The Big Three

February 01, 2007

THEATER

AUGUST WILSON'S 'GEM'

Gem of the Ocean, the next to last play August Wilson wrote before his death in 2005, has its regional premiere at Washington's Arena Stage tonight. Set in 1904 Pittsburgh, the play is, chronologically, the first in Wilson's decade-by-decade chronicle of the 20th-century African-American experience. And, it plants the seeds for many of the events and characters that appear in plays set in subsequent decades. Among these characters is mystical, many-centuries-old Aunt Ester, who was portrayed in the 2004 Broadway production by Phylicia Rashad and is portrayed at Arena by Lynnie Godfrey.

Directed by Paulette Randall, who also staged the play's 2006 London debut, the cast features several actors familiar to Center Stage audiences, including Leland Gantt and Clayton LeBouef, whose television credits include The Wire, The Corner and Homicide: Life on the Street.

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Show times at Arena, 1101 Sixth St. S.W., Washington, are 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays; 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; with matinees at 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and noon Feb. 6, 28 and March 14. The show runs through March 18. Tickets are $46-$66. Call 202-488-3300 or visit arenastage.org..

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[J. WYNN ROUSUCK]

FAMILY

100 YEARS OF DISNEY

Suppose you could venture through all of the Disney stories, visiting memorable scenes and hearing familiar tunes from your favorite movies and programs. That's the idea of the new show Disney on Ice: 100 Years of Magic, which is visiting the 1st Mariner Arena Wednesday through Feb. 11. Disney sweethearts Mickey and Minnie Mouse will lead the way from Disney tale to Disney tale. More than 60 characters will come to life on the ice, including Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket, Donald Duck, Goofy, all of the princesses, Mulan, Woody, Buzz Light-year, characters from Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. The family show includes popular Disney songs, elaborate costumes and choreographed skating.

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Show times are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8 and 9, 10:30 a.m. Feb. 9, 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Feb. 10 and noon and 4 p.m. Feb. 11 at the 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St. Tickets are $7-$55. Call 410-547-SEAT or go to ticket master.com.

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[LORI SEARS]

CELEBRATION WELCOMING THE YEAR OF THE BOAR

You don't need to be Chinese to appreciate the Chinese New Year Celebration at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall Saturday. The grand event -- a welcoming of the Year of the Boar -- is open to all and is presented by the Johns Hopkins University Chinese Students and Scholars Association. It includes cultural displays, traditional and modern music and dancing by ornately dressed performers, and kung fu demonstrations.

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The event runs 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St. Tickets are $3 and $10. Call 410-258-5555 or go to jhmi-cssa.org.

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[LORI SEARS]

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