A duet for Miss America In the realm of pop culture, maybe this is something significant: For the first time in its 65-year history, "The Miss America Pageant" (at 10 tonight on NBC/Channel 2) will hear a female voice singing the traditional "There she is . . ." serenade to the winner as she walks the Atlantic City runway. Well, half singing the song, anyway. For first-time co-hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Regis Philbin are scheduled to perform the song as a duet upon the crowning of the new beauty queen. As usual, the previous winner, Marjorie Judith Vincent, will place the crown on the new Miss America's head. "Purgatory," a new 30-minute opera by Mark Weiser, a 22-year-old Peabody Conservatory master's student, will be given its first public performance at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow in Smith Hall at Second Presbyterian Church, 4200 St. Paul St., opening the church's annual concert series. Mr. Weiser, of Allentown, Pa., wrote the piece for baritone Randal Woodfield. Tenor Sean English also sings. The tight, dark plot and music are based on a seven-page one-act play by William Butler Yeats. Patricia Barbano directs the opera. Jed Gaylin conducts a 22-piece orchestra. Admission is free.
"The Commitments" is two hours long, but you won't begin to notice its length. The film, a comedy directed by Alan Parker ("Fame"), is as fast as it is funny. There is also a lot of music. So what we have here is a neo-musical, rich with wit and observation. The lead character is a young man who organizes a soul band whose members are conscripted from the northern end of Dublin, an area described by one of the participants as being "Third World." The film could use subtitles, but it doesn't really need them. Language, violence, sex. Rating: R. **** "The Five Heartbeats" relates the familiar but nonetheless interesting adventures of five young men who form a singing group in the Motown era of 1965. It's all there, the drugs, the romantic rivalry, the heartbreak and the betrayals. Robert Townsend co-wrote, directed and stars in the film, one whose warmth and sincerity do much to obscure the fact that the film does not have that much polish. Language, violence. Rating: R. **
The flag was still there
The Patriots of Fort McHenry are presenting an original operetta, "O'er the Ramparts," tonight at the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. The story of the events leading up to the Battle of Baltimore and the writing of the immortal words of "The "Star-Spangled Banner" is told in stirring music and songs. The fine voices of Braxton Peters, Edward J. Peters, Joyce Shipley, Lea Gilmore and Judy Shannon, among many others, are featured. Alan Walden narrates. Jeannie Walden plays flag-maker Mary Pickersgill. 8 p.m. Parade Grounds. Tickets: $10. Call 625-2202.