Best Of This Week

December 02, 2007

THEATER

JOE TURNER'S COME AND GONE / / Previews start 7 p.m. Friday. Showtimes vary through Jan. 13. Center Stage, 700 N. Calvert St. 410-332-0033 or centerstage.org

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Herald Loomis has lost his wife and his soul in August Wilson's play, set in a Pittsburgh boardinghouse in 1911. Released after seven years on a chain gang, Loomis has been on an endless search for Martha. As he is led through his darkest hour by a succession of guides, both contemporaries and spiritual ancestors, Loomis' journey becomes a haunting allegory for the African-American experience. Directed by Derrick Sanders, this production features Javon Johnson as Herald Loomis.

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[STEPHANIE SHAPIRO]

CLASSICAL

BEN HEPPNER / / 5:30 tonight. Shriver Hall, the Johns Hopkins University, 3400 N. Charles St. $19 and $39. 410-516-7164 or shriverconcerts.org

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The most endangered species in opera is the heroic tenor, the king-sized voice type that can handle Wagnerian demands with ease. When Ben Heppner arrived on the scene in the late 1980s, the opera world grabbed hold of him in a big way, not only because of his vocal heft and stamina, but also his remarkable beauty of tone and eloquence of phrasing. The Shriver Hall Concert Series presents Heppner today in his first Baltimore recital, a program of songs by Tchaikovsky, Grieg, Sibelius and Tosti.

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[TIM SMITH]

HOLIDAY

THE LIGHTING OF THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT / / 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Thursday. Mount Vernon Place, 600 block of North Charles Street. Free. 410-244-1030 or godowntownbaltimore.com

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Celebrate the start of the holiday season with the 36th annual lighting of Baltimore's Washington Monument. Food, crafts vendors and festive holiday activities will precede the lighting beginning at 5:30 p.m. in Mount Vernon's West Park. Live stage entertainment from local performers begins at 6 p.m.

For the main attraction, Mayor Sheila Dixon and a celebrity guest will light the 1,200 lights strung on the Washington Monument shortly before 7 p.m., which will precede a beautiful fireworks display accompanied by holiday music to commemorate the night. The Washington Monument will remain lit throughout the holiday season.

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[DANA KINKER]

TELEVISION

THE CLOSER: "NEXT OF KIN" / / 8 p.m. tomorrow. TNT

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Even though The Closer is between seasons, the top-rated cop drama returns for a two-hour holiday-themed special that finds LAPD Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) traveling back to her hometown of Atlanta at Christmastime.

Many great series have had cloying holiday episodes, but that's not the case for The Closer. There is more than enough holiday goofiness with Chief Johnson and her parents on a cross-country RV trip. But, on the whole, Sedgwick is sublime, and the no-holds-barred dramatic ending puts to rest any charge of sentimentality.

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[DAVID ZURAWIK]

POP MUSIC

SUZANNE VEGA / / 7 p.m. Tuesday. Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place. $20-$25. 410-244-1131 or ramsheadlive.com

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One of the more prominent female folk-rock artists of the '80s, Suzanne Vega has returned with one of the year's best adult pop albums, Beauty & Crime. Her biggest hit was 1987's "Luka," but since then the singer-songwriter has toured extensively, and her music has become more enriching.

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[RASHOD D. OLLISON]

ART

THE DOCUMENT: BODY ART / / 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; Sunday through Friday by appointment. Sub-Basement Artist Studios, 118 N. Howard St. 410-659-6950 or subbasementartiststudios.com

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Billed as a multicultural collaboration of athleticism and creativity, this diverse group of hip-hop performance artists creates paintings with their feet and bodies while breakdancing the night away.

Originally conceived by students at the University of Maryland, College Park, the show features works by Brandon Hill, Bat, Alex Meiners, Thomas Canavan and Peter Chang.

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[GLENN MCNATT]

FILM

JE T'AIME, JE T'AIME / / 8 p.m. Thursday. Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive. Free. 443-573-1700 or www.artbma.org

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Decades before director Michel Gondry made his name with time- or space-hopping cult favorites such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep, another experimental French director, Alain Resnais, trail-blazed fifth-dimension movie-making with films such as Je t'aime, je t'aime, about a suicidal writer who, sealed inside a time capsule, returns to a snorkeling getaway he took with his lover one year before.

I saw it at the New York Film Festival nearly 40 years ago and found the most piquant thing about it to be that time-travel device, which resembles a giant potato. But philosophic, futuristic sci-fi films have a way of gaining resonance over time, especially one like Je t'aime, je t'aime, which anticipates the work not only of Gondry but also of Christopher Nolan (Memento).

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[MICHAEL SRAGOW]

SHOPPING

MIDNIGHT MADNESS / / 7:30 p.m.-midnight Friday. Ellicott City's Historic District. Free. 410-465-7355 or ellicottcity.net

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Ellicott City's nightlife will get a jolt of energy this weekend as a number of shops and restaurants will stay open until midnight to accommodate busy holiday shoppers.

But the event -- now in its 30th year -- includes more than just later closing times. A walking Victorian Christmas tree, musical performances by Howard County high school students and an appearance from Santa Claus are all part of Friday night's kickoff festivities.

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[TIM SWIFT]

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