All's Well That Ends Well: The Dallas Theater Center closes its 1996-'97 season with a whisper rather than a bang; one of Shakespeare's more nuanced sex-role comedies with a heroine that makes Titania look like Edith Bunker. Strong-willed Helen chases a man who has sworn his antipathy toward her despite the fact that she has the King of France on her side. Ultimately, she must resort to comic measures that, while not exactly royal, are definitely queenly. Performances happen Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. through April 20 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. Tickets are $11-$44. Call (214) 522-TIXX.
Perfumes: Although the Fort Worth Dallas Ballet is performing artistic director Paul Mejia's Perfumes for the first time this weekend, this is not the first time this multi-composer dance piece has been staged. It debuted in Guatemala during the early '70s and was staged again in Chicago in the early '80s. The piece has been divided into five "roses," or segments, each of which gives off a different scent (composition)--works by Albinoni, Stravinsky, Shankar, Berlioz, and Rodriquez. Also included on the bill are Mejia's Serenade in A and For Five as well as Divertimento No. 15 by George Balanchine. You can get spritzed March 28 and 29, 7 p.m. in Room W104 of the Tarrant County Convention Center, Fort Worth. Tickets are $8.50-$39. Call 1-800-654-9545.
Simpatico: The most loathsome, yet--shall we say--beloved double-crossing losers in American theater have come from the pens of Mamet or Shepard. Of the two, Shepard is the more poetic, the (marginally) more sympathetic, and the one more likely to be remembered (if anybody's still around) a hundred years from now, even if he has been out of the spotlight the last few years. Fort Worth's Stage West presents the North Texas premiere of one of Shepard's most recent plays, a horseracing thriller entitled Simpatico. Five characters whose lives are connected to the track find that an incident in their past has returned to mess up present-day plans. Performances happen Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 3 and 8 p.m.; Sunday, 7:30 p.m. through April 26 at Stage West, 3055 S. University Dr., Fort Worth. Tickets are $13-$16. Call (817) STG-WEST.
Forbidden Comedy: The big opening success of the exhaustively promoted Private Parts has been hailed as proof that, despite the moral watchguards who inhabit the political right and left in the United States, Americans still love a good dirty joke. Of course, the Dallas improv troupe Four Out of Five Doctors, who have a number of sold-out runs under their belt, banked on that long before a major studio gave Howard Stern the green light on his life story. Forbidden Comedy is the name of the Doctors' latest mix of songs and sketches, including the world's longest butt joke and a language lesson about the intricacies of "Honkybonics." The doctors are in Friday and Saturday, 11 p.m., through April 26 at Pocket Sandwich Theatre, 5400 E. Mockingbird Ln. Tickets are $8. Call (214) 821-1860.
Deep Ellum Arts Festival: The weekend after the arrival of Spring this year is Easter, which means it's even more crucial to explain to the kids what the resurrection of Christ has to do with bunnies and colored eggs--or the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, for that matter. If you're hellbent on finding a holy connection, you could say the festival is concerned with creation--or more accurately, creativity. Crowded in along Deep Ellum's byways will be decorative crafts for sale; canvases and sculpture being made on the spot; rock, blues, and swing musicians cranking out tasty--if unholy--tunes; and poets and actors doing their oral thing. The doggedly secular among us will enjoy The Science Place's interactive exhibits on electricity, fire, and ice. Deep Ellum's spring celebration will blossom March 28, 7-11 p.m.; March 29, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; and March 30, 1-9 p.m. on Main St. between Good Latimer and Walton. It's free. Call (972) 831-1882.
Ghosts: The Mesquite Arts Center's debut professional production was written by a man whose mind was not only a stage, but a tightly contained black box, so it's appropriate that Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts be performed in the city's black box theater. Ibsen was a man determined to peel away the surface of educated, civilized, supposedly open-minded adults to poke at the primal vulnerabilities beneath. Ghosts is a typically stark Ibsen incision into the suffering body of American families where unexpected revelation serves as the blade. Performances are scheduled March 28-29 and April 4, 5, 10, 11, and 12 at 8 p.m. (matinees are March 30 and April 6 at 2:30 p.m.) at the Mesquite Arts Black Box Theatre, 1527 N Galloway, Mesquite. Tickets are $10. Call (972) 216-6444. Sara Hickman: Most Dallasites who hung around Deep Ellum in the late '80s and early '90s can be divided into two distinct camps--Friends of Sara Hickman and Enemies of Sara Hickman. You either love this woman's ferociously enthusiastic smile, her clear crystalline voice, and her romantic-noodlings-in-a-diary lyrics or you think she is, after Edie Brickell, Dallas' most annoying entertainment export. Having survived the trauma of VH-1 and major label bureaucracy, Hickman has landed feet-first on a national indie label called Shanachie with her latest album, Misfits, a hodgepodge of tunes written and recorded during the past decade. Hickman takes the stage for a live show with Kris McKay at 8 p.m. in the Lakewood Theatre, 1825 Abrams Rd. Call (214) 827-5253.
