Best Of This Week

April 13, 2008

THEATER

LOOKING FOR ROBERTO CLEMENTE / / 12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturdays; 12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. Sundays, through June 1. Imagination Stage, 4908 Auburn Ave., Bethesda. $10-$20. 301-280-1660 or imaginationstage.org

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Play ball! Just in time for peanuts and fast pitches comes this world-premiere children's rock musical about baseball and heroes. Set in 1972, the story concerns the competition among neighborhood youngsters hoping to meet the legendary Pittsburgh Pirate in person. Meanwhile, the slugger is hard at work aiding earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

The musical is recommended for kids ages 4 and older.

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[MARY CAROLE MCCAULEY]

ART

STEICHEN PORTRAITS / / 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. Through Sept. 1. National Portrait Gallery, Eighth and F streets Northwest, Washington. Free. 202-633-8300 or www.npg.si.edu

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One of photography's grand old men, Edward Steichen started out as a painter but switched to photography around 1900 and never looked back. A pioneering Pictorialist during the century's first two decades, he switched to high fashion and celebrity portraiture in the 1920s and '30s, creating iconic images of movie stars such as Greta Garbo and Charlie Chaplin.

Most of the images are from 1923 through 1936, when Steichen was chief photographer for Vanity Fair magazine, where he helped set new standards for photographic portraiture.

Later, the artist went on to document World War II for the U.S. Navy and direct the fledgling photography department at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

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[GLENN MCNATT]

POP MUSIC

TOOTS AND THE MAYTALS / / 8 p.m. today. Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place. $24-$27. 410-244-1131 or ramsheadlive.com

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Originally called the Maytals, the band has long established a reputation as a top-shelf ska and reggae act. Its sound also refreshingly blends elements of gospel and rock. The group's latest album, Light Your Life, was released in August, garnering mostly good reviews. The Players Band is also slated to perform at the show.

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[RASHOD D. OLLISON]

TELEVISION

WALT WHITMAN / / 9 p.m. tomorrow. WETA (Channel 26)

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American Experience, the superb history series from PBS, profiles the 19th-century American poet Walt Whitman. Academy Award winner Chris Cooper (Seabiscuit) provides the voice, while director Mark Zwonitzer (The Massie Affair) crafts an in-depth and compelling exploration of the life and work of the author of Leaves of Grass.

Whitman's daring search for a uniquely American voice led critics of his time to label his masterpiece as "slimy" and "vile," while calling him a "lunatic raving in pitiable delirium." An American story, indeed.

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[DAVID ZURAWIK]

DVD

WAR / DANCE / / Available Tuesday. Velocity-ThinkFilm. $27.98

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Set in strife-filled northern Uganda, the documentary War / Dance rouses applause as well as tears. It follows three children from the Patongo refugee camp as they prepare for a national song-and-dance competition a two-day trip away, in Kampala. The film's powerful portrayal of an African war zone in which families are ripped apart and boys are turned into killers dwarfs the melodramatics of Blood Diamond, just as the movie's tumultuous and joyous sights and sounds of kids reclaiming humanity through art go beyond the Hollywood inspirationalism of, say, Step Up. The filmmakers, Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine (they are husband and wife), who won a directing award for War / Dance at Sundance, pull off such an empathic feat of juxtaposing traumatic loss with ecstatic music that they erase any distance between their subjects and their audience.

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[MICHAEL SRAGOW]

WASHINGTON

FRANCOPHONE 2008 / / Through Friday. Various locations within Washington. Times and prices vary. 202-633-3030 or resident associates.org.

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You can still catch the last few days of this annual event, now in its sixth year, which celebrates the diversity of the world's French-speaking population.

The National Gallery of Art hosts free screenings of French films Numero zero and La peine perdue de Jean Eustache, and popular African entertainer Meiway performs Zoblazo, dance music that contains traditional dance rhythms from southern Cote D'Ivoire. Events also include a showing of the Canadian film Shake Hands With the Devil, the true story of a U.N. peacekeeping force commander who witnessed the Rwandan genocide, and more. All films have English subtitles.

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[JENNIFER CHOI]

CLASSICAL

HARMONIOUS BLACKSMITH / / 7 p.m. today. Baltimore Basilica, 409 Cathedral St. $10-$20. 410-385-2638 or andiemusiklive.com

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Harmonious Blacksmith, an ensemble founded a couple years ago by recorder player Justin Godoy and harpsichordist Joseph Gascho, has been steadily making its mark in the world of baroque music and period instruments. Tonight, as part of the new concert series presented by An die Musik at the Basilica, Godoy and Gascho will be joined by soprano Lisa Eden for an exploration of the scene that Handel discovered when he visited Italy around 1707, and some of the beautiful works he created there.

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[TIM SMITH]

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