THEATRE — Getting their Irish up
The Lonesome West
Opening Thurs. March 9
March 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25
8 p.m.
PURE Theatre
701 East Bay St.

After the success of last season’s production of Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane, PURE Theatre heads back across the Atlantic just in time for St. Patrick’s Day to present The Lonesome West, the third entry in McDonagh’s Leenane trilogy set in Connemara County, Galway, Ireland. Sharon Graci directs this tragicomedy that transfers the story of Cain and Abel to the present day in the form of middle-aged brothers Valene and Coleman Connor (played by Rodney Lee Rogers and John Paulsen, respectively), who squabble in the aftermath of their father’s “accidental” fatal shooting. The play also takes inspiration from American playwright Sam Shepard’s True West, another fraternally-focused black comedy in which the absent father’s influence exerts itself throughout.

VISUAL ARTS — Spring blooms early at City Gallery
Fri. March 10
On view through April 7
4:30-6:30 p.m.
City Gallery at the Dock Street Theatre
135 Church St.

Charleston artist McLean J. Stith, like many artists, keeps herself quite busy working two jobs. Only, in defiance of the clichéd “starving artist” waiting tables or somesuch, Stith took up painting in 1997, while she was studying at MUSC to become a dermatologist. Today she runs a private dermatology practice here in Charleston and spends her free time creating delicate, vibrantly colored paintings like the one that graces the cover of a recent Bonnie “Prince” Billy (one of the monikers used by recording artist Will Oldham) album. Openings focuses on floral paintings that Stith constructed during the winter, incorporating found materials like used drop cloths and “non-academic techniques” that include using spray bottles, toes, and paint spills, in the hopes of creating, in Stith’s words, “compositions that might stir a contemplative disquiet.”

THEATRE — Yes, there will be ladies in lingerie
Noises Off
Opening Fri. March 10
March 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25 at 8 p.m.
March 12, 19, 26 at 3 p.m.
$25, $23/seniors, $18/students
Dock Street Theatre
135 Church St.

In these times when Hollywood seems intent on pulling back the curtain on the magic of moviemaking, as evidenced by feature-length commentaries on DVDs ranging from Oscar winners like American Beauty to tripe like Kangaroo Jack, audiences curious about the behind-the-scenes machinations of the theatre should make a beeline for Charleston Stage’s latest production. Michael Frayn’s Tony Award-winning Noises Off (a theatre term for sound effects coming from backstage during a play) is “a farce about a farce” that features a rotating set that visually demonstrates the backstage goings-on; the “mishaps, miscues, and sexual shenanigans” of a group of British actors putting on a silly sex farce. Charleston Stage Associate Artistic director Marybeth Clark directs Charleston veterans, including Victor Clark, J.C. Conway, Chris Edwards, Susie Hallt, Michael Hamburg, Andrea McGinn, and Melonea Locklair, in this comedy that makes acting look like one of the toughest jobs in the world … for someone without a sense of humor.

EVENT — Wi’ nae wee bairn
St. Patrick’s Day Festival
Sat. March 11
1-8 p.m.
Olde Village, N. Charleston

Yeah, yeah, it’s early. But North Charleston is jumping the green gun for good reason; the Irish music group Ecliff and the Swing Dogs will jig through town this weekend for a special performance at this free street festival sponsored by Madra Rua Irish Pub and packed with entertainment for lads and lasses of all ages. East Montague Street will be closed to vehicles from Virginia Avenue to Chateau Avenue to make room for traditional Irish dancers, food vendors, a jump castle, a mechanical bull, face painting, and the music of Ecliff and the Swing Dogs, as well as Bryan Watson. As any Irishman worth his whiskey will tell you, if ever there were a holiday worthy of a weeklong celebration, St. Patrick’s Day is it. (Here’s hoping they talked some leprechauns into giving them the green beer early, too.)

MUSICAL EVENT — Tango ’til they’re sore
An Evening with Redux
Sat. March 11
8 p.m.
Redux Contemporary Art Center
136 St. Philip St.

The somewhat reclusive, enigmatic musical genius (and occasional actor) Tom Waits has been making music for over 30 years now and has 20 albums under his belt — it’s a shame he’s also notorious for the rarity of his incendiary live performances. That’s just one of the reasons why even the most casual Waits fan would be hard-pressed to find an event more promising than this week’s An Evening at Redux, one of an ongoing series of special concerts to benefit the nonprofit art center. Saturday night’s show should be the next best thing to seeing the man himself, as a group of Charleston’s most interesting, eclectic musicians assemble to re-create one of Waits’ most highly-regarded albums in its entirety: his 1985 masterpiece, Rain Dogs. Throwing their bones into the stew will be well-versed Waits fans Jonathan Gray (of Jump), Bill Carson, Michael Flynn (of Slow Runner), and the could-they-be-any-more-perfectly-suited-for-this New Music Collective. So go ahead; join the rest of the rain dogs, hop a downtown train, and bring a dime and some bourbon for what looks to be one of the more interesting musical events of 2006.

VISUAL ARTS — Delicate delights
Made in China: Export Porcelain from the Leo and Doris Hodroff Collection at Winterthur
Opening Sun. March 12
On view through June 25
Preview party: Sat. March 11
8-11 p.m.
$50/Gibbes members, $60/nonmembers
Gibbes Museum of Art
135 Meeting St.

The globetrotting Gibbes Museum opens their latest exhibit, Made in China, in partnership with the ninth annual Charleston Art & Antiques Forum, which runs from March 11-15, during Antiques Week. Made in China spans three centuries of the delicate decorative ceramic, chronicling the history of Chinese export porcelain from 1550-1850 in thematic and geographic sections through a wide range of roughly 150 porcelain items, including tea bowls, tableware, figurines, and a pair of four-foot tall vases featuring scenes of Chinese nobles hunting on horseback. The Forum features a series of lectures and receptions on the topic “Decorative Arts in the Age of Enlightenment,” with particular focus on Made in China, and the Gibbes will throw another one of their opening parties (which just seem to keep getting better and better) to celebrate; Gibbes members and guests can enjoy Asian-inspired food and specialty drinks while getting a sneak peek at the exhibit and a chance to meet the Gibbes’ new executive director, Todd Smith, who started his new gig on March 1.

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