Buchanan's Antique and Collector's Market: A little knowledge isn't only a dangerous thing, it can also mean a pile of money in the antique market. A friend recently reported that he'd snagged an original chair designed by a certain famous husband-and-wife furniture-making team for an insanely low price, simply because the sellers didn't realize what they had. Of course, this doesn't mean you'll get so lucky with the more than 400 U.S. vendors who'll gather at Buchanan's Antique and Collector's Market to sell furniture, china, books, toys, quilts, baseball cards, and other stuff. But with that big a number assembled, there's gotta be at least a couple of suckers ripe for the picking on both sides of the table. The event happens March 29 and 30, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Automobile Building of Fair Park. Admission is $2 (children under 12 admitted free). Call (405) 478-4050.
Mask '97: People like to disparage masked emotions by invoking words like "hypocritical" and "deceitful," but, realistically, the masks we wear every day allow us to not insult our bosses, tell the painful truth to our significant others, or discuss our lives honestly with our mothers. Aardvark Studios and Gallery presents an ode to the ancient, international custom of mask-making with an exhibit titled Mask '97 that features Texas artists from Garland, Dallas, Rowlett, Richardson, and Lewisville. The show runs through May 3 at 111 S. Sixth St, Garland. Call (214) 276-0976.
Tim Heller: KDFW-TV Fox 4's chief meteorologist Tim Heller holds the unenviable distinction of being one of the people we curse when the expected weather outside doesn't match the clothes we've chosen to greet it. He has done Troy "Santa's Helpers" Dungan one better in the cute-kids-equal-mega-publicity competition with his "Weather 4 Kids" segments that enrich the lives of North Texas tykes with fascinating gems of meteorological info. Heller fortifies his reputation as weatherman to mini-folks when he gives a presentation entitled "Weather Wise, Weather Smart" that offers kids (and any adult who knows what's good for him) safety guidelines for behavior during severe weather. A question and answer session follows. The event happens at 7 p.m. in the Farmers Branch Manske Library, 13613 Webb Chapel, Farmers Branch. It's free. Call (972) 247-2511.
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Valentina's Nightmare: So you think life is tough in contemporary America, with its taxes, evil federal government, Godless do-gooding liberals, and other injustices? Get a little perspective on life in the U.S. as compared to other civil war-torn countries around the world in "Valentina's Nightmare," an hour-long documentary that airs as part of the superb PBS series Frontline. "Valentina's Nightmare" finds a camera crew returning with 15-year-old Valentina Iribagiza to her village in Rwanda. She barely escaped being hacked to death in the massacre that took the lives of 800,000 Tutsis. Severely wounded herself, Iribagiza languished for 43 days among the corpses of her murdered family until she could escape. The show airs at 9 p.m. on KERA-TV Channel 13. Call (214) 871-1390.
A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald: When Ella Fitzgerald died last year, fans felt alternately relieved and robbed. Fitzgerald had battled illness for quite a while at the end of her life, and she'd already committed dozens of definitive pop-jazz performances to tape; the sight of her at public events in high spirits but broken body was heartbreaking. Still, it's hard to let a cultural treasure like Fitzgerald meet her reward. The third presentation of the 1997 Spring Sammons Jazz Series is "A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald" featuring Heather Paterson and her Straight Ahead Jazz Quintet with vocalists C.C. Rice and Sherel Riley joining the fun during a second jam session. The first session begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Sammons Center for the Arts, 3630 Harry Hines at Oak Lawn. Tickets are $14-$18. Call (214) 871-ARTS.
Spoken Word Art: A poem by Fort Worth scribe William Bryan Massey III from his latest cycle Hemorrhoids, Dental Hygiene, and Hot Pink Guitar begins: "After a weekend of doing acid, drinking Buckhorn beer by the case, and running up speed..." Some of us rely on artists like "Fort Worth's Bad Boy Garage Poet" so we can thrill to the exhilaration of self-destruction without actually having to injure our bodies. Massey has taken up residence as one of a revolving series of special guest hosts of Fort Worth's only uncensored open mike at The Dog Star. A reading happens every Wednesday, 8-10 p.m. at The Dog Star, 1408 Magnolia, Fort Worth. Call (817) 332-4999.
My Town's Better Than Yours!: To an outsider, the rivalry between Dallas and Fort Worth must look like an argument between Moe and Curly over who's the bigger "maroon." Fort Worth has the Kimbell Art Museum, sure, but it even more proudly claims Stockyards; Dallas has the Meyerson, but must, unfortunately, also lay claim to the Dallas City Council. KERA-TV Channel 13 presents an original half-hour special titled "My Town's Better Than Yours" that features a good-natured face-off between Dallas journalist Chris Tucker and Fort Worth producer Katie Sherrod, who will guide the viewers on the best of their respective hometowns and try to put a historical spin on this famous North Texas rivalry. The program airs at 7:30 p.m. on KERA-TV Channel 13. Call (214) 740-9290.