If Tim Rice and Elton John took a crap on the floor, put a hat on it and called it a musical, it would still be one of the best damn musicals you've ever seen. After the gigantanormous success of their The Lion King collaboration, John and Rice cranked out another smash hit, this time basing their creation on Verdi's opera Aida, which the duo titled... Aida. The show was über successful and ran on Broadway for an impressive four and a half years. It must be nice to work under the production budget of Disney on Broadway--which is huge. It's, like, a metric butt-load of budget. The Richardson division of Theater League Inc. is bringing Aida to the Dallas area via the Eisemann Center, 2351 Performance Drive in Richardson, and while the show won't feature a hundred of the best classically trained dancers in the world and you won't be sitting in a seat made of ivory with the gilded inscription of Alexander the Great (or whatever Broadway is like), the story and music will still astound, transport and delight you. I mean, come on--Tim Rice and Elton John, hel-loo? It's the story of a sexy love triangle involving two princesses, a soldier and the royal court of ancient Egypt. We think that speaks for itself. It says "Boo-Yah!" in a feel-good way. Performances will run January 27 through January 30, with show times Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. Matinees are Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Eisemann Center box office, online at www.theaterleague.com or by calling 972-744-4650. Prices range from $45.50 to $52.50. Group rates are available by calling 1-866-31-GROUP. Visit www.theaterleague.com. --Jonathan Freeman
The first time, I couldn't place it...until the chorus. It was Gershwin's "Summertime," but it wasn't in English, and it was like nothing I'd heard before. The voice of African-born, Paris-based Angélique Kidjo is more like a cache of instruments. As she babbles, grunts and flows over words, her soulfulness is utterly jaw-dropping--especially to a naïve white girl raised in ho-hum school choirs. I never knew the female voice could be so percussive and melodic. And for covering a range of genres, she's collected fans and project partners. She's collaborated with the likes of Gilberto Gil, Dave Matthews and Branford Marsalis, but this time Kidjo performs with New Orleans' the Neville Brothers as Bass Performance Hall, 525 Commerce St., presents Carnivale 2005, a veritable Mardi Gras in Fort Worth's Sundance Square on Monday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $27.50 to $49.50. Call 1-877-212-4280. --Merritt Martin
In most circumstances, a night devoted to the pink martini is a bad idea. But not when the Pink Martini is a 10-piece ensemble that performs original compositions and classical favorites, world music and dance-worthy ditties. The group has been heard on The Sopranos, The West Wing and Josie and the Pussycats, and soon you can hear them with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. We wonder if their chart-climbing second album, Hang on Little Tomato, will inspire a spin-off group called the Bloody Marys. Pink Martini is at 8 p.m. January 27 through January 29 and 2 p.m. January 30 at the Bass Performance Hall, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth. Tickets are $23 to $72. Call 817-665-6000 or visit www.fwsymphony.org. --Stephanie Durham
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Mad TV World
Aside from the inherently nerve-wracking task of honing a specific routine for a "blank slate" audience, the pressures of a stand-up comedian can be enough to justify Richard Lewis-sized neuroses. There's a fine line between painting an effective, original verbal picture and spewing "Men love the remote control!" clichés, and it's a differentiation that comic Pablo Francisco seems to recognize and transcend. Francisco brings pop-culture satire and rapid-fire impressions to the Addison Improv's stage, Wednesdays through Sundays through February 5, turning what is commonly accepted on its ear in order to present the inherent humor of our everyday surroundings. A former Mad TV cast member and spotlighted performer on Comedy Central and HBO, he's currently seen in theaters nationwide in pre-feature Coke ads, but expect Francisco to push more buttons than soft drinks once the lights go down. The Addison Improv is at 4980 Belt Line Road. Call 972-404-8501 for $20 tickets. --Matt Hursh
In fifth grade, I entered a talent show as a comedian. I impersonated celebrities, but it's not fair to call what I did impersonations. What I did was Dana Carvey impersonating celebrities: taking a small part of a person's character or voice and exaggerating it until it became that person. Still, the routine killed. Killed so much I advanced to the statewide competition held a month later at the Iowa State Fair. There I killed. But it took a year to realize I was aping Carvey's bits and had no original lines of my own. I've since interviewed comedians and watched their documentaries. It's the hardest job I know of. This Saturday at 8:30 p.m. the Lakewood Theater, 1825 Abrams Parkway, hosts five local guys and has as its headliner Eddie Brill, the warm-up comedian for The Late Show with David Letterman. I'm going to go encourage what I could have been. Tickets are $15 at the door. Call 214-821-SHOW. --Paul Kix