Best Of This Week

July 20, 2008

Theater

The Taming of the Shrew : 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 7 p.m. Sundays, through Aug. 3. Evergreen House, 4545 N. Charles St. $15-$25. Call 410-366-8594 or go to baltimore shakespeare.org.

Talk about a Dream Team. For the Bard's classic, comic battle of the sexes, the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival has signed on some of the area's top acting talent.

James Kinstle, the festival's former artistic director and a gifted comic actor, will play the role of the hyper-macho Petruchio. Opposite him will be Everyman Theatre ensemble member Dawn Ursula as Katharina the Shrew. And Everyman favorite Bruce Nelson will play Tranio, a foolish servant.

For this production, director Joe Brady will reinstate a rarely performed introduction, and the tinker Christopher Sly will find himself swept unwittingly into the bawdy action.

Mary Carole McCauley

Leisure

Baltimore Restaurant Week : Times vary. Saturday through Aug. 3. Venues vary. $20.08 for three-course prie-fixe lunches and $30.08 for three-course prie-fixe dinners. Call 877-225-8466 or go to baltimorerestaurantweek.com.

If you were ever afraid of trying that local restaurant because of the price tag, now is the time to face your fear. Diners can enjoy three-course fixed-price lunches or dinners at more than 90 Baltimore-area establishments. Venues range from casual to upscale and American to Polynesian. Participating restaurants include Aldo's Ristorante Italiano; Babalu Grill, which serves Cuban fare; Ruth's Chris Steak House at Pier 5; and Minato Japanese Restaurant.

Jennifer Choi

DVD

Batman Begins : (Warner Home Video) Two-disc special edition, 19.98. Blu-ray limited-edition gift set, $49.99. Available now.

If you're waiting for the lines to shrink before seeing The Dark Knight, you can brush up on the origin story with Warner's new editions of Batman Begins.

In director Christopher (Memento) Nolan's account, Bruce Wayne's father was a do-gooder who left his mammoth business interests to the officers of Wayne Enterprises and concentrated on saving a depressed Gotham City through philanthropic projects, like a clean, efficient public train system. When young Wayne sees his parents murdered in a Gotham City alleyway, the death of his father in particular traumatizes Bruce and catalyzes a crisis of conscience in his soul and in his city. Bruce grows into a strapping young man (Christian Bale), and the key question of his life becomes whether vengeance ever equals justice.

In the supporting cast, Michael Caine (as Alfred the Butler) and Morgan Freeman (as an engineer named Fox, presumably for his wiliness) earn their paychecks with their polish; they put a glint on every line. And Bale is wonderful at creating a playboy persona for the grown-up Bruce, sashaying into a swank restaurant with a bimbo on each arm.

But there's plenty of room for improvement in the Nolan-Bale version of Batman; debates are already wagering over whether they've strengthened their act or allowed Heath Ledger to steal the show in The Dark Knight.

Michael Sragow

Classical

PETER MINKLER : 7 tonight at An Die Musik, 409 N. Charles St. $10, $15. Call 410-385-2638 or go to andiemusiklive.com.

The last works of Dmitri Shostakovich are filled with haunting - or haunted - things. In his fifteenth and final symphony, for example, snippets of Rossini's William Tell Overture make unexpected appearances, creating a fascinating effect. An even more compelling use of this technique is found in the Viola Sonata that Shostakovich finished just before he died.

Out of this darkly beautiful work comes an allusion to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, adding a rich emotional layer to an already profound and moving score.

Peter Minkler, the first-rate acting assistant principal violist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, will perform this Shostakovich masterwork on a program that includes brilliant pieces by Benjamin Britten, Arvo Part and George Rochberg. On her own, Minkler's fine accompanist, Lura Johnson, will provide a fresh reminder of what inspired Shostakovich by playing Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. This recital provides a foretaste of a CD Minkler and Johnson will soon be recording for Centaur Records.

Tim Smith

Pop

George Michael : 8 p.m. Tuesday at Verizon Center, 601 F St. N.W., Washington. $55-$250. Call 410-547-7328 or go to ticketmaster.com.

After a 17-year hiatus, British rocker George Michael returns to North America on the third leg of his "25 Live" tour, his first visit to the United States since 1991. Hits such as "Faith" and "Monkey" made Michael a star, and his wild lifestyle kept him in the headlines for much of the '80s and early '90s. His newest release, Twenty Five, features new songs, including a duet with Beatles legend Paul McCartney, and old hits.

Ishita Singh

TV

Heidi Fleiss: The Would-Be Madam of Crystal: , 9 p.m. tomorrow. HBO.

Heidi Fleiss, the former "Hollywood Madam" jailed for nearly two years a decade ago, is trying to put things back together when she relocates to Nevada, where prostitution is legal. She dreams of opening a brothel with male prostitutes catering exclusively to women.

Her efforts to make this fantasy real is the subject of a documentary, Heidi Fleiss: The Would-Be Madam of Crystal, which charts the resulting difficulties - many self-imposed. The 70-minute film is the poignant portrait of a world-famous personality nearing the end of her 15 minutes, and seemingly grateful for the extra time the film provides.

Associated Press

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