidays may be over, but who says the drama has to be? If Santa has some skeletons in his closet, you can bet we wanna know--even if it's off-season. Apparently, CrimeScene Company has the skinny on an alcoholic Mrs. Claus, why Rudolph really got so famous and some behavior that makes St. Nick sound more like Bill O'Reilly. The adults-only dishy production goes down 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through January 15 at Arts Fifth Avenue, 1628 Fifth Ave., Fort Worth. Reservations are recommended for $12 tickets (cash or check only). Call 817-923-9500. --Merritt Martin
Opera is just one of those things--you either love it or hate it. Many people make a judgment before ever experiencing it, sort of like with foreign foods. Tastes change, maturity takes its hold and, before you know it, you're ordering sushi, sucking down some edamame, followed by red bean ice cream for dessert. Opera has acquired a stigma of pretentiousness that pushes many away, but let's take it out of that context. There are few entertainment outlets that are capable of literally destroying your emotions, and opera is a very visceral experience. Subject matter ranges from suicide to weddings, from screwed-up kids to puppy love. Forget Linkin Park, Eminem and Bright Eyes; nobody does emotions like the opera. Lucky for us, the Dallas Opera has been pounding out the pain for close to 50 years. The current production is Luisa Miller, a work from Giuseppe Verdi. The opera chronicles the tragic lives of two lovers from conflicting social classes, eventually poisoned by a jealous suitor and an outraged father. While not as noted as Carmen or Madame Butterfly (coming to Dallas soon), it is nonetheless a pivotal score that launched a mid-career jolt for Verdi. World-renowned vocalist Ruth Ann Swenson will provide her astounding verve to the character Luisa, alongside Dallas Opera favorites Gordon Hawkins (as Miller) and Raymond Aceto (as Count Walter). Translations will be provided via screen projections, just in case you don't speak Italian. Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. January 7, January 12 and January 15 and at 2 p.m. January 9 at the Music Hall at Fair Park, 909 First Ave. For tickets, call 214-443-1000 or visit www.dallasopera.org. --Jonathan Freeman