Best Of This Week

June 22, 2008

Art

Sondheim at the BMA : // 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive. Opens Wednesday. Free. Call 443-573-1700 or go to artbma.org.

In collaboration with Artscape, Baltimore's annual outdoor arts festival, the BMA presents an exhibition of the six finalists in the $25,000 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize competition. The finalists this year are Becky Alprin, Melissa Dickenson, Dawn Gavin, Geoff Grace, Maren Hassinger and Molly Springfield.

The show runs through Aug. 3. The winner will be announced July 12 at the BMA.

The Sondheim prize is named after the late civic leader and his wife who spearheaded Baltimore's downtown renaissance in the 1970s.

Glenn McNatt

Theater

27th annual Baltimore Playwrights Festival : Thursday through Aug. 31, at various theaters around the city. $12-$17 for individual tickets; $50 for a six-play subscription. Call 410-276-2153 or go to baltimoreplaywrights

festival.org.

Like sweet corn in August, the annual Baltimore Playwrights Festival is one of the most anticipated highlights of a Charm-City summer.

This year, the nine-week festival will feature 10 programs, held in venues all over Baltimore. The opening week of the festival features two productions: Finding Fossils by Ty DeMartino at Fell's Point Corner Theatre, 251 S. Ann St., and Jarvis Legend's Borrowed Skin by Julie Lewis at the Theatrical Mining Company, College of Notre Dame of Maryland's LeClerc Hall, Charles Street and Cold Spring Lane.

DeMartino's play is a story about the fraught relationship between a father and son. The former is a retired security guard, and the latter is a soap opera director. The two men come together after the death of the wife and mother who loved them both.

In contrast, Lewis' dark comedy explores artistic obsession. A writer, on a tight deadline to complete his unfinished manuscript, is committed to an addiction rehabilitation center. Though the writer is denied access to pen and paper, his characters pressure him to finish their story.

Mary Carole McCauley

Classical

NOI ORCHESTRA: 8 p.m. Saturday at Clarice Smith Center, University Boulevard and Stadium Drive, College Park. $7, $20. Call 301-405-2787 or go to claricesmithcenter.umd.edu.

The National Orchestra Institute, an invaluable program run by the University of Maryland School of Music to hone the skills of musicians between the ages of 18 and 28, wraps up next weekend with a concert by the NOI Orchestra.

Made up of the nearly 100 players chosen for the institute out of 700 applicants from around the country, the orchestra will play two great works that celebrate nature: Schumann's Spring Symphony and Mahler's Symphony No. 1.

Andrew Litton, the engaging conductor who serves as music director of the Bergen Philharmonic in Norway, will be on the podium.

Tim Smith

POP CONCERT

Pat Benatar: 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 24. Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place. $39.50. Call 410-244-1131 or go to ramsheadlive.com.

With her leather-tough, sexy image and roof-raising voice, Pat Benatar was one of the biggest names in pop-rock during the early '80s. Before Madonna's ascent, she was an MTV darling with such videos as "Love is a Battlefield."

Her early hits - "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and "Treat Me Right" - practically define the female rock sound of the era. At Rams Head, Benatar will be revisiting her classics, backed by her husband and longtime collaborator, guitarist Neil Geraldo.

Rashod D. Ollison

LEISURE

Oldies Block Party and Buddy Deane Reunion : 4 p.m.-8 p.m. today. Monumental Life Insurance Company's terrace, at North Charles and Biddle streets. Free. Call 410-685-2900 or go to monlife.com/ml.

Monumental Life Insurance gives oldies fans a treat by revisiting the Buddy Deane Show, the Baltimore teen-dance show immortalized by John Waters' Hairspray, with a block party that features rock 'n' roll hits from the '50s and '60s. Former members of the Committee, who danced on the Baltimore-based show, will be on hand to boogie on the terrace for the festivities.

Bob Mathers, producer and host of the Ultimate Oldies Countdown, will act as emcee and deejay. And prizes go to those with the best '50s and '60s costumes and hairdos.

Jennifer Choi

TV

"Inspector Lewis": 9 tonight. WETA (Channel 26)

No mystery series is ever going to replace Inspector Morse, which came to an end with the death of its star John Thaw in 2002. But this spinoff featuring Robbie Lewis (Kevin Whately), Morse's sergeant, as a newly minted inspector goes a long way toward filling the void.

Set in the same lush countryside and ancient halls of Oxford, Inspector Lewis is steeped in just as many dead bodies, pompous academics and would-be romantic possibilities for the unattached inspector.

An added bonus is the splendid casting of Laurence Fox (Gosford Park) as Lewis' highly educated and tightly wrapped young sergeant.

David Zurawik

DVD

"Persepolis" : (Sony). Available Tuesday. DVD, $29.95. Blu-Ray, $38.96.

Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's Persepolis, an Iranian girl's coming-of-age story, takes a refreshingly unorthodox attitude toward nationalism, fundamentalism, cosmopolitanism - all the isms.

The narrative leaps from Tehran to Austria and back (and from Tehran to France) with an odd, punk-streaked rigor and authority, like a comic-book version of a Persian frieze.

Satrapi threads the movie with anecdotes that render shifting allegiances during social-political upheaval with enthralling complexity. It's a devastating stroke that a movie shot through with shades of gray should be drawn in black and white. It's also a testament to the versatility and depth of contemporary animation.

Michael Sragow

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